There’s the whole pantheon of ways that you can fuck up your efforts to lose weight. But there’s one particular that stands out as the winner of all.
[Pssst… it’s not carbohydrates. Or insulin. Or *insert ludicrous nonsense that doesn’t matter here.*]
To prove it, I’ll quickly take you through the anals of science shmience.
A team of researchers led by Steven Lichtman decided to find out why some obese people repeatedly fail to lose weight even though they report restricting their caloric intake to less than 1,200 kcal per day1:
The subjects were tested before the study of abnormal metabolic rates. No subject in the “diet-resistant” group had a reduced resting metabolic rate aka “slow metabolism.”
Then, subjects were instructed by a dietitian about keeping daily records of food intake for 14 days.
As it turned out, the self-reported energy intake by the “diet-resistant” subjects during the 14-day study was 1028 kcal/day. However, (please brace yourself, here, for a shock) when measured by the researchers, their actual intake was 2081 kcal/day.
*Egis (that’s me) drops the mic*
*Egis picks the mic back up*
So the self-professed “diet-resistant” people ate 1,053 calories/day more than they reported—an underestimation of 47 percent. Oops. (¯\_(ツ)_/¯)
Check the data for yourself. Every single one of these ‘diet-resistant’ chaps underreported food intake. EVERY SINGLE ONE:
If that wasn’t enough, the subjects also overestimated how many calories they expended in physical activities by a WHOPPING 51 percent. Like I said, OOPS.
The researchers concluded,
You might say something along the lines:
Err, no. There’s an ungodly amount of literature that shows that most people are terrible at estimating how many calories they’ve eaten so far today, or yesterday, or last week.
It’s not that people are deceitful liars. They just aren’t skilled in estimating caloric intake, and they tend to leave things out when reporting. A nibble here, a nibble there.
Even if they’re weighing food, they tend to not weigh properly or just eyeball things. Eyeballing doesn’t work unless you have been tracking food intake for long enough to get skilled at guestimating.
By now you’re probably nervously jiggling your foot and thinking “What are the solutions then?” That is if you are still reading.
Well, if you’re convinced of the importance of tracking calories and you’re up for it, your task is to get my Macro Meal Planner that comes with Nutrition Education Program or download Myfitnesspal and log everything you put in your mouth.
Starting with the steak, rice, and salad you have at dinner, and ending with heaps of tiny choices during the day—that handful of almonds in the break room, that second slice of pie, that sample at Costco, those extra sips of champagne when watching Netflix.
Oh-oh! Don’t forget the beverages. Because, you know, all calories count. No calorie disappears to some magical land with giant bipedal beavers tenderly carrying their children in their arms.
As Darren Hardy, the publisher of SUCCESS magazine observed, merely logging these things down sounds simple—and it is—BUT ONLY WHEN YOU DO IT.
The other solution if you happened to hate tracking calories is to do three things:
- Acknowledge the fact that you must be in a calorie deficit to lose weight.
- Be aware of your portion sizes.
- Increase or decrease your portion sizes depending on your weekly results.
A Side Note: I’m not dismissing the circumstances outside of your control that might make fat loss more difficult. There are diseases and prescription drugs that can make fat loss more challenging. If you believe having a certain medical condition (e.g. hypothyroidism), see your friggn’ doctor. Da fuck you’re doing reading my blog?
Sorry for bumming you out because I know you would love it to be your thyroid, slow metabolism, or drugs that prevent you from losing fat. But, unless you have an underlying medical condition, it’s not.
You’re simply eating too damn much and the worst part—you’re completely unaware of it.
It’s okay to not count calories. It’s not for everyone. It’s also okay to guesstimate your calories or eyeball portions. But ONLY if you’re losing weight.