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When you are looking to lose weight, the most important factor is to make sure that you are in a calorie deficit. It is only through a calorie deficit carried out over a consistent period of time that the body is able to lose fat.
So what if you have been tracking your calories and eating 1400 calories a day, but you are not losing weight?
The inability to lose weight while eating 1400 calories could be caused by not properly calculating your maintenance and deficit calories, being in a caloric deficit for too long, or not tracking your food properly. Other things to consider would be high-stress levels, poor sleep, or underlying health conditions.
While not losing weight when you are in (or think you are in) a calorie deficit can be incredibly frustrating, there are action steps that you can take in order to remedy this dilemma and start seeing results.
In this article, you will learn:
- 6 reasons you’re not losing weight eating 1400 calories per day
- Steps to take if you’re not losing weight eating 1400 calories per day
- Realistic results you can expect from eating 1400 calories per day
Not Losing Weight Eating 1400 Calories per Day
The 6 reasons that you may not be losing weight while eating 1400 calories a day are:
- You are not tracking your calories accurately
- You have not calculated your maintenance and deficit calories properly
- You have been in a calorie deficit for too long or you’ve just finished a calorie deficit phase
- You are only using scale weight as an indicator for fat loss
- You have underlying medical conditions
- You have unmanaged stress affecting your body
1. You Are Not Tracking Your Calories Accurately
One of the most common mistakes made while tracking calories in a deficit is not tracking your food accurately. There are a variety of ways that you can miscalculate the amount of food you’re eating.
Some examples are:
- Guessing your food measurements rather than using an accurate foods scale
- Not tracking condiments, sauces, and oils
- Taking random bites of food throughout the day without counting these calories
- Licking the knife or spoon with your favorite high calorie condiment
- Using unverified food entries in your calorie counting app
While all of these examples may seem insignificant, overdoing even one of the behaviors above can cause the calories to add up throughout the day, potentially throwing you out of your calorie deficit.
In this instance, you may think that you are eating 1400 calories a day, but in reality you may actually be eating more. If you are in a calorie deficit but you are not losing weight, the first thing you need to do is to determine whether or not you are tracking calories accurately.
2. You Have Not Calculated Your Maintenance and Deficit Calories Properly
In order to accurately determine what a true deficit is for you, you must first calculate what your maintenance calories are. In order to establish your maintenance calories, you must calculate your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate).
Your BMR tells you how many calories your body burns just by performing its necessary life-sustaining tasks. In other words, your BMR is the number of calories you would burn simply by being at rest all day long. This number of calories is what your body needs simply to maintain its current weight.
A good starting point for a calorie deficit is roughly 200-500 calories below your maintenance. Therefore, in an effort to precisely determine what a true calorie deficit is for your body, it is imperative that your calculations for your BMR are correct.
For example, if you establish your BMR to be 1600 calories, then a reasonable calorie deficit would be 1400 calories.
However, if you happened to be off on your calculation, and your BMR in actuality is 1450 calories, then 1400 calories may not be a large enough deficit for you to see fat loss.
Related Article: My BMR Is 1700: How Do I Lose Weight?
3. You Have Been in a Calorie Deficit for Too Long or You’ve Just Finished a Calorie Deficit Phase
If you have been in a calorie deficit for too long, or you have been restricting your calories too severely, you run the risk of slowing down your metabolism and hitting a weight loss plateau.
While the body does indeed require a calorie deficit in order to achieve fat loss, cutting calories too low, or prolonging a deficit for too long can potentially produce an opposite result of what is intended.
Severely undereating on calories or dieting for too long can result in changes in your hormonal profile that makes it more difficult for the body to lose fat. More specifically, dieting for too long can cause an increase in cortisol, which can actually promote fat storage in the body
In addition to this, if you have been in a calorie deficit for a prolonged period of time and you’ve lost weight, you could potentially see a stall in weight loss due to the fact that your body’s needs have shifted, and you need to recalculate your BMR.
When you are in a fat loss phase and you are successful in losing weight, your metabolism will eventually adapt to the amount of food you are currently feeding it.
If your body is no longer responding to a low-calorie deficit, it is a good sign that you may need to consider either implementing a refeed, a slow reversal of calories, or a diet break.
You can read more about undereating and not losing weight here: Can You Undereat And Not Lose Weight? (Yes, Here’s Why)
4. You Are Only Using Scale Weight as an Indicator for Fat Loss
While using the scale to measure weight loss while in a fat loss phase, it should not be the only tool that you rely on. If you have been eating 1400 calories a day but haven’t seen the number on the scale go down, it does not necessarily mean that you haven’t lost body fat.
