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  • Linnette Johnson

Eating Less Food Doesn’t Imply Losing Weight

When trying to lose weight, you’ve probably said one of these things before starting a fad diet that isn’t based on scientific evidence or even geared for you but for the money only …

“I’m eating fewer calories, yet I can’t get the scale to budge!”


“I’m watching my calories by counting them daily, but my weight is still increasing!”


“I have skipped breakfast and been to the gym twice today, but the scale has gone up!”

Do these statements sound like you?? Because if it does, and you are watching your calories or even restricting them to low levels… doesn’t mean you will magically lose weight.

Here are the “whys” to all this…

It could be that you’ve got something going on in your gut that could be causing an environment that will cause your body to hold onto the weight, or it could be that you have played the calorie restriction for too long, that your metabolism has completely stopped which we call this the “diet backlash.” Another concept is that the small intake of calories could be calories that aren’t geared for repairing and healing the underlying root cause for the weight gain.

Weight gain and weight loss isn’t an easy question to answer in a general blog post, but I can give you some general tips and actions that could get you moving in the right direction. Just remember there are no one-size-fits-all paths and that we are each unique inside and out… so losing weight will be a unique journey too!

Okay… so here are the tips and actions… we will start with the metabolism portion of this blog post.

How we cause our Metabolism decline….

Most people believe their metabolism is the reason for their weight gain since they see it primarily as how fast or slow they process their foods. This isn’t wholly incorrect because a person’s metabolism breaks down food and converts it into energy. However, there is so much more than that when it comes to a person’s metabolism. When the metabolism breaks down our foods, it makes various links and building blocks to support healing and creating muscles and cells. The metabolism also helps remove a person’s waste from the body, including the liver and kidneys.

The reason for this explanation is that if you aren’t taking care of your metabolism, how can it do everything it needs to do to care for you?? Here are some reasons why your metabolism isn’t taking care of you-

  • Not enough calories (the reason why I don’t encourage calorie counting) Lack of quality movement Lack of water intake Eating processed foods and/or high sugars Lack of sleep High-stress levels as restriction will cause which causes high levels of cortisol. Not eating enough protein throughout the day Yo-yo dieting creates confusion in your body

Okay, if you have read up to this point, I am going to ask you to be completely honest with yourself how many of the above have you done in the past 24 hours, week, month, or year?? Believe it or not, I have been guilty of these for many, many years, and it wasn’t until about seven years ago or so that I decided to jump off the diet roller coaster. I have done everything from Weight Watchers to the hot dog diet and even things that are non-reversible for weight loss. These reasons why our metabolisms aren’t working correctly affect us as we age and allow the weight to creep up the more we age. So how can we increase or boost our metabolism??

How to increase our Metabolism …

Are you ready??

This may not be easy for some of you to read as it’s so ingrained in us that to lose weight is to restrict, and the information provided can be so confusing and misleading at times, or it is just plain outdated, but that’s for another day. Here are the steps to increase or boost your metabolism-

The first step--- STOP RESTRICTING YOUR CALORIE OR FOOD INTAKE! I know this is a tough one for most people because we are so used to hearing that the only way or the best way to lose weight is by restricting our calories or food intake.

This step isn’t meant to go from zero to 60; you need to increase slowly and steadily. If you have no idea how much you are eating currently, you should start with a mood-food journal for just one day. Please note that I am NOT encouraging logging your foods to become obsessed but understanding your intake and how you feel.

Suppose you keep this food- mood journal or diary and find that you only consume 1200 calories or less per day. In that case, you are eating too little for your metabolism to work, and your cortisol levels will increase. Another important detail is that this number is different for everyone. Food intake or calories should be based on your needs and your symptoms. Again, this food-mood log should only be for one day but no more than three days as I am NOT big on encouraging food logging because it can become an obsession. Please don’t do this every day.

Suppose you’re eating 1200 calories or less per day. In that case, you’re eating too little to support your internal systems, causing some systems to completely shut down, like your metabolism, and putting others in overdrive drives like stress and cortisol. Food intake should be targeted based on each person's needs like energy, age, movement, and so much more. Most people need more than 1200 calories per day and learn how to eat for their unique body vs. un-scientifically proved information from the billion dollars a year “diet culture” that isn’t geared toward a person but for profit. Hence, I target their food intake on them and their needs for each of my clients. Please reintroduce foods slowly!!

