Most people think that losing weight is all about controlling your calories and and exercising. It’s much more complex than that though. Here are 6 new reasons why you’re not losing weight.

1. High Stress Levels (cortisol overload)

The stress hormone cortisol triggers the fight-or-flight response, which is an appetite stimulant. In addition, it steps up the production of a certain brain chemical, neuropeptide Y, which increases cravings for carbohydrates.

Even when you don’t give in to cravings, stress is a major obstacle to burning fat. Too much cortisol slows metabolism. Even worse, excessive stress causes fat to be stored in the abdominal area, where weight is harder to lose.

All in all, you’ll want to pay attention to your cortisol (stress levels) if you want to lose weight. If you’ve just finished a long, 14 hours work shift, it may not be a good idea to go on that 45-min jog as that could send your stress levels through the roof.

2. Not Enough Sleep

It’s not so much that if you sleep, you will lose weight, but if you are sleep-deprived, meaning that you are not getting enough minutes of sleep or good quality sleep, your metabolism will not function properly. On average, we need about 7.5 hours of quality sleep per night.

The two hormones that are key in this process are ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the ‘go’ hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you are sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin. Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating, and when you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin.

In fact, studies have shown that a loss of 3 hours of sleep each night causes a weight gain of 4-5%.

3. Not Drinking Enough Water

When you’re dehydrated, your kidneys can’t function properly, so the body turns to the liver for additional support. Because the liver is working so hard, more of the fat you consume is stored rather than burned off.

4. Not Planning Ahead

Preparation is your biggest ally in the battle of the bulge. All the healthy eating and exercise in the world will not make up for that 3 day weekend getaway you plan on drinking pints or sucking down whip cream infused strawberry daiquiris, while devouring typical vacation fair.

5. Not Eating Enough

Eat less and exercise more. In a vacuum you may be correct. The body is a finely tuned, intelligent machine though. When slashing calories be careful not to cut too many. Leaving too many calories on the plate can be as detrimental to weight loss as eating too much. When you decrease calories too low your body goes into starvation mode and your metabolism crashes.

A sluggish metabolism is the quickest way to stop weight loss. What typically follows is frustration, starvation, lethargy, and even depression, resulting in a binge. Binging with a slow metabolism is a double whammy sure to lead to more fat accumulation.

6. Too Many Liquid Calories

Liquids will not make you feel full. It’s double jeopardy because you will still eat enough calories to make you feel satisfied. Fruit juice, soft drinks, sports drinks, and alcohol will destroy your weight loss goals. Ditch them. If you must have them opt for sugar free or diet varieties and limit alcohol to 1-3 drinks per week. For many people this alone will be enough to see a significant difference in weight and energy levels within 2 weeks.