Are you restricting calories to lose weight and it’s not working? You might be wondering whether calorie counting even works, whether your metabolism is broken, or whether it just isn’t meant to be. Before you give up striving for a healthier weight, consider the following cases. They describe the two most common reasons people can’t seem to lose weight even with a huge calorie deficit.

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The first thing that’s important to understand is that when you eat less than you burn, you will lose weight. That’s just physics. The tricky part is that it’s not always easy to know how much energy exactly you’ve burned and taken in on a given day. Even though your metabolism can adapt and require less energy when you put it through a lot of strict dieting, 1000 kcal a day should allow almost anyone to lose weight. So, let’s see where people miscalculate most often.

You underestimate how much you eat

It’s nearly impossible to measure every single bite of food you eat on a scale to know the exact calorie content. Some guesswork is inevitable when noting down foods. The problem is that even small errors can add up. A miscalculated tablespoon of olive oil can represent more than 100 kcal that will remain uncounted. Tasting food while you’re cooking is also a problem. It’s a natural thing to do, but it could add a lot of calories that aren’t logged.

And then there’s the issue of the imperfect human memory. Every time you don’t log a meal immediately, chances increase that you will forget to do it completely, especially if it’s food you wish you hadn’t eaten in the first place. Research confirms this, there are several studies showing that people often underestimate how much they eat in a day, by as much as 1000 kcal.

You compensate on the weekends

Another common hiding place for calories is the weekend. It’s relatively easy to manage a calorie deficit during the week. You have a structured day because of work and you can busy yourself, so food doesn’t come to mind at all. But as the weekend rolls around, the stress from the workweek builds up, and so does the feeling that you need to enjoy yourself.

Bad decisions on the weekend can nullify your effort.

Maybe you will have a few beers and slices of pizza on Friday evening with friends, a long lunch including home-made desserts with the family on Saturday, a big brunch on Sunday morning, and a glass of wine in the evening before the week starts again. It doesn’t sound like much, but you don’t have to go crazy on the weekend to add a few thousand extra calories that will completely nullify your hard work during the week.

Try paying closer attention to all those less obvious places where calories are coming from. It might even be a good idea to consult a nutritionist to discover any hidden calories and have a more realistic overview of your energy intake before you quit trying.

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