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20 Reasons You Can't Lose Those Last 5 Pounds

Because that last handful of pounds is always the hardest to shed.

You've pushed through grueling sweat sessions, tracked your calories religiously, and gave up your favorite cheat meal—yet those last few pesky pounds can't seem to whittle away. What gives?

Unbeknownst to many, certain seemingly-effective habits may be to blame when you're looking to lean out. Discover and ditch the nutrition and fitness faux pas you may be committing and finally shed those seemingly impossible-to-lose five pounds! Then, maintain your results by following our foolproof plan on how to Maximize Your Metabolism in Just 14 Days.

You Toss the Yolk

Egg yolk

If you're waking up to an egg white omelet every day, your calorie-cutting efforts may be doing your body a disservice. Sure, egg yolks contain the majority of the egg's calories, but the yellow orbs also pack in half of the egg's protein content as well as essential nutrients such as choline, which helps you slim down and maintain a healthy metabolism. If you're still worried about the calories in your morning meal, reap the benefits by scrambling one whole egg with two egg whites.

You Down Diet Sodas

Woman drinking diet coke
Sean Locke Photography/Shutterstock

Cutting sugar and calories may seem like a surefire way to achieve your body goals faster, but diet sodas aren't the solution. A Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine study found that artificial sweeteners found in diet beverages and other "sugar-free" or "light" foods may result in weight gain and a nearly-insatiable sweet tooth.

You're Not Challenging Yourself at the Gym

man planking

When you're trying to lean out, HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts are your best friend. Steady-state cardio may be your go-to at the gym, but if you trade the treadmill for a Tabata class, the results will shift in your favor. Following short bouts of intense exercises with a short recovery period can aid in calorie burn, weight loss, and even help control your appetite.

You're Too Strict With Your Diet

Woman eating cucumber

"If you're craving something that you know isn't the best bet for your weight loss goal, don't totally cut it out," Lashaun Dale, VP of Content & Programming at 24 Hour Fitness tells us in 15 Hidden Reasons You Can't Lose Weight. In fact, restraining yourself from your favorite foods "will only make you feel restricted and derail your efforts later down the road." If you're craving chocolate chip cookies or barbecue-flavored potato chips, keep your portions in check and hydrate with plenty of water to prevent a binge.

You Guzzle Sports Drinks

Sports drinks

Sports beverages often pack in your entire daily recommended amount of sugar without resulting in any noticeable performance improvement at the gym. Rather than racking up empty calories, munch on energy-boosting foods that make your workout more effective, and stick to sipping H2O during your workout.

You Rely on Processed Snacks

Man eating

Some portable protein bars can pack more calories and fat than the usual lunch you sit down to. Rather than relying on a processed bar, opt for whole foods (such as nuts, veggie sticks with natural peanut butter, low-sugar Greek yogurt) that deliver vitamins, muscle-maintaining protein, and satiating fiber. You can also turn to some of our 50 Best Snacks for Weight Loss.

You Snack After Dinner

late night eating

A study published in Cell Metabolism found that mice who had access to food for only eight hours stayed slim, while those who ate the same number of calories over a 16-hour period gained more weight, especially around their midsection. If you're usually hungry after your p.m. meal, avoid loading up on empty-carb-filled grub by ensuring your dinner is loaded with fiber-filled veggies and lean protein to promote satiety.

You Don't Catch Enough Zzzs

Tired man

According to an International Journal of Obesity study, folks who don't get enough shut-eye hours have higher BMIs and wider waistlines. What gives? Lack of sleep tends to result in an increase in your body's stress and fat-storing hormone, cortisol, as well as interferes with your workout recovery. Aim for the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night to keep up with your weight loss efforts.

You're Not Eating Enough

Hungry woman

You may think that skipping lunch or replacing dinner with a snack may help you drop those last few persistent pounds, but depriving your body of necessary macros can actually do the opposite by setting the ideal foundation for nutritional deficiencies and a late-night binge.

You Eat Three Square Meals a Day

Woman eating steak

Bored of sticking to three timed meals per day? Personal trainer Sean M. Wells actually recommends "eating two 200-calorie snacks between meals that have at least 10 grams of protein and five grams of fiber," such as a 5-ounce container of plain Greek yogurt with a pear. "This type of snack will provide the nutrients you need and stave off cravings that can slow your weight loss efforts."

