Why Am I Not Losing Weight: 11 Reasons You’re Failing To Lose Fat

image descriptionPosted by ACalorieCounter image descriptionSeptember 10, 2013 image description311 Comments

Oh no… here it comes again. “I’m eating less, eating healthier and working out more. I’ve done everything right, but it’s still not working for me. Why am I not losing weight???

I hear it so often that it’s beginning to haunt my dreams. Tons of people who are consistently failing to lose weight despite telling me that they’re doing everything right. What the hell? How can this be?

I’ll tell you how. In fact, to help you solve this problem once and for all, I’m going to give you a list of 11 possible reasons for why you’re not losing weight. Ready? Let’s do this…

1. You’re Eating Too Many Calories.

Here’s how it works, folks. Everything we do burns calories, and everything we consume (minus obvious stuff like water) contains calories.

Now, if the amount of calories being consumed is consistently greater than the amount of calories being burned, we gain weight. This is known as a caloric surplus, and it forces the body to store these left over calories in some form for later use. That form is most often body fat.

The good news however is that the opposite of this scenario has the opposite result. Meaning, if the amount of calories being consumed is consistently less than the amount of calories being burned, we lose weight. This is known as a caloric deficit, and it forces the body to burn some alternative fuel source for energy instead. That source is most often body fat.

What I’ve just described is the scientifically proven and always true energy balance equation commonly summed up as Calories In vs Calories Out.

So if you’re not losing weight… you’re simply eating too many calories and no deficit is present.

2. No, Seriously… You’re Eating Too Many Calories.

Maybe you accidentally skipped over #1. It’s cool. I skim articles all the time, too. So just in case you missed it, here’s your chance to go back up and read the first item on this list. It’s kinda important.


What, you thought I was joking? I’m not. The reason you’re not losing weight is because you eat too much. That’s it. A caloric deficit is the one big requirement here, and you simply don’t have one.

4. I Know You Were Hoping For Other Reasons, But There Aren’t Any.

Sorry to disappoint you, but there’s no big secret being hidden from you or any little tip that you’ve somehow missed. You’re just not creating the required caloric deficit. Simple as that.

5. Too Many Carbs After 7PM Is Causing… Nope… It’s Still Calories.

Hi. Above all else, weight control and body composition really do revolve around calories. Eat more of them and you gain weight, eat less of them and you lose weight. Taaadaaa!

And yes, I know you’ve probably heard otherwise. I get that you’ve probably seen some person claim that the key to weight loss is everything from carbs, to fat, to avoiding certain food groups, to eating 6 small meals per day, to not eating after a certain time at night, to only eating healthy “clean” foods, and on and on and on.

That’s all bullshit.

Truth is, the key to weight loss (and weight gain) is and always will be calories. Anyone who disagrees is an idiot who should be ignored. And the product they are likely trying to sell should be avoided, too.

So while a lot of this other stuff definitely matters in terms of overall health and still definitely plays an important role in helping you improve your body, it’s always a distant second to calories when it comes to weight loss or a lack thereof.

More about this here: The Truth About Fat Loss

6. “But I’m NOT Eating Too Many Calories, I Swear!” Yes, You Are.

I know, I know. You’re counting calories and eating healthy and you know for sure that you’re eating the right amount that you need to eat in order to lose weight. Yet, you’re somehow still not losing weight.

Well, guess what? You’re wrong.


If there’s one thing damn near every nutritionist and diet professional can agree on, it’s that people trying to lose weight almost ALWAYS underestimate how many calories they are actually eating. It happens all the time, and various weight loss studies prove it.

Some people underestimate the quantity of food they consume (like thinking you ate 1 serving when you really ate 3 or 4), while others underestimate the amount of calories it contained (like thinking a meal was 500 calories when it was really 1000). Some underestimate both.

Mistakes And Under-Reporting

In fact, many people just screw up during the serving size measuring process and take significantly more than they think they’re taking. Leigh Peel shows a few examples of this right here.

Many other people just think there are certain “free” foods they can eat and not count… like fruits and vegetables for example. As if the calories they contain are magic calories that somehow don’t matter? Funny stuff. In reality, they matter just like any other calories matter, and they can add up pretty quick. Count them. Count everything.

And don’t forget the people who eat “tiny” amounts of something here and there and assume it’s so insignificant that they don’t even need to bother counting it. Guess what? The calories from that sort of thing adds up pretty quick, too.

Once again, this is all stuff that is seen over and over again, and it commonly ends up accounting for hundreds or sometimes even thousands of accidental “I-didn’t-even-realize-it” calories.

I actually show a typical real world example of this kind of thing right here.

Hell, many people just flat out lie about how much they are truly eating. Why? Because they’re apparently too embarrassed to admit what they eat (even to themselves), yet not too embarrassed to be and stay fat as a result.

You’re Unknowingly Getting It Wrong Somewhere

Now I’m not accusing you of being an underestimater, or a bad measurer, or a liar, or someone who’s just bad at counting. I’m just telling you the facts.

And the fact is, weight loss always happens when a caloric deficit is present. So if you claim to consistently be eating the right amount of calories yet still aren’t losing weight, then you’re simply not in a caloric deficit and had to have screwed something up somewhere.

7. “But I’m Burning Tons Of Calories, I Swear!” No, You’re Not.

I know, I know. You’re exercising like crazy and burning tons and tons of calories through cardio and weight training and are therefore in the caloric deficit you need to be in for weight loss to occur. Yet, for some unknown reason, you’re still not losing weight.

