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

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 or magical superfoods, 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.

This is a topic I cover here: Why Am I Gaining Weight? 12 Causes Of Unexplained Weight Gain

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.

A HUGE Update…

After an entire year of writing, I have finally released my program: Superior Fat Loss.

In it, I break down every single cause of weight loss plateaus (not just the common causes, but the less common causes as well) and show you exactly why they happen, exactly what causes them, and exactly what you need to do to easily get back to losing fat again.

I also show you all of the diet, workout and lifestyle adjustments you need to make to reach your goals while minimizing metabolic slowdown, losing fat without losing muscle, continuing to eat the foods you love, avoiding annoying diet rules and restrictions, and so much more. You can learn all about it right here: Superior Fat Loss

336 thoughts on “Why Am I Not Losing Weight: 11 Reasons You’re Failing To Lose Fat”

  1. Hi,

    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?

    • 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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?

    • “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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

    • 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.

  10. Thanks mate, the advice really helped
    I am currently in secondary school (YR11) and I want to get big (ok ok) But first I need to lose weight (obviously) I am 63kg and 1.69m and my BMI is 22.1 which is healthy weight but I still look a bit fat, and if I want to get big first I need to shed the pounds. I want the girls but I am afraid they will laugh at me even if I look abit fat. How to I lose weight???

  11. So what about restricting sugar/carbs? Even if, as I am assuming that you would argue, the only benefit of such a method of eating is that it leads to decreased caloric intake, does it not have value for that reason alone? I think that’s part, but not all of why it works. Eating sugar and carbs makes you crave more sugat and carbs, leading to vastly increased calories. This doesnt even consider the effects of blood sugar spikes and insulin. So low carbing it allows you to decrease your calories while remaining satiated.

    • Yes, reducing carb intake reduces calorie intake, which is what causes people to lose fat when they eat less carbs. They’ll think it was eating less carbs that caused their weight loss, but in reality it was eating less calories as a result of eating less carbs.

      And sure, if you eat a bunch of sugar or a meal comprised of nothing but white bread or candy or cookies or something, you’ll probably be hungry again soon after. Which is why no one (including me) would ever recommend eating like this. It’s also why it’s recommended to eat a sufficient amount of protein, fat and fiber, all of which are significantly more filling than carbs and, when combined with high carb foods (even the supposed “bad” ones), significantly slow down their digestion and impact on blood sugar, thus reducing/eliminating the issues with hunger that you mentioned.

      Also keep in mind that people really like eating carbs. Force them to eat a diet that greatly restricts their carb intake, and you instantly put a person on a diet they hate and will be less likely to sustain.

      Keep a nice amount of their favorite carbs present, and you instantly put a person on a diet they’ll enjoy and be much more likely to sustain.

  12. I do have a question about a calorie deficit.

    I’m a 250 lbs 5’10” guy. I’ve lost about 16 lbs since january 2nd, and I’m feeling great!

    I was wondering though, I’ve got myself down to about 1500 calories a day, which is close to 1000 calories under my BMR, and I’ve been jogging 4 times a week. Most people recommend a 500 calorie deficit, but is there anything wrong with going down to 1000 below? Like I said, I’m feeling absolutely fine and the weight is melting off.

  13. Great article, I like it!

    Just a question on labels……

    When I read calories contained on a food label, is that the total once all the sugars and other rubbish have been broken down? Example a can of sugar free fizz or similar stimulant drink claim zero calories but I struggle to believe it is really zero calories or 1 calorie whatever the label claims.

    • The amount shown for calories will be the total of everything (protein, fat, carbs/sugar).

      The reason sugar free items show zero calories is because they contain sugar substitutes in place of actual sugar.

  14. Love love love this article so much

    I know lots of obese Danes that I want to “force feed” with your writing – I have had this discussion with people soooo many times. But I guess they are all so tired from being in “starvation mode” that they are not able to understand simple logic.


      • Hi.

        Interesting article. Im a male, 6feet, aged 30 and currently weigh 199lbs. I hurt my back and was gained a lot of weight over 8 months due to being so sedentary. I keep a very close eye on my calories and my daily calorie intake is between 2090 and maximum 2200 calories.

        by the time I go to sleep at night I have burned about 2100 calories. I sleep 8 hours in which I should be burning an additional 664 calories over 8 hours. So my total burn over a 24hr period is 2764 calories burned creating between a 564 – 674 deficit.

        Ive only been doing this diet/cardio for about a week but havent lost any weight. Could this just due to all the increased amount of water Ive been drinking? should I give it another week before making adjustments?


