Why you aren't losing weight? When cutting calories and exercising is not working

When trying to lose weight the majority of people believe that a person needs to burn more calories than they take in and this is true to some extent but there are many factors that make this simple “calories in versus calories out” equation not work exactly like you would think.

For example if you take two people that are the same height, weight and gender there are situations where one of them is working out more frequently and eating fewer calories and not losing weight where the other is eating more and exercising less and losing more. But how can that be?

First you need to look at style of training. Longer Steady State Cardio is often thought of as one of the best ways to lose fat weight but infact it is one of the least effective. Steady state cardio burns calories while doing the exercise but once done expends very few recovery or “afterburn” calories. On top of this when you exercise for long bouts (over an hour, for steady state cardio, or 90 minutes, for a varied routine - though this is highly dependent on the individual) you increase your stress hormones which can cause your body to retain or gain fat weight even when exercising heavily. Strength Training and HIIT on the other hand are typically done for shorter periods of time which means you have fewer stress hormones released into your body so it does not actively try to work against fat loss. Strength Training and HIIT also have an “afterburn” effect which means that with less time exercising you can actually burn more total calories as compared to Steady State Cardio.

Second, how a person eats can have a huge effect on fat weight as well. Most people think that the fewer calories you take in the more fat weight you will lose and that also is not necessarily true. When your body starts to take in fewer calories than it uses you start to use your body's fat stores to make up the difference. When you start to pull from your fat stores too quickly (which is different for everyone) your body starts to intentionally slow its metabolism and goes into what's called “Starvation Mode”, where your body starts sending out hormones to slow your development of muscle tissue, your BMR (base number of calories your body burns doing nothing), and physical ability/energy during the day and during exercise.

How many times you eat a day can also have an effect. With the same number of calories coming in, someone who only eats two meals a day (or three with only one of them being large) will not see the same fat loss results as someone who spreads out those calories over 4-6 meals with similar calorie content. This is because when you only eat a few meals a day your body has to use your fat stores to get from one meal to the next and this sends a feed-back-loop to your body that you need your fat stores so don’t let them go. On the other hand if you eat frequent small meals your body rarely used fat stores (typically only when exercising) and so your body does not see the need to keep those stores any more if they are not being used as often so it is more likely to let them go.

If you take one person who is eating very few calories, only eating a few times a day, and only doing very large amounts of steady cardio, they could easily not lose or even gain weight due to the stress reaction that causes in the body. On the other side, if you take another person who is eating more calories, eating upwards of 6 times a day and doing Strength Training and HIIT for shorter bouts, they can easily maintain and even lose fat weight.

Related: My Experience: Cardio and Dieting Versus Fitness Blender and Clean Eating

Comments

crocodile

01/21/17 9:20am

Dear Kelli,
Thank you for sharing your experience and knowldege with us. Every time i am not certain and feel i let myself down because i ate too much or exercised too little it´s things like this video and your positive attitude that get me going again. After a workout complete and regular exercise I start feeling confident and happy- I even manage to see past my imperfections and focus on the achievements.
Sending love

Gloriaisfit

01/05/17 9:59pm

What is Keli's last name?

Gloriaisfit

01/05/17 9:56pm

When was this written?

workingoutathome22

01/04/17 4:47pm

this is rlly helpful and i love ur videos by the way!! i may have been eating too little to tone my body and was just losing weight rather than toning it the way i wanted it and i lost 10 essential pounds :( have to regain and take a break from workouts which is tough :(

Mvcip15

12/19/16 6:28pm

Just started today! Looking forward to positive changes

chelle9307

12/14/16 8:21pm

When I first started doing FB I thought Kelli was a different person when I would do the old videos versus the new ones.

