Are you frustrated you are not losing weight on your diet?
You are not alone. Many well-intentioned folks, like yourself, are struggling to lose weight...and they just can’t figure out why. Well, have no fears...I’m going to help you get to the bottom of this and get you on the fast track to fat loss.
In this article, I’m going to lay out the ONLY 5 reasons you are not losing weight on your diet. If you are “doing everything right” but not seeing results…you are doing one of these 5 things wrong. Period end of story.
Reason 1: You Don’t Have Your #calories Set Correctly
I don’t see this one a lot (especially because I set calories for my clients) and, if anything, it’s usually a problem in the other direction where someone is eating a ridiculously low number of calories which then leads to consistency problems because they can only white knuckle it for a day or two before they cave and end up eating far more than they need.
It does happen, though, to where someone not losing weight on their diet just has their calories set too high. If this is the case, well, they are not going to be in a #caloriedeficit and nothing is going to happen. Calories are king and sets the stage for everything.
If you don’t have a coach and are doing this alone, I’d encourage you to google (here I’ll do it for you:) “Katch McArdle Calculator” . This is a pretty reliable basal metabolic rate, total daily energy expenditure, and maintenance calorie calculator. None of these things are perfect but this is at least going to give you a decent figure to work from.
When using this, you’ll have to have some idea of your current #bodyfat . If you don’t know, if you are a male, put it in as 25%. If you are female, put it in at 35% (because most adults looking to lose fat are probably carrying somewhere in the neighborhood of this amount of body fat). If you are higher or lower, yes, it will increase or decrease your total daily energy expenditure but it frankly isn’t all that significant unless you are WAAYY off.
For the activity factor, BE CONSERVATIVE. You are NOT nearly as active as you think you are. For most people (and I run these numbers of every client I have), a factor of 1.2-1.3 will be about right for someone doing normal gym workouts 4-5x/week and getting in maybe 7000 steps/day.
Once you get your maintenance calorie estimate, you can then subtract 500 calories and go with that. See how you respond. Are you losing .5%-1% of your starting body weight per week? You are good to go. Not losing? Shave another 200-300 calories off and see what happens.
If you want to skip all of this, you can’t go wrong with simply multiplying your body weight by 11 and using that number as your target daily fat loss calories. Again, NONE of these numbers are going to be spot on. It’s going to be trial and error.
If you are really consistent and responding (we will get to consistency below), then you are fine. Don’t change anything. Consistent and still not losing weight on your diet? Go to body weight X 10 and monitor it. It’s not rocket science. It just takes some trial and error and toggling.
Reason 2: you are not nearly consistent as you need to be
HANDS DOWN, the biggest reason you are not losing weight on your diet is a lack of consistency.
We mean at least 80% of the month. Month after month.
What’s 80% of a month? At least 24 days where you track your calorie intake (more on tracking below) precisely and you don’t exceed your daily (or weekly if #caloriecycling ) limit.
That’s what it takes. Period end of story.
Anecdotally, I’ll tell you, for many, even 80% doesn’t cut it. Especially if your “exception days”/off-plan days are reminiscent of Joey Chestnut at the Nathan’s Famous hot dog eating contest (more on cheat days below).
I always advise my clients to think 26 days a month. What that means is that, one day a week, you can not track (or as meticulously), eat closer to maintenance calories or a little surplus, loosen up, etc., and still see consistent progress (to a point).
So if you have your calories dialed in (reason #1), but are not losing weight on your diet, I’d start with looking at your consistency and being brutally honest with yourself about it.
Are you REALLY consistent or are you on a 4 days on/3 days off nutrition split? Is your weekend eating a complete mess? Are you just remembering the days you were on point and forgetting about the rest then screaming to the high heavens “This doesn’t work for me!”?
Until you are 80% consistent with your nutrition for 90 days, you frankly have not earned the right to complain about your progress or state you are some metabolic outlier and the one exception to the laws thermodynamics.
I have my clients track their consistency DAILY on my app so they know where they stand. If they have not made progress, I can simply point to their last 14, 21, or 30 days of compliance and say “Here is your issue”.
But until you monitor this and truly KNOW (not assume), you can’t complain.