  15. I have been doing Carb Nite for the last 4 months and about 2-3 weeks ago found my weight loss stalled. I stumbled across your site and read a ton of stuff here that really made sense. Even though Carb Nite says you can still lose weight even in a calorie surplus and I have been having great success, I did start to closely track my calories and make sure I was in a deficit. Viola, I lost 6 pounds in about 2 and a half weeks. I think I will continue Carb Nite because I do feel it controls my appetite very very well but I will also incorporate your advice as it is proving to be very useful. Thanks.

  16. I have a question, what if eat above my calorie limit but all clean meals that includes veggies mostly will i still be gaining weight ??

    • You’ll get fat eating too many calories worth of healthy food just the same as you would eating unhealthy food. It’s not the type of food that causes fat to be gained. It’s the total amount of calories consumed.

  17. I’m feeling a little stunned from all this freeing information. My endocrinologist, trainer and nutritionist have all had stipulations as to when and what to eat. I am a little insulin resistant (from PCOS not diabetes) and I take se blood sugar normalizing meds (metformin and victoza). I have been on a very low cal plan for awhile and have wondered if that is hurting my system. I normally don’t eat dinner since I eat the daily 800 allotment during the other meals. Does it REALLY not matter if I don’t eat for 12 hours or if my deficit is 50% ? Those two factors aren’t permanently messing up my system?

    Thank you for your straight talk. I’m still stunned.

    • A 12 hour fast is no big deal for most people (there are many forms of “intermittent fasting” around these days… some people do quite well with it from an adherence standpoint).

      As for a 50% deficit, that’s honestly well above what I’d recommend to the majority of people trying to lose fat. 20% is what tends to be ideal for most, possibly up to 30% in certain cases.

  18. I’ve been watching what I eat VERY closely. I DO NOT allow snacks of any kind. In a normal day I would have either whole fiber breakfast or no breakfast, a sandwich with no butter (or mayo or margarine etc.) for lunch or about 330ml of soup ((12oz), with no bread) and a SMALL (think baby-bowl size, could fit in the palm of your hand type thing) salad for dinner (pretty much just lettuce leaves), with no dressing.
    I do not drink soda or fruit juice’s high in sugar, I only drink water.
    I don’t really exercise, just walking up a few flights of stairs a day.

    My starting weight was just under 8 stone (112 lbs) and my goal weight is 7 stone (98 lbs), I’m around 5’7″ btw. I got really close, I was at 101 lbs just a week ago, but now I’m back up to 105 lbs and it’s pretty upsetting.

    The article was good but I can’t really eat any less, I already sleep about 7 hours at night and a lot of the time I’ll fall asleep after work for about 3 hours which makes 10 hours a day.

    Any advice you could give me would be great 🙂

    • There’s a reason it’s so hard… it’s because you’re 5’7 and trying to weigh 98lbs, which is eating disorder territory. My advice would be to get some help.

  19. I’ve lost a lot of weight over the past few months and it now seems to have stopped, I’m about 183cm (6ft) and 140lb. I won’t ask why I’m not really losing weight but I am hungry most of the time, feel weak and irritable even after eating, just always low on energy. Obviously I’m not in a caloric defecit (or not much of one) but why am I feeling like this then? If I’m eating enough calories to maintain my weight, why do I feel like shit? Thanks for the really informative posts and apologies if this is a stupid question.

    John (25)

    • People in a deficit for a significant period of time are known to be hungry, irritable, low on energy, etc.. This is kinda why fat loss is hard and annoying and most people fail at it. The fact that you’ve finally hit a plateau doesn’t negate these fat loss “side effects.” To do that, you’d need a full diet break which would involve bringing calorie back up even more (a slight surplus) for 1-2 weeks.

  20. What about blood sugar spikes, its all over the internet that eating high gi foods even rice cakes,bananas carrots peas (that are low in calories) can stop fat loss (even in a deficit). i understand this is when they are consumed alone not with a protein that would slow the process down, but people usually eat rice cakes bananas alone witch causes blood sugar to rise and insulin to release stopping fat loss, this is very confusing because i thought all you needed was a calorie deficit regardless of what food you eat but the high blood sugar levels prevent fat loss?

  21. Thanks for this information. Really cut through all the BS. I’ve been using an app to track calories and looking back I can see I have been overestimating and omitting calories from a bite here and there. You have definitely taken the pressure off. My app boards are full of people believing all the myths you have listed. Therefore my head has been spinning and wondering what it all meant to me. Thanks for simplifying things for me!