What could it possibly be? Oh, I know… the fact that infinite real world examples and various studies also prove that people trying to lose weight almost ALWAYS overestimate calories burned.

Yup, in addition to underestimating the calories we consume, we also overestimate the calories we burn. How’s that for a recipe for disaster?

So you know the “tons” of calories you assumed you’ve burned doing cardio? Yeah, that didn’t actually happen. Based on all of the research I’ve seen, an average person doing a typical form of cardio at a typical intensity will burn around 7-10 calories per minute on average.

Think about that the next time you assume 30 minutes on the treadmill is going to have some super significant calorie burning effect. It won’t.

Not to mention, another big problem with overestimating calories burned is that it gives people the false mindset of “Oh, I was on the elliptical for 25 minutes today, so I can surely afford to eat this extra 1000 calories now… right?”

They then proceed to cancel out whatever small amount of calories they burned (and then some), and then wonder why they’re not losing weight despite “working out all the time.” HA!

8. You MIGHT Be Gaining Some Other Form Of “Weight”

Okay, you got me… there’s an exception to some of the statements being made in this article, and there is a legitimate reason for why you might not be losing weight besides a lack of a caloric deficit.

What is it, you ask? Well, it could be that you ARE in that required caloric deficit and you ARE losing fat, but you happen to be gaining something else that is counterbalancing your weight.

See, even though we often use these words interchangeably, there’s a difference between weight loss and fat loss. Fat loss is always fat. Weight loss however can be fat, muscle, water, glycogen, poop or all of the above. And since most people only monitor their fat loss by monitoring their weight on the scale, your true progress can be temporarily hidden (this is extra true for women on a monthly basis).

This is why it’s a good idea to do more than just weigh yourself. For example, take measurements, take pictures, and get your body fat percentage measured.

Of course, the difference between “weight loss” and “fat loss” doesn’t change the calories in vs calories out equation. Nor does it change the fact that a caloric deficit is still the one and only requirement here. It just means that it’s possible to lose fat while gaining something else, and it can make it seem as though you haven’t lost any.

BUT… you must keep in mind that this scenario is just a short term thing at best. Meaning, if week after week is passing and you’re still not losing any weight, it’s HIGHLY unlikely that you just so happen to be simultaneously gaining some other form of weight (like muscle) this consistently.

Instead, it’s MUCH more likely that you’re just eating too many calories, not creating a caloric deficit, and are just not losing any fat, period.

I cover this weight loss plateau myth in detail here: Muscle Weighs More Than Fat?

Speaking of which…

9. The Dreaded Weight Loss Plateau…

Were you previously losing weight, but then it just stopped? If so, you’ve hit the dreaded weight loss plateau and that can only mean one thing: you’re still eating too many calories. Let me explain…

A weight loss plateau is what happens when the caloric deficit you successfully created has ceased to exist. There’s a few reasons for why this happens and why it’s so common, but it would honestly take its own article to fully explain (don’t worry, it’s on my to-do list).

But the gist of it is simple… calories in vs calories out still remains true, it’s just that your specific numbers in that equation have changed as a result of the weight loss you’ve already experienced.

This is partially because being in a deficit causes your metabolic rate to slow down a bit over time (a process known as “adaptive thermogenesis”), but it’s mostly just because you’ve already lost weight… so the calorie intake that worked when you were 250lbs doesn’t work the same now that you’re 200lbs.

And this is all just another way of saying that you’re eating too many calories for your new current weight and the required caloric deficit no longer exists. Eat a little less (or burn a little more) and you’ll magically break that plateau.

10. “Starvation Mode”

Ah yes, the always entertaining starvation mode. This is one of those subjects that’s going to need WAY more than a quick mention in an article to properly cover. Hell, it’s going to need a full article of its own just to define what it actually is and isn’t.

Most people using this term have no clue.

Fortunately, I’ve recently written that article and I highly suggest checking it out (after finishing this one, of course): Starvation Mode: Is It a Myth or Is It Real?

For now, allow me to briefly summarize the two most relevant points I make in that article.

First, the people who think they aren’t losing weight because they are “in starvation mode” are wrong. Instead, they are just failing to lose weight due to one of the reasons we already covered (e.g. you’re eating too many calories).

In this case, “starvation mode” is just one of the many silly things people throw out there as their excuse for failing to create a caloric deficit. Happens all the time. The solution of course is to fix your diet and training program, actually stick to it, and make sure the one and only thing you need to be doing (creating a caloric deficit) is actually being done.

The second point is that the definition of “starvation mode” most people have in their head is wrong and nothing more than a myth. So the idea that not eating enough is preventing you from losing any weight or even causing you to gain weight is just pure bullshit.

However, there are certain aspects of “starvation mode” that are real, but they are better described as the “starvation response.” For example, your metabolic rate does slow down when you’re losing weight (due to a combination of adaptive thermogenesis and the fact that you weigh less than you used to).

And yes, the more excessively low your calorie intake is (and/or the more excessively high your output is), the more significant this “slow down” will be.

But the thing is, this “slow down” will never actually be significant enough to STOP or PREVENT weight loss from happening or somehow CAUSE weight gain. That’s a myth.

The truth is, there is no such thing as “not losing weight because you’re eating too little.” No matter how little you’re eating, you’ll always lose weight if a deficit is present.

