Despite the underlying principles of weight loss being incredibly simple, certain lifestyle habits can make the process both frustrating and unrewarding. To help you identify why you may not be achieving the weight loss you desire I have compiled a list of the 5 most common reasons that I find ultimately affect weight loss results.
1 – Inaccurate Calculation Of Your Calorie Goal
The fundamental basis of weight loss is that energy input (food) must be less than your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE – the energy it takes to exist and move). It is recommended that you set up a 15-25% calorie deficit – which means subtracting 15-25% from your TDEE.
There are two parts of the TDEE calculation which can throw out your calorie target and ultimately affect your weight loss:
- The first part is your body weight. As TDEE takes into consideration your body weight, you need to update your calculation as your body weight changes. This is why people often hit a weight loss plateau. Simply, recalculate your TDEE with your new body weight, and then subtract 15-25% to get your new weight loss calorie intake goal.
- The second part of the TDEE calculation that can affect weight loss is over reporting your activity level. If you say you are very active and then only perform exercise 1-2 times per week at low intensity, you are not burning as much energy as the calculator has factored in, and thus, your true TDEE will be lower than what you are basing your weight loss program on. So, for best results be honest with your activity level when doing your TDEE calculation!
Finally, sometimes a 25% deficit is too large. If you are finding that it’s too hard to sustain, drop it back to a more cautious approach 15-20% where it becomes more manageable. Ultimately the best weight loss plan is one that allows a sustained calorie deficit.
2 – Snacks Count
Providing your calorie target has been set up accurately I find the next most likely culprit for affecting weight loss results is unconscious snacking. A spoonful of nut butter here and there, handfuls of nuts, 1/2 an avocado on toast rather than a 1/4 etc can quickly add up and be the difference between being in a calorie deficit and not. Don’t get me wrong, you can enjoy these foods, but just make sure you track the calories they contain so you know your overall daily energy intake is not greater than your calorie goal, thus maintaining your calorie deficit. A lot of the time when we think we are hungry and reach for snacks we are actually thirsty! So, use water or even a herbal tea if you are finding it hard to get through the day without unconscious snacking.
3 – Alcohol Has Calories
Just like snacking alcohol certainly counts towards your calories! In fact, alcohol is super calorie dense, so my recommendation is to avoid it or minimize greatly during a period of weight loss. This will mean that more calories that you consume can come from nutrient dense whole foods.
4 – Cooking Oils
This is a big one! 1 tbsp of oil is typically around 120 calories. Free pour and you could be adding 100’s of calories to your breakfast, lunch and dinner without knowing it. My advice is during a weight loss period, completely avoid or restrict oils to 1 tsp per meal. Cook with veggie broth or water instead – it takes a few weeks to get used to and then you really don’t notice it.
5 – Not Enough Fibre
Your daily fibre goal should be 28g (women) or 38g (men) per day. The closer you get to achieving this naturally the more whole plant foods you will consume. By doing this you will lower your intake of heavily processed foods and ultimately will feel more satiated after meals which will mean less snacking and greater adherence to the calorie deficit.
Hitting a weight loss plateau or finding it difficult to lose weight in the first place is completely normal – you are certainly not alone. If you take some time to go through the above tips, I am very confident that you can make some tweaks to your calorie goal and/or nutrition plan to deliver the results that you desire.
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