I’m trying to lose weight. I have been going to the gym about 5 times a week for about 4 months. I feel like I’m getting stronger, I have more energy and generally feel better. I noticed that I haven’t lost any weight and figured I should check my diet. Can you point me in the right direction?

– Jesse


First, keep in mind that muscle is denser than fat, so it weighs more. Getting more tone or noticing looser pants, but still seeing the same number on the scale could mean a gain in lean muscle plus fat loss. Hurray!  Embrace your success in getting healthier. 

If you still suspect your diet has problems, you probably know the reason why better than I’d guess. Common culprits that prevent weight loss are caloric beverages (especially alcohol, smoothies and gourmet coffee drinks), large portions and skipping meals. Here is a 10-point checklist of suggestions to help you identify where you might improve: 

  • Starting meals when hungry, finishing when satisfied (instead of ravenous/stuffed)? 
  • Eating 4-6 servings of vegetables per day? 
  • Drinking 6-8 cups of water per day? 
  • Starting your big meals off with salad or raw veggies? 
  • Limiting fried, sugary or alcoholic items to three small servings weekly? 
  • Eating no more than 1 packaged/prepared meal daily? 
  • Eating on a regular schedule, not more than 6 hours apart during the day? 
  • Including a small amount of your favorite foods so you’re not deprived? 
  • Reading labels for comparison to choose better items at the grocery store? 
  • Recording your intake so you stay on track? 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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