Why Am I Gaining Weight On My Low Calorie Diet?

Nothing frustrates you more! You’re eating a healthy diet, watching your calories and even exercising regularly, but you’re gaining weight! You start to fear the scale and the thought of abandoning your diet all together crosses your mind.

Wait! Don’t give up just yet. There is a few things to consider if you are gaining weight on your diet. And probably, more than one of these factors are working together. Let’s take a look at these factors and how you can remedy them to get yourself, and your weight loss, back on track.

Lack of sleep

“When you don’t get enough sleep, your body experiences physiological stress and, biochemically, you store fat more efficiently,” explains Michelle May, M.D. and author of Am I Hungry? What to Do When Diets Don’t Work.

Other reasons a lack of sleep may cause weight gain:

  • You don’t handle stress as well, thus causing you to eat to help cope
  • You might be taking ain a few more calories than normal due to late night snacking

Remedy – Commit yourself to getting at least eight hours of sleep at night. Also, try to go to bed at the same time every night to allow your body to fall into a pattern. If all else fails, consult a physician. There might be an underlying problem as to why you can’t sleep at night.


Many things can cause stress; Your job, juggling responsibilities, financial woes, etc. We all endure stress, some more than others, but it’s how our body’s handle stress is what leads to weight gain. Stress triggers a biochemical process that puts our bodies into survival mode, thus causing us to store fuel, slow down metabolism and release chemicals and other hormones that can cause us to store fat.

Remedy – Take up yoga, find a hobby, play with your kids. Basically, find something you enjoy doing that relieves stress. And depending on your stress relieving technique, you might be burning calories in the process!


Certain prescribed drugs can cause weight gain including drugs that treat mood disorders, migraines, depression, blood pressure and so on. Prescription drugs can cause weight gain for many different reasons; increasing the appetite, causing your body to store fat, changing insulin levels, creating water retention, etc. If you suspect your medication is causing weight gain consult your doctor.

Remedy – Do not stop taking your medication without first consulting your doctor. Gaining a few pounds may be a good trade off. Check with your doctor and see if there is any alternative medications they could prescribe.

Medical condition

Certain medical conditions can cause you to gain weight with a common one being hypothyroidism, which decreases your metabolism. Often times symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, lethargic, etc can be a good indicator. However, some people suffer from these medical conditions without even knowing it.

Remedy – If you suspect a medical condition might be causing you to gain weight please consult a physician.

Calorie Fluctuation

When someone starts out on a new low calorie diet they are revved up and willing to give their diet all they got. Which is great, motivation is key, but often times they end up cutting too many calories too begin with. This can lead to a decrease in metabolism and even a loss of muscle mass, which will initially result in weight loss, but typically results in even more weight gain in the end. Any calories you add back into your diet, or if you start to exercise less, may result in fat being stored more easily because of your lower metabolism.

Remedy – Though everybody is different, try not to cut out more than 20% of your daily calories when cutting. For example, if you eat 3000 calories per day to maintain your current body weight and you want to lower your calories to lose fat, then make sure the amount you cut doesn’t exceed 600 calories. Many believe this will keep your body out of starvation mode, thus keeping your metabolism from dropping and your body from storing fat.

Most importantly, just remember you are not alone in your weight loss journey. And if you’re struggling to lose weight, you’re certainly not alone! Which is why we created the Low Calorie Diet Forum so like-minded people (just like YOU!) can work through their struggles and finally find success. Check the forums out and join the conversation – it will always be 100% free!

Other reasons you may experience weight gain:

  • Menopause
  • Menstrual Cycle

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  1. Kayla says

    I’ve actually ran into this problem before and I believe it was because I was eating way more calories than I thought. Once I started writing down my caloric intake I realized I was way over my initial estimate, so I was able to cut more calories out and started to lose weight.

    But, I had no idea that some of these could cause weight gain! Thanks for the heads up on this!

    • says

      That’s actually a very good point Kayla and I’m glad you brought it up. In my experience, people tend to miscalculate the amount of calories they are taking in. I’m glad you got it figured instead of stopping altogether. Nice work! That goes to show that writing down what you eat can be a very powerful tool

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