I can't tell you how many times this comes up. Although this is a common phenomenon, some are very adamant that their given macros are completely wrong, or that some recently undiscovered genetic family curse lurking somewhere within their ancestral DNA has awoken from a 1000-year slumber, designed to ONLY wreak havoc on any weight management progress. This may be the case (highly unlikely, joking aside) there's a few reasons why this may occur. Allow me to clear things up a bit. In order from 'most likely' to 'least likely':
Portion size and serving size of food is hands down the MOST important factor that contributes to affecting body composition changes. So if we assume that your food tracking IS accurate and you ARE tracking well, then...
By far the most likely reason a person isn't losing weight on a calorie cut. The body and mind's pull to prevent us from losing weight is very strong, and often times causes people to cheat every couple of days on even the best of diets. This is usually enough to slow down weight loss or even stop it altogether. It's a tough reality to accept but it is the truth. Those who eat more programmed food sometimes cheat less because their cravings are not as bad, thus making it seem like eating more leads them to lose more, where in reality they are eating less if cheat meals are calculated in.
Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) is the amount of activity through which you burn calories that is not formal exercise. You might walk to work instead of drive or garden instead of watching TV, or maybe pace around the house while chatting on the phone instead of sitting in one spot. When calories are reduced a lot and for longer periods (months), NEAT can lower significantly through sheer instinct. You feel super low on energy on a calorie cut, so you move much less and in the balance, your caloric deficit isn't as high as it could be and your weight stalls.
Some of the very same stress hormones that are elevated by cutting calories also have the side effect of bloating you up a bit and making you hold water. So while you ARE losing actual tissue (**I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH**), the scale can remain the same for days on end due to water weight increase.
The more you cut your calories, the slower your metabolism gets for the time being, especially if you've been hypocaloric (on a calorie deficit) for weeks on end. This can slow weight loss from what you expect, but it's important to remember that this effect is only partial. Metabolism cannot adapt so well that it prevents losses completely when there is a large deficit. If that were the case, world hunger would not be a problem as starving people would simply adapt and burn fewer calories.
1. DON'T CHEAT.
2. Stay active and don't get lazy on a cut.
3. Get plenty of sleep and recovery so that you don't needlessly raise stress hormones.
4. Don't worry about weight change coming from the scale. You should not be dieting faster than 1% of your bodyweight per week, and no longer than about 12 weeks at a time without at least a month maintenance to let your metabolism reset (which I am monitoring).
For those who feel like they have fallen off the horse, NOW is the time to get back on! The holidays are riddled with traps and ways to find an excuse. Now more than ever is the time to get back on track and head into the new years with a iron mind and determined will! If you aren't already, let's schedule a time to meet and talk about your game plan going into the holidays (adjust macros, assess progress, Fit3D Scan, chat, etc). So many of you doing fantastic and seeing some amazing results! It's never too late and you're never too behind. Let's get back on track and hit the new year headstrong!
Oh, and expect more of these emails from me in the future :)