Why Don’t All People Lose Weight When They Take In A Calorie Deficit?


10 women in the study did not lose weight, despite the fact that they recorded  a serious calorie deficit in their diaries. Doctor Maleo found out why and how badly they lied.

During the study Maleo faced an inexplicable phenomenon – despite nutrition with a deficit of calories, some people didn’t lose or continued to gain weight. How can this happen?

9 out of 10 Liars

As a part of a study of human metabolism, a group of 10 women  who did not lose weight despite a significant reduction (up to 700-1500 calories per day) of calories was examined.

As a part of the study preparation, each of these women was instructed for a whole day on how to take calories into account. They watched an educational film and practiced. Then, within 2 weeks, every day, they recorded their calories in a food diary. At the same time, each of them measured their private daily calorie rate and they were also tested on their real consumption of calories by using the doubly labeled water method (one of exact scientific methods of determining metabolic rate and calorie consumption).

The result of these 10 ladies who could not lose weight despite keeping calories and a strong diet was stunning. And it’s  shown in this table very clearly.


Black columns show the daily calorie consumption of each of the 10 women. The shaded part of the column shows how many calories on the average was logged into the test diaries, the whole column presents how many calories they really consumed based on scientific measurements.

As you can see, despite the fact that the ladies knew that their real calorie consumption would then be checked, they often understated the real calorie consumption by 2-3 times. Everybody except number 10. In fact, there is one more factor of proof to the scientific approach to obesity (just eat less than you spend): fat occurred  because of excess of calorie consumption.

Again: everybody had a serious preparation on logging calories and learned about their log much more than an average level. But why were they telling lies so badly?

False: conscious and unconscious

For example, let’s describe a typical story – number 1 of our table.

This woman faced the problems of being overweight at the age of 8 years for the first time. According to her, she was “on hundreds of diets” with no results, periodically got depressed, but during studies felt well.

Her maximum weight was 250lbs, and at the time of study it was 195lbs. After completing the course on the correct way to log calories and knowing that real consumption will be checked, she reported on average about 1100 calories a day. Moreover, her average rate of calorie spending was measured at 3,000 calories – she is a rather active woman, her metabolism is at a normal level.

In reality she consumed  three times more during tests than she recorded – on the average 3300 calories per day which is above the level of consumption. Once again – knowing well that there is no sense in deceiving, because the real consumption was checked. And there were 9 such women out of 10.

Women with the numbers 2, 6 and 7 who were writing  about the consumption of less than 1,000 calories a day, actually consumed, consequently, 2700, 2600 and 3100 calories. That means that they also underestimated a real picture on the average for 3 times.

The other 4 subjects understated consumption by a third. And according to Dr. Maleo, most likely, these women were lying unconsciously. It is not known, but there was an unconscious understatement of a real calorie consumption: due to the fact that  they really ate a little more than recorded, forgot to write down something, because I ate “on autopilot” or even they were eating at night. Or maybe everything mentioned above.

According to Dr. Maleo it happens unconsciously, because of the shame of excessive food consumption (eating shame, food guilt), orthorexia and other reasons that make people blind to what and how much they eat. Roughly speaking, the subconscious overrules the  “common” sense when a person tries to do such “stupid” things as to eat 1000 calories a day.

And it is a mass phenomenon. As a part of study of obese people, Dr. Maleo found out that only 20% of them (under the supervision, control and terms of a scientific research!) managed really to keep a calorie deficit for 2 weeks.


Fitscientist has translated the article on the basis of scientific experience of a physicist, a family doctor from Idaho who also does physical training on his own.


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