This post is really more about tracking accuracy and consistency.
We get a lot of posts regarding intake recommendations from people who are stalled or have slower than expected progress. It's becoming somewhat of a blanket suggestion to eat more when more often than not, that's not the right answer.
You can't just look at someones caloric intake and assume they are eating that number of calories. We've already seen SEVERAL
cases where someone comes to us, tells us they are eating X calories, tells us they are very accurate about weighing and measuring everything
and then we see several days of missing logs, or meals missing, or several quick adds, or a complete lack of any condiment calories, or other things that are general red flags for accuracy.
To make myself abundantly clear, the intent of this post is not to belittle anyone at all. The intent is to point out that what you think is accurate is probably not
. It is very common for people to eat slightly more than they think, especially in a prolonged calorie deficit.
That pat of butter or those squirts of ketchup can add up. Using a measuring spoon instead of a scale on something calorie dense like peanut butter can add up. (see here for examples
) Not logging on weekends or taking a cheat day can add up. Constantly nibbling on things like taking a handful of peanuts or a bite of that brownie and not logging it, can add up to a bunch of calories.
To be clear, I'm not saying all of those behaviors are bad. I'm not saying that people need to be OCD for the rest of their lives regarding tracking. The behaviors can be
bad if you start stalling out on your progress, and my belief is that tracking accuracy is the first place
that most people should look to when you hit a weight loss plateau.
I AM saying that you can't necessarily look at the numbers and conclude "I must not be eating enough" when in reality you could be eating too much due to the sum of these tracking inconsistencies.
I'm going to edit and polish this post but I wanted to get it out there now and I'll tidy this up later.
Some great information that I think you should see:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12396160The dietitians underreported their energy intake obtained from the food records by an average of 223 +/- 116 kcal/day, which was not different from their energy expenditure. Participants in the control group, as hypothesized, significantly underreported their energy intake (429 +/- 142 kcal/day, P < .05).http://body-improvements.com/resources/eat/#plateausThe lighter you are though, theoretically speaking, the less wiggle room you have for error. Suppose you’re 125 lbs. Your maintenance intake is likely 1,750. A reasonable deficit would be 25%, which would lead to a daily calorie goal of 1,300.
As there are 3,500 calories in each pound of fat, assuming you lost nothing but fat while dieting, the above deficit would lead to a 1 lb loss every 8 days or so.
Now what if this person was underestimating their intake by 5% or so (there’s research showing people underestimating by as much as hundreds and even thousands of calories) and overestimating their expenditure by 10% or so. This could add another 200 or so calories to their daily intake, thus reducing the actual daily deficit to 250 calories.
Using the same assumptions from above, the actual deficit would lead to a 1 lb loss every 14 days. I’m being conservative in this example and this person’s expectations would be off by as much as 50%.
In this case it’s not that you’re deficit isn’t working… rather it’s that you’re eating closer to maintenance than you realize.
Thanks to Acg67 for providing these:http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199212313272701
Conclusions.The failure of some obese subjects to lose weight while eating a diet they report as low in calories is due to an energy intake substantially higher than reported and an overestimation of physical activity, not to an abnormality in thermogenesis. (N Engl J Med 1992; 327:1893–8.)
Adding the link to this article, courtesy of Sublog: http://www.fitnessfactreview.com/the-art-science-of-calorie-counting/