Question:

Are you able to help me with calorie recommendations? In the last 8 months I have lost almost 60 pounds through diet. I started going to the gym 4-5 days a week and seeing a trainer 1 day a week. My weight loss has virtually stalled in the past month. I don’t know if my calories are too high or too low.   

I am a 57-year-old male and I currently weigh 254 pounds. I am eating between 1,400 and 1,800 calories a day. Based on the online diet calculations I should be eating 1,900 calories a day to lose 2 pounds a week. I use Apple Watch to track calories and usually burn between 400 and 800 calories a day more in exercise calories. I never eat back the exercise calories. Thanks for your thoughts. 

Doug S. 

Answer:

A brief month stall is a blink in your profound progress over the last year, Doug. It sounds like your metabolism has adapted to the diet and exercise routine you’ve set up. Time to shake things up!  

What your calories are comprised of makes a big difference in whether you’ll store or burn fat. Since you’ve already done the math and determined your intake is lower than suggested, I’d say try adding a couple hundred calories in vegetables, legumes and pre-workout shakes or recovery drinks on exercise days. Don’t add more if you feel satisfied at your present intake. 

Assuming your training workouts are progressing, focus on amping up your gym visits on the other days. You may benefit from a new exercise like a high intensity interval training (HIIT) class, harder weights/resistance, or increased cardio duration. Also look at your daily activity outside the gym and try to increase movement whenever possible.  

Remember that weight loss and body composition change aren’t linear, but usually occur with ups and downs. The fact that you are consistent in your exercise routine and dietary tracking means you’re very likely to see results again soon. Read more about overcoming plateaus in the Living Healthy blog, here and here. 

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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