“I hardly eat anything, and I still can’t lose weight”
Do you hear yourself saying this sometimes? Heck it is a frustrating place to be!
It’s pretty normal to lose weight easily at first, and then for your weight loss to tail off over time. This is because weight loss is annoyingly un-linear, and also because you do need to adjust your intake over time in order to keep seeing the scales move. If you’re smaller, you need less food to maintain your size, and so what was a calorie deficit for you at the beginning could now be what you need to maintain your weight. This doesn’t mean you need to starve yourself to lose weight, it just highlights the need to choose the right food and to do the right kind of exercise.
For some of us, it can feel like we are eating at a deficit for a long time, and not seeing any return on the scales, and this feels pretty demoralising.
But, before you declare yourself broken and beyond help, take things right back to basics and keep yourself a food diary for a week.
Keep a note of every single thing you eat for a week, including drinks, dressings / sauces and things you have ‘just a little bite’ of. Remember to write it down as you eat it, rather than trying to remember it all at the end of the day.
When you get to the end of the week, take a look back at your notes. Are you eating what you thought you were eating, or are there a few extra calories sneaking in to derail your progress?
Apparently we commonly underestimate our intake by 47%, which is pretty shocking and could well explain the lack of results for many. Keeping a food diary is a great way to shine a light on whether this could be what’s happening for you.
The other thing to think about when checking your food diary is your overall intake, which can be another big player in this situation. Think of it as the food equivalent to letting your hair down at the weekends.
I don’t really believe that most people need to count calories in order to see results, but for the purpose of demonstrating how this works, let’s say you need to eat 2000 calories a day to maintain your weight. Let’s say you eat 1600 calories Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – you’re at a deficit of 1600 calories by the end of Thursday. Excellent.
Now, let’s look at Friday night, Saturday and Sunday where you might relax the rules a bit because you’ve been so on course all week. Perhaps you’ll have a couple of drinks and some nibbles, maybe you’ll enjoy a meal out and perhaps you’ll scoff a few chocolates on the sofa too… It is unbelievably easy to eat or drink back the deficit you’ve worked hard to create all week.
As an example, I’ve totalled up four glasses of wine (two for Friday and two for Saturday) and I’ve picked a meal at ASK (prawns to start, and a chicken & bacon salad for main, no pudding). I’ve added in 30g of Tyrells crisps (although I don’t believe I am the only one who cannot stick to the 30g portion?!) and five Hotel Chocolat chocolates, and I’ve added up 2450 calories! I think we could all easily polish that off over a weekend without thinking we’d gone much off the rails.
Taking a close look at your food diary might show you that your calorie deficit during the week is partly or completely cancelled out by letting your hair down at the weekend.
I’m absolutely not saying it is wrong to relax the rules sometimes, but I feel there is a better way than the all-or-nothing approach.
More on this next time!