CarolV

11/03/16 8:00pm

Love you guys! The workouts are awesome! This makes so much sense. I am 57 years old and in pretty good shape, but I need to do more with the weights and revisit my diet. I eat pretty well but maybe add more "real food" calories. I am so glad I found this website!

arpulcini

09/27/16 9:58am

I should say that I deal with ALOT of allergies which is always my issue on what to eat because I'm allergic to so many veggies and fruits! Mushrooms, brussel sprouts, all melons, sweet potatos/yams are all the big ones that I can think of off the top of my head.

arpulcini

09/27/16 9:56am

I cannot thank you both enough for how much you have changed my life and my view of dieting/exercise and overall fitness! I've never been so strong before! However, I'm always unsure of what to eat. I've seen your grocery lists/shopping trip and know to eat clean. I would love to see what you typically eat throughout the day. What do your clean, healthy meals look like during the day/week?

chanslit

09/25/16 9:35pm

I Love you guys and your workouts more than anything! That being said it would help if you linked to good peer reviewed studies to back your claims that calories in versus calories out are not the end all be all.

Charity_W

09/21/16 2:54am

Even my dad noticed Kely's change lol. The first time I worked out with him we used one of the older videos and the second time was one of the more recent ones. He instantly goes- "she looks bigger- stronger." I'm like yeah dad, goals. Just goals.

Geegee015

08/25/16 4:31pm

Rita

08/13/16 5:44pm

First of all, I would like to thank you SOOO much! You have completely changed my view on weight loss and fitness, now it's really enjoyable! You guys are awesome!

I also have a question: I follow your advice in eating real food and working out about an hour or so a day, and still can't seem to achieve my 'goal' body shape. I do strength training, cardio, HIIT, pilates (not all on the same day of course) and am pleased with the results in how I am building muscle, and losing fat. Since I began using your workout videos, I have seen definite toning in my arms and legs, yet my stubborn middle refuses to slim down. Do you have any advice as to how I can go about doing that?

Again, thank you so much, and God bless!

Jamie

08/05/16 12:32pm

Im working on the diet part, I never go on diets because I don't believe they would continue to work after and I'd just gain weight... So I eat what I'm comfortable eating... I'm a student and so food is too expensive fresh. Are there any other options to go for?

I also train for marathons so cardio is a big part in my workout, is there anyway to fit in strength training around this? A good 15min focused workout?

Please recommended x thank YOUUUUUUUU you guys are awesome. Wishing you the best..

Linchen1109

07/29/16 2:12am

I am a professional latin dancer, did it for a very long time. But as I wanted to concentrate more on my university I decided to take a year without any dancing. In 4 months I got 3 kg more, which is nothing, I know. However it is annoying because it seems so be so, so easy to lose these little kilos; but nevertheless it does not really work.
I personally need someone to push me and to tell me what exercises to do and what to eat (I am very bad at eating the right food....well I never had to do that ;) )

What I wanted to say is: thank you Kelli, for this video. It gives me the power not to quit the workouts. Today I did the first of your 5 day challenge videos and I really liked it.

Go on like that!

Hugs from Germany

marathon7

06/23/16 1:00pm

Great message! I completely agree. Smart exercise and real food make the biggest difference. I work out 5 times a week and lead an active lifestyle. It is hard not to think about pounds, most important thing really is to feel good in your own skin and feel powerful.
Can you run to catch the bus? Can you pick up your children? Can carry groceries bags?

kristen.stuertz

06/09/16 6:21am

I wish I had someone like you telling me these things when I was a teenager Kelli! I am so grateful there is someone out there who is sharing the truth about being healthy and fit. Women obsess so much over food and loosing weight, and what you are teaching can eliminate all this insane thinking about how we should look and workout, and do it in a healthy, normal way. A way you can do for a lifetime.

LeahCheshier

05/26/16 9:55am

I've been one of those cardio killers! And of course, I added in strength training. It really has been frustrating to not see results. I knew it was time to change up my workout and I'm so, so thankful I stumbled upon FitnessBlender. Over the past week, I've enjoyed my workouts SO much more and I've been sore (in the best way!) again. I love being able to add my workouts to a calendar so I can plan my week. Seriously can't thank you guys enough. I love going to the gym but hate when people watch me work out, no matter how long I've been going or how much I lift. I feel so good and optimistic about my new FitnessBlender obsession! Thanks for your transparency- I needed it!

