In A Calorie Deficit But Not Losing Weight

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You’re tracking calories. You think you’re in a calorie deficit, but you’re not losing weight. I’ll explain what could be happening and what you can do to keep the weight loss going.

Hi, it’s Ivana, helping you get fit healthy and strong at any age.

It can be really frustrating because you think you’ve done all the right things you’re tracking over time. You think you’ve set up your calorie deficit correctly, but it’s just not working.

What Is A Calorie Deficit?

A calorie deficit is when you use up more energy than your body needs to sustain itself in its current state. And when that happens, your body digs into its internal storage of energy. And that’s your body fat. If you’re looking for fat loss, that’s what you want.

You can be in a calorie deficit and not lose weight. And we’ll go through a couple of reasons why that might be, but you can’t be in a calorie deficit and not lose fat.

Are You Actually In A Calorie Deficit?

So we’re gonna find out if you’re actually in a calorie deficit and what modifications you can make. If you’re not many factors affect your weight on the scale, hydration levels can make a difference.

How much water you’re taking in or retaining hormones can affect this as well. The current state of your digestion can make a difference in your weight as well.

If you’re really constipated, you’re probably holding in a lot of fiber. And once you get rid of that, you’ll lose that weight.

Body Recomposition And Building Muscle

Now you wanna ask yourself, have you gained muscle? So if you’ve been strength training consistently, so that weight training or body weight training, where you’re trying to push yourself a little bit more, then you could be stimulating. Muscle growth. Muscle is slightly more dense than fat. So if you’re building muscle and losing fat, then you’re doing something called body recomposition. And in that case, you might not see any change in the scale, but you’re gonna notice that you feel leaner and that your clothes fit a little better. When people say that they’re not losing weight in a calorie deficit, the most common reason is they’re not actually in a calorie deficit.

They just think they are.

But how can this be?

You Set Your Calories Too High

The first reason is that you set your calories too high.

Maybe you’ve been using whatever the app is telling you to use for your calorie deficit. That might not be accurate for everybody. You might be using an equation you found online. Also not accurate for everybody.

When you’re setting up your calorie deficit, everything is based on estimates and those estimates can be a bit wrong. It’s not your fault. It’s really hard to find the right information.

Figuring Out Your Maintenance Calories

Sometimes I think it’s actually better for people to just track and monitor their calories for a week. Don’t change anything that will be your maintenance calories. And, you know, that’s how much you’re regularly eating. And from there, you can decide how much you wanna cut your calories by whether it’s 250 calories a day, and then adding exercise.

Or if you able to cut your calories by 500 calories a day, the advantage with that method is that you’re working with your own data, your own particular situation.

And then you can make adjustments that you think will work for you.

Not Tracking Accurately & Not Losing Weight In A Calorie Deficit

Another reason that you might not actually be in a calorie deficit is that you’re not tracking accurately.

It’s really important. If you are counting calories that you are as specific and precise as possible, you want to be able to weigh and measure the quantities of food that you’re eating, pay attention to the serving size on packages. And also be very careful with the entries that you find on these calorie counting apps, because some of them can be really strange. Don’t try to pick one because you think it’s going to get you more calories for that day. If you find yourself a bucket of chicken wings, and someone says that’s a hundred calories, that’s probably not gonna be accurate.

And if you put that into your entries for the day, you’re gonna be pretty off with your estimate. So you have to be very careful with what entries you’re choosing.

Then the quantities that you’re adding. Pay specific attention to things like additional fats and oils that are added to things.

So whether you are cooking eggs or you’re having something in a restaurant, always assume that there’s additional fat and sugar in sauces that are adding calories.

Overestimating Your Calorie Expenditure

You could also be overestimating your calorie expenditure.

I prefer not to track the calorie expenditure specifically. I do like to keep track of how much exercise someone is doing, but I like to focus just on the calorie counting aspect and then modify the exercise as needed. Sometimes people use another system whereby they’re trying to earn extra calories so that their calorie intake for the day can be higher.

I don’t really like that because most of the calorie expenditure charts that you’re gonna find are a little bit of an overestimate. And when you’ve already got the calories, which are just an estimate and then the calories out. Your physical activity, which is also just an estimate, it gets less and less accurate.

So I prefer just to focus on the calories and then over time, add more exercise as needed. So if you’ve been recording your calorie expenditure and adding it to your app, for instance.

In order to earn more calories, that could be another problem because it’s probably overestimating how many calories you’re actually burning off.

You Haven’t Adjusted Your Calorie Deficit For Weight Loss

And the last reason why you might not be in a calorie deficit, even if you think you are, is that you haven’t adjusted your calorie intake.

With that, I’m referring to during the weight loss process.

So let’s say you started off weighing 200 pounds and your goal is 170 pounds. Let’s say you’re already down to 180 pounds.

Awesome, good for you! You’ve lost 20 pounds.

If we use the very simple multiplication of 13 times your body weight in pounds, in order to get maintenance calories. When you were 200 pounds, your maintenance calories were 2,600. Now that you’re down to 180 pounds, then your maintenance calories would be 2,340. So that’s what your body requires to maintain itself. Now at your new weight of 180 pounds. If you still wanna go below 180 pounds and head to your 170 pound target, then you’re gonna need to work out a calorie deficit based on your current weight, what your body needs to maintain itself now in its 180 pound form. So maybe you decide to drop 340 calories, and you’re just having 2000 calories a day.

And over time that will get you to 170 pounds.

Adjusting Your Calorie Deficit As You Lose Weight

Once you get to 170 pounds, you need to realize that your maintenance calories are gonna be even lower.

This is one of the reasons why it’s a lot easier to lose weight at the beginning. When you have more weight to lose, as you get closer and closer to your goal, it gets a little bit harder because you have to keep decreasing your calorie intake.

Adding Exercise For More Calorie Expenditure

You can also include some exercise at that stage, or you can up your overall energy expenditure through walking or more movement throughout the day. Overall, your body’s not gonna need as many calories to sustain itself. If you’re already pretty lean, it’s quite challenging to get leaner, but because at a certain point, the absolute amount of food that you’re eating to sustain your body is going to be less. And if you’re six foot four or six foot five, then you’re always probably going to eat a larger amount of food than someone who’s very petite, maybe five feet tall. They’re not gonna be able to eat as many calories as someone who’s larger. That’s unfortunately just a fact of life. Let me know in the comments, if there’s anything else you’re concerned about, or you’re still not sure why you’re not losing weight and you think you’re in a calorie deficit, please hit the like button. If you found this video useful and check out some of my other video.

Ivana Chapman

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Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman BSc BA CSCS is a Canadian fitness and nutrition coach, happy wife, and mom to an energetic 9-year-old boy. She is a YouTuber, writer, published fitness model, speaker, 3rd Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, former World Cup Karate Champion, one-time marathoner, and CBBF National level Natural Bikini competitor. She loves weight training, chocolate, mountain biking, and ice cream...not always in that order of preference.
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