Ask Our In Demand Parkfit Personal Trainer Perth Why You’re Not Losing Weight

Why aren’t I Iosing weight? As a personal trainer in Perth I get asked this question time and time again. When people make the decision to lose fat, they are often frustrated because they don’t really know how to do it. They may lose a couple of kilos to begin with, but then the weight loss stops in its tracks.

Have you started some type of clean eating diet and just not seeing that vital enigmatic number on the scales go down?

 You know…., I’ve seen it happen in may cases before. They are not eating sugar, not eating carbs or not eating food after a certain time of the day, blah, blah,blah…and maybe they’ve lost some weight in the beginning, maybe they did some exercise as well and in that  time the weight loss has slowed down, until eventually they bottom out at a plateau with no real change in body composition. Alternatively, some people don’t even think in terms of body composition and just consider the weight on the scales and don’t really really know what is going on with their body. Then they go online and find all kinds of strange things causing weight loss efforts: different diet, different workouts, a problem with your metabolism are required,  or it’s your hormones which is often a load of BS.

However, it seems the biggest underlying problem is that you’re not in a great enough daily calorie deficit and there are many things that you need to be aware of when dieting for fat loss. Did you know when dieting, we are putting our bodies through a mild form of “starvation”? It seems “extreme” but really it’s not. You see,your body wants to fight against weight loss naturally and it is very reactive against it because over time if you starved your body by eating less and less and increased output.......... eventually your body would die. Your body doesn’t know that you want to kill it, just slim it down a little so it has certain mechanisms in place to erase your calorie deficit essentially called a “starvation mode mechanism” which happens when you diet. Although, you don’t have to look at it in this way, you can work with this mechanism  and lose fat in a way whilst doing no harm to your body.

The first thing I see is that people are losing fat but they’re not losing weight. We are very programmed with the term of losing weight but what we really mean is we want to lose fat AND maintain muscle. If we look at it in terms of body composition – we just look at what your body is comprised of: fat and you have everything else that is “not fat” including bones,muscles, organs and water.  So when we lose weight, we only really want to lose fat and not everything else that isn’t fat,get it? You don’t want to be losing muscle, organ tissue or bone – only fat.

It’s usually when a person starts out with exercising and dieting for the first time. They go onto a calorie deficit,high protein diet etc etc and notice they are looking leaner in the mirror, their clothes are fitting better but their weight stays the same – confusion? When you are new at weight lifting, you can build muscle and lose fat at the same time. If you’re replacing what once was fat with muscle, so of course you’re gonna weight a little bit more – this is classic body re-composition. This is a good sign because your body fat percentage is reducing. In other words, you want to see that your body fat caliper measurement is going down. Also, you want to measure your waist around your belly button and if this measurement is shrinking, you are not doubt losing fat. If it’s growing you’re gaining fat.

Don’t pay much attention to what the scales say day to day because that figure is going to fluctuate based on when you last ate, going to the bathroom and how much food you ate that day. Instead, take an average weight every 7 to 10 days and watch track average.


Yet another factor to consider is water retention issues where you could be losing fat but not losing weight. If you’re in calorie deficit there’s usually quite a lot of stress on the body, cortisol levels are going to be elevated, also if you don’t sleep a lot or if you over-train , or are a person with low levels of testosterone as cortisol levels go up, so does water retention. This results in looking kinda puffy and could be mistaken as looking fatter.

How can you prevent this water retention?Well, let’s explain  cortisol which is a stress hormone. Making sure you reduce stress levels, you get enough sleep will reduce cortisol levels which blunts fat loss. The main thing is that you’re getting enough sleep and that your calorie deficit is not too large. I recommend a calorie deficit of 20 to 25%. The other thing that can affect puffiness or an unwanted bloated look (water retention) is eating too much sodium and not enough potassium. Restaurants usually add loads of salt to their dishes for flavour. So beware of this!  A fluctuating sodium intake will also cause massive water retention issues. So stick to 2.5g of sodium per day. You need  3 to 4 g of potassium per day to balance this.

One of the most common reasons why people’s weight loss plateus is that people eat too many calories in short periods of time. For example, they might eat healthy for 5 days and remain in calorie deficit and then the weekend comes and it’s  all out cheat days so they “eat back” all that deficit that they gained during the week and hence put back all that fat through a weekend binge. You must look at your calorie energy balance on a weekly basis as supposed to a daily basis. Let’s say you burn 3000 calories a day , which equates to 21,000 burned per week.That’s how much I burned, so if I want to lose weight ,I’m gonna eat 75% of that being around 16,000 calories. If you ate 21,000 calories during that week, of course you wouldn’t lose fat because you only burned off what you ate so you body doesn’t dip into it’s fat stores. You just have to be smarter with your cheat meal. I recommend limiting your cheat meal to one cheat meal per week. You aren’t going to do that much damage in one cheat meal per week.

Moreover It’s not so much the type of food that’s a problem, it’s the amount or portion size. Obviously, the more nutrient, vitamin & mineral dense the food is, the more energy you will possess. Most foods that people like to cheat with are very non-nutritious calorie dense for example pizza and ice cream – very, very  fatty foods. Dietary fat from these types of saturated fatty foods usually get stored as body fat more easily around the mid drift section. However, with carb rich foods the first thing the body does with it is burn carbs for energy, then store it secondly with glycogen storage. With people that do weight lifting, the muscles can store more glycogen so eating some carbs whilst on a weights training program  shouldn’t be a major issue. Hence, with cheat meals (one per week) its better to eat carbs rather than fatty foods. However, eating many carbs will blunt fat loss. Eating protein rich foods like lean meats,fish eggs rarely gets stored as body fat.

Another mistake people will make is “feeling” their calories and macros which means they are guessing how  many calories they intake by eyeballing their foods rather than getting their trainer to provide a specific measured meal plan. This could be another reason why you’re not losing weight ju st because people are generally not very good at guessing calories for different types of foods. Its much better to quantify everything with food kitchen scales and cups. Don’t just do a fist of this and handful of that. Pay close attention to say a heap of a cup and level cup of foods. Even better, you want to go and weigh your foods in grams for more accuracy. If you don’t weigh your foods, you can easily eat 300 or 400 calories more without noticing.

Another thing worth mentioning is alcohol. Alcohol blunts fat oxidization. When people go out, they usually drink plus eating fatty foods like burgers which equals maximum fat storage!

The next area is people usually think they are burning more energy than they really are. You need your personal trainer to work out your BMR and work out your energy burn from there. There is no need to go over a 1.30 multiplier. However, ask your trainer to calculate this. Measuring calorie expenditure is quite tricky so ask your trainer about the issue of intensity. Are you a person that moves around a lot daily or are you more sedentary at a desk? Do you dance when vacuuming the house and do you take the stairs at work – it all adds up.

One thing to note is that if you do a lot of endurance cardio like steady  state distance running, your body is going to get more efficient meaning a slower calorie burn with metabolic adaption. That’s why I recommend high intensity weight lifting like circuit training because it keeps your metabolism soaring sometimes up to 24 hours after the session! Parkfit specialises in this high intensity circuit training. 

 Finally,when you reach your goal weight, I recommend reverse dieting. Meaning you are bringing your calories up bit by bit gradually coming out of a diet. If you start binge eating as soon as you come out of a diet, you will put all that fat back on quickly so increase daily calorie intake slowly.

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