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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.
- Your BMR will change as you lose weight or increase your fitness levels, so be sure to adjust your caloric intake if 1400 calories are no longer effective.
- When your body adapts to eating low calories for a prolonged period of time, this is known as metabolic adaptation, which can halt your weight loss efforts and cause the dreaded “plateau.”
- Little miscalculations in your food tracking can add up to extra calories beyond 1400, such as snacking or underestimating your portion sizes.
- If your BMR calculations, fitness, and food tracking are en pointe and you’re still not losing weight, consider reaching out to your doctor to rule out an underlying medical condition.
Is 1400 Calories Enough?
There are several factors that will determine whether or not 1400 calories a day is enough to reach your goals, including your gender, basal metabolic rate (BMR), and dieting history.
1. Males vs. Females
The daily caloric requirements typically vary depending on if you are a male or a female.
- The general recommendation for a moderately active female between the ages of 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 fluctuate depending on other factors we will discuss below, it is clear 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
Your age, height, and body weight are some of the factors that determine your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which tells you how many calories your body burns by just 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.
Your BMR will have an effect on the type of result you 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, and 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. In this case, 1400 calories may not be enough.
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:
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.
- Check out our 1400 calorie meal plan.
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 find out your maintenance calories by calculating your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
A good starting point for a calorie deficit is roughly 200-500 calories below maintenance, though some guidelines recommend up to 750 calories below maintenace.
“A low-calorie diet involves consumption of 1,000–1,500 calories per day; deficits of 500–750 calories per day have been used for weight loss and are recommended by many obesity societies and guidelines.”— Journal of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome
It is imperative that your calculations for your BMR are correct, otherwise you may not be able to achieve the results you are looking for.
- Related Article: My BMR Is 1400: 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 too many calories for too long can produce an opposite result of what is intended.
Severely undereating can result in changes to your hormonal profile that make 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, particularly around the midsection near your major organs.
In addition, 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.
- Related Article: 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 a traditional scale to measure weight loss can be helpful, 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 doesn’t 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. It does not tell you whether the change in numbers is coming from fat, water, muscle, organs, or even bones.
On its own, 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.
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 weight can fluctuate heavily throughout the day from a multitude of things.
Fluctuations on the scale can occur due to 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, which we will discuss further in this 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 by eating 1400 calories, 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 optimally.
If you suspect that you may have an 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
If you are eating 1400 calories a day and not losing weight, your body may be stuck in a chronic state of “fight or flight” mode.
When the autonomic nervous system is engaged, it releases stress hormones like cortisol, which can promote fat storage and inhibit weight loss.
While stress is managebale in short bursts, our body is not meant to be in this state for a prolonged period of time.
Ideally, the body would engage the parasympathetic nervous system most of the time, also known as the “rest and digest” state. However, chronically-high stress levels will prevent this from happening.
If our goal is fat loss, it is critical that we manage our stress levels.
We can experience 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 with or reduce this stress, like yoga, spending time in nature, or a hobby that you love.
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
The first thing to address is if you have correctly calculated your deficit.
In order to do this, use our BMR calculator.
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.
For reference, I have linked a good food 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 (click to read my review), 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.
If you want to use MacroFactor, use this link and enter the code FEASTGOOD when signing up to get an extra week on your free trial (2 weeks total).
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 refeed or diet break.
For more information on signs that you may need a refeed and how to implement a refeed, I suggest visiting the article below:
- How Often Should You Refeed? (7 Signs You Need A Refeed Day)
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
If you’ve effectively calculated your calorie intake using a BMR calcuator, you can expect to lose some weight each week by eating 1400 calories.
The current guidelines suggest a deficit of 500 to 750 calories below your maintenance level to achieve your goals.
The larger your calorie deficit, the faster your weight loss will be. However, research notes that you should lose no more than 0.20-0.42% of your body weight per week. The CDC recommends a maximum loss of two pounds per week.
“Setting realistic goals for weight loss is extremely important since the adoption of strict and difficult to reach goals may often lead to failure and discouragement. Aiming to lose 5–10% of initial body weight within the first six months is a realistic approach.”— Healthcare Journal
Frequently Asked Questions
Will You Lose Weight Eating 1400 Calories A Day?
In order to lose weight, you must be in a calorie deficit. Therefore, you can effectively lose weight by eating 1400 calories per day if this amount is below your maintenance level of calories, you’re tracking your intake accurately, and you’re free of underlying health conditions.
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
Other Cutting Articles
Osilla EV, Safadi AO, Sharma S. Calories. [Updated 2022 Sep 12]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499909/
Rosenbaum, M., & Leibel, R. L. (2010). Adaptive thermogenesis in humans. International journal of obesity (2005), 34 Suppl 1(0 1), S47–S55. https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2010.184
van der Valk, E. S., Savas, M., & van Rossum, E. F. C. (2018). Stress and Obesity: Are There More Susceptible Individuals?. Current obesity reports, 7(2), 193–203. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13679-018-0306-y
McPherron, A. C., Guo, T., Bond, N. D., & Gavrilova, O. (2013). Increasing muscle mass to improve metabolism. Adipocyte, 2(2), 92–98. https://doi.org/10.4161/adip.22500
Patil N, Rehman A, Jialal I. Hypothyroidism. [Updated 2022 Aug 8]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519536/
Kim J. Y. (2021). Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance. Journal of obesity & metabolic syndrome, 30(1), 20–31. https://doi.org/10.7570/jomes20065
Koliaki, C., Spinos, T., Spinou, Μ., Brinia, Μ. E., Mitsopoulou, D., & Katsilambros, N. (2018). Defining the Optimal Dietary Approach for Safe, Effective and Sustainable Weight Loss in Overweight and Obese Adults. Healthcare (Basel, Switzerland), 6(3), 73. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare6030073
About The Author
Colby Roy is a holistic health and nutrition coach. She is certified through Precision 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.
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