Harasan

05/10/16 1:15pm

Sorry "cardio" stupid autocorrect and no eyeglasses!

Harasan

05/10/16 1:14pm

I believe it is the stress hormone cortisol that kicks in with too much cardiology (running,elliptical,etc) Thanks Kelli! You are an inspiration!

Ashnorlar

05/10/16 9:07am

I think I may be doing too much and it's affecting my weight loss efforts. In the past two months I really kicked my workouts up to high gear because I was frustrated that I wasn't losing weight. I did two workouts or so a day of different things from running to biking to fb workouts to rollerblading...whatever! I always made sure I had burned 1000calories or more and had a calorie deficit of at least 1000 after tracking all my calories (still ate between 1700 and 2000) calories. But I'm not losing weight. Only 2 pounds down in those two months and I'm even more frustrated. I think now that I've started the fb 8 week fat loss program I'll continue eating the amount I do but give myself more rest and cool it on some of the cardio. It's just so hard when you go on you tube and watch weight loss stories of girls eating 1200 calories or going to the gym for hours on end and wonder why you can't lose weight that way either. And it's not like I'm small, I now weigh 196lbs and according to most people the weight should just "fall off" someone like me. Swimming in absolute frustration but going to try and take a different approach. Luckily this time round I still don't want to give up so there's a plus :D

ashdarling

05/06/16 12:26pm

is it possible to do the 5 day strength program and lose weight and currently over weight by 30 kg and am trying to do a life style change .i need to but looking for slow maintainable progress .crush dieting ant doing a thing for my body i gained it all back

ashdarling

05/06/16 12:23pm

ive tried everthing i was so commited to fittness and i stop .some people like just eat800 calorie and u lose well did that it ant working i have a wedding coming up and i feel lost of motivations between work study and fitness .ive done the soup diet gain it all back .thank you kelli for sharing your story i cant wait to share these 800 cal people this vedio

05/04/16 1:43pm

Just saw this video for the first time. I used to run a lot, and only run. And always wondered why I don't loose weight. Now I run every other day, just 5 miles or so. Plus I added Fitness Blender videos to my workout, especially strength training.
So, watching this is such a confirmation that I am on the right track. I feel so much better, too.
Thanks, Kelli, for being honest and sharing your story!

anaosel

04/19/16 12:22pm

I still can't switch to working out 3 to 5 times a week cause I quit smoking 2 months ago... After 19 years of smoking. So the daily workouts have really helped me curb my appetite, soften mood swings and speed up my metabolism, which obviously suffered from the transition... But I'll get there. Thanks for all the support, Kelli and Daniel, and for reminding us that being obsessive about your weight is not healthy either. Commited to a new lifestyle thanks to you and FB community

HotiHealth

04/18/16 7:20pm

Hi Kelli,
Love these videos. So my guess is you probably don't agree with my fitnesspal. After watching and hearing what your saying it changes my thought. I have lost 100 lbs and now working on tightening my skin and love your videos. I appreciate your videos. I did lose the weight the right way. Through healthy eating and exercise. I find myself though feeling upset that I am eating too much. However I find myself in a rut like you explain. I will start focusing more on the strength training and will give an update. Also your butt looks way more awesome in the second pic. Ever time I do the videos and I get tired I say I want Kelli's butt :) Super fun my 18 year old and myself wake up at 5 am to make sure we start our day right. I have recently started a youtube channel to help encourage people to be healthy and do it the right way and not by diet pills and starving. You both are a true inspiration! Also can you do a video on different body types and how to find your perfect you?

