6 Reasons Why You're Struggling to Lose Fat

It’s no secret that fat loss is not an easy thing to achieve in the modern world. More people are struggling to control their body weight/fat than ever before (1), but what makes controlling our body weight/fat so difficult? The mechanism behind how we’re gaining weight is simple; we’re eating more calories and expending less energy, but the reason for why we’re doing this is complex. Here are 6 common reasons why people struggle to lose body fat that we have found from working with thousands of clients.

1. You’re consuming more calories than you realise

I hate to break it to you but, as humans, we suck at accurately estimating how many calories we’re consuming. Studies have shown that people tend to significantly underestimate how many calories a meal has. Even dietitians – who are highly trained in nutrition – have been shown to underestimate how many calories are in a meal! (2) But it’s not always our fault; oftentimes, we can’t possibly know exactly how many calories we’ve consumed, even if our food has a nutrition label, due to errors in measuring the caloric content of foods.

Food labels are legally able to have an error of up to 20% in many countries, such as in the U.S., (3) and pre-packaged snack foods tend to have 4.3% more calories than stated on the nutrition label. (4) This means that even if you’re meticulously recording your food, there can still be a significant discrepancy between how much you think you’ve consumed and how much you have actually consumed. This error can be even higher if you’re consuming commercially prepared foods that aren’t well standardised, such as at restaurants!

2. You have an all-or-nothing approach to dieting

One of the greatest challenges we see clients experiencing before they start working with us is an all-or-nothing approach to dieting. When they’re ‘on’, they’re incredible; they’re focused, organised, and make smart decisions about their food and exercise. But when they’re ‘off’, everything goes out the window. This tends to be for two reasons:

  1. They don’t know how much they should be eating and so go to extremes with their diet (think zero carbs, no sugar, no alcohol, etc.) and burn out.
  2. They don’t know how to manage their diet as soon as their routine is broken, such as when eating out or going on holidays.

Learning how to eat to adequately fuel your body for fat loss without starving it or placing unsustainable restraints on your diet is key to long-term success. Sure, you might able to diet extremely hard and have no social life for 2, 3 maybe even 4 weeks and lose a lot of weight quickly, but that’s not going to help you in the long term if you are constantly regaining that weight loss! Having a coach help you find a diet strategy that works for you instead of you working for it, is paramount for helping you achieve long-term success.

3. You’re not consuming enough protein

No, protein isn’t just for those looking to get jacked – it’s extremely beneficial for fat loss too! Unlike carbohydrates and fats, protein can significantly improve fat loss for a given caloric intake. Why? For two reasons:

  1. Protein requires significantly more energy to digest than carbohydrates and fats, meaning it increases energy expenditure (5), and
  2. It cannot be used as fuel or stored as fat as easily as carbohydrates and fats, meaning excess protein consumption is unlikely to impact changes in body fat (6).

Protein is also very satiating and can help to improve appetite regulation, making it easier to consume fewer calories. (7) By simply replacing a portion of your carbohydrate and fat intake with more protein, you can increase fat loss and help manage your appetite better. If you’re struggling to increase your protein intake, a coach can help you incorporate protein-rich foods that you enjoy into your diet.

4. You’re not getting enough sleep

Sleep can either be your best friend or your worst enemy when it comes to fat loss. Insufficient sleep has been shown to make fat loss harder in three ways:

  1. It reduces how much of the weight we lose comes from body fat (8),
  2. It impairs appetite regulation, (9) and
  3. Increased cravings and portion sizes (9) (10).

It’s recommended to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night, however, if you’re training hard, you likely need more. Those involved in intense training programs have been shown to need up to 9 hours of sleep per night to adequately recover! (11) By getting enough sleep, you can help increase the amount of fat you lose and make it easier to manage your diet.

5. You’re not managing your stress levels

As if trying to lose body fat on your own wasn’t stressful enough, the simple fact of being stressed makes it much harder! High-stress levels can make fat loss more difficult than it needs to be for three main reasons:

  1. It can cause you to comfort eat,
  2. It impairs your sleep, and
  3. It reduces your energy levels and motivation to exercise. (12)

By learning how to manage your stress levels, you can improve many other areas of your life that can help to make fat loss much easier. Reducing your stress levels often isn’t that easy, though! One of the best ways to reduce your stress levels is to have a plan that suits your lifestyle and preferences. Our coaches can formulate a plan that fits your schedule and needs to help make it as easy and stress-free as possible to follow.

