Let me guess…

You’re well aware that eating sugar leads to weight gain.

You’ve been diligently working on cutting out sugar.

Yet, you’re still struggling to lose weight.

You’re not alone. I hear it all the time clients complaining that they’ve swapped shakes for smoothies and pastries for protein bars yet, no weight loss.

I know firsthand how frustrating it is to put in the work and watch the scale move in the opposite direction. But before ditching the diet and unleashing on Ben and Jerry, you should know some simple troubleshooting may be all it takes to get your diet back on track. The following are 5 of the most common reasons you’re not losing weight while dieting.

1. You’re Addicted to Caffeine

With 31,000+ locations in 70 countries, Starbucks understands just how much people LOVE their caffeine. The problem is, it isn’t just the coffee we’re all addicted to it’s the delicious syrup, creamer, and flavoring we’re adding to it. So unless you’re ordering unadulterated beverages, you’re likely consuming an obscene amount of sugar with your Starbucks fix.

But Starbucks isn’t the only company feeding our caffeine addictions. Let’s talk for a minute about energy drinks. It’s no secret that we’ve become energy obsessed I mean, we have entire grocery store aisles devoted to energy drinks. And as with coffee, many of these products contain considerable amounts of sugar.

Beyond the ill effects of sugar, there’s also caffeine to consider. Studies suggest caffeine activates cortisol (the stress hormone). This activation can lead to an over-production of cortisol. And increased levels of cortisol have been known to promote sugary cravings and contribute to weight gain.

2. You’re Supplementing with Juices and Smoothies

Supplementing with Juices and Smoothies
With juice cafes cropping up across America, it’s clear, juicing is trending. While the concept of “juice cleansing” seems perfectly healthy there’s just one problem fruit juice serves up a hefty dose of sugar with its nutrients. What’s more, fruit juice sends blood sugar soaring, and unstable blood sugar promotes sugary cravings.

As for smoothies, unfortunately, these aren’t much better. First off, if your post-workout smoothie tastes like a dream come true, it’s probably chock full of sugar. What’s more, most protein powders on the market are full of additives, fillers, and even toxins no thanks!

Beyond that, it’s with good reason we’re told not to “drink our calories.” Drinking calories does not properly signal our “satiety hormone,” leptin. The role of leptin is to notify the brain that we’ve had enough to eat. This explains why “meal replacement shakes” aren’t nearly as satisfying as an actual meal.

3. You’re Not Eating Enough Fat

Eating Enough Fat
Conventional nutrition has taught us that eating fat will make us fat. This advice has us choking down rice cakes and chicken breasts to shed the ol’ muffin top. The good news is, this outdated approach is being challenged worldwide by big-name Dietitians, Nutritionists, and Doctors.

Research is mounting to suggest taking daily vitamins is a waste of time unless you’re chasing them with adequate amounts of water and healthy fats. The thing is, healthy fats are necessary for nutrient absorption. In fact, compounds such as lutein, beta-carotene, and vitamin E are entirely dependent upon healthy fats for proper utilization. What’s more, adequate nutrient absorption is directly tied to appetite suppression.

Beyond proper nutrient absorption, fat also aids in combating cravings. Craving sugar is the body’s way of asking for more fuel. As we know, the body fuels off of glucose (sugar and carbs), as well as fat. And because fat is more calorically dense than glucose, it’s more sustainable fuel for the body. This means, by eating more fat, you’ll feel fuller for longer.

4. You’re Powering with Protein Bars

Powering with Protein Bars
Protein bars are an excellent idea, in theory. They’re quick and easy fuel designed to hold you over until your next meal. The problem is, most are packed with so much sugar they’re basically glorified candy bars.

So how about protein bars claiming to be low-to-no-sugar are those okay?

The truth is, most sugar-free protein bars compensate for flavor by loading up on artificial sugars such as aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose. Although these sweeteners are FDA approved, there is mounting evidence linking synthetic sweeteners to weight gain, metabolic dysfunction, and even Type-2 Diabetes.

Even worse, to enhance flavor and prolong shelf life, many protein bars are packed with additives and preservatives such as maltodextrin, caramel coloring, and soy protein isolate none of which are good. Maltodextrin, for instance, has been coined “metabolic death food,” spiking blood sugar, causing kidney stress, and suppressing probiotic growth.

5. You’re Eating Too Much Fruit

Eating Too Much Fruit
Fruit is fair game while dieting, right? It’s low-calorie and nutrient-dense plus, it’s part of a healthy balanced diet. Sure, fruit IS packed with nutrients, but you know what else it’s packed with? Sugar. Would you be surprised to hear that a medium-sized apple contains more sugar than a Dunkin’ Donut? Kinda has me rethinking the whole “apple-a-day” advice.

Yea, but it’s good sugar!

Sorry to break it to you, but there’s no such thing as good sugar. In fact, according to the Harvard Health blog, “Virtually every cell in the body can use glucose for energy. In contrast, only liver cells break down fructose. What happens to fructose inside liver cells is complicated. One of the end products is triglyceride, a form of fat. Uric acid and free radicals are also formed. None of this is good.”

Now, I’m certainly not advising you to trade apples for donuts, just suggesting that too much fruit could be negatively affecting your waistline.

The Bottom Line

Losing weight is challenging and even more so when you’re up against hidden sugars, additives, and preservatives.

The best way to take control of your diet is to become informed. Start reading labels. Keep your eye on sugar content and the ingredients list. If you don’t recognize the ingredients, or worse yet can’t pronounce them you’re better off without them.

Additionally, try minimizing your intake of processed and packaged food items by incorporating more fresh ingredients into your diet.