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Why can’t I lose weight?

It is a dream of many people to lose weight. Some people want to lose weight because of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and so on.

Sometimes, however, there is a problem, because despite all efforts, the body weight stands still or even increases. People get more and more frustrated when the pointer on the weight instead of the left goes right.

To solve the riddle of ‘not losing weight while losing weight’, one must first think about how to get the whole process started.

Table of content

  1. What is a reduction diet and what is it?
  2. How to calculate the demand – do it right!
  3. The issue of determining activity levels
  4. How to determine the calorific deficit?
  5. Why do we not lose weight?
  6. Summary

What is a reduction diet and what is it?

We repeat many times that caloric deficits are responsible for the slimming effect. There is no other way to get rid of excessive body weight. However, many people will claim otherwise. Providing fewer calories than we actually need will mobilise the body’s stores to cover the deficyt.

What is a reduction diet and what is it

To enter a reduction diet, it is necessary to know how much energy we need for everyday life. There are really many formulas, and if you try to calculate your need for each of them, you would get different results.

How to calculate the demand – do it right!

The basic method of calculating the total metabolism (CPM) is to add to the basic metabolism (PPM) energy expenditure related to daily activities and a specific dynamic food action (SDDP).

We will calculate PPM from Harris-Benedict or Mifflin, among others. The best and easiest method is the Cunningham formula. Research shows that the results obtained with it and the results obtained with indirect calorimetry were very similar. However, you have to know your fat-free body weight. Nowadays it is not a problem since bioimpedance weights are available in every gym.

PPM (according to Cunningham) = 500 + 22 x LBM*CPM
= PAL** x PPM + SDDP** x PPM

*LBM – Lean Body Mass – Fat-free Body Mass (kg)
** PAL – Physical Activity Level
*** The SDDP for a mixed diet is about 10% (0.1).

The issue of determining activity levels

Energy expenditure related to activity is based on a formula like PAL, or Physical Activity Level. The PAL ratio reaches values from 1.2 to even 2.4-2.6, and all depends on our activity level. A value of 1.2 means that we have office work and do nothing else. The maximum values apply to professional athletes, who train 2-3 times a day, for a minimum of 5 days a week.

In fact, it is difficult to estimate PAL dry, because the guidelines (descriptions) for individual values are not clear. Activity tables, in which each type of training is assigned (based on research) a specific amount of calories burned per minute or per hour, can help. We then take PAL as 1.4 and add the total expenditure for the day to the calculation using the table. Another, easier alternative is watches monitoring activity with a pulsometer. Their accuracy is not always good, but we can then assume an underestimation of 100 kcal for safety reasons.

The easiest way to do this is to take a factor of 1.4 or 1.5 and add to it 0.1 for each training week.

How to determine the calorific deficit?

Once we know our needs, it is a trifle to determine the energy efficiency of a diet for reduction. The recommendations for a healthy reduction diet are to reduce calorie intake by about 500-1000 kcal per day. This allows us to lose weight from 0.5 to 1 kg per week.

How to determine the calorific deficit

Some people will say that it is too little and too slow, but this kind of slimming gives a better chance that there will be no yo-yo effect. Of course, we can experiment, but when we want to bet on certain solutions, it is worth making a decision on such a deficit.

Why do we not lose weight?

It seems that with specific values that we have to adhere to, it is difficult to make a mistake. But it is the need for accuracy that can be a problem for us.

Badly defined deficit

Some say they are in deficit, but they are not skinny at all. This is nonsense, because it is impossible not to lose weight on a deficit. You can count the deficit wrongly. We have described how to do this above, and it is not that easy. A mistake can be made almost everywhere.

One could start with trivialities such as ignorance of height or body weight, but since we are already starting to count the demand, we have rather taken care of the latest results. The problem may be the overestimation of the amount of calories burned during training. If we decide on a method in which we determine the expenditure of activity, or if we want to lead to an energy deficit only by effort, it is important that the calculations are accurate.

Activity monitoring wristbands and watches solve this problem, tables in a way. But sometimes we rely solely on intuition. When we feel very tired of training we think that we burn a lot of calories. The most dangerous thing is in the summer, when we sweat more in higher temperatures and feel fatigue due to dehydration. Unfortunately, a large amount of sweat does not equate to more calories being burned, and we may even lose less calories due to the decrease in intensity caused by a decrease in strength.

In addition, you always have to subtract some more calories from the energy cost of your training. Why? If we did not train an hour on a bicycle that day, we would probably have done something else, which also requires energy.

Underestimation of calorie intake

Assuming that energy needs and deficits are well defined, another very common problem arises. |Calories are not counted well. This does not seem to be so difficult, but there may be several factors behind underestimating the calories consumed:

  • We do not count them at all – we think we know how much we eat and can more or less determine the calories we absorb. Nothing could be further from the truth, because even skilled dieticians use calculators and applications. The basis for a reduction diet will be either strict adherence to the diet from the dietitian or control of meals with the help of applications.
  • We add everything “to the eye” – some oil here, a few nuts there. But really, how many? In the ready-made menu we have specific portions written down and we should stick to them before we get used to it and can replace the products or go on a self-composed diet. Even later, it is worth paying attention because from a bit of oil added “to the eye”, two tablespoons can be made, and this is already 180 kcal.
  • We ignore snacks and ‘random’ dishes – not taking into account a few sticks eaten in a hurry, ignoring an afternoon’s coffee with a lot of milk or a piece of cake caught during a colleague’s birthday party at work may mean under-calorie intake in the end.
  • We are folding in at the weekend – a beer with friends (500 ml, 5%) is an energy supply of 175 kcal from alcohol alone, not counting added sugars. Great fun on Saturday may cause us to provide a lot of calories (stronger drinks, e.g. 200 ml of rum is already 560 kcal), and even exceed the deficit achieved during the whole week (for 5 days it is about 2500 kcal). We come out to zero, so we do not lose weight.
  • We like to eat outdoors – despite the advanced application for calorie counting, they do not have the dishes from all the restaurants and they do not keep up with the chefs’ fantasies. Let’s be honest, even entering the individual ingredients of a dish into the calculator will not allow you to estimate the actual number of calories consumed.

What other reasons could there be?

Some people cite the concept of metabolic adaptation as the reason for the lack of weight loss effects on reduction. Of course, to some extent this is the case. The less weight we have as a result of progressive reduction, the less our PPM is. However, the chance that the adaptation will exceed 500 kcal is low, and only in this case weight loss will no longer occur.

What other reasons could there be

Still others believe that after taking a handful of ‘weight loss’ supplements, the matter will be resolved, because that is what the leaflet says. There is not yet any supplement that will help you lose weight, although they can support the whole process. Diet + supplementation – why not! Taking the pills themselves is highly naive.

Diseases, especially undiagnosed ones, are also a very serious cause. That is why medical checks and a visit to a dietician before or during a reduction diet are so important. For example, hypothyroidism reduces basic energy requirements by up to 30%.


In order to lose weight, you have to be on a reduction. It is just a search for an excuse or a great naivety on our part to convince everyone around us that we are tiring on a diet and not losing weight at all. Before we start to look for more serious reasons, it is worthwhile to follow our diet. Check whether we are not adding burnt calories like in triathlon. However, in fact we have only been running for half an hour on a treadmill. It will always be helpful to consult a dietician who will show us possible mistakes or tell us where to look for them. Weight loss is a serious goal and it should also be taken seriously.

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