Eating 1600 Calories And NOT Losing Weight (What To Do)

When you’re trying to lose weight by eating 1600 a day and you’re still not seeing the progress that you want, it can be very frustrating. Let’s dive into why progress may be stalled and what you can do about it.

You would not lose weight eating 1600 calories a day if 1600 calories is not a caloric deficit anymore, which can change over time during a weight loss phase.  As well, you might not be tracking your calories inaccurately and actually eating more than 1600 calories without knowing. 

There is also the possibility that your body composition is changing (the ratio of muscle and fat), which is the reason why you’re not seeing any weight loss eating 1600 calories.  As I’ll explain later, this is actually a good thing.

Key Takeaways

  • If you’re not losing weight it’s because many factors are contributing to the fact that 1600 calories do not put you in a calorie deficit anymore.
  • Most people should be able to lose weight by eating 1600 calories per day, but for those who are sedentary, the intake may need to be even lower.
  • If 1600 calories aren’t resulting in weight loss and you’re doing everything correctly, then you can decrease your calories, increase your activity level, or reverse diet.

Are 1600 Calories Enough To Lose Weight?

1600 calories per day is a lower calorie intake so it should be enough for most people to lose weight (especially men). 

However, 1600 calories may not be enough of a deficit for everyone to lose weight.

The average person maintains their weight by eating 2000 calories per day, so dropping calories to 1600 calories per day (400 calorie deficit) should allow for a loss of 0.8 lbs per week. 

But for those who maintain their weight by eating 1600 calories per day or less, a 1600-calorie intake won’t be enough for weight loss.

If you don’t know how many calories you need to maintain your weight, then I recommend figuring that out first so that you don’t decrease your calories more than you need to. 

Eating less than you need is NOT a benefit and can actually slow down your metabolism, causing you to burn fewer calories per day and make weight loss that much harder.

  • To figure out how many calories you need to maintain your weight, head over to our TDEE calculator.

If your TDEE (maintenance calories) comes out to 1600 calories or less, then 1600 calories will not be enough for you to lose weight and you will have to either adjust your calories or think about reverse dieting (more on these strategies later!)

If your TDEE (maintenance calories) comes out to anything higher than 1600, then 1600 calories will put you in a deficit and should allow you to lose weight. 

If you’re not losing weight, even though you should be based on your TDEE, you’re not alone and there are some possible explanations.

Is It Normal To Eat 1600 Calories And Not Lose Weight?

It is possible to eat 1600 calories per day consistently and still not lose weight.  In fact, many people on the internet have had the same issue:

“I am [definitely] eating 1600 calories or less a day and exercising three times a week and I haven’t lost weight, why not?”

Quora User

“I cut my calories down to 1600 due to my inactivity in the gym…and no weight loss. I’m 26 years old, 6’0″, and have higher-than-average muscle mass, but this cut isn’t working.”

Reddit User

“Not losing weight at 1600kcal despite tracking everything???”

Reddit User

It’s important to know that most people should be losing weight by eating 1600 calories per day because it is a fairly low intake, particularly for men.

So, understanding WHY eating 1600 calories isn’t resulting in weight loss will help you stop spinning your wheels and make progress.

Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight Eating 1600 Calories Per Day

Reasons why you’re not losing weight eating 1600 calories per day

1. You’ve Gained Muscle Instead

One of the reasons why you might not be losing weight while eating 1600 calories is that you’re gaining muscle at the same rate that you’re losing weight, so your body weight isn’t changing.

If you’re putting on 1lb of muscle at the same rate that you’re losing 1lb of fat, then you would look different but your weight on the scale wouldn’t change. It’s important to note that changes in your body composition are still a measure of progress.

Personally, I would prefer that my body composition was changing instead of my body weight because when you add muscle and your body composition changes, your metabolism speeds up so that you burn calories at a fast rate, you look better, and you generally feel better in your skin.

So it’s important to note that if your weight isn’t changing but your measurements are changing, then you’re still making progress by eating 1600 calories per day.

This is most likely to happen if you’re just starting to lift weights because as a beginner you can gain muscle more easily.

