Every week, I speak to frustrated people who “eat really healthy, but aren’t seeing results.”
If you genuinely believe you’re eating well, but you don’t look any better… it’s easy to get discouraged.
Here are eight things that could be preventing you from having the body you’re after:
1) You’re full of it
Do you really believe you’re eating well? Or are you trying to convince yourself you are?
If you had to give your honest opinion–independent from your frustration about how you look–what would you say?
It’s easy to have short-term memory about inhaling Doritos, while praising yourself every time you take a bite of a salad.
There’s a question I frequently ask my online clients: if 12 weeks from now, you were to be permanently “stuck” with however you look… what would you do differently now?
If there are lots of changes you’d make to your diet, you’re guilty of bullshitting.
2) You don’t track anything
It’s possible to gain body fat eating nothing but fruits and vegetables.
Fat gain is caused by being in a calorie surplus (eating more calories than you burn), regardless of what foods you eat. In other words, it’s possible to have a highly nutritious diet and still gain body fat.
If you’re eating healthy and not seeing results, this is likely the hold-up: too many calories.
Tracking your calories and bodyweight for at least a few weeks will give you a much better idea of how many calories it will take to lose body fat.
3) You take the weekends off
Let’s pretend your maintenance calories are 2,000. In other words, eating 2,000 calories per day will keep your bodyweight the same.
Sunday through Thursday, you eat 1,500 calories–which puts you in a 500 calorie deficit each day (-2,500).
But Friday and Saturday, you eat 3,250 calories–which puts you in a 1,250 calorie surplus each day. (+2,500).
Even if you ate healthy all week, you’d be back at square one by week’s end. Here’s a visual (actual calories eaten in red):
+2,500 (+1,250 x 2)
Result: 0 (no loss)
-2,500 (-500 x 5)
Mobile readers: you can scroll to view full chart.
It’s really easy to eat over 3,000 calories on the weekends. After a few drinks and meals out, you might actually be far north of that.
It will feel like you’re eating healthy all the time, and only “unhealthy” 1-2 days per week. But those 1-2 days can be more than enough to undo a week’s worth of a calorie deficit.
4) You eat too many high fat foods
Most of us would consider eggs, olive oil, peanut butter, or nuts to be reasonably healthy food options. A sample day of eating them may look like…
Meal 1: Scrambled eggs and peanut butter on wheat toast
Snack: Handful of almonds
Meal 2: Salad with cashews, shredded cheese, and dressing
Snack: Low calorie popcorn and fruit
Meal 3: Ground beef with vegetables (cooked in olive oil)
That could certainly be considered a “healthy” day of eating. But, if you’re not familiar with calories per gram, I promise you’re taking in more calories than you think. Unlike protein and carbs, which have 4 calories per gram, fat has 9 calories per gram.
This means fat has over twice the calories per bite as a protein or carb. Here’s an example:
Fat is NOT bad and you need enough (minimum 20% of daily calories) in your diet.
But eating lots of healthy fats can add far more calories into your diet than you realize–enough to eliminate your calorie deficit.
5) You ignore sneaky calories
Online fitness coach Jason Helmes refers to these as “LBT’s.” Otherwise known as licks, bites, and tastes. Here’s what that looks like:
- Sneaking a pinch of shredded cheese when you add some to an omelette (~50 calories)
- Having a single Reese’s from the office kitchen (~90 calories)
- Trying a bite of your co-workers new recipe (~65 calories)
- Grabbing a handful of Ritz crackers while your dinner is cooking (~80 calories)
- Accidentally putting a little extra oil on your frying pan (~120 calories)
Independently, these are insignificant and easy to overlook–especially if your food choices are mostly healthy. But the examples listed added up to 400 calories. By week’s end, sneaky calories could easily add up to over 3,000.
That’s enough to slow down, or completely stall fat loss progress.
“Your body is counting your calories, even when you’re not.”
6) You’re expecting too much from your workouts
To be in a calorie deficit, you can either A) eat less B) work out more or C) eat less and work out more.
A lot of us half-ass A (actually eating less) and over-rely on B (working out). Working out doesn’t burn as many calories as you think.
Do you ever see those things that say, “It would take 437 burpees to burn off a single piece of pizza?” Yeah, well I mostly hate those. They make working out seem like a punishment for “being bad.”
But the single valuable point they do make is how hard it is to exercise your way into a calorie deficit.
People who “eat healthy but don’t see results” are often relying on their workouts to “undo” the unhealthy food choices they make. If it takes 90 minutes of walking to burn off a piece of cake… you tell me how that’s going to go.
7) You’re falling for good marketing
“25% less calories”
Skippy offers a reduced fat peanut butter. Must be healthier, right?
If you know how to read a label, you’ll see that the fat grams are dropped from 16 to 12–which is a 36 calorie difference. But that 36 calorie drop is enough for them to stick a “reduced fat” label on it.
I’ve even seen some meats labeled as “gluten-free.” As sexy as that sounds, gluten comes from wheat products–which meat is not. That’s like labeling an apple as dairy-free.
Cinnamon Toast Crunch has a massive tag on the top of each box: “With Whole Grain.”
Most of us don’t even know what whole grain is, or why we should have it. And as much as I love the cereal, I can’t make a case for Cinnamon Toast Crunch being a nutritious food choice. The label may have you thinking otherwise.
Don’t fall prey to marketing. Common sense goes a long way.
8) You’re inconsistent
I’ll spare you the “consistency matters more than anything else” speech. You know that.
If you think you eat healthy, but you’re not seeing progress, you’re being inconsistent with your nutritious choices.
This is especially likely if you don’t track your food intake, or if you eat like crap on the weekends.
Take a look at your week as a whole and ask yourself, “Do my food choices truly warrant the results I’m after?”
If you have the slightest doubt, then your consistency needs to improve.
How to start seeing results immediately:
Beginning today, here’s what I want you to do:
- Stop bullshitting yourself
- Begin recording your food intake in some way (MyFitnessPal, food journal, etc.)
- Count all licks, bites, and tastes in your log
- Limit your fat sources
If you’re having trouble being consistent with your nutrition, read this.
P.S. Want a FREE three-day workout program (that you'll actually stick with)?