So you are in a calorie deficit but not losing weight huh?
You are probably beyond frustrated about this. It takes time and effort to count your calories, watch your diet, and you expect to lose some damn weight!
It can be super demoralizing when you are doing something people say is going to work and nothing happens.
Well don’t worry because in this article I am going to give you everything you need to know about if you are in a calorie deficit but not losing weight.
There can be a few possibilities that are going on so what I need from you is to not skip a word or a line.
Seriously. I know you may be frustrated and that is why I am going to give you the answers you are looking for.
I just need you to read them in their entirety.
Cool? Okay sweet then, let’s hop into it.
In A Calorie Deficit But Not Losing Weight
When it comes to being in a calorie deficit but not losing weight you have to remember this.
A calorie deficit is not a “diet”.
A calorie deficit is simply just an energy balance equation. You are intaking less calories than you are burning, that is the only way you will lose weight.
That doesn’t mean you necessarily have to count calories in order to lose weight (although it is by far the most accurate and effective way to know if you are in a calorie deficit).
Yet this does mean whether you count calories, do keto, intermittent fast, whatever.
The only way you are going to lose weight is if you create this negative energy balance equation, aka being in a calorie deficit.
Therefore it isn’t like saying “oh I am doing keto but not losing weight” or “ I am fasting but not losing weight”.
Those two things can happen. What can’t happen though is you being in a calorie deficit and not losing weight.
That is the only way you can lose weight and if you are not, then you are not in a calorie deficit.
Now I know this may frustrate you even more, but give me a shot here as I am just trying to help you out.
There are inherent reasons why you think you are in a calorie deficit but you may actually not be. I am going to list and explain in depth those reasons below.
In A Calorie Deficit But Not Losing Weight : 4 Reasons Why
There are a few things that could be potentially going on here that are making you not see weight loss progress.
Read each section in it’s entirety to see what could potentially be going on in your scenario.
#1 Not Counting Calories Accurately
This is by far, bar none, the most common thing I see amongst people who claim they are in a calorie deficit but not losing weight.
I probably have a this conversation anywhere from 5-15x a day whether through my instagram dm’s, tik tok comments, emails, wherever.
Truthfully I can’t blame a lot of people for it because a lot of people don’t know how to count calories accurately.
Let me break this down for you as simply as I possibly can.
If you are not,
- using a food scale
- Weighing ALL of your food out in grams on a food scale (not cups, ounces, or tablespoons)
- Doing this for every food item you consume
Then you are not counting calories, you are guessing your calories.
You are guessing your portion sizes, you are guessing how many calories you are eating, and you actually have no clue how many calories you are eating.
I am not saying this to razz you or get you even more upset, I am saying this because I want you to win and see results.
You cannot say you are counting calories if you are not doing the three things I just said above.
Why? Because you randomly looking at a piece of chicken and arbitrarily deciding it is about 4ounces is not good enough.
You have no clue how many ounces or calories it is. You are guessing.
If you are guessing on how many grams of strawberries you ate or not tracking the 4 bites of goldfish you had off of your kids plate isn’t tracking calories. It is guessing.
Why is this an issue? Isn’t it “close enough”?
No, it is not.
I wrote and entire article here that lays out how most people could be missing anywhere from 500-2000 calories per day by “guessing” on their portion sizes.
Point being, you think you are eating 1400 calories and you are getting so frustrated you are not losing weight.
When in reality if you are being honest with yourself, you have no clue how many calories you are eating. That is why you are not seeing results.
Because remember if you were in a calorie deficit you would be losing weight, as that is the only way to lose weight.
Now, to answer some questions I know you may have.
Why Do I Have To Use Grams and Not Ounces or Cups Or Tablespoons?
Cups, ounces, and tablespoons measure the volume of something.
You are not measuring the volume of a chicken breast or rice, you are measuring the weight.
The unit of measurement of weight is grams. Therefore, you need to be weighing your food in grams on your food scale.
I did an entire in depth video on exactly how to count calories for free on my YouTube channel. This is the same video I send to my 1:1 online coaching clients so I am not holding anything back from you.