If you’re someone who is very experienced with strength training, then this is less likely to happen while eating 1600 calories because once you’re experienced it’s much harder to gain muscle and you would likely need more calories than 1600 for this to be possible.

2. You Aren’t Eating 1600 Calories

Another reason why you’re not losing weight while eating 1600 calories is that you’re not actually eating 1600 calories due to tracking inaccuracies.

If you’re making mistakes while tracking your intake, then you might be eating more calories than you think you’re eating. Perhaps 1600 calories would result in weight loss if you were eating 1600 calories.

Some common mistakes that are made with tracking are:

  • Not tracking liquid calories
  • Underestimating your serving sizes
  • Using a food tracking app with unverified foods
  • Using a net calorie tracking setting

Let’s discuss each of these issues further below.

Not Tracking Liquid Calories

One of the main mistakes that people make when tracking their calories or macros is forgetting to account for liquid calories. Liquid calories can add up quickly, especially if you’re someone who drinks lots of liquids besides plain water.

If you’re having pop, juice, milk, kombucha, or any liquids that aren’t zero calories then you could easily be racking up 100-200 additional calories and not know it because you’re not tracking them.

Underestimating Your Serving Sizes

Another common mistake when tracking is estimating your portion sizes incorrectly, which could be the reason why you’re consuming more calories than you think.

This is worse with fats than carbs or protein because they’re higher in calories, which means that any discrepancy in the serving that you’re logging can make a big difference.

If you’re estimating that your serving size of peanut butter was 1 tbsp but it was actually 2.5 tbsp then that’s almost a 200-calorie difference.  This could easily put you in a caloric surplus.  

Using A Food Tracking App With Unverified Foods

It’s also important to ensure that you’re using a food tracking app that has been verified to be accurate because if you’re logging food that isn’t accurate, then you won’t get an accurate depiction of how much you’re consuming.

If the app you’re using says that a certain serving size of food has 100 calories, but it actually has 300 calories per serving, then you could be consuming more calories than you think.

If almost every food you log is inaccurate, then it’s easy to see how this could add up to put you way over 1600 calories.

I use MacroFactor (click to read my review) when tracking my food because they have the largest food database that’s been verified by a Registered Dietitian, so I can trust that the food I’m logging is as accurate as possible.

Using A Net Calorie Tracking Setting

A big mistake that many people aren’t aware of is having your food logging app account for net calories, which is a setting that takes any calories that you burned through exercise (like your step count) and adds them to your daily calorie target.

This is a mistake because you don’t want to add those calories that you burned back into your intake, you want to create a deficit so that you’re eating less than your body needs.

By adding those calories back onto your intake, you’re not creating a deficit and therefore you won’t lose weight.

It’s important to ensure that if your exercise is being logged into your food tracking app that it’s not changing your calorie target for the day.  Check the settings on your calorie app and turn this feature off.  

3. You’re Not Burning Enough Calories Throughout The Day

You won’t lose weight by eating 1600 calories per day if you’re not burning enough calories throughout the day.

If you’re not active enough throughout the day, then you may not be burning enough calories to put yourself in a calorie deficit while eating 1600 calories.

A calorie deficit means that your body has to use its resources (preferably fat) for fuel because the number of calories you’re eating isn’t enough to keep up with demands and maintain your weight.

Let’s say that 1600 calories are enough calories for you to maintain your weight with no exercise.

If you were to start exercising or increase your daily steps, you would create a calorie deficit because you’re increasing the number of calories that you’re burning per day.

So if 1600 calories aren’t resulting in weight loss it could be that you just need to increase your daily activity. 

That being said, if you’re already exercising a lot and getting over 10000 steps per day, then it may not be feasible to increase your activity further.

Instead, you might have to lower your caloric intake to continue to lose weight or start reverse dieting to build your metabolism back up and lose weight on higher calories in the future.

4. Your Metabolism Is Too Slow

The number one reason that you wouldn’t lose weight eating 1600 calories is that your metabolism has slowed down so much that you aren’t burning calories as readily, and therefore 1600 calories are too much for you to lose weight.

