If your weight loss strategy for this year is working harder on creating calorie deficits, you are bound to fail. In my 8-year career as an executive weight loss coach, I’ve heard people ask me “why am I not losing weight on calorie deficit?” over and over again. The reasons are twofold:
First, you don’t know the nature of the calorie deficit diet in execution.
Second, you don’t know what it has done to you — hurting your ability to lose weight by turning your body into working against you.
In this post, I’m going to break these two reasons into small chunks and analyze each one of them with you.
Why Am I Not Losing Weight In Calorie Deficit?
#1. Your calorie intake isn’t as low as you think.
While ‘calorie-in-calorie-out’ sounds logical and scientific, isn’t practical in application. This is because most of the time, you can’t really get the accurate numbers regarding how many calories you’ve burnt and taken.
One of the top reasons: by FDA rule, manufactures are allowed to have up to 20% error margin for nutrition facts on the label. It means the numbers you are using to calculate your overall calorie intake aren’t reliable.
If you aren’t sure how many calories you really eat, you can’t be sure you are creating a calorie deficit.
#2. Your metabolic set point is lowered.
If you’ve been starving yourself constantly through dieting, your body may have been in the starvation mode all the time. It means your body is holding onto more energy than usual because it’s reading that you are experiencing famine. And the reason why it holds onto more energy than usual is that it wants to save fuels to keep you alive.
When your body isn’t burning as much calories as it normally would, you aren’t creating the kind of calorie deficit as you might have assumed.
#3. Fat is attracting fat.
If your body has a significantly higher body fat % than normal, your body is prone to retain and attract fat more than usual.
This is because unlike muscle which burns energy, fat actually attracts energy, making your body retain energy on its own. It’s another factor that slows down your metabolism. And when your metabolism is slow, you aren’t effectively creating a calorie deficit.
#4. Your sense of satisfaction is skewed, and you might not be eating in deficit.
If you’ve dieted strictly in the past and have been ignoring how your body really feels, throughout time, you don’t get the satisfaction and hunger cues timely and accurately anymore. Without these basic senses being accurate, you can’t learn natural, intuitive moderation which is the key to real, sustainable weight loss. So even though you might feel that you are eating within your ‘calorie budget’ as you haven’t felt satisfied yet, you might have well eaten over ‘budget.’
#5. Your body is retaining more water than it should.
Sometimes, when you don’t see weight loss, it’s because your body is prone to hold on more liquid than it normally would.
Fluid retention, or oedema, has a few typical symptoms including bloating in the belly are and swollen legs and ankles. It can be caused by a number of reasons, including kidney disease, heart issues, thyroid disease, autoimmune disease, and allergic reaction, etc.
Diet problems often contribute to fluid retention too. For instance, a high-sugar diet and high-salt diet are both known to make the body retain liquid. Chronic inflammation, which we’ll discuss next, is also a common reason for it.
#6. You have chronic inflammation.
If you’ve been overweight for a long time, the chance is that you could have developed chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation hinders your weight loss in the following ways:
- First, it causes fluid retention, which we’ve just discussed earlier.
- Second, it slows down your metabolism and makes you hungry. Both weight gain and chronic inflammation impact the production of a key hormone called leptin. Leptin helps your brain regulate metabolism and appetite. When leptin isn’t working properly, your metabolism is slowed down and your appetite goes up.
- Fourth, it induces stress, which makes you stress-eat more often. While stress can cause chronic inflammation, chronic inflammation may fuel stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms in return.
- Fourth, it directly leads to weight gain by causing insulin resistance.
How do you know if you have chronic inflammation? Here are a few common symptoms to watch for:
- Weight gain, especially in the belly area (or apron belly).
- Chronic fatigue.
- Depression, anxiety, and mood disorders.
- Gastrointestinal issues such as constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux.
- Frequent infections.
The Limitation Of The Calorie-Deficit Rule.
From the information above, you can see that the Calorie-Deficit rule carries too many limits in its execution and results generated.
If you can’t even be sure of your actual calorie intake, how are you able to determine if you are actually creating a deficit?
And if your body is wired to hold on fat and resist weight loss, regardless of the root causes, you’ll be set up for failures no matter how rigorously you diet.
Moreover, the stressful calorie restriction diets is exactly reason why your body is converted to work against you. As I mentioned earlier, constant calorie reduction impairs your metabolism, making your body reserve energy vs burning it effectively.