04/10/16 11:52am

I really appreciated you making this video and I am excited for when you release your personal story. I am recovering from an eating disorder, myself, and it is really inspiring to hear these wise words coming from you regarding restriction and over exercising. You guys are one of the only fitness blogs that I follow on social media because your message is so positive; I can tell that you actually care about spreading the good word. Rather than trying to speak to people's vulnerabilities in order to make money, you guys gave the advice for free and gave people the option to pay for further services. I love you guys. Keep on keeping on

dianimal37

04/04/16 11:00am

I have been on the fitness path for about 4 years now. I started out with running, outside 2 miles or so a day 5 days a week. I wasn't fast by any means and it was hard, there's a lot of hills where I live. I was 160lbs when I started and if I had to run for my life, I would have died. But I kept at it, I saw results and lost about 15lbs. I added strength training after a year or so but without a trainer and on my own it was hard. Yeah, I had youtube help and I was getting results but I would plateau far too often and get bored. A friend got me into Fitness Blender a little over a year ago and it's changed my life and my workouts! I was 145lbs when I started and thought I was pretty fit. I was definitely challenged by these workouts. I love the lower body workouts. I wanted to share that once I started really focusing on form as well as lifting heavier, I had dramatic results! After about 4 weeks I went from a jeans size 6 to a 2-4 and my bust even decreased from a 36 to a 32. I haven't really shed anymore lbs, I'm at a steady 140lbs and when I tell people that they are floored. I look like I weigh 119lbs is what they say. I can feel my body getting stronger all the time, I look back at the workouts I did when I first started and they seemed SO HARD back then and now they are just a bit of fun/warm up for me now. My biggest struggle right now is my abs, they feel strong but I'm still squishy. I realize I need to conquer my sugar addiction. Kelli and Daniel, you are awesome and so helpful. I tell everyone I know and even strangers at the gym about Fitness Blender!

pp31

03/09/16 9:05am

I'm not a fitness expert, but I think you're absolutely right! In the past few months I haven't been able to do as much cardio/as many HIITs as I used to (I was following your programs) because of a back problem, but I've done my best to keep doing strength videos. And still going to my swimming lesson on Monday evenings. Well, I can see every single Monday that my fitness has not suffered from ditching the cardio, all the contrary: I'm getting better, faster, and I have more endurance. I always thought you had to train your lungs in a way, but strength training is clearly the best. Thanks again for all your hard work!

MErider

02/27/16 5:53pm

I'm in my 40s and struggling so hard to lose weight. I'm going to take your advice as I am just so sick and tired of trying to stay on a 1200 cal/day diet and exercise so vigorously. I've got the weight training down and I love HIT. I just need to find the balance. I'm thrilled I found your website and videos and can't wait to get to it. And I agree so much about eating whole foods and focusing on health. Everything you said makes complete sense.

By the way, you are truly an inspirational and moving speaker. Thank you for this video

Bakerette08

02/17/16 7:02pm

Hi Kelli,
I'm wondering how many calories I should consume when doing two daily workouts consisting of cardio and strength training. Thanks!

ajoaguila

02/07/16 3:29am

Hi Kelli, it was so nice to hear your story but, how will I know that the method i am doing doesn't work for me? thanks and more power.

cortni_starseed

02/03/16 7:39pm

Hello!!! I have lost 170lbs so far just doing cardio and cutting calories! i just bought a set of powerblock weights and one of your programs and I am so excited to start doing this a new way! I feel like what I have been doing isn't going to be sustainable for me long term! It was mostly just a means to an end. This video really speaks to me! I I cant wait to complete the program and see where i am! I still want to lose another 20 pounds but now I am more focused on strength training! :)

kalichan

02/03/16 12:29pm

I am a working mum with 3 children . Try my best to fit regular exercise into my day , I have been following your workout over a year now . I have learnt so much , I am a runner and strength training makes me a better runner.

Eating healthy has always been priority in my house . Thank you for your hard work on making those excellent video . You have make many people live healthier !!!

