A few years back, I had a person reach out to me because they were not losing weight despite living what they felt was a healthy lifestyle.

And I want to see if you can figure out what you think she was doing.

Below are some things I learned that she was doing after a few email exchanges:

She is 38, 5’5″, weighs 165, and felt her best at 145.

She is…
-Eating 1600 cals
-Consuming no sugar
-Lifts weights 4xweek
-HIIT cardio 2xweek
-2 long runs each week (about 45min)
-One cheat meal each Saturday
-No known hormonal issues
-No medications to cause weight gain or inhibit weight loss
-No (reported) food issues of nighttime binges or cravings

Ok, sounds pretty good, huh? I mean, even I thought if she is doing all of this surly she should be losing weight.

She did report that she lost 15lbs before taking things up a notch with her eating, then it seemed to stall.

So I got here to send me her day of eating (via MyFitnessPal) and below is what it looked like:

Meal 1: Bullet Proof coffee
Meal 2: Salad with chicken and zero cal dressing
Meal 3: Coco powdered Almonds
Meal 4: Protein Shake (her husbands shake mix of whey protein, milk, PB)
Meal 5: Steak and veggies cooked with coconut oil
(More of an Atkins style of eating… not quite keto)

Right off the bat, I saw what was going on.

What do you think?

 
 

I’ll give you some hints before you scroll down to see

  1. It’s not because she was NOT eating enough.
  2. It’s not because she wasn’t eating enough carbs.
  3. It’s not because she was overeating fat (though close).
  4. It’s not because she was overeating protein.

Take a few mins to figure it out and when your ready scroll down
































Answer: She was eating too many calories.

NOW… wait, she was doing a pretty solid workout routine, AND she was eating a relatively low cal diet, so how the hell does this mean she was eating too many calories? Does this mean she needs to eat less than 1600!?

Yes and no. Let me explain.

What caught my attention were two things…
-Bullett Proof Coffee – which packs in quite a bit of calories depending on how you make it (400-500 cal drinks are more common than you realize). If she were consuming this, that would only leave her about 1100 cals between four meals and considering she is following a higher fat diet, that’s not much.
-No portion sizes. She did take the time to list out her food, BUT not how much. How many almonds? How big is the steak? How much PB?

When I saw those two, I followed up with asking if she measured her food and tracked her cals, and she told me not since the diet change.

From there, I asked her to track her cals for about 7 days and to do this, she was going to need to get a food scale, but that if she did this, we would figure out very quickly what was going on and where we needed to go.

After TWO days, I got an email back that she was average over 2300 cals a day, NOT 1600. A 600 cal difference, and I’m willing to bet it was more than that when you factor in cheat meals AND foods that you don’t remember eating or snacking on (hey, we all do this).

What caused her cals to be so much different than what she thought?

Three things:
-Bullett proof coffee, she was using a combination of coconut oil and whipping cream with some other additions that she bought for the high-fat coffee mix and was averaging over 430cals per cup. She also mentioned that one day a week, she would have more than one cup.
-CaoCao Almonds. These things sneak up on you with cals because the average serving size is anywhere from 9-14 ALMONDS. That’s MAYBE a handful. She was eating half the container or about 3-4 servings at a time, which was over 600cals.
-Coconut oil. You have to factor in your cooking oil. It does have cals.

Even though her food choices were decent, it was just too much. She thought that since she was eating so well, and routine, she didn’t need to track her food.

I’ve been guilty of that same thought as well.

She was bummed and pissed at herself, understandable so. I could relate because, if you have ever been here, you’re left going… WTF, do I have to eat less NOW??? FML.

If she wants to continue this same way of eating, then yes, she will have to cut portions until she finds a caloric amount she can consume that will allow her to lose weight.

Fast forward several months…

We worked together for a bit and found a way of eating that worked for her that included more veggies and less fat in addition to some vitamins and minerals to cover deficiencies. She was not eating 1600 anymore but over 1800 to 1900.

Eventually, she backed her workouts down and found a good balance of cals and workouts to drop weight. About 4 months, she was down the 20lbs.

If you EVER want to dial things in with your eating, spend a few weeks measuring your food and tracking.

It’s not something that you have to do forever, but it will give you so many answers.

 

 

In Health and Awesomeness,
Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, (and other letters behind the name) is the Owner of Rowlett Transformation Center in Rowlett, TX.

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