You Track Portion Sizes Wrong

Measuring cups

It's pretty easy to overindulge in healthy foods when you know they're wholesome and contributing to your waistline-trimming efforts. But when it comes to naturally caloric, high-fat foods—think: nuts, full-fat dairy, and avocado—limiting your portion sizes is the way to gain flat abs. Ideally, you have measuring cups and food scales at home to help you, but when you're on the go, be sure to brush up on What the Perfect Food Portion Sizes Actually Look Like.

You Let Stress Get to You

Stressed out man

Getting stuck in one too many hair-pulling situations causes a rise in cortisol, which stores food as belly fat. Instead of spooning your way through a pint of Ben and Jerry's, try a new spin class, do pilates, or hit the weight rack to increase levels of happiness-inducing endorphins.

You Forget to Refill Your Water Bottle


Not only is water essential for performing vital life functions, it can also help you shed the muffin top by boosting your metabolism and curbing cravings. In fact, a study in the The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that after drinking about two full glasses of water (17 ounces), folks' metabolic rates increased by 30 percent. What's more, the researchers estimate that increasing H2O intake by about six cups per day can torch an extra 17,400 calories over the course of the year—resulting in just about five pounds lost!

You Engage In Distracted Dining

Woman eating at desk

A study in the journal Appetite found that eating while distracted can cause you to consume more calories. Next time you sit down to dinner, focus on munching mindfully rather than catching up on work-related emails. Shifting your focus to your food can help your brain register when you're full rather than encouraging you to overeat.

You Don't Prioritize Both Diet and Exercise

Green smoothie

You may have heard that abs are made in the kitchen, but coupling a balanced whole-food-centric diet with a solid calorie-torching workout plan can help you lose those last few pounds for good. "Eating a well-balanced diet while decreasing [calories] by 500–750 will promote weight loss… Exercise at moderate to high-intensity levels three to five per week for 30-60 minutes. [You] have to put in the work to see the results," Jim White, RD, ACSM tells us in 17 Biggest Diet Mistakes, According to Nutritionists. 

You're An Emotional Eater

woman eating cupcake

"Snacks are not there to distract you from boredom, emotional upsets or because you want to momentarily check out of life. They are there to keep your blood sugar levels stable when your meals have more than five hours between them," James reminds us in 20 Resolutions Diet Experts Want You to Make.

You Fuel Up Wrong

Woman eating dessert

Exercisers often overestimate the number of calories they burn during their workouts, leading them to consume specialty snacks and drinks before, during, and after their sweat sesh—which all rack up the calories. If you're not hungry prior to lacing up your sneakers, skip the snack and opt for a cup of energizing black coffee.

You Eliminate a Food Group


Were you planning to toss fats out of your diet? Or perhaps you thought to eliminate every trace of dairy from your eating plan? "One of the biggest diet mistakes I see with my patients is thinking about a diet as deprivation. Many of my patients come in and say that they want to cut out all sugar or cut out all fat, but by doing this you are restricting to a point that is most likely not sustainable," Leah Kaufman, CDN, CDE, MS, RD tells us in 17 Biggest Diet Mistakes, According to Nutritionists. Instead, focus on balance and eating each food group in moderation.

You Have a Desk Job

Man working

Quitting your desk job isn't a prereq to achieving your dream bod. Although studies have linked sitting for prolonged periods with weight gain and an elevated risk of early death (yikes!), taking walking breaks every half hour, climbing the stairs, and these 35 Weight Loss Tips for Every Type of Job can help you stay slim and active during your 9-to-5.

You're Impatient

Woman measuring waist

"Real weight loss takes time," Lauren Manganiello, MS, RD, CDN, and personal trainer in NYC, reminds us in 17 Biggest Diet Mistakes, According to Nutritionists. "Oftentimes, if we don't see progress in the first week or two, we get discouraged and quit … Celebrate your short-term goals along the way. Looking back at your success and seeing progress is one of the biggest motivators for long-term success."

April Benshosan, MS
April is a born-and-raised Brooklynite who has a passion for all things health, wellness, and tastebud-related. Read more about April