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"Calorie Deficit Doesn't Work For Me"

When it comes to weight loss advice, there seems to be two camps. There are the people who say that weight gain is caused by eating too many calories, so weight loss occurs via a calorie deficit… Then there’s everyone else.

Any time I make a post talking about how you don’t have to go keto or follow some other silly fad diet to lose weight, you just need to be in a calorie deficit.

There’s usually at least one comment that says

  • “Calorie deficits don’t work”, or

  • “Calorie deficit didn’t work for me”, or my personal favourite:

  • “It’s not about calories because your body metabolises foods differently!”

That last one usually comes from a chiropractor who has a special nutrition book to sell you…

We’ll get to the reasons why a calorie deficit may have failed you in the past, but let me teach why it won’t fail you in the future.

The Truth About Calories:

People who say “all calories are not created equal” fundamentally do not understand calories.

A calorie is a measurement of energy, in the same way a mile is a measure of distance.

Will 100 calories from ice cream have the same impact on your body as 100 calories from strawberries? Of course not.

But in the same way that -

Whether you walk a mile uphill, in the Sahara Desert, with a 30 pound backpack on…

Or you walk a mile in orthopedically designed walking shoes along the promenade on a beautiful summer morning…

You’re still walking a mile either way.

Whether you eat 100 calories from cold-pressed organic grass-fed kale or 100 calories from

It’s still 100 calories.

You can eat as healthy as you want and you won’t lose any weight if you’re not in a calorie deficit.

You technically could eat nothing but twinkies and lose weight. Don’t believe me? This guy did exactly that.

I wouldn’t recommend it. You’ll feel awful. But it’s totally possible.

So why do so many people
still think a calorie deficit doesn’t work?

You might be in this camp.

You might have tried calorie counting, and it didn’t work for you.

Based on coaching over a thousand people, I’ve narrowed it down to 5 key reasons why someone might think that a calorie deficit doesn’t work for them:

#1: Wrong calculations

#2: Wrong tracking

#3: Weekend warrior

#4: Not long enough

#5: Insert diet fad here

Situation #1
is the person who found a macro calculator online, entered their details.

You know - age, weight, height, activity levels.

Then they were told they needed to eat 2000 calories to lose weight.

They did it for a week or maybe two… And nothing happened.

If this is you, here’s what really went down.

The calculator was wrong.

Or, more likely, you over-estimated your activity levels.

You know when it asks you whether you’re sedentary, lightly active, moderately active, so on and so forth?

You thought about going with “sedentary” but you talked yourself into thinking you were actually “lightly active”?

Bad news - your calorie target was based on you moving more than you actually are.

Most of us are sedentary.

We all work from home or in offices or in cars.

I’ve been a fitness coach for over a decade and even I would be sedentary if I didn’t actively go for walks and train and run. 

So if this is you - you’ve been tracking and haven’t lost any weight - you’re actually in an amazing position.

Because now all you need to do is bring your calorie targets down a little lower, or add an extra walk or two per day.

Now you’ll create a deficit and start losing weight. 

Situation #2 is the person who found a macro calculator online and started tracking.

Everything was going well. They were weighing all of their foods out just like I teach you to.

Then from about the middle of week two onwards they started eyeballing portions instead of weighing them.

They stopped tracking all of those licks and bites that sneak their way in. The food left on the kids plate or the baking spoon.

It doesn’t sound like much but these things can add up.

One teaspoon of peanut butter is meant to be 5 grams. Do you know how much that is? That’s nothing.

If you wanted to you could easily get 50 grams of peanut butter onto a teaspoon, if not more.

That’s the difference between 30 and 300 calories.

Make a small error like this across one or two meals and that’s your entire deficit gone, right there!

So if this is you. The solution is simple.

You need our Macro Tracking Made Simple Guide which teaches you how to track your macros, the simple way, so you don’t make any of the common mistakes holding most people back.

You’ll find a copy within our free private community: Fat Loss Hacks For Frustrated Dieters. We’ll see you there!

Situation #3 is the weekend warrior. This person tracks religiously from Monday to about… Friday lunch-time.

Then from Friday afternoon to Sunday night - it’s a blur.

And even when you feel like you’re eating less on the weekends because you’re having fewer meals.

Those meals are triple the calories.

I think it goes without saying that this person is clearly not in a calorie deficit.

