Eating 1300 calories a day should result in weight loss for the majority of people, but that doesn’t mean it will cause weight loss for everyone or that you should diet on 1300 calories per day.
Why would you not lose weight when eating 1300 calories? If you’re eating 1300 calories and not losing weight (and your measurements aren’t changing either), then you’re not in a calorie deficit. This could be because you aren’t tracking calories accurately, you’re not active enough, or your metabolism has dramatically slowed down.
It’s important to understand why you might not be losing weight while eating 1300 calories and why this it’s a problem so that you can take the necessary steps to improve future dieting experiences without sacrificing your long-term health and wellness.
After reading this article you’ll learn:
- Why you may not lose weight while eating 1300 calories per day
- Steps to take if you’re not losing weight on 1300 calories per day
- What you can realistically expect when eating 1300 calories per day
4 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight Eating 1300 Calories Per Day
The four reasons you’re not losing weight eating 300 calories are:
- Your Body Composition Is Changing Instead
- Your Tracking Accuracy Needs Work
- You Aren’t Moving Enough Throughout The Day
- Your Metabolism Has Slowed Down Too Much To Continue To Lose
1. Your Body Composition Is Changing Instead
If you’re eating 1300 calories and the scale isn’t changing, then it could be that your body composition is changing and the fat you’re losing is reflected in changes in your measurements.
Oftentimes those who are more active will notice that their weight on the scale doesn’t change, but their measurements have changed as a result of changes in their body composition.
Body composition changes occur when you build additional muscle mass as you lose fat, which doesn’t always appear on the scale if you’ve replaced muscle for fat pound for pound. For this reason, it is really important for you to take measurements along with weighing in while dieting; otherwise, you may assume that progress isn’t being made.
At a minimum, I would suggest you take measurements from your neck, waist, and hips. If you want to be more thorough, you could also take measurements from your chest and thighs.
If your inches are changing then you are definitely making fat loss progress and eating 1300 calories is putting you in a calorie deficit (eating fewer calories than your body is burning, leading to weight loss). If your inches aren’t changing, then maybe you aren’t in a calorie deficit after all.
2. Your Tracking Accuracy Needs Work
If you’re eating 1300 calories and not losing weight then you may not be tracking your calories as accurately as you may think. 1300 calories is a large enough deficit for most people that if you aren’t seeing progress then maybe it’s because you’re actually consuming more calories than you’re aware.
Some common tracking mistakes are:
- Forgetting to count liquid calories
- Overestimating serving sizes (for fat sources in particular)
- Failing to check the accuracy of the tracking app’s pre-logged foods
- Making up for your calories burned by eating more calories
It’s important to be as accurate as possible when tracking, which requires us to pay more attention to everything we’re consuming and what proportions we’re consuming them in.
Related Article: How To Track Calories Without Labels
In addition to user error, we also need to consider that the calorie-tracking apps we use may not be as accurate as we think. For this reason, it’s important to verify that the calorie content for foods in the tracking app is accurate, if something seems off then it likely is!
Lastly, what you should be aware of with your tracking app is that oftentimes the app’s setting will be set so that the calories you’re burning through exercise are added back into your calorie targets for the day.
This is a feature that you will need to disable because you shouldn’t be replacing the calories that you’re burning as you need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight and this setting would prevent this.
- My favorite calorie tracking app is MacroFactor (read my complete review). The app makes it almost impossible to make mistakes while tracking.
3. You Aren’t Moving Enough Throughout The Day
If you’re very sedentary throughout the day and you’re not racking up many steps or movement in general, then perhaps this is keeping you from losing weight while eating 1300 calories.
If you’re not moving enough then you may not be expending enough energy to put yourself in a calorie deficit to lose weight. I would assess your current exercise routine and steps per day to determine your current baseline of activity.
If you’re not exercising consistently then perhaps it’s time to start implementing some form of activity such as cardio and/or strength training.
If you’re already engaging in an exercise regime and doing as much as is realistic for you, then it may make more sense for you to focus on increasing your step count for the day.
If both exercise and steps are capped out based on what you’re realistically capable of without hating your life, then it’s likely time to reassess your diet and think about reverse dieting instead.
4. Your Metabolism Has Slowed Down Too Much To Continue To Lose
If your metabolism has slowed down too much, then 1300 calories will no longer be the number of calories that allows you to lose weight.
As you continue to diet, your ability to burn calories will gradually slow down because your body requires less energy to function than it did originally and it wants to preserve as much energy as possible for basic bodily functions.
As a result, it becomes harder to continue to lose weight eating the same number of calories as time goes on.
At this point, you could decide to reduce your calories further or change course and consider reverse dieting to build your metabolism back up and make future weight loss much easier than it currently is.
- Want to learn more about the role of the metabolism in dieting? Check out my article: Eating Below TDEE & Not Losing Weight (8 Reasons Why).
