Troubleshooting Weight Loss, Pt. 2

Posted December 4, 2013 by

Last week I talked about one of the major reasons people don’t see the weight loss that they’re expecting: the seemingly-obvious-yet-vastly-underestimated fact that often they’re not in a caloric deficit.

As I explained, no matter what you do, if you’re not eating fewer calories than you’re burning, you WILL NOT lose weight (well, unless you have some sort of tape worm infestation or flesh-eating disease, but that’s another story).

But how about for those of us who have taken the time to figure out our daily calorie expenditure and created a meal plan that is less than the previously-mentioned expenditure, yet we’re still not seeing movement on the scale?

Weight Loss Hiccup #2: You’re sneaking calories.

Hypothetically assuming that your meal plan is ideally designed to create the optimal calorie deficit for your needs, you should begin losing weight by following the plan. The problem is, a lot of people aren’t actually following their plan and don’t even realize it.

It’s not that people are completely obtuse—but it’s surprisingly easy to eat extra calories without meaning to or noticing it’s happening.

One of the main culprits is getting complacent on measurements and starting to “eyeball” stuff—particularly fats (which have more than twice the calories per gram that protein and carbs contain). Have you ever told yourself that you could estimate a tablespoon of oil as you pour it straight from the bottle onto your salad or into a shake?

Don’t lie mofo, I know you have 😉 I have been guilty of that myself as well. The problem is, no, you really can’t “eyeball” a perfect tablespoon of oil, and the difference between a tablespoon and a tablespoon and a half of oil is almost 65 calories. Just in that one little difference!

Now let’s compound that across an entire day, and then a week… you can begin to see how significant this seemingly minute measurement error can end up being.

Another way to sneak calories is through sauces and dressings. Often, we will add things like ketchup, bbq sauce, mayonnaise, low-fat salad dressings, etc to our meals without taking their calories into account. The problem is, they do contain calories, and when you combine this problem with the previous one, you can end up adding quite a large calorie load to your meals that can completely wipe your deficit out.

Calorie containing drinks and alcohol are yet another pitfall. I am baffled that so many people drink alcohol without considering the fact that it contains calories and then wonder why they’re not seeing results. The same goes for fruit juice, soda, and yes, even vegetable juice. Calories are calories—drinking them doesn’t negate them 😉

The most extreme version of sneaking calories I’ve ever encountered though, has to be a former athlete of mine. I was tearing my hair out trying to figure out why she wasn’t seeing the results that she should have been—we had reviewed her diet, altered things, etc and she swore she never cheated on her program, yet she had hit a plateau that she was unable to break for months.

As it turned out, she was actually SLEEP WALKING in the middle of the night, going into her kitchen pantry and eating whole jars of peanut butter on a fairly regular basis! I think it’s safe to say that ~2,000 calories of peanut butter 2-3 times per week will sure cancel out any calorie deficit you might be aiming for…

If your problem is self-sabotaging, unconscious midnight munchies, then I suggest putting padlocks on your fridge and cabinets. Otherwise, it would simply be prudent to revisit how you’re measuring out your meals and making sure to be accurate in your calorie estimates to make sure that you’re not sneaking calories and wiping out what would otherwise be a deficit.

Next time we will talk about the third hiccup to weight loss—body composition changes that mask fat loss.

Click here for part 3

Comments on Troubleshooting Weight Loss, Pt. 2 »

  1. renea

    Wonder how one would stop the sleep walking/eating episode ?