Next, watch your water intake. The majority of people in society don’t get enough. Beyond the obvious health benefits of drinking enough water, it also boosts our metabolism. Best way to drink water and ensure it’s enough to drink a lot and drink it early in the day! Make water part of your morning routine with 8-10 oz and continue throughout the day. The basic calculation is half your body in ounces but remembers foods provide water, movement decreases, and it shouldn’t be more than 100oz per day with a few exceptions.

Exercising or moving daily will also help boost your metabolism. Ensuring a good mix of strength training and cardiovascular exercises is essential, but too much of a good thing can also cause issues. So, please pay attention to how your body feels before, during, and after a workout, and don’t overdo it. Another aspect of women tends to focus on how many calories are being burned, but the truth is you need muscles for numerous reasons. I may expand on this in another blog post, but the main thing here is don’t be afraid to move, pick weights, and get that body the self-care it deserves. The movement will ramp up your metabolism naturally.

Why Caloric Restriction isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…

We’ve been told for years that you must have less intake and more out through burning it off with exercise. There’s even a formula for calculating how many calories need to go in and how many calories need to go out, all in the name of losing weight. These methods are factually incorrect and vague in considering a person’s age, ailments, and unique biochemistry, that not every calorie is the same and that we all are too unique for a generalization that these give. A lot is missing from these idealisms and calculations. It leaves you with more questions than answers, like:

  • What kind of food should I eat and not eat?

  • How many calories is the right amount, and how many should I burn off?

  • How often do I need to work out? Is it 30 minutes a day or 60 minutes a day, or every other day?

  • If I cut fat or sugar, I can cut calories…that’s good... Right?

See…lots of questions. Then you have people pushing, “a calorie is a calorie.” No. And I wish they’d stop pushing these phases and other nonsense that doesn’t equate to health and weight loss.

So, do you need to restrict your calories?

This is a complex question because the answer is - Yes and no. There are so many different factors and needs that need to be considered.


For instance, I had a client that came to me for weight loss. She couldn’t lose weight at all. She was barely eating 1200 calories, doing keto with keto powders and meals (fad diet), having symptoms of headaches, being unable to sleep through the night, and more. When she ate, she ate vegetables, some proteins, and very few fats. She avoided processed foods and sugars, even fruits. And she was gaining weight due to hormones- cortisol increasing and the lack of food intake.

Once the client ditched the fad keto diet and increased foods that included vegetables, fruits, proteins, and fats that supported her body and the amount of movement she did, she noticed that her body began to maintain then eventually, with slow and steady steps, her body was able to reclaim various systems and functions so that they were able to lose the 10 pounds they wanted to lose. They have been able to keep the weight off with the adjustments, and they now understand how food affects them and how much they need to take in to sustain their body.

This took about four months as it was hard to leave the mindset behind about restricting foods and a lot of re-learning how to balance their food intake so that their body could come out of survival mode and allow their body to heal from the backlash so it could do what it was meant to do along.

Does this example sound familiar??

Weight loss can be a challenging journey to figure out. And yes, for some, it’s easy. However, if you do not know where to start or what changes to make or what a food plan should look like … then start by checking out how your metabolism and ask yourself these questions-

  • Are you restricting foods like fruits, fats, etc.?

  • Are you restricting calories?

  • Are you drinking enough water?

  • Are you moving enough?

If you feel that you’ve done everything… call me!!

If you follow anything I say here or elsewhere – there is no “one size fits all,” no magic wand or pill. Everyone is different, so try one thing to ramp up your metabolism and work until it’s a habit, then pick another, and so on…

In the comments, let me know one thing you are working on today to ramp up your metabolism and/or one thing you’ve done to tank your metabolism. We don’t learn until we chat about it…


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Feinman, R. D., & Fine, E. J. (2004). “A calorie is a calorie” violates the second law of thermodynamics. Nutrition journal, 3, 9.

Mann T, Tomiyama AJ, Westling E, Lew AM, Samuels B, Chatman J. Medicare's search for effective obesity treatments: diets are not the answer. Am Psychol. 2007 Apr;62(3):220-33. Doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.62.3.220. PMID: 17469900.

Tomiyama AJ, Mann T, Vinas D, Hunger JM, Dejager J, Taylor SE. Low calorie dieting increases cortisol. Psychosom Med. 2010 May;72(4):357-64. Doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181d9523c. Epub 2010 Apr 5. PMID: 20368473; PMCID: PMC2895000.

Whigham, L. D., Valentine, A. R., Johnson, L. K., Zhang, Z., Atkinson, R. L., & Tanumihardjo, S. A. (2012). Raised vegetable and fruit consumption during weight loss efforts correlates with increased weight and fat loss. Nutrition & diabetes, 2(10), e48.


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