I will link that HERE if you want to learn how to accurately count calories so you can start seeing the results you want.
Do I Have To Use A Food Scale Forever?!
No, you don’t. I don’t expect you to nor do I expect any of my clients to.
But I will say this. For a short period of time, say 30, 60, 90 days, yes you should be using a food scale 100% during that time period.
Why? Because right now you do not know how many calories a food has. You are guessing because you don’t know.
That is why you are in this position you are in right now.
To learn and get educated so you will be in a better position to guesstimate later down the road, you first have to put in the work upfront of learning.
The work is using your food scale for a short period of time. No if and’s or but’s about it.
Now you don’t have to by all means. I get sometimes it can be a pain or it can be tedious.
But if you are reading this article I think you want to see results.
I tell my clients all the time. Put in that extra inch of effort ( taking 5-10 min a day to use your food scale ) to see the extra miles of results ( reaching your goal body weight ).
Okay But How Many Calories Should I Eat To Lose Weight?!
Great question. I am so glad you asked!
If you want, I can gift a free calorie calculator to you (see, I am not all that bad!!).
I will link it HERE if you want to know how many calories you should eat to lose weight.
#2 Not Counting Bites & Snacks & Oils
To piggy back off of the last point we just made, this one pops up time and time again.
Let me make this clear once again.
Those 6 goldfish you stole off of your kids plate, that has calories.
The 3 bites you had of your spouses sandwich, that has calories.
The olive oil you cook with has 120 calories per serving.
All of these have calories and they all count towards your daily calorie intake.
Many people think that oh because it is so small it isn’t that big of a deal!
Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.
If you have 40 calories from the goldfish, then 70 calories from the few bites of sandwich, then 240 calories from olive oil that you used 2x that day.
That is 350 calories just in that one day alone. Not to mention if that is happening everyday over the course of a week.
Therefore if you swear up and down you are eating 1300 calories, in reality you are eating closer to 1650-1700 calories.
Hence, once more, you would not actually be in a calorie deficit.
You may not think the bites and snacks throughout the day add up, but they do.
You also may not even be doing this intentionally! It is easy to get consumed with work, kids, always running around 24/7 and you become mindless.
Therefore I would challenge you to really audit your tracking and be honest with yourself.
What I do with my online coaching clients is I make them snap a picture of every single thing that goes into their mouth for 3 days straight.
I don’t care if it’s an ice cube, I want a picture.
This way it forces you to be mindful and work towards tracking everything in it’s entirety, getting you closer to your goals.
#3 Not Being Consistent Enough
This one can really open your eyes.
If you would bet your life savings you are in a calorie deficit but not losing weight this story is for you.
I had a conversation with a very kind lady in my instagram dm’s not too long ago.
She was essentially telling me she was beyond confused and frustrated as to why she was not seeing results.
She was eating 1500 calories every single day like she was supposed to but not losing weight! What gives?!
So I asked her this simple question.
“Do me a favor. Go back and look at your last 31 days. How many days did you hit or stay under your calorie goal, and how many days did you exceed your calorie goal or simply not track calories that day?”.
Her response was she hit her calories 14 days and did not hit or did not track calories 17 days.
I then proceeded to ask
“Perfect, that would be 45% consistency with hitting your calories. Do you think that is good enough to see results?”.
She was shocked. She would have bet her entire life savings she was 100% consistent over that time span.
Yet when she went back and looked she was only 45% consistent, which is clearly not consistent enough to produce results not just with calorie counting but with anything in life.
I urge you right now to be honest with yourself and go back and look at your last 31 days. Do the same thing I just did here above.
If you are anything less than 85% consistent, then you have no reason to be upset or confused at your progress or lack there of.
You simply just are not being consistent enough to see results.
Again, this may not even be intentional. Oftentimes when people get into a “dieting” mindset they would swear they are being so consistent!
Yet when you actually go back and look at it you can see the facts.
If you want to see results, you need at least 85-90% consistent over a months span.
