Are you wondering “why can’t I lose weight?”
You’re not alone. A ton of people are searching Google for:
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Well, you can stop searching because today we will cover this topic and give you some insight.
Why You Can’t Lose Weight
You are not eating at a calorie deficit.
Either you are over-estimating the number of calories your body is using, or under-estimating the amount that you are eating.
It’s easy to get tripped up, discouraged, or confused when you are trying very hard and not seeing results, but it is important to remember that weight loss is all about achieving a calorie deficit and nothing else, and the scale does not lie.
1. Your Diet
You can be as meticulous in your tracking and calculating as humanly possible, but if you are not losing weight, you need to eat less.
Keep perspective, though – body weight can fluctuate by up to 5 pounds in a day due to food, urine/feces, water retention, and glycogen, and you should be tracking a trend over at least a month before worrying.
2. Start Counting Macros
Counting macros is a great way to track how many macronutrients you are taking in on a daily basis. A macro diet goes a step further than typical calorie counting. For it, you count the macronutrients—grams of proteins, carbs, and fats—you’re eating within your calorie goal, and in what ratios. By counting macros, it can help you make smart food choices.
The absolute simplest, bare-bones answer to “how do I calculate my macros” is:
- Start with 0.8-1g/protein per pound that you weigh (if you are very overweight, use your target body weight instead) and shoot for this every day
- Fill in your remaining calories with however many carbs or fat that you want.
In more detail:
“Macros” is short for macronutrients. These include dietary carbohydrate, protein, and fat. Alcohol is the fourth macro, but it is not usually budgeted for on it own and its consumption typically comes at the expense of the carbohydrate allotment.
The key to setting up your macro split is knowing your total calorie intake needs and the fact that protein and carbohydrates have ~4 Calories per gram, while fat contains ~9 Calories per gram. (Alcohol clocks in at ~7 Calories per gram.)
While everyone will have different needs and preferences for their macronutrient breakdown, the following is a generic guide to get you started. We calculate macros from the ground up, but always in the context of total calorie intake.
3. Macronutrient Breakdown
Protein intake is the starting point. If calories are king, protein is queen. There is a large body of evidence emerging that shows adequate protein intake as a key element to achieving body weight and composition goals. (1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)(7)(8)
One gram of protein per pound of body weight (1 g/lb) or 2.2 grams per kilogram (2.2 g/kg) is the traditional recommendation for protein intake.
However, this can be considered the upper bound of target intake, with the suggested range spanning 0.45-1g/lb (1.0-2.2g/kg) of total body weight.
Fats are essential for many bodily functions including metabolism, brain function, and hormone production.
For this reason, and despite decades of the low-fat dieting trend, fat calories are not “worse” than other calories.
After your essential fatty acid needs are met in the diet, the remaining allocation for fat intake is largely determined by personal preference.
A general rule of thumb and a good starting point is 0.4g-0.5g/lb (0.9-1.1 g/kg) of total body weight.
Now that the essential macros have been calculated, we must refer back to the goal calorie intake to tie it all together.
As such, the remaining allotment for carb intake is determined by subtracting your goal protein and fat intakes from your calorie intake.
Basically, whatever caloric intake is left over after determining your protein and fat needs are met by carbohydrate consumption.
So your goal carb intake in grams = [Goal calories – (Px4 + Fx9)] ÷ 4 where P and F are target grams of protein and fat, respectively.
This result can range from 0.0-2.2g/lb (0-4.8g/kg) of total body weight and beyond depending on performance needs and personal preference.
To give an example of this process, let’s look at a typical scenario:
Billy is 22, 5’9 (175cm), and 175lb (79kg) and works out 3x/week. His estimated TDEE is 2450 but he wants to lose fat and gain muscle, so he is taking the advice given above and planning to consume 1890 calories daily. Using the suggestions above, Billy decides he should aim for 140g protein (0.8g/lb), 70g fat (0.4g/lb), and 175g carbs (1g/lb).
Remember that protein is the cornerstone of any macro split. Once you set your protein goal, the remaining allocation of fats and carbs is largely personal in nature. Given matched protein intakes, diets differing in fat and carb make-up do not perform any differently in terms of weight or composition changes. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different intakes to find the set up that works best for your goals.
Counting Macros Summary
It’s important to base your macro calculations on your own body stats, especially protein. Calculating macros as a percentage of calorie intake can create situations where some intakes are inadequate or overkill.
Also, if you are significantly overweight, using your total body weight would be inappropriate for this activity and would heavily skew your macro split. In this instance, instead, base your calculations on your lean body mass.
Conversely, if you are significantly underweight, you may instead want to use your goal body weight.
Losing Weight Summary
If you are absolutely certain that you are eating in a way that should cause you to lose weight, but you have not over a long period of time, then you should consult with a doctor, as the only alternative is a disease or disorder that The Fitness Wiki cannot help you with.
If you have more fitness questions, check out our Fitness Wiki.