Shaunae86

01/21/16 6:47pm

Thank you, thank you! I have done 2 FB programs the last 3 months. I don't think I've lost weight (don't use the scale to determine success) and I haven't lost inches. I HAVE definitely toned and firmed and I'm happy with that. I'm a "chronic dieter" which stinks cause I LOVE food. So thank you for speaking these words that I needed to hear about "dieting".

klarene.jones@gmail.com

01/20/16 9:23am

I just got married in December and leading up to the wedding I did the 8-week #FBFit program twice. BUT, being scared of "bulking up" I skipped weights/lowered weights for all of the Strength videos so I could fit into my dress. I would add cardio days on my 'optional rest days' and always eat under 2000 calories. After the wedding and honeymoon (aka about a month ago) I got brave and decided I could try the new #FBFit 8 week program WITH full weights. And eat real food whenever I was hungry. No dress to fit into ;) ! And even though for the first couple weeks I woke up everyday afraid that I'd be bigger and all my hard work was going to waste...I'm standing here 5 weeks later MORE lean, MORE definition and MORE mental freedom from food. I enjoy eating and cooking with my husband--and the freedom to eat seconds if I want! (which is often). I enjoy strength training and the glorious break from cardio that it is. But most of all I'm glad I'm not stuck in that old mental prison of "eat less, exercise more." That was the worst. Thanks for sharing your journey, Kelli. Looks like I'm on a similar one!

StephanieK

01/20/16 8:34am

I recommend FB to anyone I know that is wanting to get in shape or lose weight. I have been working out myself with FB for over a year now and I appreciate so very much the information, time, and effort you put into FB. A breath of fresh air in the media workout world. Like I said I started out over a year ago, then found out I was pregnant, but kept going with my work out routine and the doctors were amazed at how healthy and strong I was throughout my pregnancy. This being my first pregnancy I was two weeks over due but kept exercising a week before giving birth. I really am convinced that with all the training and cardio I did, I was able to give birth to my son quickly and without complication. I did have a longer period after the birth of my son where I was not working out due to other complications but being back in action feels so good. I was hesitant at first to go right back into my exercising routine, believing it would effect breastfeeding my baby, but it hasn't in the least. Our bodies are amazing in the way they are created. Thanks again for your work.

angie2342

01/16/16 11:40am

I love you for saying all this. It is like you're speaking to my mind, because I always struggle with these thoughts exactly. Thank you!

billie.groll

01/15/16 3:47pm

I have to say I absolutely LOVE you guys. I've been working out with you for upwards of 2 years give or take and when given opportunities to try other programs I just can't make the switch. Unfortunately I can't figure out the right balance for myself to get any real results which makes me sad. I eat right and have done 3 of your programs but just can't see the results. Oh well maybe someday. But again I do love you guys.

veo88

01/15/16 6:47am

I had the same experience. I wasn't running quite as much as you, but I was doing an hour of cardio 7 days a week. I was starving myself. I didn't know any better. I thought that was the only way to lose weight. But doing that actually made me crave all the fatty foods even more. I also found it extremely difficult to maintain the strict structure of running 7 days a week. and I wasn't gaining any tone. I HATED it and it took me 6 months to just lose 20lbs. Which I gained back and then some after I got pregnant. So after having my daughter I hit the computer determined to do some research and find out what the best way to lose weight was. (because it's something I've struggled with since I was a teenager too. Im so glad you're going to tell your story Kelly! I was always a relativey healthy, "skinny" kid right up until puberty and then my metabolism suddenly seemed non-existent) That is when I stumbled across you guys, and it has been a real life changer! I have lost 47lbs so far in about 13 months. I have been stuck lately at the same weight but I think it might be because I'm not eating enough calories so I'm going to play around with my food consumption a little bit like you suggested. Thanks for another great advice video!

