Hi, Recently I was looking at the BMR section of diet tools. The formula on that page gives me a total daily allowance of 1900 and my calorie allowance for weight loss is set at 1200. I am sticking to my calorie allownace and not losing weight, please can you tell me why this is if I'm eating below my BMR? Cheers
Hi - thanks for your question.
I can see why this is a little confusing - I'll try my best to explain!
We calculate this taking into account your gender, age, weight, height and activity levels. We use this information along with a recognised formula to calculate how many calories your body needs each day to maintain your current weight. Now this figure is an estimate which should apply for most people with your personal details, however there are many factors which affect how many calories our body actually uses each day.
Chances are when you joined the BMR calculated was about right, and therefore eating around 1,200 calories per day did result in weight loss. However over time our bodies adjust to the calories they're getting, which can result in a reduction in BMR. As you have been following a reduced calorie allowance for a significant length of time now, it's likely your metabolism has adjusted to this intake and now needs less calories for every day functions - very frustrating I know! But our body's are very clever machines that try to preserve our energy stores as much as possible. This would explain why you are not experiencing any weight loss even though you are sticking to a low intake.
How to kick start weight loss
Now there are things you can try to help get things moving again. Funnily enough sometimes upping your intake for a short while, and then dropping it again can help to kick start things. This is because your body will readjust to a higher intake, and so lowering this will be more effective. So you could try eating closer to 1,500/1,600 calories for a 2-3 weeks, and then dropping this back down to 1,200. But just to mention, there is a possibility that you may experience a small increase in weight when upping your calories, but the overall effect of then dropping these again should result in longer term weight loss.
Another thing to try is increasing your activity if you can? I know this may not be a possibility, but it is one of the most effective things for kick starting a weight loss plateau. Challenging our body in new ways is great for boosting calorie burn, and also anything you can do to try and increase your lean muscle mass will be really effective too - so resistance style exercise. Is there anything you can try that you can think of? If you can't get about much, could you do some upper body exercises sitting down such as an arm bike at a gym, or bicep curls with a bottle of water? If you can let me know any further details about your current physical capabilities, then I can see what else we can suggest?
Your food choices
Another thing to try is mixing up the types of foods you're eating, to again give our body a little shock. So perhaps try eating more protein rich foods and reduce your carbohydrates a little for a few weeks, or vice versa if your diet is already high in protein. So fruit and greek yogurt for breakfast, a vegetable omelette with a small slice of wholemeal bread for lunch and a chicken and vegetable stir fry for dinner for example. Ensure also that you're weighing all of your foods and keeping a 100% accurate food diary as often as you can.
I hope this helps to explain what might be happening and to also give you some tips on things to try. Please do let me know if you need anything further.
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