  22. Sorry, I posted this in the wrong section…second try:

    Love your post…straight up talk..no nonsense! I was going crazy reading this, reading that. Drives a person bananas trying to figure out which is best. I always try to maintain a low calorie diet, however, it is so difficult to sleep at night when I am sticking to low calories. I always have to get up and drink hot milk or eat something to be able to sleep. My question is this…do you think one of those natural fat burning pills (garcinia cambogia, green coffee bean extract, etc.) will help curve my appetite in the evenings? I’m sure its a silly question but it is the one thing that always damages my diet. Thanks.

    • Nope, they are crap. The best way to control hunger is to keep protein and fiber intake high, and then put everything together in whatever way keeps you most full and satisfied.

  23. I’ve been working out 3 to 4 days a week for 9 months now and have gained 10 pounds. Started using the My Fitness Pal to keep track of my calories and exercise and it always says I have a deficit. I usually have a lean and green smoothie after my workout and wondered what your thought are on the smoothies. I don’t eat much, according to MFP anyway and wondered if the smoothies were those hidden calories you speak of.

    • Yes, smoothies could certainly be one very easy way of consuming significantly more calories than you think… which is why drinking your calories isn’t something I really recommend much in the first place.

      But if you’ve gained 10lbs while “being in a deficit” the clear issue here is that you are in fact NOT in a deficit. Rather, you’re in a surplus.

  24. Thanks for keeping it simple I was going crazy trying to figure out why I wasn’t losing weight..

  25. I have reached that plateau … I am trying to drop that last dreaded 10lbs. I am using a fantastic app called Lose It that tracks your daily calories. I weigh and measure everything so I’m pretty confident I’m not underestimating. I work out 4-5 times per week and have cut my calories down to 1300/day over 3 weeks ago now. And if anything I’ve gained back a couple pounds. Plus I am always always hungry. I just can’t lose that last layer of fat. Advice?

  26. Hi i read your article and im just really confused! To be honest i dont know if i am on the right track… I am 164cm tall and current weight is 113kgs my daily food intake is at most 900 calories as i have a gastric band and can only eat max twice a day. I am also active and go to boxing classes which are 30 minutes per session about 3-4 times per week on some days i do a double session. Currently my weight loss is very slow im just not sure if im on the right track and im also on meds for insulin resistancy. Your article was a good read just confused me a bit

  27. I agree with what you are saying. I KNOW that a calorie deficit will lead to weight loss. But I am curious to ask what you know about the role that hormones play (not necessarily thyroid funciton, like you mentioned). Specifically, excess training (especially high intensity training like plyometrics or HIIT) while eating a low number of calories will increase cortisol, vasty decrease recovery time, increase muscle catabolism, etc, etc. I guess I am curious because I was an athlete in college (soccer) training 6X a week with my team in addition to 6-10 mile runs (1-2 times per week) and weight training 3-4 X per week. But never lost weight. Granted, though, I could have been eating at maintainance (but not likely since I ate very healthily; nonetheless I will admit that I could have been). Anyways, I was just wondering if you think that much training was hindering my progress for fat loss and if you have any suggestions for me (I am prone to going back to those old habits). Thanks for the info!

    • So you’re asking if too much activity could have completely prevented you from losing weight? Absolutely not.

      Chances are you were eating at maintenance.

  28. Great article.

    But I would like to address the comment you made on a previous comment; that any calories even if it is fruit and veggies if there is no calorie deficit it will still make you fat. Having said that, what is your opinion on the very fit, very health “Freelee the Banana Girl” who has been eating a high carb raw vegan diet for over 7 years and never restricts her calories? She has proven with her physic down to her blood test results that she is healthy…and in no way is she fat.

    Not putting down what you’ve said in fact i’m going to try it. Just wondering

    • I have no idea who the hell “Freelee the banana girl is,” but if she is not gaining fat, she is simply not in a caloric surplus. Whether she’s purposely restricting her calories or just organically ending up eating the amount of calories she needs (and not exceeding it), that’s still all that’s happening here. No magic whatsoever.

  29. Finally! Someone confirms what I ONLY believe when it comes to the challenges of weight loss. Going deeper, I do have a couple questions:

    What’s your thought on RMR tests? I’ve tested through the “breathalyzer” and Bod Pod. I heard they’re the most accurate in finding my own RMR to customize my deficit correctly.

    Secondly, what are your thoughts on how MANY pounds a week one should lose and can one consume too little cal or burn too many daily? I keep reading/hearing “never eat less than 1200/day,” “don’t lose more than 2.5 lbs a week,” and “too much exercise can be dangerous.”

