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Why Am I Burning Fat But Not Losing Weight?

author image Van Thompson
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.
Why Am I Burning Fat But Not Losing Weight?
A woman is measuring her stomach. Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

If you've finally committed to a healthy exercise routine, you might be frustrated when the pounds don't immediately melt off. Weight-loss can take time, with most people losing only a pound or two a week -- even with a strict diet and plenty of exercise. But if you've been working out for several weeks, think you're burning fat but still see no change, there could be something else to blame for the stagnation.

The Wrong Fitness Routine

It's tempting to target only the areas of your body where you want to lose weight, by doing crunches or lunges. But aerobic exercise burns more calories and fat, and will result in quicker weight-loss. Even if you burn some fat doing calisthenics or weightlifting, your results will be slow. Instead, these exercises are more effective for building muscle.

Building Heavy Muscle

Muscle is denser than fat, which means a small increase in muscle and a small loss in fat could actually cause you to gain weight. While the scale is a good guide for whether you're meeting your fitness goals, you should also consider your health and physical development. If you're growing stronger and more toned, you might not need to lose weight.

Not Cutting Calories

No matter how much fat you burn, if your diet is high in calories, you'll undo your effort. You have to shed 3,500 calories for every pound of fat you want to lose, and losing weight through exercise alone is challenging. A 125-pound person, for example, would have to spend more than eight hours a week cycling on a stationary bike to lose a pound a week, according to Harvard Health Publications. Eliminating even just 100 to 200 calories a day can greatly increase your rate of weight-loss.

Health Conditions

If you're doing everything right -- cutting calories and getting regular aerobic exercise -- but still not losing weight, it's time to talk to your doctor. Endocrine system disorders such as hypothyroidism and Cushing's syndrome can slow down your metabolism and cause your body to stubbornly cling to weight. You might need medication, or your doctor may recommend a more intense exercise regimen.

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