6. You’re not exercising consistently

You probably already know that exercise is beneficial for fat loss because it helps to burn more energy, but did you know it helps to do more than that? It also helps to:

  1. Increase the amount of energy that is burned from body fat, as opposed to lean mass,
  2. Protect against losses in lean body mass and a decline in metabolism as you get leaner, and
  3. Suppress your appetite (13).

All these factors make exercising consistently very beneficial for increasing the amount of fat you can burn and making the process easier. I get it though - it’s not easy to find enough hours in the week to exercise regularly! This is why having a program that suits your schedule, allows for flexibility, and is something you enjoy doing, is so important for your fat loss success.

Take the guesswork out of fat loss!

Fat loss requires work, but it doesn’t have to be hard. With the right plan, accountability, support, and education, it can be easy! Our coaches are highly trained to identify the roadblocks that are holding you back from achieving your goals and can formulate a plan that suits your body, goals and lifestyle. Find the best program for your needs in the navigation bar and have our coaches take the guesswork out of achieving your goals!


  1. World Health Organisation. Obesity. World Health Organisation. [Online] [Cited: 22 September 2023.] https://www.who.int/health-topics/obesity#tab=tab_1.
  2. Energy Intake and Energy Expenditure: A Controlled Study Comparing Dietitians and Non-dietitians. Champagne, C., et al. 10, s.l. : Journal of the academy of nutrition and dietetics, 2002, Vol. 102.
  3. FDA. Guidance for Industry: Guide for Developing and Using Data Bases for Nutrition Labeling. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. [Online] March 1998. [Cited: 2023 October 4.] https://www.fda.gov/regulatory-information/search-fda-guidance-documents/guidance-industry-guide-developing-and-using-data-bases-nutrition-labeling.
  4. Food Label Accuracy of Common Snack Foods. Jumpertz, R., et al. 1, s.l. : Obesity, 2013, Vol. 21.
  5. A high-protein total diet replacement increases energy expenditure. Oliveira, C. LP., et al. 2, s.l. : American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2021, Vol. 113.
  6. The effects of a high protein diet on. Antonio, J., et al. 3, s.l. : Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2016, Vol. 13.
  7. Revisiting the role of protein-induced satiation and satiety. Morell, P. and Fiszman, S. s.l. : Food Hydrocolloids, 2017, Vol. 68.
  8. Influence of sleep restriction on weight loss outcomes associated with caloric restriction. Wang, X., et al. 5, s.l. : 2018, Vol. 41.
  9. Increased Hunger, Food Cravings, Food Reward, and Portion Size Selection after Sleep Curtailment in Women Without Obesity. Yang, C. L., Schnepp, J. and Tucker, R. 3, s.l. : Nutrients, 2019, Vol. 11.
  10. Sleep, food cravings and taste. Lv, W., Finlayson, G. and Dando, R. s.l. : Appetite, 2018, Vol. 125.
  11. The effects of sleep extension on the athletic performance of collegiate basketball players. Mah, C., et al. 7, s.l. : Sleep, 2011, Vol. 34.
  12. American Psychological Association. Stress and Eating. American Psychological Association. American Psychological Association. [Online] 11 February 2011. [Cited: 13 July 2023.] https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2013/eating.
  13. How effective is exercise in producing fat loss? Borer, Katarina T. 2, s.l. : Kinesiology, 2008, Vol. 40.

About the author

Daniel Brack

BSc., Pn1, CFT, SEN

From commercial pilot to fitness coach, Daniel changed careers to pursue his passion for health & fitness. He is the founder of Recalibrated Bodies and co-founder and Head Coach of Titan Fitness Algarve. He has a Bachelor of Science in Strength and Conditioning and is a Certified Fitness Trainer and Sports and Exercise Nutritionist. Daniel was an international IFBB men's physique competitor and is a father to two daughters. His passion is helping others become more educated and skilled to reach their health and fitness goals.

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