Nearly every nutrition/weight loss coach has a goal to help clients reach a healthy and permanent weight. We are often presented with clients who have tried many times to get the desired weight but failed to maintain it or lose weight. These clients have been attempting to lose significant weight on multiple occasions. More than 40% of the adult population worldwide is trying to lose weight (Santos et al., 2016).

Bright-eyed and optimistic coaches often find themselves wondering why their clients don’t lose or maintain a healthy weight. Despite following a diet for weeks, I’ve dealt with clients who failed to see a change in their weight.

Your daily habits can indeed determine whether you succeed or fail in your weight loss efforts, especially over the long term. Let’s look at some common ways that weight loss can be sabotaged.


There are many quick fixes for weight loss. These include low carbohydrate diets and fasting, followed by shakes, supplements, restricted eating plans or very low-calorie diets. These diets are quick fixes for weight loss but don’t last.

People who are looking to lose weight will often start a new diet with enthusiasm, stick to it for a while, then quit and regain their weight. Clients may continue to follow a quick-fix diet but see different dramatic results than they did at the beginning. This could be due to several factors.

The first is the Hawthorne Effect, a psychological phenomenon that increases compliance to a diet when someone believes they are being watched. People will often tell their loved ones or friends about a new diet when they are starting a new one. They may even have a nutrition coach that sells plans that are based on these diets. Although they may be more committed to the diet if they feel that they are being closely monitored, this will only last for a short time before the novelty wears off (Turner McGrievy and al., 2017).

Second, certain diets like a low-carb diet or fasting/cleanse will initially result in dramatic weight loss. This is due to the loss of water weight. Sometimes as much as 10 lbs can be lost in as little as 2 weeks. Although these diets can initially result in a dramatic drop in weight, it is more likely that the diet is driven by fat loss than by weight loss.

Fat loss may occur later, but it is only due to the calorie shortage these diets create. Clients will feel like their progress has stalled and abandon the diet (Masood and al. 2019, 2019).


Clients may be tempted to skip lunch or breakfast to make room for dinner. This strategy is often counterproductive. It is well-known that skipping breakfast can adversely affect your health and correlate with obesity (Wicherski, 2021).

This phenomenon holds even if you skip any meal. Yamamoto (2021) performed a retrospective study to examine the effects of skipping dinner and lunch among 26,433 Japanese university students over three years. Researchers found that students who skipped dinner most often had the highest weight gain compared to their peers.

The body has built-in mechanisms that can fight weight loss. Avoiding meals is a good way to lose weight.


Lifestyles today often result in a lack of activity in everyday life. The human body was created to move. Even in a low-calorie or high-calorie state, inactivity can lead to metabolic changes that may increase susceptibility for weight gain. These include insulin resistance, muscle breakdown and impaired glucose and fatty acid metabolism.

Inactivity and slight overfeeding can also change the genetic expression of fat tissue, making weight gain more likely (Biolo et al. 2005). Similar to the above, even though most caloric expenditure in non-athletes comes from resting metabolic rate and not physical activity, it is very difficult to maintain a substantial enough caloric deficit.

To maintain long-term weight loss, it is important to engage in physical activity. Patients who are being treated for obesity should exercise at least 250 minutes per week. They should also use healthy eating strategies to help them lose weight and keep it off (Balfour & Boster 2022).

You don’t have to exercise in a gym. You can get plenty of exercise by doing chores around the house, walking with your friends, or working in the yard. Nearly all clients use a step counter to track their physical activity and set a goal to complete a certain amount to help weight loss.


Most human societies enjoy eating out with friends and family. While avoiding dining out with family and friends is impossible, it can be detrimental to your weight loss efforts if this becomes a routine. Meals taken out (or not at home) tend to be higher in calories, saturated fats, and sugar but lower in fiber and vitamins. Eating out often makes it easy to exceed your caloric requirements (Gesteiro et al., 2002).

This was demonstrated in a cross-sectional 2016 study examining the relationship between body mass (BMI) and eating out at a fast-food or sit-down restaurant at least once a week. According to Bhutani and colleagues (2016), there was an approximate 0.8 kg/m2 increase in BMI for every instance of eating out within a week.

While there are ways to eat healthier at restaurants, it is not possible to eat out in a healthy way. However, most restaurant food is high in calories and fats. Diners must plan their meals carefully if they are trying to lose weight.

Eating too fast

As a child, my grandfather, a gastroenterologist and health-conscious man, would remind me to slow down when I ate and constantly monitor my hunger cues. I found his advice to be very valuable, even though I was sometimes annoyed with it.

Lower satiety and higher energy intake are strongly associated with eating habits. The secretion of hormones that regulate hunger or satiety is slow and occurs in response to food entering your gastrointestinal tract. However, this can lead to a delay in their release. Peptide YY and Glucagon-like peptide 1, secreted when food enters the intestine, are responsible for suppressing hunger, glucagon, and insulin secretion. However, they are only secreted at a slow rate. The body cannot adapt to these hormones if it eats too fast (Argyrakopoulou et. al. 2020).

Eating fast is common for those with busy lives and work schedules. Taking breaks and allowing enough time to eat food/snacks is important, especially if you are trying to lose weight.


Long-term weight loss takes time. This is something I remind clients almost every day. Finding the right combination of macronutrients and caloric deficit (via nutritional) to induce steady weight loss can take some time. Everyone is different. Note that weight loss can often plateau after six months. Periodization, which involves periods of maintenance and deficiency, is recommended for long-term changes to body composition (US Department of Health and Human Services 2020).

Although it is tempting to abandon a nutrition program if clients are not seeing quick results, giving up too early can cause more frustration and failure in a weight-loss effort. Clients with 50-100 pounds to lose often tell me that it can take 2-3 years for them to see the desired results. They will experience periods of steady weight loss, stalling, or slight weight gain. It’s almost always true that healthy lifestyles will lead to long-lasting results (Summerfield 2016, 2016).


It can be both a difficult and rewarding process to lose weight, but it is also a journey. There are no quick fixes or special diets that will guarantee results. Our clients will be able to win the body composition race by focusing on changing their goal-sabotaging and goal-crushing behaviors, rather than chasing quick results.