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The definitive guide that shows you why you're not losing weight

Der definitive Ratgeber, der Dir zeigt, warum Du kein Gewicht verlierst

In the first part of this article, we have already looked at some of the reasons why you are not losing weight. Now we will look at other reasons why you are not losing weight and then look at how to calculate your calorie needs.

You could be eating more than you think

If you're struggling to lose weight, then I have good news for you: you're probably just eating too much.

Here's how it usually works:

Food intake by feel = sure recipe for failure

Most people are really bad at estimating the actual amount of calories they eat. They underestimate portion sizes, they assume food contains fewer calories than it actually does, they mismeasure their food and in some cases they simply lie to themselves about how much they are actually eating.

This is why so many people fail with diets that focus on rules and bans rather than numbers.

Yes, you can lose weight without counting calories, but it's often a matter of luck. It also gets harder as you get leaner (and eventually you will have to start planning and/or controlling your food intake).

There are right and wrong ways to count calories

There are also plenty of ways to mess up calorie counting.

The calorie counts listed at various restaurants and on packaged foods often turn out to be inaccurate. In fact, food manufacturers can understate the amount of calories by up to 20% and still stay within the legal limit - and it is safe to assume that many are unscrupulous enough to take advantage of this.

However, this only affects people who eat a lot of convenience foods. People who know better and stick to food that they prepare themselves often mess things up by not measuring food correctly. Here's an all-too-common example:

  • It's dinnertime and you get out the oatmeal, peanut butter, blueberries, yogurt and measuring spoons.
  • You measure out a cup of oatmeal, a tablespoon of peanut butter and half a cup of blueberries and yogurt.
  • You mix it all together and eat it without realizing that you've eaten a few hundred calories more than you think you have.

How did this happen? Quite simply:

That (slightly heaping) cup of oatmeal contained 100 grams of oatmeal, which provides 379 kcal. However, the cup indicated on the label only contains 307 kcal, as 81 grams of oatmeal per cup was assumed. So you have eaten 72 kcal more than you think.

The tablespoon of peanut butter? You put 21 grams of peanut butter, which is 123 kcal, on the spoon, but only wrote down 94 kcal, which is the same as the tablespoon in your app, which assumes 16 grams of peanut butter per tablespoon.

Meal after meal you make these mistakes and at the end of the day, when you think you've stuck to your plan, you're not aware of the fact that you've actually eaten several hundred kcal more than you intended.

If you do this day after day, then here is your reason for not losing weight.

The lesson here is simple:

The more accurately you measure your food, the more likely you are to be successful in your weight loss efforts.

Here's what you should do:

  • Weigh and calculate all foods raw/dry whenever possible.

Cooked weight can vary too much depending on different factors.

  • Weigh and count ALL the food you eat.

Yes, everything counts when it comes to calories: vegetables, fruit, condiments, minimal amounts of oil and butter, and any other food that passes your lips - no matter how small the amounts may be.

  • Weigh and calculate all solid foods in grams and all liquid foods in milliliters.

This will ensure maximum accuracy and make sure you don't underestimate your actual calorie intake.

Your cheating keeps you fat

'Cheating' on your diet has nothing to do with eating 'bad' or unhealthy foods - rather, it means that you're wiping out your calorie deficit by eating too much - and here it doesn't matter whether it's cauliflower or sweets (although it's easier to eat too much of the latter, of course). The most common mistakes I see in this area are

Cheating too often

Look at the big picture of calories and weight loss.

If you overeat moderately, and this wipes out your calorie deficit a few days a month, then your overall progress will only be slightly affected.

However, if you do this a few times a week, you will slow down your weight loss significantly.

Using cheat days instead of cheat meals

If you ignore all your restrictions at a meal, then you can only do so much damage. Your stomach will probably beg for mercy after 2000 kcal at the latest.

However, if you spend a whole day eating everything your hungry heart craves, then you can easily consume many thousands of kcal and undo the weight loss progress of several days, if not a whole week.

Eating too many calories or too much fat at cheat meals

I've just said that you can only do a limited amount of damage with one meal, but if you really put your mind to it, even this can be enough to affect your weight loss.

The worst type of cheat meal is a meal that is very high in fat and total calories (which tends to go hand in hand with the high energy density of dietary fats).

Dietary fats are chemically very similar to body fat and therefore require very little energy to convert (between 0 and 2%). This is the reason why scientific research shows that a high fat meal causes faster fat storage than a high carbohydrate meal.

This point is particularly relevant if you are already slim and want to become very slim. In this case, you simply cannot afford many days with a large calorie surplus - especially if the calorie surplus consists primarily of dietary fat.

The consumption of alcohol while cheating

Even though alcohol itself cannot actually be stored as body fat, it blocks fat oxidation, which in turn increases the rate at which your body stores dietary fat as body fat.

In short, it's not the calories that alcohol provides that can make you fat, it's all the other junk you consume along with the alcohol that you find hard to resist once you've had a bit more to drink.

The bottom line is that the high-fat meals combined with alcohol that put you in calorie surplus territory are the ultimate recipe for fat gain.

You may not be burning as many calories as you think you are

Accurately measuring your calorie intake is quite simple. It just requires precision and an eye for detail. Estimating calorie consumption, however, is more complicated. Much more complicated.

Your daily calorie consumption is influenced by several things:

Your basal metabolic rate, or your basal metabolic rate

This is the amount of energy your body burns at rest.

When it comes to determining the right calorie and macronutrient intake, determining your basal metabolic rate is the first step. Most people use the Harris-Benedict formula for this:

Where G is basal metabolic rate, m is body mass in kilograms, l is height and t is age.

However, most people do not realize that this formula is not 100% accurate for everyone. Scientific research shows that the basal metabolic rate is quite variable and is significantly higher for some and significantly lower for others than this formula suggests.