But, they feel like they are.

Because they are from Monday to Thursday then they go and undo it every single weekend.

For this person the solution is really quite simple. 

Track your calories over the weekend, too.

What you might not realize is - to lose weight you don’t need to be in a calorie deficit every single day.

So rather than aiming for say 2000 calories every single day, you can aim for 1800 calories from Sunday to Thursday, then on Friday and Saturday you’ve got 2500 calories to work with instead.

Situation #4 is the person who:

  • Got the right calorie targets from their macro calculator. 

  • Chose the right estimated activity levels. 

  • Tracked everything accurately and honestly. 

But they didn’t see any results after one whole week… So they gave up.

If this is you, you need to understand something.

Change takes time.

Your weight can fluctuate for a number of reasons.

You could very well be losing fat, but the scale hasn’t budged yet because you’re now eating higher volume foods so there’s more food in your system.

You could be eating more carbs or salt than usual which makes you retain water.

If you’re a female on your cycle your weight can even go UP in a deficit.

You NEED to give it more time.

Give it another week, and if there’s still no movement in the scale, your measurements, or how your clothes are feeling.

You might have actually made the first mistake and overestimated your activity throughout the day so you’ll need to either reduce your calorie targets or increase your steps each day.

Situation #5 is a combination of things.

Maybe you’ve tried calorie tracking and it didn’t work.

So you ended up looking into “alternative” methods of losing weight.

Maybe one of these people talking about carbs or insulin or sugar or the gut microbiome or eating only organic, grass-fed food which is five times the price just popped up on your social media and they seemed pretty convincing!

You know the ones I’m talking about.

The people who make TikToks in the grocery store telling you why you need to be scared of kale and bananas.

So let’s knock these off one by one.


The people who say it’s not about calories, it’s about carbs because when insulin is elevated it blocks fat burning.

Protein spikes insulin, too.

So if you can’t eat carbs, and you can’t eat protein… What can you eat? You can drink olive oil and that’s about it.

If carbs were the sole cause of body fat gain, not excess calories, we would expect tribes in remote parts of the world who eat almost exclusively carbohydrates to be overweight, right?

These are people from Kitava Island who eat 70% of their diet from carbs. The average American eats 50% of their diet in carbs, by the way.

Despite all of these carbs, the Kitavans are lean, healthy, and pretty jacked to be honest.


So if it’s not carbs, then what about sugar?

If it was about sugar and not about calories, we would expect sugar intake to be increasing, alongside the rising obesity rates, right?

Well, that was true up until around the year 2000. 

But after the year 2000, obesity continued to rise… And sugar consumption actually fell.

So it’s probably not about sugar alone, right?

Maybe it’s just the excess calories from all of the hyperpalatable, easily accessible foods in today’s world? Some of which of course do contain sugar.

Here’s the crux, though.

You can lose weight whilst eating sugar. Remember the twinkie guy?

Because eating sugar doesn’t prevent you from losing fat, as long as you’re in a calorie deficit.

What about organic foods or the gut microbiome?


When it comes to organic, if you prefer to eat that way, that’s cool. There’s nothing at all magical or beneficial in doing so when it comes to fat loss.

But whatever floats your boat!

Gut microbiome:

When it comes to the gut microbiome, we simply do not know enough.

We’ve seen some reasonably prominent gut scientists come out recently with bold claims about calories.

But really they were just arguing against the harcore “IIFYM” idea of calorie counting.

Essentially they were saying that because processed foods have a 2% margin for error of calories on the label - which is true - calorie counting doesn’t work.

But no-one in their right mind is actually telling you to eat nothing but processed foods. Even the twinkie guy just did it for an experiment.

Most reasonable coaches are telling you to eat more lean proteins, more fruits, more vegetables…

And just don’t be scared of processed foods. Have them in moderation.

If you’re eating processed foods and not losing weight, you’ll reduce your calorie targets, and eat less processed foods as a result of eating less calories.

Then you’ll start losing weight because you’re in a calorie deficit. 

So calorie counting is still going to work for you, as long as you do it the right way.

How do you make sure you’re doing it the right way?

You need our Macro Tracking Made Simple Guide.

Don’t forget to join our free private community: Fat Loss Hacks For Frustrated Dieters to grab your copy.

We’ll see you there!