Anything less than that simply will not cut it.
A great way you can do this is get something called a consistency calendar.
My pal and mentor Jordan Syatt came up with this a while ago and it works wonders.
Get a calendar. Yes a physical calendar.
For everyday you hit your calories, give yourself a red X.
For everyday you do not hit your calories, give yourself a black O.
This way day by day you can have your visual of your consistency and can track it.
Remember what get’s tracked gets improved upon. If you start tracking your consistency, I can guarantee you will become more consistent.
#4 Not Being Patient Enough
This one I know you struggle with if you swear you are in a calorie deficit but not losing weight.
Notice how in the previous section above I asked that woman how consistent she had been in the last 31 days.
Not 3 days, not 3 hours. 31 days.
You have been in a calorie deficit for 48 hrs and expect to see drastic change.
It is not going to work like that, I am sorry.
This sh*t takes time.
I know you may be used to the fad diets and the advertisements claiming you can lose 10lbs in a week but that is simply not realistic.
You need to go into this journey with realistic expectations upfront. I promise it is going to make things much more enjoyable for you.
Remember that losing anywhere from .5-1lb per week on average would be considered tremendous, healthy progress.
That means in a months span if you lost 2-4 lbs, you are crushing it.
Don’t fall for the gimmick lose weight quick schemes. That is probably what got you here right now.
The quicker you lose it the quicker you put it back on.
The hard part for you or anyone is usually not losing the weight. You can normally lose the weight by cutting out carbs or sugar. By only drinking smoothies or doing detox cleanses.
But the weight never stays off. Why?
Because what you are doing to lose the wight is not sustainable, therefore the results will not be sustainable either.
Take your time. Do things the right way and this time around it will be the last time you have to “diet” ever again.
In A Calorie Deficit But Not Losing Weight : Bonus Disclaimer
Losing Fat & Gaining Muscle
So, let’s say you are of the .01% of people who is doing everything right of what I said above.
You are counting calories accurately, you are being consistent enough, the whole 9.
You actually could be in a calorie deficit and not losing weight. Here is why.
Let’s also assume you have recently started a strength training routine because you know it is optimal for losing body fat and building the body you want. (You did know that, right?!).
Here is what could be happening for you.
If you are a beginner and have recently started working out you could absolutely be building some lean muscle mass.
If you are also in a calorie deficit, you absolutely could and are losing body fat.
Let’s say you gain 3 lbs of muscle in a month. 2lbs on your glutes and 1 lb on your shoulder.
Let’s say you lose 3lbs of fat from your stomach in a month.
Remember muscle weighs the same as fat. (It does not weigh more than fat, idk where that came from but that is inaccurate).
Therefore if you lost 3lbs of fat, but gained 3lbs of muscle, the scale wouldn’t change.
It would remain the exact same.
But, your body would look different and your measurements would be down.
This is why you need to be taking more than just your weight. Your weight is by far the worst indicator of fat loss progress.
For so many reasons, but mainly because it fluctuates a ton and it won’t show muscle gain progress like measurements or pictures would.
Not to say you don’t weigh yourself, you can and should weigh yourself.
In fact my clients weigh in everyday so we can get all of the data points for the entire month and notice trends.
But you should also be taking measurements every 2 weeks and progress pictures every 4 weeks.
This way you can know even if you wight didn’t go down, but your measurements did and your progress pictures look different, you are losing fat.
In A Calorie Deficit But Not Losing Weight : Final Word
There you have it. The top 5 reasons as to why you might be in a calorie deficit but not losing weight.
Or so you thought you were in a calorie deficit at least.
I challenge you to really audit yourself and be incredibly honest and objective with what is going on in your journey.
The more honest and objective you can be, the more results you will see. ( Hey, that rhymed! ).
If you have any questions feel free to drop them below or if you know someone who needs to read this, feel free to send it on over to them.
If you are interested in joining My Clubhouse where you can get all of my latest training programs and dietary guidelines, you can head HERE to check that out.
Other than that, talk soon.