Eating Clean, Training Dirty & Not Losing Weight (Case Study)

Train Hard

So you’re eating clean, healthy food all most of the time, training regularly and still not seeing any results in the mirror?

It’s a common complaint…

I’m going to show you a case study of the average office worker’s eating and exercise habits and demonstrate why they’re not losing body fat.

Then I’ll show you how to make simple changes to burn up to 1kg of body fat per week.

Woman Weighing HerselfBut first…what does it take to lose 1kg a week?

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend you aim for 0.4 to 0.9kg of weight loss per week.

You need to burn 7,700 calories more than you consume in a week to lose 1kg of body fat. It’s possible, but it’s not easy.

So that works out at 1,100 a day. Remember that number for later…

Let’s look at a case study

To highlight just why most people struggle to lose 1kg in a week, let’s look at an example of an average day for food an office working client.

DAILY FOOD DIARY

8am – Breakfast

  • 2 slices of wholemeal toast & peanut butter (388 cals)

  • 1 medium sized banana (105 cals)

  • 1 x cappuccino (90 cals)

  • 1 x Pret 250ml orange juice (110 cals)

TOTAL CALS SO FAR: 693

10am – Snack

  • 1 x capuccino (90 cals)

  • 12 x almonds (84 cals)

TOTAL CALS SO FAR: 867

1pm – Lunch

  • 1 x capuccino (90 cals)

  • 1 x apple (95 cals)

  • 1 x Pret chicken sandwich (484 cals)

TOTAL CALS SO FAR: 1,536

3pm – Snack

  • 1 x protein/health bar (200 cals)

TOTAL CALS SO FAR: 1,736

6pm – Dinner

  • 1 x salmon fillet & veg (340 cals)

TOTAL CALS: 2,076

OK, so we’ve looked at an average day of what most people would consider clean eating.

The total was around 2,000 calories. But is that normal and what should we be aiming for if we want to lose weight?

How many calories should you consume per day?

This all depends on your body, age, genetics and lifestyle. However, there are some guidelines.

A man needs roughly 2,500 to maintain and a woman needs around 2,000.

I used this handy online calculator to workout my calorie requirements.

UPDATE: I found a better online calorie calculator the other day. It goes into a lot more detail and I found it more useful than most other ones out there.

Online Calorie Calculator

Action Point #1

Track your calorie consumption for a typical day and week. You can use My Fitness Pal on your phone to do that.

It will require some effort but it gives you a great insight into what you’re actually consuming each day.

Takeaway point…

You can probably safely cut around 500 calories a day (maximum) from your food. Don’t do this without consulting with a professional first.

However…It’s not always that easy. Cutting back on 500 calories a day may be fine most days, but what about weekends and social events?

That’s where the temptation of pizza, Peroni or prosecco comes in.

Two beers and a pizza can easily be 2,500 calories!

Got a beer belly? I wrote previously about 3 actionable tips to help you lose your beer belly starting today.

But for now, let us assume we’re being good and avoiding those pitfalls.

That still leaves us with another 600 calories per day to shift. And that leads us nicely onto the next section.

Are You Training Dirty Enough?

How many times do you train a week, consistently? Once or twice? 5 times?

Think back over the last 3 months and workout the average number of sessions you do a week.

Here’s an example of what the average office worker might do each week:

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
Spin Class Weight Training PT Session 5km run
600 cals 400 cals 400 cals 300 cals

That’s a total of 1,700 calories per week burned through exercise. And I’m being quite generous with those calories burned numbers above.

And therein lies the problem…

  • We need a calorie deficit of 7,700 calories a week.
  • They ate 2,000 a day, but let’s be (very) generous and say that was already a deficit of 500 calories a day
  • So we have a 3,500 deficit from food for the week
  • Exercise only gives us 1,700 so the total deficit is 5,200 for the week

We’re not eating clean enough or training dirty enough to lose 1kg a week with those numbers above. And we’re nowhere near if we only need 2,000 calories a week to maintain.

You can find some good workouts here that will help you build muscle and burn fat, if you want to up your exercise calorie burn.

What you can do about it…

There are two parts to making it work for you. The first is to look at your food. Here are some top tips to reduce calorie consumption.

  • Don’t drink calories, so no fruit juices, milk, fizzy drinks or anything like that
  • Only drink water, black coffee, black tea and herbal teas
  • You could try Intermittent Fasting because it will help you cut down more easily
  • Switch protein and health bars to real fruit

Just those three changes made to the above daily food diary would cut out around 490 calories per day!

Orange Juice High Calories

Juices are high in calories

Action Point #2

Don’t drink calories. Switch out all juices for water with lemon or lime.

Then we have the exercise part of the puzzle…

I completely understand that it’s not possible for most people to train 5-6 days a week with work, life and family commitments.

The secret is to build more movement into your daily routine without it being a dedicated gym session.

For example, taking a 20 minute brisk walk at lunchtime 5 days a week would burn an extra 700 to 1,000 calories per week!

Change up your commute to and from work to include daily walking and you will soon hit that magic 7,700 calories a week for 1kg of fat loss.

Also, habit hacking is a great way to make sure you’re in a position to maximise your results from any changes you make.

Action Point #3

Walk more. That simple daily change will add up to a big difference in calorie burn when looked at over the whole week.

What about HIIT?

This is another very time efficient option. You can easily do a quick 8 minute HIIT workout to burn a good amount of calories.

But most importantly, that 8 minutes of HIIT will promote muscle building and an increase in your metabolism for up to 48 hours after, if you give it 110% effort.

Here is one HIIT workout you can follow along to:

Summary

OK, so hopefully that demonstrated why it can be a challenge to lose weight quickly. And let me assure you 1kg a week is quickly.

Depending on where you’re starting from and how controlled and consistent you are with your exercise and eating habits, it’s possible to lose up to 1kg of body fat a week but will require a big effort.

Results will come with consistent, steady efforts. It’s the small changes that add up to make a big difference.

Let me know if you have any questions.