So then what about that girl who claims to be “eating 800 calories per day and still isn’t losing weight?” Simple… she’s wrong. In reality, she’s miscalculating, underestimating and/or under-reporting her calorie intake and is consuming more than the 800 or whatever calories she claims to be. (Or, eating 800 calories most days is causing her to binge like crazy on other days, thus creating a wonderful scenario where she’s starving herself with very low calories some days, and then binge eating very high calories on others. In the end, the ‘binge calories’ beat the ‘starvation calories’ and no deficit exists.)

Like I said, it happens all the time. Take someone claiming to be eating very little and not losing weight. Lock them in a room and closely monitor/weigh/measure their food intake for them, and they will magically lose weight just fine. Studies like this have been done. Turns out they weren’t eating as little as they thought.

That’s the ironic thing about the concept of “starvation mode.” Certain parts of it are real (like your metabolic rate slowing down), but they’re either nowhere near as significant as people think (like that same metabolic slow down) or they’re just not what people think, period (“I skipped breakfast today… I’m probably already in starvation mode and burning muscle while gaining fat!!!”).

Which is just a long way of saying that the people who claim it’s their reason for not losing weight are incorrect. Instead, they’re just eating too many calories. Surprise surprise.

11. Legitimate (But Rare) Medical Issues.

I know we’d all like to believe that we’re failing to lose weight because some mysterious outside factor is screwing up our results. The thing is, it’s almost NEVER the case.

That’s why I find the “it’s my thyroid” thought so damn funny. In reality, you’re just not creating the caloric deficit that is required for weight loss to take place. Seriously, if your thyroid was capable of laughter, it would be laughing at you for trying to use it as an excuse for eating and exercising like a dumbass.

However, for the sake of being as complete as possible, I do want to mention that SOME people truly do have problems with their thyroid and/or other legit medical issues that can affect their ability to lose weight. Blood work is the only way to know for sure.

However, while this is real and it does happen, it’s probably not happening to you. You’re just eating too many calories.

And even in the cases when it IS happening to you, the reason for the lack of weight loss is still just a lack of a caloric deficit. The solution here however is less about eating less calories and more about solving the underlying health issue that’s preventing your body from burning as many calories as it should be.

The Big Point… Just In Case You Missed It

If you’re not losing weight, there’s likely a thousand different possible aspects of your diet and workout you might consider as the culprit. And of those thousand, you’d be wasting your time and energy giving a crap about 999 of them.

Instead, the true culprit is calories and the fact that you’re either eating too many of them or not burning enough of them. Even if you think you are… you’re just not.

If you were, you’d be losing weight.

So before you start focusing on the hilarious garbage, meaningless nonsense, and countless myth-based excuses that most people tend to focus on as possible reasons for why they’re not losing weight, step back for a second and take a closer look at exactly how many calories you’re eating and exactly how many calories you’re burning.

100% of the time, that’s where your problem (and solution) will be found.

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Leave Reply
  • Tisha B September 10, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Great article!

  • Daniel September 10, 2013 at 10:49 am

    This should be required reading for anyone trying to lose weight. Absolutely perfect!

    • ACalorieCounter September 10, 2013 at 11:02 am

      My opinion may be slightly biased, but I’d have to agree with you on that one.

  • Dick Weaver September 10, 2013 at 11:02 am

    I would usually say, ” lots of food for thought”, but in this case it should be ” less of food for thought.” Enjoyed reading it and will take to heart as I hit this plateau thing and listened to other know it alls and still didn’t lose weight, so what you say makes sense. I am on a new quest to watch my caloric intake with calorie counter

  • Carrie September 10, 2013 at 11:09 am

    I love this article! I’ve printed it and handed it out to my friends already. This is great and exactly what many people need to hear. Thank you!

  • Rick September 10, 2013 at 12:11 pm


  • Raisin September 10, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Love it! Thanks. Informative and hilarious. Here’s number 12: You’re eating too many calories.

    • ACalorieCounter September 10, 2013 at 12:45 pm

      Coincidentally, that’s also number 13 through infinity.


  • Alycia September 10, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Great article and right on time. I needed to read this today. Thank you!

  • Brian September 10, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Great article! Quick question, would a person really lose weight if they ate fast food 3-4 times per day but still created a calorie deficit? Obviously calories is most important, but doesn’t it need to be quality food along with a calorie deficit?

    • ACalorieCounter September 10, 2013 at 12:42 pm

      If a person is in a deficit eating 2000 calories per day (just an example), they’ll lose weight regardless of whether those 2000 calories come from the most healthy “good” foods in the world or the most unhealthy junky garbage in the world. A deficit is a deficit and that’s the only true requirement.

      In fact, a few years ago a guy named Mark Haub set out to prove this exact point by consuming a diet comprised primarily of junk food (but made sure he was in a deficit). Short version: he lost weight just fine. Longer version: scroll down to “The Twinkie Diet” in this article: http://www.aworkoutroutine.com/how-to-lose-fat/

      Of course, whenever making this point I always make sure I clarify that I’m not actually recommending you eat nothing but junky garabge, but rather that weight loss will still happen even if you did. I always recommend a diet containing a good balance and sufficient amount of protein, fat, and carbs primarily from higher quality, nutrient dense sources with the typical “junky” stuff kept to a sane yet enjoyable minimum.

