You crush it at the gym. It’s not bragging, it’s just true. You lift heavy, give every HIIT interval your all and come home utterly beat — but still the scale won’t budge. What’s going on? Why can’t I lose weight, you’re always wondering. Despite all the fitstagram accounts you see, each peddling their own program designed to get you lean, the answer probably comes down to diet. And there’s one bad habit that throws off weigh-ins more than any other.
First of all, I’m assuming that you already measure out your food so you have a baseline understanding of how many calories you’re consuming each day. If you’re not, the solution is as simple as starting, seeing where you’re at, and evaluating whether it’s too high for your body’s daily needs. If you’re already measuring and keeping a food journal, though, your frustration could come down to one simple but very common bad habit.
Think of your body as a car: When you’re driving, you don’t really notice all the small obstacles you hit along the way, like pebbles and tiny holes, but those giant potholes sure get your attention. Similarly, you know a binge, bender or big weekend of eating will throw you off course when you’re trying to hit your weight loss goals. But what about the tiny things, those bites, licks and nibbles that seem so minuscule they couldn’t possibly count? In a way they’re not being tallied since you’re not putting them in your food journal or MyFitnessPal log — but your body sure does keep count. And just like all those tiny sources of wear and tear can add up to damage on your car, those calories you consider harmless can do a number on your diet.
Why can’t I lose weight? The most likely answer
If you’ve hit another weekend of wondering why can’t I lose weight, the answer might be snacking. I don’t mean those scheduled snacks you have that are weighed and measured, which could more accurately be called mini meals. I’m talking about the nibbles you take running between the kitchen and the living room, or the bites you take of a new protein bar because you’re just itching to try the new flavor.
Just one quarter of most protein bars, which we all know can disappear in two or three bites, clock in around 50 calories. Combine those calories with the couple almonds you munched on out of boredom and the bites you took of your boyfriend’s dinner and you could be a couple hundred calories off of what your food journal says; enough, in fact, to negate those sprint intervals you sweat through at the gym.
You have two options for fixing this and getting back on track: one, monitor yourself and make sure you’re not taking bites that will add up and throw off your calorie intake, or two, calculate your diet to include them. The most effective diet is the one you can stick to long-term, so if a bite here and there makes you happy, don’t force yourself to forego them. Take a couple hundred calories out of your daily diet for meals and put them towards a caloric “cushion” for a couple bites here and there. It’s not entirely accurate since you won’t know day-to-day what you’ll be snacking on or if it will change, but it will bring your calorie balance closer to where you need to be to get the scale moving again.