Why You Might Not Be Losing Weight
Reason #1: You're Eating More Than You Think
Most people under-report food intake. This happens more in overweight individuals than in lean individuals, and women tend to under-report more frequently than men. In a well known 1992 study, researchers investigated energy intake in self-proclaimed ‘diet-resistant’ individuals who failed to lose weight despite claiming to eat fewer than ~1200 kcal per day. The subjects were tested before the study to ensure there were no metabolic abnormalities. The participants underreported their energy intake by ~47%. Every single one of these ‘diet-resistant’ individuals underreported. If you want to lose weight, you need to accurately track your calorie intake. It’s time to be brutally honest about your food intake to ensure you’re not eating more than needed to support a healthy metabolism.
Reason #2: You're Burning Less Than You Think
Like under-reporting how much is eaten, often people over-report their physical activity. The self-reported data in a 2008 Health Survey showed that ~40% of men and ~30% of women met the minimum required recommendations for physical activity, but the data from the accelerometer told another story: only 6% of men and 4% of women actually met the recommended levels of physical activity.
Most people overestimate energy expenditure during workouts and think it’s okay to consume more calories after exercise. With the popularity of smart watches, the Fitbit and other technology that shows energy expenditure, people are “eating back” the number of calories they think they expended during the workout and tend to eat far more than what they actually burned.
Reason #3: You Have Low Levels of NEAT
NEAT is your Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. It is the part of your metabolism that accounts for all movement that isn’t considered “physical exercise.” There are elements of your metabolism that are not going to change much but NEAT is the one piece you have control over. Most variability we see in energy expenditure between people is from varying levels of NEAT which might be up to 2000 calories per day. Studies have found high levels of NEAT are protective against weight gain and people with higher levels of NEAT often weigh less.
One study Johannsen et al. (2008) found almost ~400 calorie difference in levels of energy expenditure between two groups of individuals while having no difference in resting metabolic rates.
NEAT can drastically impact your progress. Most individuals will only be engaging in a few hours of actual physical exercise per week so exercise alone won’t make up too much of your total weekly energy expenditure. Increasing daily activity (NEAT) along with adopting a consistent exercise regimen will also play a significant role in fat loss by increasing the number of calories burned daily!
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