Jordan Syatt talks about the “Red x Black o” method of tracking consistency which works well. Get a poster board and make a 7 column X 4 row table. Everyday you achieve you calorie goal and don’t go over your limit, you give yourself a red X. If you are off track, you give yourself a black O. You should not see anymore than 4-6 black O’s over a 30 day period.
Reason 3: you are not tracking your calories accurately
Tracking is a skill set, which is developed over time, and the Devil truly is in the details.
Instead of going on and on about this particular reason you are not losing weight on your diet, I’ll simply direct you to my article “7 calorie and #macrotracking mistakes you might be making”
One thing I will add not covered in that article-probably the best tip I can give you on this topic-is this: stop relying on the crowd-sourced entries in nutrition tracking apps ( #myfitnesspal etc.). They are likely WAY OFF.
I tell my clients to make it a habit of entering their own custom foods in whatever tracking app they use (I always recommend TRACK from Nutritionix).
Every time you go to the store and buy something new, enter that food as a custom entry into the app. Use the label and enter serving size in grams, calories/serving, and the protein/carbs/fat/fiber per serving. You’ll create a massive database you’ll have forever over time. Then you can adjust the amount of any food when you eat it as needed and the apps will do the math for you. Scanning bar codes also works well but you have to be sure the figures spit out match up with what the label says.
Reason 4: your off-plan/exception days/cheat days are over the top
If you have your calories set correctly, you are pretty darn consistent (80% of the month), and you are not making calorie tracking mistakes, but, you are still not losing weight on your diet, the likely culprit for your lack of progress is that your feasts are greater than your famines.
Put another way, your exception/off-plan/“cheat” days (whatever you want to call them). are massive and are knocking you out of a consistent #caloriedeficit .
For example, if you are 150 lbs. and your target fat loss calories are 1600/day, your week can’t look like this: ⬇️
Monday-Saturday: 1600 calories 👌
Sunday: 5000 ❌
And, sadly, this is precisely what a lot of people do and wonder why they are always “plateaued” or are losing 1/4 of a pound every 2 weeks.
You can do this week in and week out and be over 80% consistent with your target calorie intake on paper and get absolutely no where. 💁♂️
This approach can actually work pretty well if you’ve reached your goal and are looking to maintain within a range of a few pounds, but, if you are still in the goal acquisition phase, it’s a road to nowhere.
Bottom line: audit and reign in your #cheatday ’s and #cheatmeal ’s . It’s one thing to eat closer to maintenance calories or in a 500-1000 calorie surplus once a week, and quite another to eat 3-4 days worth of calories in a single day.
Reason 5: Some combination of reasons 1-4
I saved this one for last because, in my experience coaching and training people for 25 years, it’s rarely just ONE thing or reason that is holding people back.
More often than not, people are dropping the ball in a number of areas in some combination: ⬇️
They are not consistent enough and making calorie counting mistakes.
They ARE consistent but they are making #caloriecounting mistakes and also blowing it out of the water on their “cheat” days
They do a good job with counting calories and tracking accurately but they are not consistent enough.
They are failing in every area lol
You get the picture.
In any case, there is usually just a great deal of “undoing which needs to be done”. A lot of skills and habits have to be developed. For that matter, an entire new #fitnesslifestyle and identity has to be taken on.
It’s a big ball of 💩 which has to be ironed out.
And all of that takes time, patience, honesty, sacrifices, trade offs, a willingness to learn, hyperbolic discounting, toggling, adapting and adjusting.
It doesn’t happen with a “6 week shred” program. It doesn’t happen in 6 months. It usually doesn’t happen in a year.
DO WHAT YOU WANT WITH THIS
That wraps up “The ONLY 5 Reasons You Are Not Losing Weight on Your Diet.” If you’ve been pulling your hair out trying to figure out why the scale isn’t moving, why your clothes are not fitting better, why you don’t look leaner, I hope you now have an idea as to what the problem(s) is and, more importantly, you start to apply this information: it’s not a lack of information which is holding you back. It’s the willingness and #discipline to apply that information for a long enough period of time that is.
*Want to level up your nutrition, training and fat loss? Want a GPS on your fitness journey? Want someone to take all the guesswork out of the equation and provide daily accountability? Check out my budget-friendly coaching program HERE*