Steps To Take If You’re Not Losing Weight Eating 1300 Calories Per Day
If you’re not losing weight when eating 1300 calories, you could decrease calories further (by 100-300 calories).
However, the best thing for you to do going forward to ensure future weight loss success is to start reverse dieting rather than continuing to diet, especially because 1300 calories is already pretty low for most people.
Reverse dieting is a gradual increase in calories that allows you to eat more food while maintaining close to your current body weight and body fat percentage.
The steps to implement a reverse diet are as follows:
Step 1: Determine Your Current Intake & Average Weight
The first step to reverse diet is to determine how much food you’re currently consuming and what your average weight currently is.
If you’re already tracking your intake then you will have great data collected for how much you’re currently consuming and how this is affecting your body weight. However, if you haven’t been tracking, then you should start tracking for at least 5 days to estimate your average daily intake.
To find your current average weight, you will need to weigh yourself at least 3 times in a week and find the average of these measurements.
For example, let’s say my weights this week were: 157, 158.5, 157.8
To find my average weight I need to find the sum of these measurements: 157 + 158.5 + 157.8 = 473.3
Then I need to divide this number by the number of measurements I took (3): 473.3 / 3 = 157.8
157.8 would be my average weight for the week.
Step 2: Determine Your Fat Gain Tolerance
Once you’ve determined your baseline weight and intake, you’ll need to determine how much fat you are comfortable gaining while reverse dieting.
If you want to stay as lean as possible then your fat gain tolerance will be low, and you will increase your calories in smaller increments (50 calories per week) and therefore your reverse diet will take a bit longer.
If you are less concerned about some fat gain but still want to stay somewhat lean, then you will fall under a moderate fat gain tolerance. This involves a higher caloric increase (100 calories per week) and will speed up the reverse dieting process.
If you want to reverse diet as fast as possible and are not concerned about gaining fat, then you will have a high fat gain tolerance. This means that you will make even larger caloric increases (150 calories per week) and drastically speed up the reverse dieting process.
- Related Article: My BMR Is 1700: How Do I Lose Weight? (Calculate your BMR using our BMR calculator.)
Step 3: Increase Your Calories & Monitor Changes In Bodyweight
Using your baseline intake and your fat gain tolerance, you can take the next step to increase your calories and start your reverse diet.
If your current calories are 1300, and your fat gain tolerance is low, then you will increase your calories to 1350 for the next week and monitor your body weight to determine how the increase in calories is affecting your body weight.
Step 4: Evaluate Whether To Maintain, Increase, or Decrease Calories
After a week of adhering to your new calorie target, you will need to determine your average body weight for the week once again to analyze how your average weight has changed.
- If your fat gain tolerance is low you can expect your average weight to fluctuate by <0.5lb per week
- If your fat gain tolerance is moderate you can expect your average weight to fluctuate by 0.5-1lb per week
- If your fat gain tolerance is higher you can expect your average weight to fluctuate by 1-1.5lbs per week
If you’re losing weight, you will likely need to increase your calories further. If you’re on target, then you can once again increase your calories based on your fat gain tolerance. If you’re gaining more than the target amount, then you can maintain these calories for another week before increasing further and re-evaluate then.
- For more information on how to manipulate specific nutrients (carbs, fats, proteins) while reverse dieting, check out my other article “How To Reverse Diet Without Counting Calories”
Realistic Results You Can Expect From Eating 1300 Calories Per Day
Most people can absolutely expect to lose weight by eating 1300 calories because it is quite a low caloric intake for the general population. For this reason, if you’re not losing weight while eating 1300 calories then your metabolism is likely in the toilet (it’s really slow).
Males can probably tolerate this intake longer than women can because men can function better with lower body fat percentages than women. Women require more body fat to maintain regular menstrual cycles and hormonal health.
That being said, for both men and women I would typically only recommend eating fewer calories than 1300 if it’s for a bodybuilding contest prep where the goal is to be as lean as possible for a very short amount of time.
Other than bodybuilding preps, I don’t recommend that people diet on less than 1300 calories because it is unsustainable and hard to recover from.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will You Lose Weight Eating 1300 Calories A Day?
Most individuals who eat 1300 calories should lose weight because it is a relatively low caloric intake; however, if your metabolism has slowed down too much and your body isn’t burning calories as readily, then 1300 calories may not cause weight loss anymore.
Is 1300 Calories Enough For A Woman?
1300 calories is not enough for most women, it is likely only an appropriate intake for children because as an adult your body generally requires around 1200 calories just to perform bodily functions. For women, this means that hormonal balance and reproductive function might suffer as a result of consuming too few calories.
- Related Article: Can You Undereat And Not Lose Weight?
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About The Author
Amanda Parker is an author, nutrition coach, and Certified Naturopath. She works with bodybuilders, Olympic weightlifters, and powerlifters to increase performance through nutrition and lifestyle coaching.