Ashjong

01/14/16 6:12pm

I so want to just focus on eating whole real food and listening to my body but with over 70 lbs still to lose (roughly) I fear I wont have a large enough deficit to keep losing weight. I know I need to focus on health VS scale weight but its so damn hard when you've been brain washed. I'm so tired of counting every single calorie. I am so happy I found your videos, they've really helped to change my body shape and I actually enjoy them! Im so happy not to be doing hours of cardio a day!

I would love to see a what I eat in a day video from you both! There are many videos like that online, but few from anyone that actually eats.

Thank you for being so real and refreshing! The more i watch your videos the more I learn and the better I feel!

mckenk4

01/14/16 4:11pm

Hey Kelly,

Thanks so much for sharing this! What an amazing inspiration for all of us. I think I'm still trying to find the balance for food and exercise. It gets tricky working 12 hr shifts as a nurse, but since starting FB, I'm learning to stop obsessing over the scale. Incredible how the number can dictate my mood for the entire day. I've started doing measurements, and writing down how I feel after workouts. My story is similar to yours. I've lost 40 lbs also, but have a hard time letting go of the numbers now that my weight is appropriate for my height.

Sometimes I still catch myself during the FB fit program going, only two days of true cardio this week?! How will I lose weight/shape up? I feel like I'm cheating the days that don't have cardio. Your story reminds me to stay committed and focused on smart workouts.

After I finish the two rounds of FB fit, I'll send you guys my story with pictures. It's really helped me to see others.

Thanks again. You guys are great!

Karen

Maryann

01/13/16 7:33pm

Firstly thank you for what you are doing. I love your stories and I love your workouts. I've been using fitness blender off and on for a while. Then earlier this week I was doing the post Christmas "I need to sort out my weight" plan. I like to research. So I went to Youtube and searched "what I eat in a day". I found heaps of very skinny girls that would record all the food they eat in a day. A common theme I discovered was, they would not eat anything until 2pm and then when they did eat they would congratulate themselves on eating a big meal (2 egg and some greens). Watching these made me very discouraged. Firstly, if I don't eat within 10min of getting out of bed then you do not want to be in my house. Secondly, when I eat only 2 eggs and a few greens I'm looking in the pudding cupboard.
I was wondering if you have considered doing a "what I eat in a day". I know you have done the weekly shop, but it would be helpful to see what the weekly shop looks like when consumed over a day.

heidio44

01/13/16 6:18pm

I've been stuck in the cycle that Kelli started in, overexercising and suffering from anxiety and stress related to exercise, while wasting too much of my life working out. Even as I transitioned to doing more Fitness Blender workouts, I still do too many per day and/or add in long distance runs when I'm already tired. It's hard to get past the fear of weight gain when considering cutting back, and Kelli's story is the one bit of common sense that has cut through that fear and motivated me to get back to a healthy, moderate lifestyle. Fitness Blender is good for the body and good for the SOUL, and I am so grateful for all that you do. Thank you!!!

fishah9

01/13/16 5:30pm

watched this while chopping my veggies for dinner. awesome, thank you! love your vlogs always :)

hnsmith

01/13/16 4:50pm

This is the best explanation I've ever seen for why you should eat 4-6 times a day! It like I just had a light bulb turn on!

michele.dispirito

01/13/16 3:33pm

Thank you for this! I, too, was caught in the "too much cardio, not enough food" cycle and wrecked my body because of it. (I spent years without a menstrual cycle and didn't understand why and I'm still working through digestive issues which may or may not be related to my prior lifestyle.) I'm now more at peace about *fueling* my body with good food and adequate, effective movement - not punishing it and/or forcing it into submission. You guys have been a HUGE, huge part of my healing and recovery and I can't thank you enough!! The past 3 years I've spent working out and learning from you two has lead (and continually leads) me to the healthiest *me*. God bless you guys!

IDPB

01/13/16 1:29pm

I think I need to read this post and see the video regularly to try to convince myself, difficult after years of obsessive dieting/traing. Thanks Kelli !

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