Weighing yourself on a scale does not give you the entire picture of the change occurring in your body. If you have lost scale weight, it does not tell you whether this is coming from fat, water, muscle, organs or even bones. Therefore, the scale is not a reliable indicator to measure fat loss.
If you have been eating in a calorie deficit and working out consistently, there’s a good chance that you are losing fat and putting on muscle. 1 pound of muscle takes up less space than 1 pound of fat.
This means that your weight could stay the same in a fat loss phase, but your clothes start to become loose as you lose fat and put on muscle. This is ideally what we should strive for, as building muscle can also help to increase your metabolic rate.
The other reason why you should not be only using the scale to measure successful weight loss is that your scale weight can fluctuate quite heavily throughout the day from a multitude of things.
Fluctuations on the scale can occur due to things such as increased sodium intake, monthly hormonal fluctuations (seen in women), a higher carbohydrate intake, doing a heavy workout or even weighing in at a different time of the day.
While you can still use your scale as a tool for measuring progress during your fat loss phase, it is recommended you include other methods of measurement as well. We will discuss those methods further on in the article.
5. You Have Underlying Medical Conditions
If you have exhausted all of the possible scenarios above, and you still cannot figure out why you are not losing weight eating 1400 calories (when this should be your deficit), there is a possibility that an underlying medical condition could be the culprit for your lack of weight loss.
A good example of an underlying health condition that could hinder weight loss even while in a calorie deficit is hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid. This condition causes the thyroid to not produce and release enough thyroid hormone, which can result in a slower metabolism.
Although the body will typically respond to a calorie deficit with fat loss, having an underlying medical condition such as hypothyroidism can throw off the body’s ability to function in it’s normal fashion.
If you suspect that you may have some underlying medical condition that is contributing to your stall in weight loss, it is recommended that you seek the help of a doctor or health care professional that can work with you to help bring the body back into balance.
6. You Have Unmanaged Stress Affecting Your Body
Last but certainly not least, if you are eating 1400 calories a day and not losing weight, taking a look at the stress you currently have in your life may be worthwhile.
When you have high stress, your body will go into “fight or flight mode”, which is also known as the sympathetic nervous system response, run by your autonomic nervous system (ANS). While this is healthy in short bursts, our body is not meant to be in this state for a prolonged period of time
Ideally, the body should be in the “rest and digest” mode most of the time (also known as the parasympathetic nervous system response). However, chronically high-stress levels will keep this from happening.
Being in a chronic state of “fight or flight” will cause increased production of cortisol in the body, which can promote fat storage and inhibit weight loss. It is critical that we manage our stress levels if our goal is fat loss.
We can be experiencing high amounts of stress from a variety of different things, such as:
- Lack of sleep
- Career or financial struggles
- Health issues (whether it be you or a family member)
- Relationship or marital troubles
- Eating highly processed foods
- Not experiencing enough “joy” in your life
If your goal is not only fat loss, but overall health and vitality, then it is imperative for you to address the main sources of stress in your life, and adopt techniques to either cope or reduce this stress.
Are you losing weight properly?
Steps To Take if You’re Not Losing Weight Eating 1400 Calories per Day
Now that you have determined why you may not be losing weight while eating 1400 calories a day, here are 5 action steps that you can take in order to switch on fat loss:
- Step 1: Make sure you have properly calculated your BMR to determine your calorie deficit
- Step 2: Use an accurate food scale to weight your food
- Step 3: Use verified food sources on calorie counting apps
- Step 4: Implement a refeed or a diet break if needed
- Step 5: Ensure that you are managing your stress and seek out medical advice if needed
Step 1: Make sure you have properly calculated your BMR to determine your calorie deficit
The first thing to address if you are not losing weight while eating 1400
calories a day is if you have correctly calculated your deficit. In order to do this, you want to make sure that you have your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) calculations correct.
The formula to calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate is:
If you want to simplify this process even more, you can use an online BMR calculator, such as the one linked here.
Step 2: Use an accurate food scale to weigh your food
Rather than guessing or estimating the amount of food you are eating, it is highly recommended that you use an accurate and reliable food scale in order to ensure the success of your calorie deficit.
Food scales are available at a varietality digital for of different stores as well as online. For reference, I have linked a good quod scale available on Amazon here.
Step 3: Use verified food sources on calorie counting apps
Once you have weighed your food with an accurate food scale, the next important step is to make sure you are using verified food sources on the calorie counting app that you are using.
