You’re choosing healthy foods, you’re exercising, you’ve cut out your late-night cookie habit, but the number on the scale isn’t budging. Sound familiar? This diet head-scratcher happens to the best of us. Here are some reasons why you may not be losing weight.
Not Paying Attention to Calories
This one is tough to swallow, but I have to say it: Even healthy food contains calories. Choosing nutritious foods is smart, but just because they’re good for you doesn’t mean you can eat unlimited amounts and continue losing weight. A dinner of salad, salmon, and whole-grain pasta is certainly healthy, but don’t discount the numbers. A 6-oz. salmon fillet with two cups of whole-grain pasta clocks in at about 700 calories; a salad of lettuce and tomatoes with a tablespoon each olive oil and vinegar brings the total to well over 800 calories.
Weight loss is primarily a numbers game: calories in versus calories out. So choose nutritious foods, but count those calories and be mindful of “food fakers” with a health halo. And when you count the calories make sure you’re meeting your weight loss calorie goal. Calculate your number below.
Overcompensating for Exercise
Pat yourself on the back for fitting in a lunchtime run, but don’t consider it a free eating pass. It’s easy to miscalculate how many calories you’re actually burning. Your gym may promise that you’ll burn 500 calories with an hour of spinning but every person is different. You might burn just 300 calories.
You can use a calories burned while estimating calculator to estimate your burn, but for the most accurate info, wear an activity monitor that tracks calorie burn. And remember, if you reward yourself with a treat equal in calories to the calories you burned, it’s as if you never burned any calories at all.
Not Counting Condiments and Other Extras
A single tablespoon of ketchup on your eggs or burger adds around 20 calories (and most likely you’re using more than one tablespoon. An ounce of half & half (the kind you splash in your coffee) has about 40 calories and 3.5 grams of fat. A tablespoon of mayo adds 90 calories and 10 grams of fat to your sandwich. Even if you’re being super careful about your choices, it’s easy to forget about the little extras.
These items aren’t off-limits, but they definitely “count,” and the numbers add up. So keep track of everything you eat and sip. Ignorance is not bliss!
Dining Out, Even If You Are Counting the Calories
I love a good restaurant meal as much as anyone, but here’s the problem: You never know exactly what’s in your dish. Even if the restaurant provides nutritional info, those are just estimates based on precise recipes passed down by the folks in charge. Do you really think every member of the kitchen crew is weighing and measuring each ingredient?
Now, there’s nothing wrong with dining out, especially if you ask questions and make smart choices. But if you find that the number on the scale won’t budge, you might want to consider cutting back.
Eating Too Good to Be True Foods
Do you regularly munch on some amazing snack you discovered? You know, the one with stats that are almost too good to be true? Whether it’s an 80-calorie fudge brownie or a monstrous bag of chips claiming only 150 calories, it’s possible your snack stats aren’t exactly right. Labels aren’t always accurate, especially when products come from our small mom-and-pop shop pals. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
You’ve definitely heard this before, but it bears repeating: Watch your portion sizes! Sure, that cereal box says 110 calories, but check the portion size and then check how much you’re routinely pouring in your bowl. Another portion trap? Packaged snacks that look like single servings but are actually 2 to 3 servings. Read labels carefully to make sure you’re not reading them wrong.
Falling Into the 0-Calorie Trap
Don’t consume unlimited amounts of “zero calorie” foods. As long as a product has less than 5 calories per serving, companies are allowed to round down to 0 calories per serving and often the official serving sizes are unrealistically small. Watch out for salad dressings, sweetener packets, and cooking sprays especially.
Drinking Your Calories
Pop quiz: What has more calories: a 12-oz. glass of orange juice or a dozen almonds and a medium orange? That innocent little glass of OJ has around 165 calories, while the nuts-and-fruit combo clocks in at around 140. And the food is probably a whole lot more satisfying. The moral of this little story is to be careful what you drink. Personally, I’d rather chew my calories!