  • Lauren September 10, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Wow… “what a pleasant slap in the head”, she said while eating her chef salad and reading the article… you are right, man. No doubt. My problem exactly. When I write down what I eat honesty, I lose weight. When I guess or estimate, not so much.
    Thanks for the reality check. I will go out and buy another notebook to start writing my calories down again… and I will send this article to a friend who is also whining about trying to lose weight. He will appreciate your no-nonsense slap in the head as much as I did. Thanks again…

    • ACalorieCounter September 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      Happy to hear it Lauren!

      And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t write this with the intent of it being sent around to a lot of “whining friends.”

      • Girly September 10, 2013 at 10:11 pm

        All I can say about this article is AMEN!! Now if only I could get more people; friends & patients to come out of denial. Eat less, move more, & don’t do dumb stuff (I.e. binge/starve, diet fads or pills, the shake weight) and you WILL become a leaner, healthier person!

      • Lauren September 10, 2013 at 10:39 pm

        Yeah, you rite! Have forwarded to my friend and we’re on it! Thanks again for kick in head. Much needed.

  • Emiliano September 10, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Hahaha, the combination of no-bullshit approach, plus a sense of sarcastic humour makes you the best for this kind of articles Jay.

    Love the new site!
    Keep the great writing.


  • Estycki September 10, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    I started eating at this cafe, they had the best coffee and baked goods. I started ordering a large cappuccino and a bran muffin as a mid morning snack. I found out a few weeks later that the cappuccino was 300 calories and the muffin was 500 calories. That’s an 800 calorie snack, that’s madness! I’ve been counting calories for two years, I can’t believe I made such a rookie mistake, no wonder I had been gaining weight.
    On the other hand, I’ve seen calorie logs from people complaining they’re not losing weight, but they’re eating only 1000 calories of soda, fries and cupcakes.. so it makes me wonder if it’s more than just calories.

    • ACalorieCounter September 10, 2013 at 3:31 pm

      The funny thing about that “rookie mistake” is that people continue making it for years/decades and still don’t realize it.

      As for the logs you mentioned, do you mean their total calorie intake was 1000 and they weren’t losing weight? If so, the explanation is just as simple as #6 from the article.

      • Estycki September 10, 2013 at 3:54 pm

        Yes they claimed they only ate 1000 calories, I don’t know how badly that could be underestimated? It was a male, and below 2000 would already be a deficit, no? I wouldn’t even recommend exercising, you’d feel like death after eating so much crap.

        I know I can’t help but always underestimate and so therefore I try to aim for a lower amount of total calories. So if I’m aiming for 1600, I will aim for 1400 or even as low as 1200 if I still don’t see a change. It’s highly, highly unlikely that I’m actually eating below 1500. I got through my entire weight loss journey doing this and I believe it’s a good strategy (I turned out fine, and strong). If you look at some logs on calorie counting sites where people claim it’s 1200 calories, and others point out that’s sickly low, again it’s highly unlikely that it’s actually 1200.

        Another thing is, with the *numbers* being that low, you might *believe* you’re eating so much less and therefore you’re tired and hungry. It’s mind over matter, just remind yourself you still did put a good amount of food in your stomach and it’s all in your head. Losing weight can be stressful and exhausting, especially with all the exercise you’ll be doing, but you have to keep moving and overtime you train your body to become tougher.

        • ACalorieCounter September 10, 2013 at 4:59 pm

          People claiming to eat 1000 calories per day but aren’t losing weight could, in reality, be eating 3000 calories or more. It sounds crazy and impossible, but it happens ALL THE TIME.

  • Vamsi September 10, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    Hi Jay, After reading many of your wonderful articles, I am following your calorie cycling diet plan where I eat little more on Workout days and less on off days.

    I would like to understand how the body know that I am on deficit? I understand that the quick measurement is to check the weight at the end of the week and see if I am losing the minimum weight of 0.5lb.

    But how does body knows that when I am varying my calorie intake daily?

    Other question is, how do I measure how much calories I burn in my strength training? As I would want to adjust my calorie intake on workout days accordingly? I dont want to create too much deficit where I lose my muscle?

    Thanks for your time

    • ACalorieCounter September 10, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      Your body composition isn’t changing from one day to the next, so you being in a surplus one day, or maintenance one day, or a deficit one day isn’t causing changes. What causes changes is what the consistent net outcome is. So if you have a deficit some days and a surplus/maintenance on others but over a period of time (let’s say a week) the net outcome is that a deficit is present, you’ll lose fat.

      As for the other question, search around for various “calories burned” calculators… they’ll give you some kind of estimate.

      • Vamsi September 10, 2013 at 7:13 pm

        Thanks Jay for your response. I am currently using your calorie counter application and monitoring my diet. I hope I will be more consistent and achieve my goals.

        • ACalorieCounter September 10, 2013 at 7:32 pm

          Sounds good… check back in sometime and let us know how you’re doing.

  • Kim September 10, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    A Slap of reality and truth that many people refuse to accept. …thanks again for your frank article

  • Tania September 10, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    What a fantastic article!!! Very well written!!!! hahaha the amount of times I have heard “I can’t lose weight and I really watch what I eat” cracks me up because I know they are eating too much!!!! A deficit the first 2 days, a binge the next and maintenance the next well dude………you are eating too much!!!!!

  • Elizabeth September 10, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    Thanks–made me laugh. Your post reminded me of the MadTV skit “Eat Less, Move More” from years ago that you might enjoy. My favorite part is when she says, “This is starting to sound like some kind of scam that you do to an old person.”


