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I Am Eating Less and Exercising More, Why Aren’t I Losing Weight?

“I’ve gained a few kilos over the holidays so I will just skip breakfast & snacks and add an extra 30-minute run/spin class/HIIT workout to get my weight back on track.”

Does this sound familiar?

Traditional dieting was based on the concept that eating less calories and burning more calories, Eat Less Exercise More, will create a calorie deficit that leads to weight loss.

Most of us will have tried this at some point, and may have even had some success…

HOWEVER, one of 2 things seem to happen:

1. You manage to maintain this for a couple of weeks or maybe a month and then hunger gets the better of you and all willpower and discipline goes out the window.

2. You maintain this pattern of Eat Less Exercise More, but after a while the weight loss starts to slow and then stop.

In fact, only 5% of people who successfully lose weight through Eat Less Exercise More are able to sustain that weight loss for 1 year. 3% manage to sustain it for 2 years. Even more significantly though, 66% of people who lose weight through Eat Less Exercise More actually end up gaining fat.


Because the theory of Eat Less Exercise More in order to lose weight underestimates the complexity of our metabolism.

The common, traditional (mis)understanding of metabolism is simply how quickly or slowly your body burns calories, and that a fast metabolism leads to easy weight loss and slow metabolism ultimately leads to weight gain. Does that sound familiar?

This is not really metabolism.

So, then what is Metabolism?

Metabolism is the sum of all the biochemical processes that are carried out in the cells of the body, which convert nutrients into energy to be used by the vital functions that keep you alive.

Your metabolism is constantly detecting and responding to changes in your body, as well as in your external environment to determine what your body needs; how much energy it has and how much it requires for you to function and perform at an optimal level.

The metabolism receives signals via your hormones and gut microbiome that tell it what is happening inside your body; how your body is coping with stress, blood sugar regulation, changes in your reproductive organs, digestive function, body composition etc. At the same time the metabolism is sensitive to the external environment - change of seasons, day and night, cold or warm, chemical exposure, stress etc.

All this information put together informs the metabolism as to how to distribute energy and when to conserve energy. It is adaptable to ensure that there is always sufficient energy to maintain your vital functions.

When we talk about energy in the body, we talk about calories as a unit of energy.

So what happens when we reduce calories?

When your body is in a calorie (energy) deficit, the metabolism recognizes that it is receiving less energy (calories) than it requires and perceives this as stress and starvation. In response your metabolism may ramp up your hunger, override your willpower and drive you to eat the calories your body is missing, or else it may adapt to stop burning calories and start conserving energy in the form of fat, in order to preserve life.

So this is why, when you restrict your calories, weight loss stalls or “plateaus” over time, or you end up eating more and gaining weight/fat.

How many calories do you need to eat?

When we are calculating how many calories, or how much energy, our body needs there are 3 significant measurements:

1. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) also known as Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). This is the number of calories your body requires to carry out basic functioning at rest.

2. Estimated Energy Requirement (EER). This is the number of calories required for basic functioning PLUS the calories required for your daily activity level.

3. Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). This is the number of calories required for basic functioning PLUS daily activity PLUS the thermic effect of food (ie energy used to digest and process food).

So, when reducing daily calorie intake for weight loss, you cannot consume less than your BMR as this will put you in a calorie deficit below the minimum amount of energy needed for your body to carry out vital functions. It is best to use either EER or TDEE to calculate your daily calorie intake and then reduce calories.

But remember, your metabolism WILL adapt to this calorie reduction over time. To achieve lasting weight loss calories do matter but they are only half the picture. In addition to working with diet and exercise, it is essential to balance the hormones that regulate metabolism. (We will talk more about hormone balance in the next blog post).

Through the blog posts to follow we will continue our deep dive into understanding metabolism. We will explore how hormones influence metabolism & weight management, and how to attain metabolic flexibility to support energy production, weight loss and body re-compositioning.

Other factors including digestive issues, poor sleep, autoimmune issues, stress, perimenopause and other hormonal changes etc, may contribute to weight gain, and need to be addressed in order to successfully lose weight. If you are experiencing any of these issues book in for a Free Discovery Call to find out how I can help.

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