While this scenario is VERY rare, it does happen.
In today’s world of 1200 calories being some kind of magic number for women to eat to lose weight (it’s not), there are a few scenarios in which women eat less and less and still don’t lose weight.
So how do you combat this? Because we cannot, and should not keep eating less and less.
1) Track your food, drinks, and everything in between.
I mean EVERYTHING. If you don’t know where you are currently at, how will you know what you need to do to get there?
People most often underestimate their intakes, and over estimate their caloric burn from exercise. If you are not eating in a deficit, you will not lose weight.
How do you figure out how many calories to eat? I like to start with this simple calculator:
For example: a 52 year old woman, 5’6″ weighing 160 pounds and working out 3 days per week it tells you that you need 1860 cals to maintain, and 1360 to lose a pound per week.
So I would recommend starting at right around 1400 calories per day to lose weight.
So what if you know you are eating WAY LESS, say 800 calories per day, and STILL NOT LOSING?
2) Your body may have become too efficient at conserving calories.
This is often the case in chronic dieters, who have done years and years of strict and unhealthy restricting. You diet down, down and down. And your body adjusts. You become a Toyota Prius, using barely any fuel to power a long distance.
To lose fat, and continue losing fat, you need to try and become a Hummer, burning tons of fuel to go a short distance.
So how does one do this without putting on a ton of weight? Essentially eating MORE to LOSE…it is possible, but takes time to reverse.
2b) Adjust Your Exercise
Exercising less may be needed – especially with cardio/high-intensity type stuff. Sure cardio burns more calories in the current the moment than weight lifting, but thats where it stops. Cardio is great at getting the body to be better at cardio – again, making it more efficient – and efficiency is bad if fat loss is the goal.
High-intensity type circuits/boot camps can be great for time-crunched folks, but they can backfire and be suboptimal if your metabolic rate is slowing down along with you being uber stressed out, sleep-deprived, and undernourished.
Strength training, traditional strength training SHOULD be your go to. If you have no clue what this looks like, hit me up and lets chat!
Before going any further, I must reiterate – this scenario is rare, so make sure that you are tracking very accurately, and being consistent in your caloric intake day after day. Even if you are in a deficit for 5 days, 2 days of binging can put you in an overall surplus.
ALSO: this is not something that happens overnight, or even over weeks or months. Plateaus happen and are normal. This case extreme of a case would only be relevant after months or years of under-eating and over-exercising.
If you have stopped losing weight, but only for a week or so, give it time, make sure your nutrition is dialed in, and maybe cut back on the intense workouts (cardio definitely) for a little bit. Always continue to strength train.
2c) Check Your Sleep
Be honest – are you sleeping 7-8 hours every night. At the time of writing this, I am not. You cannot expect your body to make drastic changes when you are under recovered, and under-rested. It has been found that with only 6 consecutive days of sleep deprivation, your body can begin shifting its management of blood glucose and your own insulin response – yes, this means that you can start showing similar signs to diabetes with only 6 days of sleep deprivation.
3) So you have tracked accurately, and know with 100% certainty that you are eating (insert super low number) calories per day, and still not losing.
Go back to that first number for weight loss – 1360. This is the number that you need to get your calories up to. Slowly.
The first area I usually address is protein. If you are only eating, say, 800 calories per day, how many grams of protein are you eating? If you have read my blog you know that I recommend getting close to 1 gram/pound of body weight.
Say you only get 50 grams of protein per day (200 calories). We need to slowly increase that first. Start with trying to get 60 grams per day, consistently for a week or two. You have now added 40 calories per day. Your weight will unlikely go up.
Continue to add 10 grams of protein per day until you get close to our body weight in grams.
In this case, this alone could take 11 weeks. That is fine. This is a slow, but important process to “re-setting” your metabolism.
Once you are at close to body weight (for this example we will say 6 weeks down the road, and you are at 110 grams of protein per day) you have added 50 grams of protein, and 200 more calories to your diet. This would put you at 1000 calories. See how your weight has changed.
4) Slowly add in carbs and fats – VERY SLOWLY.
So now you are at 1000 calories, 110 grams of protein (440 calories) and the remaining 560 from carbs and fats.
If you are more active, start adding carbs. Same process, 10 grams per day, for a week or two. Another approach is to one week add 10 grams of carbs, and the following week add 5 grams of fat, and continue this process until you get close to that original (1360 cals) mark.
This whole process could easily take 24 weeks alone. But if done slowly, and managed carefully, you could actually lose weight in the process, or maintain.
If you maintain your weight, this is not a bad thing. You are now eating 560 MORE calories than before, and staying at the same weight! This is awesome.
From here, you could continue to reverse diet, by slowly adding in – or just focus on maintaining that intake for a while as long as your weight doesn’t move.
IF your weight does start to creep up – stop the process – and maintain current intakes until your weight stabilizes.
5) Once you maintain, and reach your caloric goal, or even go past it without gaining weight – NOW you can slowly start going in the opposite direction if you choose.
Start the same way you finished. Remove 10 grams of carbs per day, 5 grams of fat. Don’t change your protein.
See what happens after a week, and go from there. If you lose, stay with your current intake until you stop losing, then maintain for a little while. It’s okay.
While this isn’t the case for many (most of us just overeat and aren’t aware of it), it could be for you – and if you truly think that this is you, please contact me and let me help you. This is only a summary of the process and a basic guide.
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Stay healthy my friends,