Also, through constantly dieting, you may develop serious digestive problems and hurt your gut health by causing muscles in your digestive tract to atrophy, weaken, and disrupting the microflora of the gut. What are the aftermaths of a compromised digestive system? Your body can’t absorb or allocate nutrients efficiently, which again leads to the difficulty in weight loss. Also, you may encounter a series of digestive issues such as IBS.
Furthermore, dieting also leads to eating disorders and food obsession. It makes you lose the ability to eat intuitively and mindfully. You’ll always be overly anxious if you’ve overeaten one day and want to undereat the next day to compensate. And you’ll always be overly excited about cheat days just to find yourself worried and frustrated after. You’ll be obsessed with food, thinking about it all the time because you’ve deprived yourself. And that’s not the kind of relationship with food you want because it’ll never allow you to lose weight sustainably while living and eating like a normal person.
When your body is working against your weight loss effort in every way, trying to lose weight without changing removing that barrier is a lost cause from the get-go.
And a diet based on creating calorie deficits, instead of nourishing and rebalancing the body, stresses and exhausts it even more while reinforcing most of these conditions mentioned.
It keeps you working against your foundation and prime your body and its senses to keep its current status. If you find it’s been harder and harder for you to lose weight after many rounds of dieting, this is the reason.
Have you ever thought that your diet mentality is the key that prevent real weight loss?
Working hard on following every diet rule to lose weight? Great, and you might even see some initial results.
But there’s just one problem:
An obedient dieter lives an entirely different life compared to someone who’s holistically skinny fit and happy. Think about how you spend your days worrying about food and the scale number, feeling insecure about the weight potentially bouncing back should you ever eat an ice cream or chocolate bar. You may also feel depressed, confined, and isolated for that insecurity. In contrast, the other woman with a healthy relationship with food and a head-turning body cares only about things that truly matters in life.
Both of you might be 130 pounds, but you are living different lives. That’s why I’m saying that a dieter and a holistically healthy, lean person are two different species by nature. The question is which one is the outcome you want? Remember the pathway to one don’t lead you to the other.
Diets, with all the rules and metrics, will beat you up to become a more and more obedient dieter. They undermine your body, deprive you of happiness, make you FORGET what it’s like to live like a free person.
Again, is being an obedient dieter and this dieter’s mentality what you want?
What do you want your relationship with food to be like?
Are you obsessed with thinking about food?
Are you dealing with excessive cravings, which is another result of highly restrictive diets?
And do you believe to lose weight, you have to be on some sort of food restriction plan?
Are you psychologically hardwired to weigh yourself everyday just to feel secure?
Throughout dieting, you’ve been reinforcing a thought pattern which is centered on fear and stress and creating a life based on these two emotions. There’s a cascading effect…and resulted shame and food addiction can only lead you further into the darkness.
Is There A Way Out?
Real, sustainable weight loss isn’t about math at all.
On one hand, it’s about your body.
Is your body capable of realizing your weight loss goal at this moment or has it been constantly preventing solutions and attracting, retaining fat?
What I’ve seen from my clients experience once and once again is that as soon as they’ve transformed how their bodies work on some basics, a lot of the addictive cravings are gone, a lot of the bad habits no longer persist, and a lot of the stubborn weight vanishes on its own. Everything falls in place in this natural, holistic, organic process.
Actually, one thing that you may find hard to believe is that when you experience real weight loss based on these transformations, it actually happens FAST.
On the other hand, it’s about how you emotionally and psychologically respond to and experience food.
Is your mind making you gain weight, indulge, lose control and self-sabotage? Remember the ability to lose weight is deeply connected to our emotions, belief in ourselves, and our psychology.
So your real barrier to losing weight sustainably isn’t the ice cream, soda, donuts, pizza, or chocolate…nor is it your presumed lack of willpower, especially when the game you play such as dieting sets you up for failure from the get-go.
Instead, the real barrier for the dieters is actually the lack of clarity on what the real problems are, which keeps them working in the wrong direction for decades without achieving any real success.
Now I hope this article has bridged this gap in your understanding of why you’re not losing weight in calorie deficit.
If you are ready for losing the weight for real – left and right – while having liberating relationship with food marked by unlimited food freedom, book a 1:1 call and submit an application.
About The Author
Leslie Chen is rated as Top Weight Loss Coach by Coach Foundation. For 8 years, her Lean Instinct Formula™ has helped people lose weight left and right while gaining unlimited food freedom via long-standing food and health wisdom from Asia.
If you are READY to start losing weight consistently and sustainably to become skinny fit without dieting, book a clarity call.
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