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I Eat Less Calories Than I Burn, But I’m Not Losing Weight?

By Amanda Reck / December 3, 2018

When it comes to fat loss, we can’t target what parts of our bodies will lose fat first. The areas on your body to gain fat first are often the areas that will lose it last. Men tend to store in their chest and abs first, whereas women usually store in their hips, butts, and legs. However, these are generalizations and your unique fat loss pattern might be different. Read on to find out our answers to your fat loss, exercise, and nutrition questions.

  1. I eat less calories than I burn, but I’m not losing weight?
  2. Will my face slim down as I lose body fat?
  3. Can Chia seeds be sprouted?
  4. What should I do to lose weight without bulking up?
  5. Where do I go for questions about the BuiltLean Program?

Question #1 – I eat less calories than I burn, but I’m not losing weight?

Question: I recently read your article How to Calculate Your Calorie Burn and I have a question for you. I am 53, 5’6″ and weigh 176 lbs. According to my calculations, based on your article, with little or no activity my BMR is 1778 and with moderate exercise it would be 2296. I run 3 miles 4x a week and I go to boot camp 2 – 3x a week. (My last class my polar said I burned 525 calories). Does my BMR mean that I should have at least 2296 calories a day in order to maintain my weight and anything less would help me to lose? I have been maintaining around 1700 a day and not losing much at all. Thanks! – Paula
Answer: Paula,

Your basal metabolic rate is the amount of energy needed for the functioning of your vital organs; or simply the amount of energy (calories) your body uses at rest without the intake of food. Therefore your BMR is likely around 1700-1800 calories, but it may be less based on genetic variation.

To accommodate for the added activity from the moderate exercise as you are doing, your calorie intake would go up, as you’ve stated around 2200 calories. Therefore in order to lose weight, you would need to consume less than the estimated 2200 calories per day. The law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created, nor destroyed, so if you eat less calories than you burn, you will lose weight. The challenge is sometimes the amount of calories you burn can be overestimated, and the number of calories you eat can be underestimated.

Here is an article that I think you’ll find helpful, and may point you in the right direction to get over your Weight Loss Plateau.

Kwesi (Kwesi Peters, CPT, Community Manager)

Question #2 – Will my face slim down as I lose body fat?

Question: Hello, I have dropped my body fat percentage from 22% to 16%, but couldn’t find any significant change in my face. Will a lower body fat percentage slim my face? – Guarav
Answer: Hey Guarav, unfortunately it’s not possible to control where fat is lost on the body. Just continue focusing on losing fat without losing muscle. In my experience, neck fat is lost early on in the transformation, so it’s usually one of the first places fat is lost. So 22% to 16% would get rid of most of most of the neck fat for most guys, but everyone is different. Keep up the good work!

Marc (Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT)

Question #3 – Can Chia seeds be sprouted?

Question: My wife is getting into sprouting seeds and juicing what grows. She is starting with wheat grass but heard you can sprout many types of seeds. Any idea if you can sprout these and are there similar health benefits compared to the seeds themselves? – Steve.
Answer: Chia seeds can absolutely be sprouted. In fact, they sprout into the microgreens that you may have seen grow out of your favorite Chia Pets! Sprouting is awesome and can provide great benefits, however, certain seeds may actually be more nutritionally dense as whole seeds.

There are varying opinions regarding benefits of sprouting chia seeds. I personally would stick to eating chia seeds dry or soaked….During germination process of sprouting, you lose most of the fatty acid content that chia seeds are known for. Also, that gelatinous coating that forms around chia seeds is responsible for many of the health benefits of chia including supported digestion and slowed breakdown of glucose. Once you sprout chia, you lose the hydrophilic properties and the associated health benefits.

Jessica ( Jessica Zack, HHC)

Question #4 – What should I do to lose weight without bulking up?

Question: I need some help, I want to lose 60 pounds but I don’t want to bulk up. I want to lose the weight first, then build about ten pounds of muscle. I do about 50 minutes of cardio and I do light weight strength training for about 30 to 40 minutes. Is there any type of exercise that I can do to help lose weight faster? – Ras
Answer: Ras, have you ever tried interval based training? Here is an article that I think can be helpful to you – High Intensity Interval Training. In regards to the weight lifting, check out the free GetLean Guide on Builtlean.com for some helpful tips. Keep in mind strength training can keep your muscle as you lose only fat. The Get Lean Guide is really the best place to start. Hope this helps!

Kwesi (Kwesi Peters, CPT, Community Manager)

Question #5 – Where do I go for questions about the BuiltLean Program?