This is an unfortunate situation because as I said earlier, most people should have no problem losing weight by eating 1600 calories; in fact, most people should be able to lose weight by eating more than 1600 calories.

So if you’re not losing weight, then your metabolism is much slower than it should be. 

This is probably because you tried to decrease your caloric intake too much and your metabolism slowed down in response to this to preserve energy for basic bodily functions (breathing, digestion, etc.) while your calorie intake was restricted.

To speed up your metabolism back up and make it possible to maintain weight at higher calories or to lose weight at higher calories in the future, you will need to reverse diet.

What To Do If You’re Not Losing Weight Eating 1600 Calories Per Day

What to do if you’re not losing weight eating 1600 calories per day

If you’re not losing weight by eating 1600 calories per day then you can:

Decrease Calories Further

You could decrease your calories further by 100 to 300 calories to continue losing weight.

However, it’s essential to continue to self-monitor as you decrease your calories to ensure that you’re not experiencing any drastic symptoms as a result of calories being restricted.

If you lose your period, feel extremely fatigued, and are starting to become irritable then it’s better to reverse diet rather than continue to cut calories.

I would also recommend consulting a nutrition coach before cutting calories further, because like I said, 1600 calories is already a pretty low intake for most people.

Start Reverse Dieting

The most likely situation if you’re not losing weight on 1600 calories is that you should do a reverse diet.   

I’ve written extensively on who should start a reverse diet (click to read my guide).

Reverse dieting is a way for you to speed up your metabolism by increasing your caloric intake over time. 

One of the benefits of reverse dieting is that you can eat more food without gaining a ton of fat mass.

This is because the process is done at your own pace, which gives your metabolism a chance to speed up so you’re never severely overeating compared to how many calories your body is burning.

Realistic Results You Can Expect From Eating 1600 Calories Per Day

Most people who eat 1600 calories per day will lose weight because a 1600 caloric intake is on the lower end of recommended daily caloric intake.  However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone who wants to lose weight should eat 1600 calories.

Most people could probably lose weight by eating more than 1600 calories, which would be better because it wouldn’t slow down your metabolism as much. Therefore, those who don’t need a 1600-calorie deficit to lose weight should not use one.

That being said, women who are less active and less muscular may require 1600 calories to lose weight even when their metabolism is at its optimal rate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are 1600 Calories Enough To Be Healthy?

1600 calories is enough to be healthy short-term for those who are dieting but it’s not an intake that you should stay at long-term, especially if you’re active.

However, 1600 calories per day could be healthy for those who are sedentary and do not exercise because they would burn fewer calories per day.

Will I Gain Weight Eating 1600 Calories A Day?

Most individuals will not gain weight if they’re consistently eating 1600 calories a day because it is a relatively low caloric intake; however, if you’ve restricted your calories for an extended period, you may not be burning calories as readily which could result in you gaining weight while eating 1600 calories.

How Much Will I Lose If I Eat 1600 Calories A Day?

The amount of weight that you will lose by eating 1600 calories depends on how many calories it takes for you to maintain your weight, your activity level, and the length of time you’re eating 1600 calories.

An ideal rate of loss is 0.5lb to 2 lbs of your body weight per week, anything greater than this is not recommended.

Similar Articles


Zurlo, F., Larson, K., Bogardus, C., & Ravussin, E. (1990). Skeletal muscle metabolism is a major determinant of resting energy expenditure. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 86(5), 1423-1427.

Murphy C, Koehler K. Energy deficiency impairs resistance training gains in lean mass but not strength: A meta-analysis and meta-regression. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2022 Jan;32(1):125-137. doi: 10.1111/sms.14075. Epub 2021 Oct 13. PMID: 34623696.

Westerterp, K.R. Exercise, energy balance and body composition. Eur J Clin Nutr 72, 1246–1250 (2018).

Eric T Trexler, Abbie E Smith-Ryan & Layne E Norton (2014) Metabolic adaptation to weight loss: implications for the athlete, Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11:1, DOI: 10.1186/1550-2783-11-7

About The Author

Amanda Parker

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.

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