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Calorie Deficit But Not Losing Weight: What’s The Culprit Behind It?
Are you confused as to why you are on a calorie deficit but not losing weight? Check out this article for reasons why this is happening.
Blog Weight Loss Calorie Deficit But Not Losing Weight: What’s The Culprit Behind It?
Calorie Deficit But Not Losing Weight: What’s The Culprit Behind It?
Written by С. Kamau Medical review by K. Fleming
2 months ago
Calorie Deficit But Not Losing Weight
There are dozens of different weight loss methods out there. Whether they are workouts or nutrition plans, they all promise to help you reach your body goals. However, there is almost no way of knowing whether this or that method will work for you personally without consulting your doctor and trying it out yourself. Besides that, not all the methods that you can find online are safe or effective. There are numerous fad diets that can only harm your health and bring a very short-term result if any result at all. That is why you should stick to evidence-based methods of weight loss. Being on a caloric deficit is one of the tried and true ways to lose weight. Many experts and doctors will tell you that the first step to shedding a couple of extra pounds is to cut down on how much you eat and aim to burn more calories than you consume. However, what happens if you are on a calorie deficit but not losing weight? What could be the cause of this confusing and frustrating conundrum?
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How to create a calorie deficit? What is a good calorie deficit for weight loss? What should my calorie deficit be? How much of a calorie deficit is too much? Read on to find out!
Calorie Deficit To Lose Weight: Is It Important?
First things first, let’s determine what exactly a calorie deficit is. A calorie deficit is when you consume fewer calories than you burn. It is created with the help of a diet that restricts the amount of consumed food and as so calories, and regular exercise which helps you burn more calories than you usually do. Now, is calorie deficit that important in weight management? Yes, it is. To lose weight, you must create an energy deficit (aka calorie deficit). Months or years of consuming more calories than needed to maintain your weight leads to weight gain. To reverse this, you need to eat less, making the body use stored fat as energy which leads to weight loss (2).
1,000 Calorie Deficit Daily But Not Losing Weight
A calorie deficit can be different. You can slightly reduce your caloric intake, making very small steps towards your goal on this weight loss journey; you can create an adequate caloric deficit which will reward you with safe, gradual, and sustainable results; or you can extremely cut your calorie intake, which will result in rapid weight loss and may be accompanied by various health issues, such as nutrient deficiencies, dehydration, gallstones, nausea, headaches, constipation, hair loss, muscle loss, and others. Luckily, most of us know that in order to lose weight, we must be in a 500 to 1,000 calorie deficit a day. This allows us to slowly start losing the unwanted pounds. However, sometimes even after carefully tracking your meals and snacks, you may find that you are not seeing the weight loss results that you would like to see. What could be the problem? Here are the main reasons why you may be on a calorie deficit but not losing weight:Read More: No Matter What I Do I Can’t Lose Weight: True Reasons Your Scale Won’t Budge And Viable Solutions
Increased Stress Levels
One of the most common reasons for being on a calorie deficit but not losing weight is an increased stress level. Whether it is caused by problems at work, toxic home environment, nagging neighbors, or rude waiters, stress is never a pleasant experience. But did you know that besides making you upset and tired, stress can hinder your weight loss progress? While you might be doing all the right things, i.e. eating well and exercising; excessive or chronic stress levels may hinder your weight loss. When you are always stressed, your body tends to produce cortisol at a much higher level than normal. Cortisol, aka ‘the stress hormone’ is one of the body’s steroid hormones and is made in the adrenal glands (21).
Abnormally high levels of this hormone due to pituitary or adrenal tumors cause Cushing syndrome which triggers rapid weight gain in the face, abdomen, and chest. Even in healthy individuals, cortisol plays a role in how your body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, thus, chronically elevated cortisol levels due to stress may lead the body to turn food into stored fat instead of changing it into energy (22).
How To Fight It?