    I am guilty of tracking my calories in and out religiously with denial by over and underestimating. I’m also guilty of trying every diet known to man from low carb to vegetarian to detox. Unsurprisingly, nothing worked until I created an HONEST deficit. Now I just would like to know if it’s possible to lose too much too fast! Thanks for your answer in advance!

    • 1. Completely unnecessary. It takes 5 seconds to come up with some kind of RMR estimate, an a few weeks to test it and adjust until a deficit is created and weight loss occurs.

      2. The fatter you are, the more you can/should lose per week. The leaner you are, the less you can/should lose per week. Generally that will be 0.5-2lbs per week for most, though the obese can exceed 2lbs/week easily for a while with no problems whatsoever.

  30. Thank you, thank you! you drilled it into my head and i will begin again on this journey to lose 10-12 lbs….yup, just 10-12 is all i need and want to lose and have not been able to budge it at all….i thought it was age…everyone says, “well, you’re in your 40’s and everyone gets fatter in their 40’s” i’m so sick of hearing that! i don’t believe for one minute that just because i’m in my 40’s that i must automatically gain weight and just accept that i am well on my way to being fat now…i’ve been thin and in shape my whole life…so, thank you thank you for drilling it into my head that i am STILL taking in too many calories..no other reason but that! should be an easy fix…..hmmm, and there should be many more thin people in America due to this one small thing….taking in too many calories… I am vain, i will work on it!!! so, again, thank you!!!!!!! i am printing this whole article out to hang on my fridge… 🙂

  31. it’s me again, by the way…i’m 5’11, 165 lbs…not a large frame…but i want to be 153ish..that’s my happy place..
    I’ve been trying to eat 1200-1500 but i think that’s too much…any recommendations for a gal my height? I must not be burning much during the day at all…does metabolism slow down as one gets older? just curious as to your though on this…

    • Pick an amount, eat it consistently and monitor what happens. If fat loss happens at an ideal rate, good. If not, adjust in small increments until it does.

      And yes, metabolism does gradually slow with age (combined with the fact that older people tend to be less active and just don’t burn as much as they did when they were younger).

  32. I’m 5’7 F currently at 173, wanting to be 135. In your opinion, what is the best caloric deficit for me to have per day? do you think it’s worth eating pre-packaged, frozen meals so I can be sure of the calorie count (vs. cooking or getting takeout, where it’s easy to underestimate portion size and calorie content?).

  33. Really enjoy your writing. No nonsense, no gimmicks.

    I’m a 47 y/o man, 6’0″ and 185 lb. I’ve lost about 50 lbs over the past year with low-carb, calorie deficit diet and mostly cardio (walking, hiking, elliptical). I’ve seen my body fat drop from 30% to to only 22%, but here is where I am stuck. I’ve added weight training (mostly free weight) for about 8 weeks now, trying to model your push-pull-legs on a 5 day cycle. I’ve seen definition improvement, continue to lose weight (about 1 lb/week) but I’ve been stuck at 22%. I don’t care about losing more weight (I feel good at 180-185 lbs) but how do I get down to 10-15% BFP? Am I fighting age and muscle loss? While I’ve slowly increased the amount of weight I’m lifting, I have nagging injuries that keep me from really pushing hard on “heavy” lifting. Should I increase calories to maintain, and just expect this to take a while? Is the deficit making it harder to build muscle?

    Diet has still been lower carb, but I’ve increased protein per your recommendations. Thoughts?

    • If you are losing 1lb per week, you are definitely losing body fat. I’d wonder exactly what method you’re using to measure body fat, and I’d assume it’s one of the many uselessly inaccurate ones.

      Also keep in mind that you if you want to lose more body fat and get leaner, you will have to lose more weight. Additional details here.

      • Thanks for the link. I use an Aria scale that measures BFP by impedance, and make a point to weigh in first thing in the morning to be consistent. Is that one of the “uselessly inaccurate” ones? 🙂

        Thanks again, I appreciate the info.

    • Slovo, as soon as my post is moderated, please read it. I am 50+ and lost 70+ lbs over the last eighteen months. May I suggest NOT focusing on carbs, but rather, calories as stated above? Feel free to setup a free account with MyFitnessPal.com. If you have a smart device (i.e. iPhone, iPad, etc.) the ios app is invaluable. After a short interview, the app will tell you how many calories you need to maintain, lose or gain. I eat lots of carbs (fruit, wholegrain breads, etc.) and pay no attention to the types of food. That is, other than making sure I am eating as naturally as possible. In two-years, I have found only three foods I ate which were not in it’s enormous database. For these foods, simply use you device’s camera, scan the barcode, and it will reveal it’s nutritional info. If you look at the calories the device suggest you eat daily (say 2000), as money, you can spend it any way you choose. Of course, the more natural you eat, the more satiated you’ll be.

