Yes, calories are important, ultimately, we have to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight. However, it becomes more complex than just simply eating less.
Over time our metabolism can adapt. This means that our body instinctively becomes more efficient at using less to accomplish the same task.
Take a person that weighs 80kg. This person might have a resting basal metabolic weight (BMR) which is a fancy way of saying maintenance calories of 2000 calories per day.
Now if this person loses 5kg dropping to 75kg, they’re BMR (how much they can eat without gaining or losing weight) will change as well. Now this isn’t an accurate number but let’s say their BMR goes from 2000 calories a day to 1500.
This means that in order for this person to lose weight they must drop roughly 200-300 less than 1500 calories per day.
Now here is where it gets tricky. People often gain weight back (shocked?) after dieting. They will go back to their pre-diet weight and research suggests they can even exceed their pre-diet weight!
So this 75kg goes back to 80kg for argument sake. They’re metabolism however does not change as rapidly.
This means, that instead of being able to go into a calorie deficit (dropping below their previous 2000 calories) instead they might still be around that 1500 mark. They now have to drop too 1200-1300 in order to lose weight.
This is not sustainable!
A large body of research now states that importance of reverse dieting, having refeeds and even interval dieting.
A lot of coaches out there fail to understand this concept that the metabolism does not fluctuate to the same speed that body weight can change. The result?
A coach that gets frustrated with a client, or a client that get’s down on themselves for not achieving results, or someone who jumps to the next hottest FAD diet.
Ultimately this is not setting you up for a successful weight loss journey. You may lose weight in the short term, this is easy. The hard part is keeping the weight off, creating sustainable habits and longevity.
You aren’t tracking properly
This has some research behind it to suggest that people, on average suck at tracking their meals. They might neglect to include some oils or sauces they had with a meal or forget that they had a beverage or grabbed their kids left over dinner. The little things can add up.
This is still a valid point, but not the only reason for someone being unable to lose weight.
As we mentioned above, making reductionist statements about the quality that a person is tracking is failing to view them as a person. You reading this will present with a range of different challenges than the next person reading this blog. To simply place everyone in the same category is a sign of poor coaching.
One of them is being listened to and understood.
Ok so by now you’re probably thinking, so what can I do.
First you’ll need to ask yourselves a few questions to determine what to do next.
1. How long have you been dieting?
If you have been dieting for over 3 months or have tried a series of diets in the past couple of years, you need to give yourself a rest.
Take some time to focus on eating good quality foods, creating habits such as having protein at every meal, 4-6 serves of vegetables per day and eating a mixture of colours.
If you have been jumping from diet to diet, chances are your metabolism will need some R&R. The time will be different for everyone but if you’ve been going for a couple of years, it could potentially take a few years of cycling between higher calories and maintenance calories to get you back to a healthy baseline with your BMR.
2. How is the quality of your sleep and stress levels?
Sleep and stress can have huge implications for losing weight! Hormones such as Leptin (feeling of fullness or satiation) and Ghrelin (hunger hormone) are 2 well known hormones that impact our ability to curb our hunger. There are a number of others but the gist is that sleep and stress both impact these hormones.
Studies indicate that someone with 4 hours of sleep vs someone with 8 hours of sleep could eat the same meal in terms of calories and have 2 completely effects. The former still feeling hungry, the later feeling like they had a good meal.
3. Are you moving enough?
Do you reach the current physical activity guidelines? A lot of Australians don’t unfortunately.
They are :
Complete 150-300 minutes of low-moderate activity e.g. walking each week. Plus
Complete 2 resistance training sessions per week.
Moving is a contributor to losing weight, we burn energy through movement.
Don’t neglect this factor in your journey to lose weight!
These are some common pitfalls people can overlook within their journey to losing weight. However, there are over 100 reasons and interactions that can alter weight loss.
If you are looking at tracking your calories you may:
- Save your meal in the options menu (MyFitnessPal) so it makes it quick and easy to input next time around – to prevent you from missing a meal or ingredient
- Track before you eat or straight after – again to prevent those lapses or unconscious moments of eating
If you need to improve your metabolism:
Look to having a refeed – this means if you are dieting, have periodic breaks with days you eat more or weeks you eat more
Reverse dieting is where you increase your calories 200-300 in excess of your normal maintenance calories and you do this for a period of time before coming back down.
If it’s an area of your lifestyle that you are struggling with you could:
Improve your sleep hygiene – aim for 7-8 hours per night
Manage your stress by meditating, reading, getting outdoors, doing more of what you love.
Find a good quality coach, someone who will take the time to listen to you, understand you and work with you!
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