Losing weight is simple right? You cut calories, increase activity level, and the body responds by burning body fat. It really is THAT simple, or is it. The problem is, the body is very tricky and crafty. Because of centuries of evolution and learning to survive during periods of famine, It doesn’t always go that way. All the people that had the genetics to lose weight are dead unfortunately. When food became scares, their bodies were ill prepared and they died. Whereas those of us left have the ability to conserve body mass and downregulate our metabolisms. This is the reason we survived the famines, but its not the best for getting a shredded body always. Those of us left have very adaptable metabolisms, and when our calorie intake drastically decreases, our bodies react quickly and conserve what we do have and ration what we get.
BUT, we all can still lose weight. The chances are, if you are dieting and trying to lose weight and are not, the reason you aren’t is one or more of the reasons below:
Hidden calories: You are following a diet so you think, but in reality, you are eating too much of your diet foods, adding too much sauce, or using fattier cuts of meat than you should. While these are not that big of a deal if its one time. When its every day, every meal, it can add up into the hundreds of calories and end up giving your body enough calories to maintain its weight. Often just cleaning up a diet, the same diet you are already eating even, can yield huge results. Cut out the sauce, trim the fat, don’t eat an M&M when you walk by etc…All this will add up quick and you may be surprised when you go from following a diet 95% to 100%
Cheat meals can be a road block: While cheat meals are designed to spike the metabolism and accelerate fat loss, many people don’t react that way. Some people may only need a 500 calorie cheat but end up eating a 1500 calorie cheat. Their body isn’t equipped to burn this off and the extra calories linger for days. Ideally, your cheat meal will be the appropriate amount so within a few hours, 24 at the max, you will have burnt through it and your metabolism is now spiked and you are burning at a level higher than you were pre-cheat meal. Some metabolisms aren’t capable of burning through 1000 extra calories though, and the cheat can last way too long. Add this to the first one, eating hidden calories, and you’ll never achieve a calorie deficit.
You’re eating more than you think: This is related to #1 but not quite the same. You may be following the diet exactly, and it SEEMS like you are dieting really hard compared to what you are doing before you started dieting, but eating clean foods and eating low calorie are not the same thing. Eating clean food makes you healthy, eating low calories makes you lose weight. You can absolutely eat too much healthy food. You may feel better and have more energy doing so, but you still won’t lose weight if you eat too much quality food.
You ARE and you don’t realize it: Most of us start a diet and training program at the same time. So invariably what happens is we start losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time. This is obviously the best possible outcome, but if you aren’t lean enough that the results are visible which few of us are, it just seems like you aren’t getting anywhere. It’s best to not only watch the scale, but watch the mirror, watch the weights you are using and watch how your body/energy levels are doing. If you are pretty sure you are doing everything right (and not doing #1-3 above) then be patient for a couple weeks and see what happens.
All 2000 calorie diets aren’t the same. I recently posted a study where one group had a big breakfast and one had the same meal at night. The breakfast group had far superior results to the nighttime eating group. Not only is it important to eat the right foods in the right amount, but its important to ration this food out correctly throughout the day. Eating nothing all day, then eating a big dinner (for many of us) can lead to our bodies trying its best to conserve calories all day and stalling our weight loss. Ideally, you’ll get food early in the day and then again later on at a minimum.
Dieting is simple and complicated at the same time. Once you get the foods down, its important to make sure that’s ALL you are eating. Keeping weekly tabs on your progress is the best way to ensure you are getting results.