We constantly see people stating they are in a calorie deficit and not losing weight. Let this post serve as a guide for when you are absolutely frustrated with the scale.
First you need to go over some housekeeping items:
Are you weighing and measuring everything you are eating?
Humans are notoriously bad at eyeballing portions, while this may have worked earlier in your weight loss journey it might be time to tighten up as you may be over consuming without realizing it.
Do you use a food scale?
Again, using measuring spoons and cups may have worked earlier in your weight loss journey but using a food scale and weighing out grams will be the most accurate way to track your intake. For caloric dense things like peanut butter you can easily over consume 50-75 calories using a tablespoon.
Are you weighing yourself daily?
Weight fluctuates are real. Real annoying. My weight fluctuate 3 pounds because it feels like it, if I’m coming up on my period? 5 pounds easy. This can be due to water retention from food you ate, doing a little more exercise than normal, or just because your body feels like being moody that week ( yes, WEEK). By tracking your weight daily and using an app like happyscale you’ll be able to see your overall trend lines of your weight loss and not just “ugh I’m up 3 pounds today”
Do you regularly eat out at / from restaurants?
Are you eating out a lot? If you are do those restaurants list their calories? If they do remember these are basically estimates. The cook in the back isn’t measuring out exactly 3 tbsp of butter on a food scale for your dish. You can easily erase your weekly deficit eating out multiple times a week. If this is you and you aren’t losing weight – try eating out only once a week and stick to restaurants that list their calories and stay within your maintenance calories those days. This will make your weekly deficit smaller but you’ll consistently lose weight at a slower pace. (The scale will also go up the next day after you eat out. It’s water retention)
How long have you been in a weight loss phase and how long have you been in a plateau?
What makes the humans so resilient is that we’re adaptive. If you’ve been in a weight loss phase for over three months and you’ve hit a plateau of at least 2 weeks and are doing everything above right consider taking a break and eating at maintenance for a week or two. You could also wait out the plateau but a true plateau can last 6-8 weeks.
Your body hates being in a calorie deficit so how does it protest? It slows you down, you move a little less, you park a little closer, you sit on the couch and binge watch a show instead of going for a walk because your tired, you fidget less. All of these non exercise activities are what creates most of your deficit and after prolonged weight loss phases your body has gotten damn good at eliminating them without you even noticing. Take a break, eat maintenance for a few weeks then hop back on the wagon.
When you make this switch realize the scale will move up, this is going to be from volume. If you can’t handle that add in 100 calories a week until you hit maintenance and this should keep the scale more consistent.
If you’ve done all of the things above and they did not work- then it might be time to lower your calories a bit or increase activity.
See how this is the last option on the list? The goal here is to eat as much as you can while you are losing weight. Eating more is going to be more sustainable in the long run.
I did all of those things and none of them worked. Now what?
If all of these things do not work – it’s time to consult a medical professional. I’m not a doctor and I’m not going to diagnose anyone over the internet. If all of the above don’t work you may have a medical condition at play BUT this should not be the first conclusion you jump to nor should you get guidance regarding any medical condition from anyone but your personal physician or dietitian.