I have been tracking my calorie intake and expenditure for 18 months. I am maintaining my weight and getting stronger, which I assume means increased muscle and less fat. However my fat loss (by visual inspection) does not appear to be anywhere close to my predictions. IE I should have lost far more fat than I have seen.

I have assumed:

  1. Body fat is 7500 calories per kilo.
  2. Machines give an accurate estimate of calories burnt.
  3. Food gives an accurate count of calories contained stated on the packet.
  4. I have not included Basal Rate of Metabolism, it is effectively zero in my model.

And yet I am losing far less fat that I should be. Is there something I am missing? How can my predictions be so badly wrong?

  • 2
    In my experience: 2) not at all. 3) not at all, weigh it yourself and look for the most accurate databases out there (check myfitnesspal). Regarding 4), what do you mean that you have ignored it?
    – erictrigo
    Feb 4, 2016 at 17:18
  • @Antrim Thank you for your comment, I will look at fittnesspall. And in 4) by ignore I mean not included, so in my model I only burn energy by exercise. Another reason my prediction seems so bad.
    – PStag
    Feb 4, 2016 at 20:23
  • If you assume a car only burns gas when you accelerate, you're going to come out a bit off.
    – Noumenon
    Feb 4, 2016 at 20:26
  • 1
    @PStag It is much, much easier to create a caloric deficit large enough to lose fat by not eating as much as usual than by doing crazy amounts of exercise. Isn't it easier to not eat a taco than running for an hour?
    – erictrigo
    Feb 5, 2016 at 8:48
  • In my experience, machine estimates of calories burnt vary in quality between "wild guess" and "outright lie".
    – Mark
    May 26, 2016 at 1:43

3 Answers 3


Food packaging is based on averages it is more or less right sometimes you'll get more calories, sometimes less.

Most of your calories are spent on maintaining your body's functions. (About 3/4 in fact)

You would have to be doing some incredibly hard exercise to lose weight through exercise alone.

The most likely thing is your not tracking your calories as well as you think you are. Your brain needs about 500 calories, so it's not surprising the organ makes you think you're tracking calories properly.

Rather than tracking calories, the next time your full measure fixed amounts in cups/jugs and be strict about the serving portions you measured when you were full. Write them down.

Don't measure calories it's a terrible idea for your mental health.

  • I agree with your answer. Also there are times where our body reach a plateau ie not losing or gaining weight. When that happens just stick with your diet.
    – Aizul
    Feb 5, 2016 at 0:09
  • @Aizul Why would you stick to something that stopped working for you?
    – erictrigo
    Feb 5, 2016 at 9:24
  • What do you mean when you say "about 3/4 of calories are being spent maintaining your body's functions"? And why would you suggest someone to not track calories? It's an effective way of keeping track what you're doing.
    – MJB
    Jul 20, 2017 at 5:53

Your assumption #2 is wrong. Typical fitness trackers have an error of between 30% and 90% when estimating calorie burn, and exercise machines don't do any better.


Getting Basal or Resting Metabolic Rate Measurement will explain most of it. Please go to nearby laboratory and ask for it, they will explain what to do for the test and you will have accurate number for your Metabolism. I believe your BM is getting slower and you almost reached your plateau. Try different combinations of training such as intervals and for weight lifting 1 MR will help you get the next level and weight losing will start again. Diversify your training :-)Keep up the good work.

  • 1
    "I believe your BM is getting slower". Exactly. As you eat less, your energy expenditure diminishes and you need to lower the calories more and more to keep losing weight.The body adapts.
    – Idri K
    Jul 20, 2017 at 2:25

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