    Keep up the good fight!

  • SuzanneR September 11, 2013 at 9:05 pm

    Fabulous….as usual!!! Sooo right! I always enjoy your writing and humour. btw, is that you who did the subscribe confirmation thingie?

    • ACalorieCounter September 11, 2013 at 10:57 pm

      Happy to hear it!

      And what “subscribe confirmation thingie” are you referring to?

  • SuzanneR September 12, 2013 at 10:18 am

    When I subscribed to get your articles via email.

  • Kaaren September 12, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Great job. All SO very true. No magic diet. I use a calorie counter app, exercise and Boom! Weight loss. When I stop counting, and *think* I am adding right in my head, & exercise, I remain exactly the same and even gain a pound or 2.

  • Vamsi September 13, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Hi Jay, Good Afternoon.

    I would like to know if there is really something called – genetics? I am asking this because one of my roomie eats and eats all the time. He eats all kind of stuff without restriction but still does not have any inch of fat. he measured his body fat % and showed 6 pc. I am wondering is this called genetics? or Is it that how much ever he eats, he is still under or maintaining calorie intake?

    • ACalorieCounter September 14, 2013 at 11:26 am

      Of course there are “genetics” and of course they play a role in everything.

      In terms of calorie intake, if you take 3 people at the same height, weight and age and they all consume the exact same amount of calories per day (let’s pretend 2500), it’s possible one will lose weight, one will maintain weight and one will gain weight.

      But all this means is that for one person, 2500 puts them in a deficit. For the other, 2500 is their maintenance level. And for the other, it puts them in a surplus.

      So your roommate for example who seems like he can eat and eat and never gain fat may just simply have higher calorie needs than most people and just has to eat more in order to be in a surplus than the average person might. I’m the exact same way.

      This is a result of everything from genetic factors like non-exercise activity thermogenesis aka NEAT (which might be the biggest factor of all) and hormone levels (like thyroid) to digestion (eating a lot of foods that the person poorly digests means they won’t be retaining 100% of those calories) to their activity level (maybe your roommate is more active than other people).

      Maybe all of the above.

      • Vamsi September 15, 2013 at 7:39 pm

        Thanks Jay for your response. Its interesting to know how our body reacts ..

  • candi September 14, 2013 at 11:18 am


  • Suzanne September 17, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    No, sorry. After I hit the subscribe button, there was an audio clip (maybe video too, don’t know because I’m blind). Just wondered if that was you and I could put voice with name.lol For me, it’s like seeing your picture. haha

    • ACalorieCounter September 17, 2013 at 5:34 pm

      haha, nope… that’s not me. That’s some random guy from the company that I use to collect subscribers and send out those emails.

  • Carolyn September 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Best article I ever read! I need to go repost this over in another forum that I often visit because if I hear one more of those idiots tell a person they need to increase their calories to lose weight because they’re in starvation mode (at 1400 calories) I’m going to scream! I know I shouldn’t go back to that forum because it’s frustrating but it’s like watching a car wreck.

    • ACalorieCounter September 18, 2013 at 5:32 pm

      haha, good luck! Hope the article helps lessen the torture.

  • Jim September 27, 2013 at 3:17 am

    Great read, I actually, really, laughed out loud several times! Reminds me of a good friend who has a wife who used to be rail thin but has, in a few years, achieved planetoid status. My friend keeps explaining that its her thyroid, not that she has had it checked. He reasons, how could she not lose weight? She rides the exercise bike a whopping 30 minutes each day!

    I’ll give him this link ;-)

  • karen October 01, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Love this! I was told so many times that eating 1200-1400 calories per day was going to put me into “starvation mode”, however, i kept at it, and lost 95 pounds in 1 year! Weight loss is so simple, calories in / energy out… LOVE THIS ARTICLE!

  • Felicia Walker October 01, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Love Love this!

  • T.J. October 01, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Thank you for this article! I have lost a bunch of weight over the last couple of years and my thought process has always been around deficit. It is really so simple. People around my gym and such are always talking about “eating clean” and “paleo” and such but consume huge messes of food. They tell me all the time “Don’t count calories! Just eat clean.” WTF? Granted, “healthy” is an entirely different discussion but weight loss is just simple math.

  • Karl Kelman October 01, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    Another source of measurement error can be stairmasters/treadmills/etc. at the gym that offer a calorie count. There’s a machine at our local gym that I can purportedly burn 100 calories in a little over 3 minutes; or a thousand calories in about 40 minutes. That can’t be right: That equates to running a sub-4:00 mile (I’m 54 and not in perfect shape!). The same effort on other machines yields varying and lower calorie counts. Some of this may be unintentional error, but I wonder if some machine manufacturers know that people love machines that tell them sweet lies.

    • ACalorieCounter October 04, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      Yup, that’s actually something I forgot to mention when discussing overestimating calories burned.

  • Carla October 01, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    This is such an eye opener. Thank you!

  • Carmel October 03, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    I’m counting calories consumed and burned using a widely popular App, when I log under the 1200 calories recommended for me (37yr old female, 15kg to lose) it tells me I m not consuming enough and may be impeding my efforts by establishing “starvation” mode…..this is rubbish, yes?

    How do I know then what MY deficit is? Maybe it’s actually 1000, and not 1200? I burn on average 400-600 per day (using heart rate monitor to gauge) and still having very, very slow results, should I be aiming for 1000 cals instead?

