There are typically exceptions to every rule, but if you’re working to get lean and aren’t making continued progress regardless if you're feeling like you’ve tried it all, the answer is probably an easy fix...so let's discuss a few options I've seen come up on more than occasion.
You might think you’re eating, for example, 1900 calories a day, but I can guarantee that if you’ve been consistently failing to lose weight, you’re eating more than you thought without even realizing it.
I’ve been doing fitness coaching in some form or another for over three decades now, and I can truthfully say that in almost all cases where someone tells me they can’t lose fat, even while even being on a “low-calorie diet”, many times they were never even on a low enough calorie diet, to start with.
When we do an online consultation, we'll break down your entire daily step by step plan, and then add up all the calories you're actually eating. You're usually ending up pretty close to your caloric maintenance level instead of being in a calorie deficit.
Without a consistent calorie deficit in place, you're quite simply NOT going to lose any visible amount of body fat.
Regardless of how “healthy” you eat throughout the day or if your diet is made up of nothing but lean protein, high fiber carbs, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats.
Fat loss is only going to occur at a significant rate if the number of calories you’re burning is greater than the number of calories you’re consuming over a consistent period of time.
If your calorie intake is equal to your calorie expenditure, your body will have little to no "signal" to tap into stored body fat as a source of energy.
This is one of the most important baseline factors of fitness and most people simply don’t train hard enough effort or properly monitor their eating habits to ensure that they are in fact in a calorie deficit.
After nearly three solid decades and tons of data research available online, it's possible with a simple Google search...to establish this "fitness factoid"
When people start an unsupervised weight loss or fitness program, they’ll very often under-report their calorie intake, their effort during training and sometimes by a pretty significant margin.
These are just a few of the available studies that have examined this topic…
The discrepancy between self-reported and actual caloric intake and exercise in obese subjects.(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1454084)
The validity of self-reported energy intake as determined using the doubly labeled water technique. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11348556)
Systematic errors in middle-aged women’s estimates of energy intake.(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12495831)
Undereating and underrecording of habitual food intake in obese men. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10617957)
The validity of self-reported energy intake in lean and obese young women.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11641742
Psychosocial predictors of energy underreporting in a large doubly labeled water study. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15113717)
This issue of caloric under-reporting happens for a few main reasons…
A) People tend not to track their food intake with very much precision and can't lose weight. They eat a “see food” diet (what they see they eat) and think it’s “clean house diet” throughout the day, without realizing that their individual food choices won’t make any difference at all if their overall calorie intake is too high. As a result of not monitoring things closely enough, they still go overboard on total calories despite eating consumer labels that are deceptively labeled as “healthy” foods.
B) They don’t track foods things properly and making small errors with their food choices or measurements that add up throughout the day.
C) They’re taking the needed “re-feed day” or the idea of “cheat meals” and “cheat days” a bit too far, and this is impacting their overall net calorie totals.
When you think about the typical calorie deficit for fat loss is usually around 250-500 calories below maintenance, it basically takes just a series of mistakes throughout the day for your calorie deficit to be significantly reduced or erased altogether.
For example, if what you think is 1 tablespoon of peanut is actually 1.5- 2 “heaping” tablespoons (the common “eye-balling it” error), that’s 100-150 extra calories right there.
Other items that get added into your plan without much of a second thought can also add up big time in the overall picture if you aren’t careful.
An extra glass of fruit juice… a handful of mix nuts… cream and sugar in your morning coffee… cooking oils… small high-calorie snacks added in here and there…
All of these small choices can amount to a significant number of calories by the time the day is over and can mean the difference between consistent weekly fat loss or complete stagnation with too many deviations to main plan.
Another challenge you’ll see is in those who “nail down” their diet very closely during the week, and then do an all out “cheat day” on the weekend where they go ahead and eat all the junk foods they crave in whatever quantities they want.
The new-ish philosophy or IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) diet...is awful.
Quality food rules.
There’s nothing wrong with occasional “cheat foods” eaten in moderation, but undisciplined binging on the weekends can easily reduce a good portion of the calorie deficit you created during the regular week.
If you ate at a 500 calorie deficit Monday through Friday (a total of 2500 calories under maintenance), but then ate an extra 1000-2000 calories above maintenance on both Saturday and Sunday, most of your overall deficit has gone to waste.
Can’t Lose Fat? Here’s The Serious Solution.
Basically, if you’re want to lose body fat and aren’t seeing results, you need, to be honest with yourself and understand you may be just over-eating.
Sometimes there are exceptions where other factors could be coming into play, but most times this is really all that it comes down to.
When you have a calorie deficit in place then you will slowly lose fat, but if the results aren’t showing up then you simply aren’t in a calorie deficit, to begin with.
If you’ve been asking “why can’t I lose weight?”, the solution’s very simple…
Sit down and use a tracking system like Myfitnesspal to record daily intake and in what amounts, and add things up to find out how many calories you’re truly taking in.
You can check the labels and ingredients on the foods you have at home, and you can use an online nutrition database like CalorieKing.com for items that you aren’t sure about.
If your weight is staying constantly the same, then a number of calories you’re eating right now is approximately your caloric maintenance level.
In order to create a calorie deficit and stimulate fat loss, subtract 250-500 calories from that number and make that your new daily calorie target.
Moving forward track your diet with precision until you’re landing somewhere around that number each day.
Your plan should be for an overall weight loss of around 1-2 pounds per week, and you ultimately just need to find whatever daily calorie target with your goal specific macros that land you in that range.
It is possible to lose fat faster than this, but for the majority of people, 1-2 pounds per week is a safe range that will allow you to drop fat at a reasonable rate while keeping your hormones that control your appetite, energy levels, mood, and training performance balanced and in check.
For many people calorie counting is tedious or “too obsessive”, but if you want to start really losing the fat then this is how at least in the beginning stage until you get yourself on the right track.
If you simply eat “on the run” out of basic desire, you’ll eventually revert back to eating at your maintenance level of calories (or more), since that’s what your body is genetically programmed to do when food supply is constant.
Tracking this stuff isn’t as hard as people think, and once the learning curve is over, it will quickly become automatic for you once you get the hang of it. Most people tend to eat a similar diet each day and the process becomes easier.
Also keep in mind that you don’t have to be 100% perfect with your calorie numbers every day in order to get great results.
Fat loss is ultimately all about what you do over the long haul, and if you're off 10-20 calories it’s really not a big deal as long as you’re coming reasonably close on average throughout the week and you're doing your required strength and cardio work to offset little swings in your numbers.
At the end of the day, though, all this really comes down to is an issue of being disciplined tracking your food intake and exercise output.
Fat loss and weight loss isn't complicated, it’s really just a matter of creating and sustaining a calorie deficit over time.
Combine that with 2-6 weekly weight training sessions and some added variable intensity cardio, and you’ll be well on your way to consistently dropping fat every single week.
Posted on 12/21/2016 at 12:00 AM