Question: Hey Marc, just wanted to say thanks for all the articles, I’m glad I came across your site about 2-3 months ago – since then, I go at least 3 times a day just to read and educate myself and I have made a lot of changes…but am still fighting against my worse enemy: “NUTRITION.”I have a few questions that I wasn’t able to find on the FAQ section you have on your website and they’re somewhat personal so I didn’t want to share them here. I know you are a busy guy but hope I could shoot you and email or msg – let me know thanks.
Once again, thanks for sharing your knowledge and leaving the BS out! – Carlos
Answer: Carlos,
If you have already checked out our BuiltLean Program FAQ, you can ask any questions through our Customer Support Center. We are open to all questions from prospective customers!

Kwesi (Kwesi Peters, CPT, Community Manager)


  • Boon says:

    I notice that as I get older, my overall face appearance becomes bigger/rounder. I weight less now than when I was with a "thinner" face, so for me, my face won't get any "thinner."

    • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

      @Boon - As we age certain physiological changes do happen. It is possible that you may weigh less, but your body fat percentage may be the same, or higher, which may be one explanation. There may be other hormonal and age related reasons why, so you can check with your doctor. Or it may simply be part of aging.

      • Boon says:

        I am sorry to have to waste your time to answer my comment meant for one of the persons posting the question last week. As I had taught college Psychology, I know that hormonal imbalance (from "natural" ageing) causes a puffier face compared to when that one had in his or her twenties. I even see that progression in the physiques of well-known fitness trainers such as Gin Miller, Kathy Smith, & Michael Carlson, whose workout videos I have bought over the decades.

  • Pedro Rugeles says:

    Hi. I have a question. I have been in boydbuilding for almost 3 years. I have plenty knowledge about my numbers (RMB, calorie deficit etc) and nutrition. My body fat is around 11%, Im 170 cm tall and 154 pounds, actually i like my body appearence but I have tried everytihing to shed my abs and I only can see a four pack. I do HIIIT 3-4 times a week after the weights and everyday I'm eating less calories than I burn (200 gr protein, 100-150 gr of carbs and 10.20 gr of fat and EFAS).

    In conclusion, I want to shed my abs and have the whole six pack. Patiente or any other advices? Thanks.

    • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

      @Pedros - sounds like you are certainly a more advanced trainee and congrats on achieving impressive results. According to your macronutrient intakes (protein, carbs, and fat), you are eating around 1600 calories per day, which sounds reasonable given your height and weight and your desire to lose body fat. There are a few things to consider (1) some people only really have a 4 pack, the last two "packs" are not as pronounced, even if all fat is lost (2) you can help develop your lower abs more with hanging leg raises and leg raises on the ground, and (3) losing a little more lower abs body fat by taking your calories back up to around 2,000+, then start with dieting over again. Over time, from long periods of dieting, metabolism can decrease. Finally, 10-20 grams of fat doesn't sound high enough at all. At least 15% of your calories should be coming from fat. If anything, I would drop 50 grams of protein of your diet and add at least 20-25 grams of fat (protein/carbs have 4 calories per gram, fat has 9 calories as you know). Somewhere around 20-25% of total calories from fat is a better bet.

  • John says:

    Hey, I have a question that's a little off topic but I'd like the opinion of builtlean.com. I've been an avid fan of milk my entire life. It's my favorite beverage and I've never been fat because of it (I'm 6'2" 200lb 11.5% bodyfat). My question is why does milk get such a bad rap in the fitness community? Al I ever read is about how I need to be drinking almond milk or rice milk. Since I haven't experienced any detrimental effects due to milk does that mean my body is simply good at processing it, or am I a ticking time bomb?

    Sorry for all the questions, I just love milk and would love to have some good justification for drinking it.

    • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

      @John - Milk is a VERY controversial topic. There are a bunch of reasons why some experts and paleo enthusiasts recommend against milk consumption. Here are a few:

      1) We are the only animals in the animal kingdom who drink milk after infancy
      2) Pasteurization kills important enzymes and vitamins in the milk
      3) Homogenization can lead to milk intolerance
      4) As much as 75% of the population may have lactose/milk intolerance

      At the same time, there are cultures that live long lives who do drink milk like the Maasai tribes of Africa survive mostly off of raw meat and milk and blood from cattle. I can say for sure there is no singular best human diet. There is far too much variation among our species for that to be the case, and we are built to survive and are remarkably able to adapt to different surroundings and situations.

      We have an article on the paleo diet to learn more here => http://www.builtlean.com/2012/08/06/paleo-diet/

  • as says:

    hi I'm a girl and my BMR is 1455. I'm 21 and my weight is 1.49 meter. I don't quite understand how much I should be eating and how much I should be losing? should I eat around 700 calories and sport and lose about 1200 calories? I lose 400 calories in an hour on the threadmill, does this means I need to sport more then 4 hours?

    • B. young says:

      As there is a problem with eating that little and exercising that much your body wont be getting enough energy to work and repare mussle you will do more harm than good. And you may even gain due to the starvation affect.