If you’re eating less than 1000 calories a day and not losing weight, this article will show you possible reasons the scale is not bulging.
It can be frustrating not to lose weight. Especially if you’re eating fewer calories, tracking your meals, drinking water before meals, and walking every day.
Here’s the thing, weight loss is mainly about calories. Forget all the other stuff you’ve heard about exercise, metabolism, hormones, and so on.
You’re supposed to lose weight when you maintain a calorie deficit.
If you consume fewer calories than your body burns, you’ll lose weight. If you consume more calories than your body burns, you’ll gain weight. It’s an immutable law in weight loss!
You may be confused right now if you’ve been eating less than 1000 calories a day and not losing weight. Well, there are possible explanations for why this is happening. Here they are…
Why you’re eating less than 1000 calories a day and not losing weight
1. You’re not maintaining a calorie deficit
You may find this offensive, especially if you’ve been counting your calories. But there’s a 99.9 percent chance that you’re not maintaining a calorie deficit.
Studies show that people tend to underestimate calories consumed and overestimate calories burned during a workout.
What you may think is less than 1000 calories a day could be more than 1500 calories.
It’s true that metabolism and hormones affect weight loss but their effect is minimal compared to a calorie deficit.
Numerous studies have shown that almost everyone loses weight when they maintain a calorie deficit. I’m being lenient when I use the word almost. Only a very small percentage of people (0.01%) can’t lose weight when on a real calorie deficit.
You’re probably confused or agitate if you strongly believe that you’ve been eating less than 1000 calories a day. Well, there are several ways you can consume excess calories without realizing.
Eating at restaurants: Restaurant food is high in fat and loaded with calories.
Drinking sugary drinks: Drinks such as sodas and fruit juice can increase your daily calorie intake without realizing.
You snack regularly: Studies show that on average, snacks account for ¼ of the total daily calories.
You eat sugar and added sugar: Sugar is high in calories and it increases cravings. Stay away from table sugar and foods with added sugar (80 percent of processed foods).
You use too much cooking oil: Cooking oil, ketchup, salad dressings, and so on, are sources of hidden calories.
Go back and reevaluate your diet. Write down everything you eat and drink from dawn until dusk. Doing this will help you know where the hidden calories are coming from.
Seriously, if you maintain a calorie deficit you’ll lose weight! If you’re not into counting calories, make sure 80 percent of the foods you eat are plant-based.
Plant-based foods such as veggies, fruits, legumes and whole grains are low in calories and very filling. They’ll allow you to maintain a calorie deficit without hunger.
2. You’ve not adjusted your calorie intake
You have to gradually lower your calorie intake if you want to lose weight without hitting plateaus.
If you lost weight in the initial stages of your calorie deficit but then stopped losing, it’s possible that your body has adjusted to your calorie intake.
I’m not saying that you went into starvation mode – that’s a myth.
Let me explain what I mean. If you were eating 1500 calories a day and then lost 10 pounds, you may start losing weight slowly or stop losing completely.
Why does this happen?
Once you lose 10 pounds, your metabolism slows down to adjust to your new smaller body. This means that your basal metabolic rate (BMR) will drop.
Let’s say your BMR was 2000 calories and then it drops to 1800 calories after losing 10 pounds. If you continue to eat 1500 calories, your calorie deficit will now be 300 calories, not 500 calories.
To make up for the drop in BMR, lower your calorie intake or exercise more.
3. Excessive muscle loss
We lose both fat and muscle when we maintain a calorie deficit.
One of the problems with eating less than 1000 calories a day is it causes greater muscle loss.
In fact, you’ll lose lots muscle if you don’t do strength training or eat enough protein.
As you may know, muscle mass is the number determinant of metabolism. More muscle = fast metabolism. Less muscle = slow metabolism.
To avoid muscle loss when maintaining a calorie deficit, do bodyweight exercises 3 times a week and eat high protein foods.
4. You’ve gained water weight
It’s normal to experience water weight fluctuations when trying to lose weight. Some days you may even wake up 3 pounds heavier due to water weight.
May be you’re losing fat but gaining water weight. If this is the case, you won’t see a difference on the scale but your waistline may become smaller.
We gain water weight due to dehydration, eating processed carbs, high salt intake, periods, and unbalanced hormones.
Unlike body fat, water weight is easy to lose. Simply increase water intake, eat less sodium, and cut back on processed carbs.
5. You’re overdoing cheat meals
When used properly, cheat meals can help you stay sane when on a calorie deficit. However, most people abuse them and consequently sabotage their progress.
A plate of fries, deep fried chicken, and soda can add up to more than 1000 calories. If you eat 3 such meals a week, you may gain weight.
You should also watch what you eat on the weekends. Most people eat healthy on weekdays but let their guard down from Friday evening to Sunday evening.
Avoid overindulging in cheat meals and stick to healthy eating habits on the weekend. Also, go easy on the alcohol.
6. You have medical issues
In some rare cases, people can’t lose weight due to medical issues.
Medical conditions such as hypothyroidism have been shown to hinder weight loss.
If you’re fully convinced that you’re maintaining a calorie deficit but still can’t lose weight, go see a doctor.
Get a blood and urine test to know if you are sick.
Is it bad to eat less than 1000 calories a day?
If you’re not losing weight, chances are you’re not eating less than 1000 calories a day.
It’s virtually impossible for anyone not to lose weight if they eat less than 1000 calories a day unless they are sick.
With that said, it’s not safe to eat less than 1000 calories a day. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute says that women should not eat less than 1000 calories a day and men should eat more than 1200 calories a day.
Low-calorie intake can cause malnutrition since you may not get enough nutrients. It can also cause fatigue, low energy, and dizziness.
If you track your calories properly, you won’t fail to lose weight even if you eat more than a 1000 calories a day.
Frankly, weight loss comes down to a calorie deficit. All the other stuff (metabolism, hormones, and exercise) has a very little effect on weight loss compared to energy balance.
Even if you’re certain you’ve been eating less than 1000 calories a day, go back and recalculate your calories.
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