Now that you know how harmful stress is, it is time to figure out how to fight it. One of the best methods to reduce your stress levels is to avoid the things that trigger it. If it is impossible, don’t despair, as there are other methods that can help you do it. Such as:
Get Enough Shut-Eye
You may have noticed how when you wake up after a bad dream, or when you sleep too little, you feel irritated, tired, and stressed. Sleep and stress are interconnected. Lack of sleep can cause increased stress levels and lots of stress may result in problems with sleep. If you have difficulties falling asleep, set a sleep schedule, drink less alcohol and caffeine in the evening, keep away from your electronic devices an hour before bed, and spend more time in the sun during the day.
“I’m In A Calorie Deficit But Not Losing Weight” – Team Atlas
“I’M IN A CALORIE DEFICIT BUT NOT LOSING WEIGHT”
When it comes to fat loss, the science is very simple – to lose weight you must create a calorie deficit. However, while this is easy in theory, often progress doesn’t go as planned and weight loss doesn’t occur, or it simply stops. The key here is working out the reason why the scale isn’t moving then adjusting accordingly.
Sometimes fluid shifts within the body can mask progress and provide a distorted perception as to your true progress. To what degree this happens will vary from person to person, but it can be misleading and frustrating when it happens. More water retention will generally mean a higher scale weight, though this doesn’t necessarily mean more body fat. This can occur due to shifts in your hormones, increased carb consumption and spikes in sodium, all of which can lead to more water retention.
However, if it’s in been multiple weeks of you being in a “deficit” and you’re still not losing any scale weight, the reality is it’s likely not a fluid shift. You’re probably just not in a calorie deficit and a change is required. In fact, it’s very common for someone to be in a theoretical calorie deficit but not losing weight. The reason this occurs can be due to flawed calculations, non-adherence and/or metabolic adaptation.
Often an individual won’t lose weight because they have an incorrect strategy, which is usually due to a flawed assumptions or calculations. Maintenance calories is one such calculation which is commonly miscalculated, especially as too often maintenance is viewed as a fixed and finite point. The reality is that maintenance is a dynamic and fluid range of calories which will evolve over time as your context and nutritional strategy does.
A good example of this is when someone is maintaining their weight at a certain point, say 2500 calories. They then decide they want to diet, so they drop 500 calories per day, aiming for 2000 instead with the hope of losing 0.5kg per week. Yet, it’s not uncommon for the scale to not even change at all for some people despite decreasing calories.
There could be many reasons for this, and one would be that when maintaining weight at 2500 calories, they were sitting at the top end of their maintenance range. Thus, when they transitioned to diet mode, they haven’t decreased calories enough to break out of their maintenance range, energy output has decreased, and they are now sitting at the bottom end of the maintenance. The solution is a greater distortion of energy balance to break out of this point to achieve progress.
Often though, people don’t lose weight due to a much simpler reason. They may just be making errors and not being adhering to the dieting protocols, either knowingly or unknowingly. Common examples of this is include data entry errors when tracking calories and forgetting to count the small things or miscalculating big things. All calories count, regardless of whether you count them yourself. The end result here is a higher calorie consumption and a calorie deficit isn’t created.
Finally, over time our metabolism will adapt to the conditions you impose upon it. When under feeding occurs, your body will become increasingly more efficient with its energy production, in an attempt to conserve fuel. This can lead to a slowing and then stagnation on the scale which can be incredibly frustrating. The deeper you push a dieting phase, the more metabolic adaptation will be a player.
As a result, what may have once been the right numbers to initially create a calorie deficit, will eventually no longer be enough to generate progress, at least to the same degree. If you kept losing off the same dieting protocols without ever having to make a change, one key thing would happen. You would vanish and die! You can’t diet forever, and your body wants to hold onto your precious energy dense body fat to provide you with fuel.
Ultimately, you need to be realistic and expect periods where your weight loss slows and stalls. The process isn’t perfectly linear so expect a plateau, but you need to know how to counter one too if want continued progress. You also need to know when enough is enough and a return to maintenance calories is required.
I'm Doing Everything Right. Why Am I Not Losing Weight?
