Follow us on Social Media!


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Have you hit a plateau?

I see people at work and restaurants eating salads, yogurt, fruit, and other healthy foods and notice they're still overweight. The people at work I've seen for years eating their healthy foods but are the still the same size. What's the problem?

Just because you're eating healthy food doesn't mean it's impossible to eat too many calories, even if they are from nutrient dense foods. We also work in an office/call center - if you don't exercise you burn very few calories. On rest days even with walking 4 km my activity tracker tells me I burn between 1300-1600 calories. If you aren't aware how many calories are in your food you are likely eating at a surplus. Meaning: you aren't going to lose weight or fat unless you are at a calorie deficit.

If you are eating healthy and exercising regularly and you're no longer losing weight/fat then that means you need to re-evaluate your calorie needs and intake. If you calculated your caloric needs when you were 25 lbs heavier they're going to be quite different. This difference is likely the reason you aren't losing weight because you are no longer at a deficit and it's possible that you are now eating at a surplus.

I've written about this a few times before but fat loss and gaining muscle all comes down to calories in versus calories out. If you're eating more than you're burning you are not going to see results. Let's look at some numbers:

To calculate your total daily expenditure (TDEE; the number of calories your body burns in 24 hours) you consider your basal metabolic rate (BMR), activity level, weight, age, and gender. There are a few ways to calculate the number of calories but I like the Harris-Benedict equation:

For men:
BMR = 66 + (13.7 x weight in kilograms) + (5 x height in centimeters) - (6.8 x age in years)

For women:
BMR = 655 + (9.6 x weight in kilograms) + (1.8 x height in centimeters) - (4.7 x age in years)

Conversions for measurements are 1 inch = 2.54 centimeters and 1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds

I'm a 26 year old female
I'm 5'6" (5 feet x 12" = 60" + 6" = 66" x 2.54 cm = 167.64 cm)
My weight is normally around 138 lbs, give or take a few pounds each way (138 lbs / 2.2 = 62.73 kg)

BMR = 655 + (9.6 x 62.73 = 602.21) + (1.8 x 167.64 = 301.74) - (4.7 x 26 = 122.2)
BMR = 655 + 602.21 + 301.74 - 122.2
BMR = 1437 calories

This means that my body requires 1437 calories to function, not including calories required for activity which is the next step in calculating your TDEE. You take this number and multiply it from the number in the table below based on your activity level/job.

Activity level  Multiplier Description
Sedentary BMR x 1.2   little or no exercise, desk job
Lightly active BMR x 1.375 light exercise or sports 3-5 days/week
Moderately active BMR x 1.55 moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days/ week
Very active BMR x 1.725 hard exercise or sports 6-7 days/week
Extremely active BMR x 1.9 hard daily exercise or sports and physical labor job or twice-a-day training (football camp, etc.)

I have a desk job and I workout pretty intensely so I would choose moderately active. If I had a more physical job I'd choose very active. So I take my BMR 1437 x 1.55 = 2227. To maintain my weight I would eat 2227 calories per day. The recommended deficit to lose weight is 500 calories in a day. Over a week this is 3500 calories and 3500 calories equals 1 pound which means you should lose a pound in a week.

I pulled this information from Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle but you can find it on many websites. As noted previously you can use and it will calculate everything for you, all you have to do it type in your information.

So if you have been working out hard and following your meal plan but you're not noticing a difference in measurements, clothing, and the scale, then I recommend recalculating your caloric needs and you should notice a difference within two weeks, sometime sooner.

If you use My Fitness Pal it also calculates these numbers for you using your information but a lot of the time it suggests 1200 calories. I find this to be extremely low, especially if you exercise but it is something that will help you lose weight fast.

I hope this helps some people with their fitness journeys and don't be afraid to ask me any questions.

-- Kelsey