Updated: Jan 9, 2019
“I’ve only been eating like a thousand calories a day, and I haven’t been losing weight.” Erm, no. No, no, just no. I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you’re either wrong, or lying, lying to yourself or me, because that’s not really possible. Now assuming you don’t have a specific and uncommon medical condition, that the teeny tiniest minority of people have, you are probably very mistaken about amount you’re consuming. As a personal trainer, I can unfortunately tell you that this is very common. I have received numerous food diaries from people that just don’t match up with their measurements, and when you really dig down, the truth starts to appear.
You only have to look at shows like Bear Grylls’ The Island, The Biggest Loser, even the likes of I’m A Celebrity, to see the effect long term undereating actually has. Really it doesn’t take long, and they can lose well into double figures of pounds in weight, a lot of these people end up looking pretty emaciated. If you want less jovial examples of extreme weight loss, just look at the Minnesota Starvation Experiment or men in prisoner of war camps. Look at how much they were eating, and then tell me they couldn’t lose weight. Chances are, you’re not some medical oddity that a calorie deficit doesn’t work on. So why is this train of thought so common, this adamant belief that you’re eating so little?
Well I’ve spoken before about the curse of “bad” foods. This mentality that some foods are evil can easily cause people to avoid counting them. Because it makes you feel bad to admit you’re eating these foods, so you’ll count your meals, you’ll count the fruit, but you’ll conveniently leave out the muffin at work, the chocolate bars before bed, the glass of wine in the evening. And the problem is, all those things tend to really add up. People label them bad foods, because they’re usually pretty high in calories, so when you’re not counting them, you’re actually missing a sizeable amount of your calorific intake. It's just food, and it all counts!
Now studies have actually shown people, particularly the overweight, can underestimate the amount they’re eating by over a thousand calories on average, and overestimate the amount they’re burning by two hundred and fifty calories on average! So that means that, let’s say you think you’re burning two thousand calories a day, and only eating one thousand, two hundred and fifty. You think you’re burning seven hundred and fifty calories every day. Which would be great, maybe even too much. In fact, you might only be burning one thousand, seven hundred and fifty calories, and eating as much as two thousand, two hundred and fifty calories. So when you think you’re in a deficit, you’re actually putting in five hundred extra calories every day. Which would not be great, especially if you’re looking to lose weight.
The only thing I can say is, be honest. As a personal trainer, I’m not here to judge, I’m here to help you, I just need you to be truthful, otherwise we don’t know what we’re working with and what changes we need to make. If you’re doing it on your own, you’re gaining nothing by not counting everything, and you’re only going to hold yourself back. I’m not a calorie counter myself, but I know what I’m eating, and more importantly, I therefore know what I can change when I need to. Be honest, with yourself and whoever you’re working with, otherwise you won’t succeed, and you’ll probably end up blaming everything except the root of the problem. And it’s always good to bear in mind that you’re probably eating more than you think. See you again next week.
Body Fuel Personal Fitness Trainer