When Doing More Means Losing Less

by Dean McKillop 7166 views Weight Loss

When Doing More Means Losing Less

Often you hear of someone embarking on a new weight loss challenge going “hard out”. They start their new journey, they cut out all the processed foods, remove sugar, reduce carbs, minimise fruit in fear of fructose and they begin an intense training program. They mean right, but boy are they wrong

You see, weight loss as a concept is a very simple thing…

You eat less than your body needs to maintain its current state and your body is forced to break down stored energy (carbs and fats) in order for it to maintain the same energy demands you put on it (through daily activity etc). 

For example…Let's say you are 100kg, you walk 8000 steps each day, don’t do any training and you are an office worker eating 3300kcal per day.

When we look at your stats we realise that the maths on this equation pretty much adds up and your expected calories required to maintain that weight is in fact around 3000-3300kcal per day.

But you’re unhappy with how you look and feel so you make some changes overnight…

  • You cut out the junk food
  • You stop snacking in between meals
  • You increase your vegetable intake
  • You swap 1-2 meals for a protein shake

And... you start a training program with your PT at your local gym doing 3 weight sessions per week.

By default, you have cut calorie intake down purely by focusing on better food choices and you have double-downed on the fat loss equation by both reducing your input (food) and increasing your output through training.

You are destined to lose body fat…

You are winning at the maths equation, and you will continue to do so provided you don’t try and turn it into a trigonometry equation.

But, inevitably, a lot of people do turn it into more than it needs to be and that is where I believe doing less can often lead to losing more.

You see... All too often people start out with great intentions to change their habits, and their efforts are nothing short of commendable.

But here is the reality…If you can’t see yourself doing what you are doing today, 12 months from now, you won't win the long race.

Instead, you will sprint to a goal like so many do on their pathway to weight loss only to hit reverse and end up back where you started.

You WENT TOO HARD TOO EARLY! Look… I get it, you are sick of feeling and looking the way you do.

But changing habits takes time and the habits you have now have more than likely been formed over years and years of potential bad behaviours, poor eating patterns and a lack of exercise.


Thrusting yourself into extreme change, albeit admirable, is not always the answer to long-term success. It’s a recipe for disaster…

You start with cutting out some foods, and then you end up omitting more and more as time goes on, dwindling your list of 'approved foods' to just 5 or 6 things.

You begin to walk during breaks while at work to get your steps up and before you know it you are then doing bodyweight squats in the toilets to burn more calories.

You lose 1kg in week 1 but then only 500g in week 2 and your answer to this perceived problem is to do more exercise in week 3.

In a nutshell, you chase a never-ending goal of fast weight loss through extreme undereating, coupled with intense overtraining. You mean well and you will probably get results in the short term, but fast forward to 3 months later and you are burned out, tired, irritable and no longer going to social gatherings that involve food.

This does not sound like success to me...Then BAM! You crash, you begin to overeat, you exercise less because you're overtired and the weight comes piling back on.

You did too much and now you are about to lose less, even worse, gain more.

So, what is the solution?

Do less to lose more! Start with a small change in dietary behaviour, add in some daily activity goals that are both enjoyable and achievable.

Then, as time passes and your behaviour change begins to feel like your new ‘norm’ add in a little more exercise or control your diet a little more rigidly.

Focus on finding a dietary and exercise protocol that you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life.

Because remember... if you can't see yourself doing what you are doing today, 12 months from now, then your approach needs to change.

It is not about doing more, to lose more. Sometimes you need to do less and just let time take its course. 

Dean McKillop

Exercise Scientist

I completed my Exercise Science Degree at the University of QLD and have worked in the fitness industry for over 8 years, including a short stint at the Brisbane Broncos in 2010 as a student. I also hold my Level 2 Strength and Conditioning Coach accreditation (ASCA) and have competed in 1 bodybuilding season, placing 2nd at the IFBB u85kg Nationals.

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