Have you ever counted your calories and gone hard in your workouts but still not lost weight? There is a reason for that…
Whilst creating a calorie deficit through burning more energy than you take in, is an important factor when it comes to weight loss, it’s not the only thing that matters.
Relying solely on calorie intake/out put doesn’t account for a number of variables that can affect your weight loss results.
Other contributing factors include:
- Sleep habits – Are you getting adequate sleep? When we don’t get adequate sleep our bodies can store more fat due to elevated cortisol levels.
- Hormonal imbalances – Hormones play a significant role in regulating your metabolism and the way your body uses energy, which may lead to weight gain.
- Health conditions such as Hyperthyroidism – Can result in an increased appetite, making it easy for someone with this condition to overeat.
- Metabolic adaptations – When energy going into our body decreases (i.e. decrease in kilojoules consumed), our body’s survival mechanisms can switch on, in turn reducing energy that is output and even increasing fat that is stored.
- Certain medications – Medications, particularly those prescribed for certain mental health conditions can contribute to weight gain.
- Genetics – According to Harvard Health, genes contribute to the causes of obesity in many ways, by affecting appetite, satiety (the sense of fullness), metabolism, food cravings, body-fat distribution, and the tendency to use eating as a way to cope with stress. The strength of the genetic influence on weight disorders varies quite a bit from person to person. Research suggests that for some people, genes account for just 25% of the predisposition to be overweight, while for others the genetic influence is as high as 70% to 80% (Harvard Health, 2019)
- Your gut microbiome – Can influence how many calories your body absorbs from food as nutrients are absorbed by the body in the gut. A portion of carbohydrates and protein are fermented by good bacteria in the colon to produce short chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are then absorbed and utilised as fuel for various processes in the body. With a poor gut microbiome, this absorption may be limited.
- Effect of certain foods on your metabolism – Foods affect your metabolism differently. Some foods require more energy/work to digest, absorb, or metabolise than others. For example, protein requires more energy to metabolise than fat, meaning eating a high-protein diet burns more calories than low protein diets.
The calories in vs calories out concept also fails to emphasise the importance of sustainability and diet quality for weight loss. Those following this method typically concentrate solely on the calorie value of foods, not their nutrient value, which is of vital importance when it comes to overall health. Typically when focusing on calories in vs calories out, people will choose low calorie, nutrient-poor foods like rice cakes and egg whites over higher calorie, nutrient-dense foods like avocados and whole eggs, which are more nutritious and fuel our bodies with needed nutrients.
It’s important to remember that whilst a caloric deficit may be needed for weight loss, eating a well-balanced, nutrient dense diet should not be compromised at the expense of lower calories. Working with a qualified Nutritionist can help you to achieve both, in a healthy and sustainable way.
– Elisa Mullen (Nutritionist)