12 Aug 2019
I’ve reduced calories and I’m exercising more. However, I’m not losing weight or I’m not losing as much or as quickly as I want to. Why? Questions that we asked with dietitians and personal trainers. When this is the case, any of the five below causes may be the reason …
  • You’re underestimating how many calories you’re eating. Whether, it is from misjudging portion size, making assumptions that similar meals will contain similar amounts of calories. Simply not being as diligent as needed. The simple truth is that most people’s calorie counting is inexact and, in many cases, off the mark by a considerable amount. I recall one client who calculated their average daily intake to be 2,000 calories; on closer inspection though, it was closer to 3,000, and literature on the topic is littered with similar accounts.
  • Reduction in NEAT – NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) sometimes referred to as SPA (Spontaneous Physical Activity). It is defined as the number of calories you burn through activities that are not dedicated to exercise. You might pace around the room as you talk on the phone or take the stairs instead of the elevator etc. It can have a surprisingly large effect on the total number of calories one burn throughout the day – differences of hundreds and even thousands of calories being observed even between people of similar size. The relevant factor here when it comes to dieting for weight loss is that these NEAT activities are all more likely to happen if you are in a well-fed and energized state. If you drop calories far enough, then these activities can reduce out of sheer instinct. In other words, let’s say you drop 500 calories from your diet but, as a side effect, you get lazier and move around less (we’ll say 300 calories worth of activity less, as an example) then your supposed deficit of 500 is only 200.
  • Unrealistic expectations. Whether it is from watching shows like The Biggest Loser (those weigh-ins weren’t always weekly). Buying into advertising from supplement companies or magazines (photoshop) or comparing yourself to others who aren’t in the same situation as you (a 150 kg person and a 100 kg person both losing 10 kg is not the same thing when viewed as a percentage). Many people plainly and simply have an unrealistic expectation about how quickly weight loss can occur.
  • Cheating and then trying (but failing) to make up for it. A very commonly heard scenario from weight loss clients goes something like this: “I slipped up on my diet by having (insert high-calorie meal) but I made up for it by doing an extra half hour of cardio the next day. The meal probably contained around 800 calories and I probably burned around 800 through exercise; therefore, I should be square”. Unfortunately, just as people tend to underestimate the calories that they consume, they also tend to overestimate the calories they burn through exercise. A more likely scenario would be the meal containing over 1,000 calories and the exercise burning fewer than 500. A costly mistake if it happens regularly, as is often the case, as such reduced calories intake.
  • Metabolic adaptation – commonly referred to in the media as a starvation mode. This refers to as you lose weight your metabolism slows down, your body begins to horde any calories consume. Weight loss can stall, regardless of how aggressively one is dieting. While it’s true that the body does have systems in place that do slow metabolism in response to hypocaloric conditions. So, it is important to note that this effect is minor, perhaps 10% max. The body simply cannot change the amount of energy required to walk a kilometer. Pump your heart or power other essential bodily functions. Despite the pervasiveness of the starvation mode myth, one needs only to ask themselves one question to logically debunk it. Have you ever seen a prisoner of war, shipwreck survivor or anybody else starving not look exactly that way?

Thanks for sharing, Tom, and if you are looking to kickstart your own inspirational fitness story, call Tom directly on 0437 423 242 or drop in to see the team at either Coffs Coast Health Club Toormina or Moonee, to get started today. More inspirational fitness stories at www.myfitnessstory.com.au

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