The problem here is obvious: if you think you are burning say 100+ kcal more per day than you actually are, this can reduce your weight loss by up to a pound per month.

Many people also don't realize that losing weight reduces your daily calorie consumption. The longer you keep your body in a deficit, the more it adapts to reduced energy expenditure.

If you don't know how to adjust your energy intake and/or calorie expenditure to deal with this metabolic adjustment, this alone can seriously reduce your calorie deficit and stall your weight loss.

The thermic effect of food (TEF for short)

The thermic effect of food represents the energy cost of processing the food we eat and store.

Scientific research has shown, for example, that it costs the body more energy to process whole foods than it does to process highly processed foods and protein-rich meals. In addition, high-protein meals result in higher energy consumption than high-fat meals.

Thus, 300 kcal in the form of whole foods results in a higher calorie expenditure than 300 kcal in the form of processed foods and high-protein meals result in a higher calorie expenditure than low-protein meals. Repeat this several times a day and the differences can add up to significant amounts.

Even water has a mild thermic effect because the body has to use energy to heat it. This is one of the reasons why increased water consumption is associated with weight loss.

The energy we expend through physical activity

This includes conscious activities such as exercise, as well as spontaneous activities such as walking around when we are on the phone, going to the toilet or drumming our fingers while we read or moving our legs up and down when we think.

The energy we expend during the latter activities is also known as non-exercise induced thermogenesis or NEAT and plays a much larger role in our total daily energy expenditure than most people realize. Scientific research shows that non-exercise-induced thermogenesis can vary by up to 2000 kcal per day between different people.

The same research suggests that people could burn an additional 350 kcal per day if they took simple steps to increase their daily exercise. These include things like taking the stairs whenever possible instead of taking the elevator, walking short distances instead of driving, doing housework instead of watching TV, etc.

To put this in perspective, it should be mentioned that burning an extra 350 kcal 7 days a week would add up to 2/3 pounds of fat loss per week. Not bad for simply moving your body a little more than usual.

Another aspect of energy expenditure that most people don't realize is that some people's bodies burn more calories during activities than other people's bodies.

Just because you are doing the same type and amount of activity as someone else does not necessarily mean that you are using the same amount of energy. The amount of muscle mass you gain significantly affects this, as it increases the energy cost of exercise.

Conclusion on the calculation of calorie requirements

As you can see, accurately determining calorie needs can be complicated. It's like aiming at a moving target. Fortunately, you don't need to know exactly how many calories you burn each day to lose fat effectively.

You can use the amount of calories calculated using the formula above as a starting point and see how your body responds over time.

If necessary, you can adjust your energy intake and/or energy expenditure through exercise and physical activity so that you lose between 0.5 and 2 pounds of weight per week (the leaner you get, the less weight you will be able to lose per week).

Let's put it all together: How you can lose weight steadily and predictably

We've covered a lot of different factors within this article and I thought it might be helpful to end the article with some sort of action plan.

So if you're not losing weight, here's your battle plan:

Are you losing fat but not weight?

As you know, beginners often experience this phenomenon when training with weights. People who really want to get lean are also familiar with this scenario, which often has something to do with water retention.

You can keep water retention under control by keeping your sodium and potassium intake constant and balanced and your cortisol levels under control by regularly taking time to de-stress.

It is also useful to include two measurements in your plan in addition to your weight: your waist circumference at belly button level and your body fat percentage.

This can be extremely helpful because if your waist circumference and skinfold thickness decrease, then you know you are losing fat regardless of what the scales say.

Are you simply eating too much?

This is probably the reason why you are not losing weight.

Are you making any of the aforementioned mistakes with your calorie intake? Are you not controlling or planning your food intake? Are you measuring your food sloppily? Are you "cheating" away all your progress?

Calculate your calorie and macronutrient targets and compare them with your current daily food intake.

If you are eating significantly more than these amounts every day, then you need to address this issue. Stick strictly to your goals for 10 days (no cheating) and see how your body reacts.

If you have 1 to 2 cheat days per week, then we have already found your problem. Reduce your cheating to one cheat meal per week and try to keep your fat intake under control (protein and carbohydrate rich cheat meals are best). This alone could be enough to make the weight on the scales go down.

Are you burning less energy than you think?

The most common reason people make this mistake is that the activity factor used in many formulas to calculate calorie consumption is too high.

For example, according to the Katch McArden formula, you can calculate your average daily calorie expenditure by multiplying your basal metabolic rate by 1.55 if you do 3 to 5 moderate workouts of one hour each per week. 6 to 7 intense workouts per week will result in the use of a factor of 1.725.

Now, I've worked with thousands of people and learned that the results of this formula are simply too high for most of us. I have observed this hundreds of times and the solution is very simple: reduce the activity multiples (reduce the calorie intake) and your weight will go down.

Is it time to move more or eat less?

No matter how perfect your diet and exercise program is, when you lose weight, natural adaptations will take place in your body that will reduce your daily calorie needs.

The only way to compensate for this is to move more and/or eat less. There are guidelines you need to follow to prevent muscle loss and other unwanted side effects.

Is it time to increase your calorie intake?

If you stay in a calorie deficit for too long, your metabolic rate will slow down to the point where further reducing calorie intake and/or further increasing activity is simply no longer feasible.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution: the "reverse diet", which consists of a continuous, systematic increase in calorie intake. If used correctly, this strategy will allow you to eat more and rev up your metabolism while building little or no fat.

Final words

The information and strategies presented in this article are all you need to lose weight.

Trust me.

Your metabolism is not as unique as a snowflake. Your body works the same way mine and everyone else's does. You just need to learn how your body is set up. This article shows you how.


By Michael Matthews

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