Are you cutting calories, working out, and still asking yourself - why am I not losing weight? You're not alone. The scale isn't always the most accurate measure of weight loss progress. Here's why you aren't losing weight, and what you can do about it.
I have heard the same thing thousands of times.... "I am cutting calories, hitting the gym, and doing everything right but my weight just won't budge". Sound familiar?
Probably one of the least motivating feelings is seeing the number on the scale stay the same, or in some cases go up, when you are trying to lose weight. You feel frustrated, confused, and irritated that your weight is appearing to increase or not change at all, despite your hard work.
As frustrating as it may be, don't be discouraged. There are other things that you should be paying much more attention to than your weight. And just because you aren't seeing the scale budge as quickly as you'd like, doesn't mean you aren't losing body fat or dieting correctly. There are a number of factors at play here, and understanding what's going on in your body can save you a lot of stress and help you to be more successful in the long run.
Here's your complete guide to how weight loss works, why you aren't losing weight, and what you can do about it.
How Losing Weight Works
Eating a calorie deficit is still the most widely accepted approach to weight loss - we don't have any definitive research that has disproved this theory (1). It's physics! If you consume less than you burn, you will use up body stores of energy (either fat or muscle) to support your daily needs, which results in weight loss over time. But as simple as the calorie equation sounds, it is not an exact science.
In a perfect world you should be able to cut calories and see pounds fall off at a steady pace, but our bodies are much more complex than that. It is actually much more normal to see your weight go up and down as you progress through your diet.
Even with perfect calorie control and exercise, your weight can be influenced by nutrient storage, hydration status, electrolyte balance, hormones, digestion and much more.
This is completely normal, and with consistency and patience, your weight or rate of fat loss will decrease over time.
How to Track Your Weight Appropriately
A very important thing to recognize is timing. If you weigh yourself at the end of the day after 3-5 meals and at least 8 cups of water, you might notice a large difference in your weight than if you were to weigh yourself first thing in the morning. Also if you are weighing yourself right after you workout, you may notice a slight increase in weight due to the "swelling" of your muscles.
Fluctuations are normal and just because your weight changes from one day to the next, doesn't mean the scale isn't creeping down overall.
Consider plotting your weight each day and using averages each week to measure your progress. And give yourself at least 3 to 4 weeks to see a change.
3 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Weight
"Why am I not losing weight?" is a complicated question with a lot of different answers. No one answer is going to necessarily explain why you happen to be experiencing this. However, there are general ways that make it very possible to gain weight or plateau in the short-term while sticking to your diet.
The scale can only tell you one measurement - your total body weight. It can't tell you exactly where the pounds are coming from. Not seeing any change in weight could be the result of you increasing weight from water, muscle, or food storage - even while simultaneously losing body fat, causing your weight to stabilize.
Even more disheartening than not losing weight, is the appearance of potential weight gain.
There are three main reasons why your weight may stay the same or you are potentially gaining weight while on a weight loss diet.
You are gaining something other than body fat
You aren't being consistent
You are tracking the wrong things
It's also very important to realize that this is a short-term circumstance, not losing weight long term while at a caloric deficit generally means that something just isn't adding up.
Calorie intake versus expenditure is the very basic formula to follow with any diet, if you are continuously burning more calories than you are eating or drinking, you will put your body into a caloric deficit which will result in some type of weight loss in the long-run.
1. Your Gaining Something Other than body fat
There are four different types of weight that can cause the number on the scale to fluctuate. This includes:
Fat Muscle Fluids Food
Most of the time when people are looking to lose weight, they are aiming to lose body fat over anything else. But depending on a variety of factors, you could be experiencing an increase or decrease in any of the above that will be reflected on the scale.
Water weight is actually a very normal part of fat loss and more than likely the reason why you're not losing more pounds. You see, your fat cells are pretty stubborn. Because fat is such an abundant source of energy for survival - if you're ever stranded without food for long periods of time, you will eat away at your fat stores. Fat is a much more desired source of fuel for this over carbs and protein which have limited storage and are needed for other bodily functions, which is why your body wants to hang on to this precious form of energy reserves.