    • ACalorieCounter October 04, 2013 at 8:05 pm

      Regarding starvation mode, read this: http://www.aworkoutroutine.com/starvation-mode/

      As for your “very slow results” please give some specifics. Because some people will complain that they’re not losing weight when in reality they’re losing a realistic amount of weight at a realistic rate and just have crazy unrealistic expectations about what should be happening.

      • Carmel October 04, 2013 at 9:11 pm

        Thanks that’s fascinating and makes a lot of sense. “Very slow” is around 100-200grams per week. I have read your article again re calorific deficit and am inclined to think and admit that my balance must be out, so that I DO have days where I am in surplus.

        HOWEVER, this is where I’m confused: using your very handy calculator, my maintenance is around 2352, less 20% is 1881 calories I should be consuming to create deficit. i am aiming for 1200 per day so lets say that even half the time I am achieving that, and the other half of the time i am exceeding it, id still only be racking up 1500-1800 on my worst days. Add that 5 days a week I burn an extra 400-600 cal in exercise, my net deficit is still not enough to shift weight more quickly. Should I be aiming for (more consistently than I am now, obviously) 1200, 1000, or 1881?

        I am noticing a change in shape though and clothes fitting better, just minimal to no shift on the scales. I am medicated hypothyroid too.

        Thanks for your articles, they are a bit of slap around the head, but clearly that’s what’s needed!

        • ACalorieCounter October 10, 2013 at 7:50 pm

          Honestly, all of this “let’s say” stuff is pretty pointless, because it’s just guesses. Guesses can be WAY off.

          The only real way of solving the problem is to accurately track everything and adjust from there.

  • Ms.R October 18, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    I actually love you
    what you’ve written here is so true and so obvious, I am stunned at how foolish i’ve been , your starightforwardness and humor got through to me. thank you.

  • Zbree October 29, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    Ok, so how do you know when you actually ARE eating too little calories, just for like health and survival reasons? Is it different for everyone or is there like a set amount that no one should ever go under? I’ve lost 27 pounds so far and maybe have about 10 pounds left to go, but it’s not happening. I’m eating 1360 calories a day (I think) and I don’t want to cut back anymore because I feel like I would be starving, so does that just mean I need to exercise more? And if so, how can I tell how many calories I’m burning, are all these online exercise calculators really accurate? Thanks in advance for any reply.

    • ACalorieCounter October 31, 2013 at 5:48 pm

      Are you underweight? Are you having health issues related to being underweight? Are you losing weight very fast?

      These are signs you’re eating too little.

  • FlaGal Starving November 19, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    OK, so this is a great article, and a fun read, but I have to be 100% honest here: I do a food journal, work out journal and count every calorie/carb/protein/fat/fiber gram on every piece of food that goes into my mouth, and I am still not losing weight. I’m not “ill” albeit riddled with arthritic knees/hands/shoulders. I do water therapy and water aerobics several times a week (min. 3x @ min. 40 min. sessions); I know I have a bad reaction to carbs, so I’ve cut those down to no more than 30 g per day; calories remain between 900-1200 per day (never more, and never less than those numbers). I’m 5’7″, 48 yr old female and I have already lost 23 lbs in the past 5 months (absolutely NOT enough based on my deficit calculations), and have been unable to lose one ounce for the past 4 weeks. I have made add’l alterations to cut calories/fat/carbs again. Still nothing lost (besides my temper). So, what is the answer now? My journal is very accurate, I weigh myself daily, and I’ve gone beyond “frustration” and moved into “anger.” Maybe you have some suggestions that would help me out?

    • ACalorieCounter November 20, 2013 at 7:23 pm

      You just said the EXACT same thing someone who wasn’t accurately tracking their diet would say. So no matter how much you guarantee that you’re eating 900 cals per day and not losing any weight, the obvious issue here is that you’re most likely messing something up somewhere.

      • Deby December 08, 2013 at 2:13 pm

        I find the article rather too simplistic, and the reply to the person above a bit rude. I find myself in the same position as her. I eat only calorie counted foods where I can be sure of accuracy, weigh and measure every single little thing I eat and drink. Keep a calorie journal on my computer. I make no mistake, forget nothing, and I am NOT secretly, consciously or unconsciously fooling myself.

        I eat less than 6000 calories per week, sometimes well less, and I PUT ON weight still slowly and steadily. Have you tried living on less then 6000 calories a week, every single week, saying no thank you to everything you are offered? Never eating out, never having a little treat. It’s torture.

        So OK, I understand entirely – I’m still eating too many calories – I must be because I am putting on weight. My metabolic rate clearly is much slower than yours. I guess the 500 calories a day my doctor is recommending for me to loose weight is the norm for me even though most people could not survive this low.

        But please try to be a little more understanding to the people out there who are trying to get by on so few calories day after day, those who differ from you, struggle and deny themselves far more than you and are still overweight.

        On the plus side, if I were in a plane crash on a deserted island, I’d be the last one to starve to death.

        • ACalorieCounter December 08, 2013 at 8:40 pm

          Are you severely underweight? Are you over the age of 80? Do you have any sort of health/medical issue? Are you taking any kind of medication?

          If all of your answers were NO, then there’s no way you’re gaining weight eating 500 calories per day. You’re screwing something up somewhere… simple as that.

          If any of your answers are YES, that’s another story. Maybe.

