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Why am I not losing weight?

Question: I work out five days a week and eat less than 1,400 calories a day but I'm not losing weight. What gives?

Expert Answer

Are you sure about that calorie count? "You'd be surprised how common it is to underestimate how much you're really eating," says Lisa Young, RD, PhD, author of The Portion Teller (Doubleday Books, 2005).

Count 'Em Up: Write down everything that goes into your mouth for a week, then calculate the calories using a standardized nutritional database like

If you really are getting fewer than 1,400 calories per day, you may actually need to increase your intake. "Skimping can slow your metabolism," says Elisa Zied, RD, author of So What Can I Eat?! (Wiley, 2006). Based on your high level of activity, you may require as many as 2,200 calories a day (so eat up, girlfriend!).

"To safely lose a pound a week, subtract 500 from that for a total intake of 1,700 per day," recommends Zied.

Most Helpful Community Answers

"Muscle doesn't weigh more than fat, after all a pound is a pound is a pound. However, muscle is more compact — you may not see the scale move, but your clothes may become looser." Submitted by m.skogerson

"Keep hydrated. Despite four cardio sessions per week, resistance workouts, and a clean diet, my weight refused to go down, and I saw no change in my clothing either. I bought a body fat monitor and noticed I was often dehydrated. I increased my water intake and lost half a kg in a few days. Even in a mild state of hydration your body will store extra fat cells as they hold a lot of water. Get your eight 8-oz cups a day and add an extra 8-ounces for every 20 minutes you work out — it'll flush those toxins, and hopeully move some stubborn fat." Submitted by bexym

"I'm doing two one-hour sessions of hot yoga weekly, plus an hour of weight training. I don't eat sugar or caffeine and I limit my carb intake, and I've gained 5 pounds instead of losing weight. My next strategy is to start doing daily workouts (currently I'm on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule, with a rest day) by adding pilates and walking to my routine. My knees are bad so can't run long periods - any advice as to what's happening?" Submitted by childrenfirst1007

"I have the same issue, so I went to my doctor and asked her for advice. She told me to increase my caloric intake to 1,800 calories per day, since I do yoga three times per week for 30 minutes, plus cardio for the same amount of time each week. She also emphasized increasing my protein intake, as that helps you rebuild muscles burn more fat. I haven't lost any pounds yet, but I have lost an inch around my waist which I think is far better than counting the pounds." Submitted by nicoleadkins1