I was recently asked this question about weight loss, and thought the question and my answer were important enough to post on the blog! Hope this is helpful:
Q. I have put on about 35 pounds since last year. I know it was from sitting around and eating non-stop. I was eating at least 3,000 calories a day. Due to a multitude of things going on in my life at one time I have yet been able to make it to the gym. I have cut down my eating to a normal 1,500 calories give or take a couple of 100 calories on more stressful days. I have only lost 5 pounds in 2 months time. I know I need to exercise, but I would think that I would have lost more weight by cutting calories. Why did my lack of food intake not lower my weight more?
A. There are so many factors in weight loss - when you eat, how much you eat at once, whether or not you exercise, what type of exercise, what type of calories you are eating, and of course, genetics.
Generally though, if you look at weight loss as calories in/calories out, by creating a deficit in calories during the day you should lose weight. What you need to do is google a caloric needs calculator that calculates based on your weight, age, and general daily activity level. Once you figure out that number you can start doing the math. A pound of fat = approx. 3,500 calories. So if you find your daily caloric needs and go 100 calories less per day, it takes about a month to burn a pound of fat (35 days). If you go 500 calories less per day, it takes about a week to lose a pound of fat.
When you exercise, you burn calories and you can calculate that into the equation too. Also when you exercise you might be building muscle, and when you have more muscle, your daily caloric burn goes up (a pound of muscle burns as much as 10x as many calories a day as a pound of fat daily!).
Because I exercise 6 times a week and have an active job, my daily caloric needs are about 2,600-2,700 to maintain my weight. I don't know your weight and age, but let's just say because you aren't working out and assuming you are smaller than me, your caloric needs for a day might be 1,800. If you are creating a 300 calorie deficit per day by eating 1,500, every 11-12 days you will burn about a pound, so honestly 5 pounds in 60 days is actually completely where you should be!
Why did I post this question? Because at its heart, weight loss is STILL mostly about calories in/calories out. Most of the research being done by nutritionists today relates to when and what to eat, but it is empirical knowledge that the basis of all weight loss is still basically counting calories.
If you are using a Beachbody product, there is an excellent caloric needs calculator on the Team Beachbody website under the tab Eat Smart > Nutrition Tools. The reason I like this one is because it factors in weight, age, daily activity level AND estimates the calories you burn with your current Beachbody program - really tailor made just for you! To access this calculator, you can sign up for a free account with Team Beachbody and officially get ME as your coach by following this link: