Still cannot lose weight yet you are doing everything possible?
Do you find yourself blaming your weight on hormones – maybe you think it is your thyroid?
Or maybe you feel like you are chronically stressed and it’s preventing the fat from melting off?
Or maybe you are just destined to be overweight because it’s in your GENES?
You feel like you are barely eating anything – and the weight still doesn’t come off.
Oh wait……it must be the carbs. Too many carbs.
If this sounds like you then read on!!!
Most people are aware of the law of calorie balance – calories in vs. calories out. But sometimes the best equations on paper don’t result in weight loss in real life scenarios – how can this be? One thing we know is absolutely true – weight loss will ABSOLUTELY occur when there is a calorie deficit. But there are at least 6 reasons you cannot lose weight and I will explain each below.
Weight loss does not always prove itself on the scale. Even when a calorie deficit is present over a period of time - the scale may take some time to respond. Take note of measurements, change in body fat or increase in lean body mass. All this can take place and change while scale weight stays the same. Water retention and/or an increase in lean body mass can be the reason for a stuck scale. So don’t despair!! Be sure to chart all aspects of progress and analyze the trend so you can better understand the numbers.
All these factors need to be taken into consideration before deciding if your program is working or not.
Calorie formulas give us just an estimate. There are so many weight loss calculators and the key ones we need to use are: BMR (basal metabolic rate which is the number of calories your burn at rest or to sustain your body’s basic life functions) and; TDEE (total daily expenditure which totals the amount of calories you burn on a daily basis).
The Harris Benedict formula and the Katch-Mcardle formula are pretty darn accurate and can be off by 3%-8% for the majority of people. In RARE cases this number can be off by as much as 25% but this is again……rare.
So if you are using these calculations and your numbers don’t add up to results – again, results will happen in a calorie deficit. You may have a lower BMR than estimated and in that fact – your numbers may over shoot your allowed calorie intake and then you cannot lose weight!!
Some calculations for TDEE can overestimate activity by up to 10-15%. The Katch-McCardle Formula will give you the highest estimate whereas the Owens-Mifflin formula may be a better calculation for overweight/obese men and women who tend to be less active and more sedentary. Although these calculations are just estimates they are still a good starting point. With a good tracking device and monitoring your caloric ins and outs you will be better at deciphering whether you need to reduce your calorie intake, increase your activity level or increase your calorie intake. But either way……once again, fat is lost through calories in vs. calories out. So hold off on the fancy hormonal testing or parasite removal meds and know your numbers to lose weight!!! How many calories are you taking in and how many are you expending? If you don’t know these figures – start journaling!!! Use an online tool like My Fitness Pal to help you develop a descriptive food journal.
You burned 600 calories in 30 minutes!!! REALLY???? I see this all the time, people would show me their My Fitness Pal or some tracker like that and state that they burned 600 calories in zhumba. Really? How would we really know without being hooked up to some fancy, high tech equipment.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, women swore they were diet RESISTANT and actually underestimated their food intake by as much as 47% and overestimated their exercise by 51%!!! That is a HUGE AMOUNT!! Some women were eating more than 1000 calories than what they estimated – and they were the ones convinced that they cannot lose weight and instead it was their hormones.
Plan a menu ahead of time and really KNOW how much oatmeal = 100 calories, for example. Do not guesstimate!!! Know how much you are eating and what is in your food. Roasted veggies sound great – but when they are over loaded with olive oil the calorie intake can be greatly increased.
Why do you think body builders eat the plainest of meals? Because they know EXACTLY what is in it. They can get very close to knowing their calorie intake because it’s SIMPLE and CLEAR.
3 oz. chicken breast
1 cup broccoli
½ cup brown rice
1 cup black coffee
VOILA!!! A meal.
I know….sounds boring as all get out. I couldn’t do it!!! Really…..I’d go nutty!! But, I could do it for some things.
½ cup oatmeal – 100 calories
2 TBSP. Honey – 60 calories
1 scoop protein powder – 130 calories
4 oz. almond milk – 20 calories
Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
VOILA!!! Breakfast!!! That I could do. It works for me….it’s simple and clear and it will help you lose weight.
You have lost 50 lbs. or so and now you cannot lose weight? Why did this happen? I mean, things were ticking right along and BAM!! Now you can’t lose an ounce.
A lot of people lose weight in the beginning by simply eating better. So they took out all the junk and ate more healthy foods but during this process a calorie deficit existed.
But now you weigh 50 lbs. less? So the calculation for that deficit is different.
For example, let’s say a 5’4” woman weighs 250 lbs. – her Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is about 2500 calories if she is exercising lightly for 3 days per week. So a 20% deficit would equal 2000 calories per day total intake – which would be a 500 calorie deficit.
But now let’s say she weighs 200 lbs. because she has lost 50 lbs. total – now her TDEE is 2180!!! So if she is still eating 2000 calories a day her deficit would barely be enough to make a difference and then she cannot lose weight. She really needs to re-calculate and consume about 1740 calories per day to create a 20% deficit.
So again, numbers are important!! In the real world of fat loss – numbers are key.
Last and final reason you cannot lose weight can be due to a prolonged calorie deficit – you know, those 1200 calorie diets that people are on for 6 weeks at the very least and up to a year at times. I have heard of people consuming 1200 calories for at least a year and they weigh approximately 250 lbs. At this time, their weight loss has become stagnant and no progress is being made.
This is also known as “adaptive thermogenesis” a.k.a. “starvation mode”.
There are some other factors that play into this – but in general your metabolism can decrease by 5-10% and some studies show that some people have lowered their metabolism by as much as 30% by doing a very low calorie diet.
Just today as I am writing this article a lady who weighs 200 lbs. came in to me and she decided to reduce her calorie intake to 1200 calories per day to “jump start” her weight loss. FOLKS!!! No, no, no!!! Please don’t think that this will give you a head start – instead this is like trying to run a race dragging a sled behind you. It WILL slow you down.
When people do these very low calorie diets a host of other situations occur. For one, their general level of non-exercise activity (NEAT) decreases and there is an increase in appetite which can lead to binging cycles.
When all of this occurs it can mean a disaster for dieters because they cannot understand why eating so little produces little to no results. A metabolism that is not functioning at its optimal level can make this journey of weight loss HE** on wheels!!!
So in a nutshell – the thing you need to ask yourself is “where has my calorie deficit gone?”
Don’t torcher yourself by wondering why you cannot lose weight– instead zone in more and try to figure out if you are in a calorie deficit or not. What things may you be doing that is eliminating your calorie deficit?
If after all this investigating and you STILL aren’t losing weight then it may be time to look a bit deeper into some physiology. It could be due to digestive issues, adrenal issues, blood sugar management issues, etc.
Finding a good functional medicine doctor will help you diagnose these issues. If you are not familiar with a functional medicine doctor – it is a fully trained MD who happens to be trained in functional medicine. They tend to look at the whole body and find a root to the issue at hand rather than just treating symptoms. A functional medicine doctor can help you get to the bottom of cortisol issues, adrenal issues, digestive issues, etc. which may be stalling your weight loss efforts.