          • MLu December 10, 2013 at 3:50 pm

            To Deby, when you post something like that you probably will get a rude comment or two. Its sounds absurd, I don’t buy it either. If I were in your shoes I would consume more calories than the listed amount you’ve given. I would guess and I’m just a girl with a goal but your body is telling you something. You don’t change whats nots broken. Hang in there. I think ACalorieCounter is on to something and you might want to RE read all the “free” information he has given. ACalorieCounter, do you think her issue could be too low of calorie consumption? Is it possible that her body is storing fat due to the little amount of calories being consumed? Deby, best of luck to you. ACalorieCounter, you are always spot on! Thanks again for all the info!

    • Another FlaGal January 16, 2014 at 2:48 pm

      I am having this issue too. I had a baby 9 months ago and have lost 30lbs of the 45 I gained. For the past 2 months I have not lost an ounce! I am extremely maticulous in my calorie counting , food measuring and exercise. I even tried the master Cleanse, (a TRUE starvation diet) and lost NOTHING!

      Is it possible that I have a hormonal imbalance due to pregnancy and breastfeeding? On the verge of tears over 15lbs. I just want my pre-baby body back.

      Stuck at 140lbs need to be 125lbs. I’m 30 and 5’6″.

      • ACalorieCounter January 19, 2014 at 8:36 pm

        There’s a few subjects I tend to avoid answering questions about… injuries, medications, health/medical problems, and pregnancy. The first person I’d recommend asking is your doctor.

  • Stephanie December 16, 2013 at 1:10 am

    This is not helpful! Well for me!! I measure everything!! Every single meal ! I do not eat crap ! Only drink water.. exercise 6 times a week including 3 gym sessions. And have been for 4 months and have only lost a kilo… I dont go out! Im gluten free and a vegetarian and can not shift a anything! This article is agravating!

    • ACalorieCounter December 16, 2013 at 11:09 am

      Ok, so let’s see. You’re drinking enough water. You don’t eat crap. You workout 6 times a week. You eat gluten-free and you’re a vegetarian.


      But none of that causes fat loss. Only a caloric deficit does.

      So if you’re not losing fat over a significant period of time, you simply aren’t in a caloric deficit. You can claim to be if you’d like, but the simple fact that you’re not actually losing weight guarantees that you’re not.

  • kate December 24, 2013 at 12:37 am

    Love the article and the wittyness.

  • Reggie December 24, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    I appreciate this article.. I’ve tried several things to lose weight and it’s only one sure thing that’s been successful and that’s calories in vs calories out.. I’ve tried adding weight training, smaller meals, etc to no avail.. Two tips to those struggling.. my recommendation is if your eating fast food or any type of junk food feel free to overestimate the calories because a we are not in the lab that determines the calories of the different processed foods and b I’ve never eaten the same exact burger/piece of candy ever.. Most of the estimates Im sure are rounded down numbers. And also, if you get stuck on a weight loss platuea instead of dropping your food intake, increase your exercise workload.. because as the good man stated when your weight drops so does your metabolism that’s what I do when I hit a platuea I push myself physically harder versus decreasing my food intake. Thanks again and keep up the awesome job

  • mike January 06, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Your the first person to base your whole statment on the fact that I was eating to many calories. Im confused however, my mom bought me a watch that measuded how many calories I burned through perspiration and heart rate. So when I go to wor.k im usually excited to see that the amount of calories burned is 2000+. I eat these fit and active tv dinners. I count the amount of calories I intake from them, I even estimate calories for my drinks. Do you think my watch is unaccurate? Because I know im not eating to many calories

    • ACalorieCounter January 09, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      If the combination of what you think you’re eating and what your watch says your burning SHOULD be causing fat loss and you’re not losing fat, then yes… there is some kind of inaccuracy somewhere.

  • robin January 10, 2014 at 11:07 am

    I th tink you’re absolutely correct about what you said your article. I have been on a diet since last April, Nutrisystem. They require you to eat 1200 calories a day approximately. I hit the plateau when I lost 45 pounds. I wanted to lose an additional 55 pounds, so I reduced my Calories Slightly and started losing again. I might also mention, my Afc went from 9.8 down

  • Beth January 10, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    I appreciated the info very much but not so much the delivery.

  • Val January 10, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    OMG about time, love LOVE this no nonsense article! You freaking rock!

  • Dianna January 11, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    What kind of experience have you had with clients with Thyroid issues? I have read (and keep hoping it isn’t true!) that even controlled by medication, people with hypothyroidism should subtract an additional 200 calories from their daily allotment, which is really tough for someone already on a tight caloric budget.

    • ACalorieCounter January 14, 2014 at 3:16 pm

      This is honestly the type of thing that I advise people to ask their doctor about. I try to avoid answering anything involving health issues/medications/etc..

  • Another Calorie Counter January 13, 2014 at 11:13 am


    Im quite curious if you have an explanation for my situation. I eat approx 1400-1500 cals a day and my cals to maintain my weight should be around 2700/day. I run 5k 7 days a week burning around 350 cals each time (according to a GPS).
    So my net cals are around 1050 to 1150 a day. I don’t have treat days. I track everything I eat/drink with MFP I weigh everything, double check with other sources, MFP, the packets to make sure I am entering the correct calories, yet I am gaining between 1 and 2 lbs per week. This has slowly increased faster and faster over the last 3 years despite my intake getting lower and lower.
    I know how to lose weight, I lost 3 stone just before this started happening.

