Why Am I Gaining Weight In A Calorie Deficit?

Dieting is a really hard thing to do, you have to restrict yourself from eating all of your favorite foods and try to resist the temptation of those around you eating what they want.

Why Am I Gaining Weight In A Calorie Deficit?

Of course the pay off is to lose weight and look and feel much better, but sometimes it doesn’t work out exactly like that. 

Sometimes it seems like we’ve been dieting forever and there’s little to no difference regarding your weight.

It can begin to make you frustrated, disheartened and ready to give up and asking yourself why am I gaining weight whilst I’m restricting my calorie intake? 

The answer is that it’s probably nothing to do with the caloric deficit you’re in, but as complex creatures a lot of factors can affect things like our weight and our overall health and wellbeing.

So, in this article we’ll be explaining what could be stopping you from reaching your goal and how you can achieve the weight loss that you’re hoping for. 

The Science Behind Weight Loss

The science behind how weight loss occurs is simple, any approach that puts your body into a caloric deficit will help you to achieve weight loss. 

A caloric deficit is when you take in fewer calories than you’re burning, it also makes sense because it’s the law of thermodynamics.

  • If we add more energy (calories) than we expend, then we gain weight.
  • If we add less energy (calories) than we expend, we lose weight.

Seems simple right? But this is where simplicity ends, and it becomes more complex. 

The amount of calories that you need to take in depends on the individual and it’ll constantly change over time as you lose weight, your activity levels change and through factors such as your age and gender.

There are calorie calculators you can use to calculate this, but these calculations should only be seen as a starting point as it cant take into account how effective your metabolism is. 

Can Eating Too Few Calories Decrease Your Metabolism

The body is a very complex but intelligent system as it knows how to effectively regulate the many processes that support its state of homeostasis, which allows you to keep a constant weight. 

So, if you do a crash diet and restrict your food intake too drastically, your body is smart enough to decrease your metabolic rate to remain in homeostasis which results in you burning fewer calories.

If your body is burning less calories, then it’s obviously going to be much harder to lose weight, but unfortunately the problem is even more complex than that. 

Since you’re restricting calories from your body, you’re not providing your body with the energy that it needs and it will begin sourcing it from elsewhere.

The first place it’ll look for the energy is in your stored fat but it’ll also start breaking down your lean muscle mass to convert it to glucose and burn it for energy.

This becomes a snowball effect, as you have less muscle, your metabolism will begin to decrease even further. 

If you’re planning to cut calories, never do it out of the blue.

When people decide to cut their calories through crash diets, their bodies want to be in a state of homeostasis so it’ll start to decrease the metabolic rate and sometimes lead to an increase in weight, and crash diets never last that long for that to become the new normal within the individual’s body.

Why Am I Gaining Weight In A Calorie Deficit?

To ensure this doesn’t happen, when you decide to cut calories from your diet, cut around 300-500 calories from your diet at the start, doing this will allow you to lose around 1-3 pounds a week, which is vital to ensure you lose fat and not muscle. 

Tracking Your Calorie Intake For Weight Loss

Most people when deciding to cut calories will unfortunately underestimate how many calories they eat daily.

It’s especially hard to count calories from food you didn’t cook yourself, and you have to remember to include every little thing from the butter you use for your sandwiches to the soda you drink in your calorie intake. 

The best way to count your calories is to measure your food accurately using a scale and keep an electronic diary, such as MyFitnessPal. 

Another downfall of calorie counting is that people will often eat healthily through the week and let themselves go throughout the weekend.

The best way to avoid this is to allow yourself things in moderation throughout the week so that you don’t binge throughout the weekend, remember, you’re allowed that glass of wine! 

Other Reasons Why You Might Not Be Losing Weight Whilst Dieting

Some Conditions And Drugs Can Make You Prone To Gaining Weight

A few conditions can make it much harder for you to lose weight or even gain it, such as Cushing’s Disease or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.

If you’ve struggled with these conditions before and have unexplained weight stagnation or weight gain whilst dieting, these conditions could be the answer, so make sure you discuss this issue with your doctor. 

Likewise, drugs such as antidepressants or steroids can lead to weight gain too, if these are the reasons make sure to discuss this with your doctor too. 

You’re Not Dieting For Weight Loss

Dieting and eating less seem pretty much the same, but in reality they’re not.

Some people take dieting as cutting out certain food groups, no snacks or sweets or even eating a meal less than they’re used to. 

You can be doing all this but still not lose any weight because you’re not in a caloric deficit.

Reducing your calorie intake has also been shown to lead to people becoming much less active as they have less energy.

A calorie balance is balancing how many calories your body needs and how many calories you consume, so if you drastically reduce the activity you do, it could actually end up working against you and halt your weight loss.

Jenna Priestly