  34. Love the article. Thank you! Me? 50+ years old. I lost 70+ lbs eating mostly natural foods, anything I want, and use MyFitnessPal to this day to create the deficit you agree that is needed. No hype, no BS. To supplement the CICO(Calories in, Calories Out) deficit, I became much more active. Shovel snow instead of throw, tossed out the “gas” walk-behind mower and purchased the “old-style”- blades and push. EVERY little bit helps! Walk more, hike, whatever. Besides CICO, just find some extracurricular activity (preferable outside) you enjoy. Pay no attention to the weight scale(stepped on the scale five times in 18-months). Remember, for any healthy individual, weight loss is a “by-product” of conditioning. The body is almost the only earthly device that the harder you use it the better it runs! Follow what is written here and above, the weight will peel off. Thanks for the article!

  35. So…I totally agree with everything you’re saying. I’ve been doing what I like to call the “temporary anorexic diet”, in which I eat between 600 and 800 calories a day. I’m 6ft tall. I lost about 30lbs over the past several months of starting. However, I have noticed that lately I am not losing anymore weight. I’m fluctuating between a 3 or 4lb range that I know is normal water-weight, etc, that the scale will read over a 24 hour period. I have been literally eating the exact same food and the same measurements of that food every single day. All of it is very specifically designed and calculated. Aka I am NOT making a mistake and I am NOT eating more calories than I think I am. I have 100 calories worth of oatmeal for two meals, and a Lean meal that is always under 300 calories. I drink nothing but black coffee and water throughout the day. Occasionally I will eat a snack that I specifically weigh out and measure to equal out to 100 calories or less. Even if I take into consideration human error, and add a random 200 calories on top of that just in case something was under-counted, I am still not going over 800 calories a day. Yet I have plateaued in the weight loss. I’m extremely frustrated about this. I went and bought a bottle of SlimQuick just for the hell of it because I thought “maybe it’s because I’m a woman…”. Nope. Nada. I never believe in diet pills anyway. I try to consider the salt intake, that I’m gaining water weight or something, but I am eating no more or less salt than I have been since the start of this diet.
    My initial thought was that stupid starvation mode bullshit everyone ALWAYS throws at me when I’m on this diet. But I have always thought that was some dumb BS lie people say exist as a way to try and deter people from being anorexic. But hey! Newsflash! Anorexic people are skinny! So yeah…WRONG.
    I have no idea what’s happening right now with this stupid sudden halt in weight loss, but it’s very discouraging… ugh. It’s enough to make me wanna take on a temporary coke habit. Those people are usually skinny too. lol

    • Two things.

      Define “not losing weight lately.” Is that weeks? Months? Days? What’s the exact time frame that your weight has remained the same?

      You’re 6 feet tall… how much do you weigh and how old are you?

  36. There are people with hormonal issues such as HYPOthyroidism, especially women and people over 60. No amount of calorie reduction or increased exercise will allow them to lose weight unless they are diagnosed and treated with medication until thyroid function is normalized. You’re obviously not a doctor or a health care professional, so you shouldn’t be so arrogant about the calorie in calorie out song and dance. You are doing a disservice to people who indeed can’t lose weight and are not getting the help they need by implying that they are simply lazy gluttonous slobs with no medical reason for their weight issues.

  37. Hey man I did a VLCD a while ago. I weighed in at 245 pounds and got down to about 200. As time passed on I pretty much gained it all back and now i’m on a program with a trainer. On average i’m eating about 1600-1700 calories a day and not going over a lot. it’s been 2 months now and though the scale says i’ve lost ten pounds or so, i’m not seeing any noticeable difference. Can you help me out and what should I do? Am I miscalculating something. 235 pounds, 6’1 male 20 years old. Thank you very much

    • Not sure what you mean. You lost 10lbs… that sounds like a difference to me?

      Do you mean you body looks the same? If so, this is why taking measurements and pictures is a good idea for tracking progress.

      • Yeah I meant i look the same. I have been taking pictures and measurements and for the duration of the program so far i’m still the same. The only real effect I have gotten is that my jeans are looser. Should I just keep going on and not concentrate so hard on the looks? Is it all in my head?

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