For example, MacroFactor has the largest verified food database, making it the most reliable calorie counting app on the market. This is important because you want to ensure that when you enter a particular food into your app, the data that is presented is an accurate representation of that food.
While you can use other calorie counting apps when you are tracking calories, you want to make sure that you are choosing verified food sources when logging your meals.
Step 4: Implement a refeed or a diet break if needed
If you have taken all of these steps, and you are still struggling with a weight loss plateau at 1400 calories, you may be in need of a diet break or a refeed.
For more information on signs that you may need a refeed and how to implement a refeed, I suggest visiting the article below:
If you are struggling to decide whether you need to implement a refeed or have a full on diet break, I recommend checking out this article:
Step 5: Ensure that you are managing your stress and seek out medical advice if needed
If you have been dealing with higher amounts of stress in your life compared to normal, it would be worthwhile to seek out ways to mitigate this stress in order to optimize your fat loss phase.
Some examples of different ways that you can help to reduce the amount of stress in your body are:
- Ensure that you are getting enough sleep
- Deep breathing exercises and/ or meditation
- Scheduling in relaxation (such as a massage)
- Manage your time on social media
- Eat a variety of whole unprocessed foods
- Connect with others and involve yourself in a community of people who have similar interests
- Include activities that bring you joy in your daily schedule
- Seek out a counselor to help you recognize potential stressors in your life and assist you in working through them
Realistic Results You Can Expect From Eating 1400 Calories Per Day
The results that you can expect from eating 1400 calories a day are directly dependent on the following factors:
1. Whether You Are a Male or a Female
The daily caloric requirements typically vary depending on if you are a male or a female.
- For example, the general recommendation for a moderately active female between 19-30 is around 2000-2200 calories.
- In contrast, the recommendation for a male in the same activity and age category is around 2600-2800 calories.
While these numbers will also fluctuate depending on the other factors we will discuss below, it is very clear to see that males generally need higher amounts of calories than females do.
Therefore, we can see that while 1400 calories would be considered a considerable deficit for the average woman, it would be a drastically low amount of calories for a male to eat. For a male, eating this little could have negative consequences and is not sustainable.
2. Your Current Bodyweight, Height and Age
As we discussed earlier, your body weight, height, and age (aka, your BMR) will have an effect on the type of result you will get from eating 1400 calories a day.
For example, if a person’s BMR was 1750 calories a day, then eating 1400 calories a day would likely result in weight loss due to a deficit of 350 calories per day.
In contrast to this, if you were to calculate someone else’s BMR at 1500 calories per day, a 1400 per day calorie intake may not be enough of a deficit for them to lose weight.
To give one more example, if you were to take a 28-year-old male who regularly works out and lifts weights, and has a BMR of 2400 calories, eating 1400 calories a day would very likely be much too large of a deficit, which would have negative results.
3. Your Dieting History
While your gender and your BMR play a key role in determining how many calories you burn a day and what an optimal calorie deficit is, it is important to keep in mind that there are certain factors that can influence a person’s BMR, such as their dieting history.
If you calculate your BMR based on your height, weight, age, and gender, this will produce the number of calories that your body needs for maintenance. However, if you have a history of dieting and heavily restricting calories, your calculated BMR may no longer be accurate.
This is due to the fact that when you restrict calories for a prolonged period of time, you can experience metabolic adaption, to the point where your body learns to survive on fewer calories than you did before.
Therefore, if you are eating 1400 calories a day and not losing weight, but you have a long history of dieting and calorie restriction, this lack of weight loss is most likely caused by a lower BMR brought on by chronic dieting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can You Gain Weight Eating 1400 Calories A Day?
Yes, you can gain weight eating 1400 calories a day. This could be caused by a reduced metabolic rate and lowered BMR caused by prolonged or chronic dieting. This could also be caused by not tracking calories consistently or accurately, which could take you out of a calorie deficit, and even into a caloric surplus.
Is 1400 Calories Too Low For A Woman
While 1400 calories may be a reasonable amount for some women, it may be too low for others. In order to know for sure, you must establish your body’s minimum caloric requirements. This can be done by calculating your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which is based on your individual height, weight, age and gender.
Related Article: Eating Below Your TDEE & Not Losing Weight
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About The Author
Colby Roy is a holistic health and nutrition coach. She is certified through Precision Nutrition and the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and has a passion for all things nutrition and healing the body. More specifically, Colby likes to work with clients who want to optimize their gut health and energy levels.