Why am I not losing weight at 800 calories?

There are several possible reasons why you may not be losing weight even though you are eating only 800 calories per day. Some common causes include inaccurate calorie counting, a slowed metabolism, eating too many processed foods, not exercising enough, not drinking enough water, and medical conditions that affect weight loss. Getting to the root cause of why you are not losing weight is important so you can make the necessary changes to your diet and lifestyle to start seeing results.

Are you tracking calories accurately?

One of the most common reasons people struggle to lose weight on a very low calorie diet is inaccurate calorie tracking. It’s extremely easy to underestimate portion sizes, forget to track cooking oils and beverages, or miss hidden calories in sauces and condiments. Even an extra 100-200 calories per day can be enough to prevent weight loss over time. Here are some tips for improving calorie tracking accuracy:

  • Weigh and measure portions with a food scale and measuring cups
  • Track everything that goes in your mouth – snacks, tastes, oils, creamers, etc.
  • Read nutrition labels carefully and track servings accurately
  • Use a calorie counting app to simplify the tracking process
  • Compare your estimated intake to your expected weight loss based on your calorie deficit

If you think you may be underestimating your calorie intake, try tracking more diligently for 1-2 weeks while also weighing yourself daily to determine if you are in as large of a calorie deficit as you think.

Is your metabolism slower than expected?

Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body burns at rest just to perform basic bodily functions. Some people naturally have faster or slower metabolisms that cause them to burn more or fewer calories per day. Drastically cutting calories can also cause metabolic adaptation over time, meaning your metabolism slows down in order to function on less energy. This makes continued weight loss more challenging. Ways to boost a sluggish metabolism include:

  • Increasing lean muscle mass through strength training
  • Eating enough protein (at least 0.5-1g per pound of body weight)
  • Staying well hydrated
  • Getting enough sleep (7-9 hours per night)
  • Managing stress
  • Adding HIIT or bursts of cardio to your workouts
  • Consuming metabolism-boosting foods like green tea, coffee, spices, etc.

If your metabolism seems slower than expected, incorporating some of these strategies may help increase your calorie burn and improve weight loss.

Are you eating a lot of processed foods?

Even when calories are low, eating a diet high in processed foods can prevent weight loss in some people. Processed foods like frozen meals, fast food, packaged snacks, and baked goods tend to be low in nutrients. They also contain ingredients that may disrupt the hormonal signals involved in hunger, satiety, and weight control. Eating whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible can help regulate appetite and metabolism. Focus on filling your diet with lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

How much exercise are you getting?

Exercise is extremely important for boosting metabolism, building muscle, and facilitating weight loss. If your daily calorie intake is very low, but you are not exercising or moving much, you may struggle to lose weight. Aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, running, cycling, and swimming helps burn calories and prevents muscle loss when dieting. Strength training is also key for maintaining metabolism-boosting muscle. Aim for at least 30-60 minutes of exercise most days to see improved weight loss at 800 calories per day. Going for a walk after meals can also help boost your daily calorie burn.

Are you drinking enough water?

Proper hydration is crucial when eating a very low calorie diet. Dehydration can slow metabolism, cause water retention, and lead to excess water weight. Make a point to drink water, unsweetened tea, and other no-calorie beverages throughout the day. Get at least 64 ounces (2 liters) of water daily, or more if you are exercising and sweating. Adding lemon, mint, cucumber or fruit to your water can help make it more enjoyable to drink regularly. Upping your water intake may help flush out excess water weight.

Could a medical issue be causing a plateau?

In some cases, an underlying medical condition may be preventing weight loss even with a low calorie intake. Issues that can stall weight loss include hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), Cushing’s disease, insulin resistance, depression, and stress. If you are eating well below your TDEE but not losing, speak to your doctor about getting relevant blood tests done to check for any problems. Treating the underlying condition may help get your weight loss back on track.

Tips to Break Through a Weight Loss Plateau at 800 Calories

Here are some additional strategies to try if you’ve hit a weight loss plateau even though consuming around 800 calories per day:

  • Take a diet break at maintenance calories for 1-2 weeks to boost metabolism
  • Increase daily step count or add HIIT workouts
  • Cut back on artificial sweeteners, diet soda, and sugar-free foods
  • Consider intermittent fasting to give insulin levels a break
  • Reduce sodium intake to drop water weight
  • Eat more lean protein and fiber to control hunger
  • Evaluate medications that may be contributing to weight gain
  • Address stress, sleep issues, and other lifestyle factors
  • Seek help from a registered dietitian or doctor

Making even small tweaks to your diet, activity level, and other habits can help get weight moving in the right direction again. Be patient and consistent with changes to see the scale budge.

Is 800 calories too low to lose weight?

While an 800 calorie diet may produce short-term weight loss, it is an extremely low intake that is difficult to maintain and unhealthy long-term for most people. Severely restricting calories can cause the following problems:

  • Nutrient deficiencies and muscle loss as the body breaks down tissue for energy
  • Extreme hunger, food cravings and potential binge eating due to metabolic changes
  • Fatigue, irritability, and increased risk of disordered eating habits
  • A suppressed immune system and loss of bone density over time

For optimal health and sustainable weight loss, women are advised to eat at least 1200 calories per day, while men should aim for at least 1500 calories. Losing 1-2 pounds per week on average is a safer recommendation.

Healthy Approaches for Effective Weight Loss

Here are some healthy, evidence-based strategies for weight loss you can try instead of an 800 calorie diet:

  • Calculate your TDEE and create a moderate daily calorie deficit of 500-750 calories from that number.
  • Fill your diet with lean proteins, produce, whole grains and healthy fats.
  • Strength train 2-3x per week to build metabolism-boosting muscle.
  • Do 150-300 minutes of moderate cardio exercise per week.
  • Drink water before meals and choose lower calorie beverages.
  • Manage stress through meditation, yoga, journaling, etc.
  • Get 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night.
  • Weigh yourself weekly under the same conditions to track progress.

Focusing on sustainable, realistic changes to your diet and lifestyle is the healthiest approach for long-term weight loss success.


Not losing weight at 800 calories per day can be incredibly frustrating. But severe calorie restriction is not effective or advisable for most people. Take a look at your calorie tracking accuracy, food choices, activity levels, medications, and stress management. Rule out any medical issues with your doctor. And be patient – the scale may take time to reflect the changes you are making. Focus on building healthy habits you can maintain lifelong, not just short-term results. With the right troubleshooting and modifications, you will start seeing the number on the scale go down in a healthy, sustainable way over time.

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