When weight loss doesn’t happen

Fitness Ignited - Blog - Calories and weight loss

Ever feel like you’re “eating perfectly” but still not losing weight? 

It’s possible. But it’s not what happens most often. Usually, there are one of two things going on:

Problem #1: You’re eating more than you realise. 
Problem #2: What you think is the “right amount”… isn’t. 

Or, it could be both.

Here’s a fun example

Let’s say you’re trying to lose weight and eating 500 fewer daily calories than what you’d need to maintain your weight. 

Hypothetically, that’s enough to lose close to half a kilo a week. 

That’s with no… hiccups.

Maybe you’ve got a great routine down, and you’re consistently eating the same amount and nailing your calorie intake goal. You even have enough room in your daily diet for two glasses of wine (one with dinner and one after). 

You like eating this way, and it feels pretty sustainable. Perfect. Except a couple of things… 

Your two glasses of wine are actually 230ml each (200 calories), instead of the standard 150ml (125 calories). Those liberal pours give you an extra 150 calories a day. 

This is really easy to do, just check out the photo below.

The glass on the left has 230ml of red wine. On the right, 150ml (a “standard serving”). 

As you can see, the shape and size of the glass make it hard to eyeball portion size. There’s not much room for error. 

But that’s not all… On Saturday night, you have friends over and grab takeaway from the Thai restaurant. You order the Thai Coconut Lime Chicken, which sounds reasonable and looks pretty healthy.

But… it’s 1,980 calories. And because your friends overstay (okay, you encouraged them!), you have four “servings” of wine instead of your usual two. 

Despite your consistent eating, after the extra wine and the one meal from the Thai restaurant, you end up with just a 70 calorie deficit for the week versus your planned 3,500 calorie deficit. 

Wine here is just an example. It could easily be that dessert each night or those ‘snacks’ in the evening. It all adds up. 

So you don’t lose weight. 

Disappointing, for sure. 

This is a pretty simplistic example, but it’s exactly the kind of thing that happens to many people who struggle to lose weight despite feeling like they’re eating exactly how they planned. Because they were – almost.

But what about Problem #2? 

Well, your individual body may be playing a role in your challenges, too. For example: 

► Your basal metabolic rate—the energy you need just to fuel your organs and biological functions to stay alive—can vary by 15%. For the average person, that’s roughly 200-270 calories a day. 

► Sleep deprivation can cause a 5-20% change in metabolism (the equivalent of 200-500 calories a day).  

► If you are stressed, stress slows down metabolism by suppressing thyroid production, intensifies cravings, makes it harder to sleep and drains energy making it harder to workout. 

► For women, the phase of their menstrual cycle can affect metabolism by another 150 calories a day or so. 

This is why all calorie calculations are just a starting point. You try to consistently eat a certain amount, and if after, say 2-3 weeks you’re not seeing changes, you can adjust. 

The truth is, it’s not necessarily just about cutting more calories. It could be, for example, that “the fix” is getting more sleep. Or moving a little more. Or finding ways to improve stress resilience and recovery. 

This is where coaching can be really valuable. Because you don’t have to figure it out by yourself. And you don’t always see what your Coach can see.

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