Three Reasons a Calorie Deficit Diet Might Actually Make You Gain Weight


When trying to lose weight, most people believe that they must burn more calories than they eat. This is called a calorie-deficit diet. It’s all about calories in- calories out, instead of the types of foods you eat. 

In reality, this way of thinking is actually doing more harm than good for many people especially women over the age of 45.

A lot of the time, deficits cause yo-yo dieting, meaning you lose weight and then gain it back almost immediately. This cycle continues and is hard on all of your systems. It’s important to understand what causes this, and how to fix it. 

What is a Calorie Deficit Diet?

Calories are the energy we get from food and drink. Your body burns these calories to support all of its different systems. There are three different components of calorie expenditure. 

  • Resting energy expenditure
    • These are the calories burned while your body is at rest to keep the basic functions running, like breathing and blood circulation. 
  • Thermic Effect
    • These are the calories expended during the digestion, absorption, and metabolization of food. 
  • Activity Energy Expenditure
    • These are calories burned during movement. This can be both exercise and non-exercise-related movement. 

Providing your body with fewer calories than it burns during these three components creates a calorie deficit. Purposefully eating fewer calories than your body burns is called a calorie deficit diet. 

The theory is that burning more calories than you have forces your body to burn fat to make up for the deficit. In theory that should work, but there are three different factors you need to take into account. 

1. Calorie Deficit Diets Put the Body in Survival Mode

Your body is equipped with the tools it needs to survive famines, but it can’t tell the difference between a diet and a famine. When you restrict calories, your body sees fewer calories coming in and stubbornly holds onto as much remaining fat as possible to help you stay alive. This causes you to plateau and then gain the weight back over time. 

For those that have been in a calorie deficit for a while and still aren’t losing weight, people will often recommend eating more. The problem is that your body has been in famine mode for so long, that extra food will be stored as backup energy. This is just in case you start depriving yourself again. This causes weight gain and can take a while for your systems to balance back out. 

2. Exercising to Create a Calories Deficit Causes Weight Gain

Just like with hunger, your body is built to protect you in times of danger. When you are putting yourself through daily, strenuous exercise, your body can’t tell the difference between that and running from a tiger or other form of danger. It puts stress on an already stressed-out system, causing it to horde fat to protect the energy stores. 

Obviously, exercise isn’t inherently bad, but strenuous exercise, especially for middle-aged women who are chornically stress, puts more pressure on a body that is already struggling. 

Physical activity is great for your heart, mental health, and many other things, but not for weight loss. 

3. Not All Calories are Equal

The content of your calories really does matter. 

It doesn’t matter if it’s processed but labeled healthy or if you eat less that day so you can have a slice of cake. The content of those calories is going to harm you and cause more stress. Choosing the calories you consume will make a much bigger difference. 

Carbs are a great example.

Carbs are often demonized but in truth, it’s the carbs you do eat that make a difference. 

For example, eating fructose causes inflammation and makes your body store fat. Glucose, on the other hand, gives you the nutrients you need without causing a reaction. Both of these are carbs but one works better for your body. 

Paying attention to the content of your calories will make more of a difference than counting them. 

Lose Weight Without a Calorie Deficit with Metabolism Reboot

If you have tried diet after diet and still feel like you aren’t making progress, contact us today to learn how Metabolism Reboot can help you make a real change. 

Learn about sustainable weight loss without extreme dieting or exercise with Metabolism Reboot. We teach you how to reboot your metabolism to promote permanent weight loss. Schedule a call to learn how to rebalance your hormones and reduce inflammation.