    I now weigh the same as my boyfriend and we both track our cals together, he loses weight, I gain but he eats approx 1000 cals more than me.

    I do however have a prolactinoma which is being treated and my levels have been normal for the last few months, my endo says my levels were never high enough to cause weight gain anyway.

    I am having my cortisol and thyroid tested but I last had that done 4 months ago and it was normal.
    I don’t beleive in the undereating BS but I’d really like some advice on what I could possibly be doing wrong?

    • ACalorieCounter January 14, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      If you’re ending up nearly 1700 calories below your maintenance level yet gaining 1-2lbs per week, then there’s really only 2 things to consider. The first is that you should get everything checked out with your doctor. Be it your preexisting issue or something else. Explain the issues you’re having with calorie intake/weight gain and tell them to figure out the cause.

      The second is that, assuming everything is good in the first option, no matter how perfectly and accurately you think you’re doing everything… you HAVE to be messing something up somewhere. Without being with you all day and tracking everything for you, I couldn’t tell you what/where the mistake is. But clearly if it’s not something health related, there a diet and/or exercise mistake happening somewhere.

  • Alexus January 20, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    I love this article so much! It inspired me to not believe that nonsense that I’ve been hearing over and over. There’s nothing wrong with eating less calories, you could stick with it forever and never binge…the binging part causes the weight gain and overeating obviously

  • Chad Derowitsch January 21, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    So you’re telling me if I eat 2000 calories of McDonalds every day. Compared to 2000 calories of a balanced diet of lean meats, vegetables, fruit, and complex carbs my body will process it all the same?

    • ACalorieCounter January 21, 2014 at 5:52 pm

      “Process” it all the same way? No. But 2000 calories worth of “healthy” foods would be processed differently than 2000 calories worth of some other “healthy” foods.

      If however we’re talking about fat loss and fat gain, then assuming the total calorie and macronutrient intake is the same, you will lose fat/gain fat the same on both diets.

      In fact, here’s a guy who did exactly what you’re describing… ate a 2000 calorie per day diet comprised mostly of McDonald’s… and lost 37lbs pounds while doing it. Details here.

  • Greg January 29, 2014 at 1:20 am

    So true, I was lmao and laughing at myself for thinking the late night eating blah blah etc was stopping my progress. Needed the kick in the ass thanks bro!

  • Alex January 30, 2014 at 9:19 am

    Brilliant! Should be required reading for everyone!

  • Chris Hind January 30, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Love the article. I’ve always found the weight loss theories quite bemusing. As someone who has always found it easy to both loose and gain weight, I’ve always found the notion of counting calories somewhat redundant. When I want to loose weight I cut back my food intake until it starts to happen and then increase it when I want to stop. It’s not rocket science.

  • Aida Lott-Daley February 01, 2014 at 10:35 am

    You hit the proverbial nail on the head! When I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism a few years ago, I thought I had finally gotten to the bottom of my obesity and inability to lose weight. But two years later, after taking Synthroid daily and getting my hormones back into normal ranges, I was still not losing weight.

    Then, I had an epiphany! I suddenly noticed that a reasonable size pancake should look like a CD or DVD while mine looked like a manhole cover. I also realized that those extra handfuls of raw almonds I was obliviously grabbing out of the cupboard every few hours were actually adding about 150 extra calories to my daily regimen at a clip. I wasn’t counting the half and half in my coffee, the olives and crunchies I was adding to my salad, or the large 3-serving size of sugar free ice cream that I was counting as a half cup single serving. Oh, and did I mention that the serving of steak that was supposed to fit in the “palm of my hand” was actually enough to feed Argentina for a week?

    I guess now I can understand why programs like Jenny Craig and Nutri-System work for many people. There’s nothing mystical about the actually food. It’s all about portion control!

    Oh well, thanks for the wakeup call. I’ll put my pitchfork down for now and try using chopsticks at my next meal. And maybe I’ll try to eat just 3 times a day instead of 12. Does walking from the couch to the fridge count as my cardio for the day?

  • jennifer February 01, 2014 at 11:57 am

    where does alcohol land in the grand caloric intake scheme of things? If I save 300 calories on a Saturday Night for 2 glasses of red wine…and dont fall into the ‘wheee I am tipsey, lets eat some pizza” trap, then these calories in should count per usual? I keep reading that alcohol digests differently or something? I only drink 1-2 times per week, just wondering if this is such a big deal in terms of dieting, as long as I count the calories. thank you for your help!

    • ACalorieCounter February 01, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      Yup, calories from alcohol count just like the calories from anything else.

  • kwitshadie February 01, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Just what I needed. I’ve freed myself from fat prison (~50 lb), but the weight loss has stopped. Although I think I stick to “elderberries and bark” during the week, the nachos on the weekends/cottage cheese eaten standing up/ever-more-heaping “cup”s of blueberries gotta go. I’ve just discovered the pure joy of dance, and I want to go down another 10-15 lb. You rock.

  • Desiree February 01, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    I so do not agree. A caloric deficit does not give you the golden ticket to weight loss and no matter what guarantee you losing weight on the scale. There are other factors involved!

    • ACalorieCounter February 01, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      Sorry, but no. You are more than welcome to disagree with opinions. But you can’t disagree with proven facts.

      Actually, you CAN disagree with proven facts. Just keep in mind that doing so automatically guarantees that you’re wrong, and it will make you look like an idiot.

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