Why Your Calories Don't Add Up!

Why Your Calories Don’t Add Up!

Are you frustrated with counting your calories and still not seeing the results you expected? Have you ever wondered why some foods seem to have more calories than they should? In this blog post, we will take a deep dive into the world of calories, exploring the common misconceptions and mistakes people make when it comes to counting calories. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of why your calories don’t always add up and how you can make better-informed choices to achieve your diet and fitness goals.

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Accredited Practicing Dietitian
APD. Holly Baxter
Ms. Dietetics
Bs. Food Science & Nutrition
Online Nutrition & Physique Coach
2x Natural World Champion Fitness Model

For all coaching inquiries, please email me


You’ve got the perfect diet plan in front of you. You’ve carefully calculated your daily caloric intake and have been sticking to it with religious fervor. But after days of being on your diet, you’re still gaining weight! How could this be? The answer is that calories don’t always add up as we expect them to. In this article, we will delve into the reasons why our calories don’t always add up.

Calories – The Basics

Before we dive into this topic, let’s get a clear understanding of what calories are and how they work. A calorie is a unit of energy that our body uses for fuel. We consume calories through the food we eat and the drinks we consume. When we consume more calories than we burn, we gain weight. Conversely, if we burn more calories than we consume, we lose weight. Sounds simple enough, right?

Calories Don’t Always Add Up

Despite the simplicity of the calories in versus calories out formula for weight management, there are several reasons why our calories don’t always add up as we expect them to.

  1. Not all calories are created equal:
    Different types of calories have a different effect on our bodies. For example, 100 calories of broccoli will have a very different effect on our digestion and nutrient absorption than 100 calories of ice cream.

  2. Calorie tracking is not always accurate:
    We might think we’re accurately tracking the number of calories we consume, but it’s often not that simple. Serving sizes can be misleading, food labels can be inaccurate, and restaurant portions can be larger than we expect.

  3. Our body adapts to calorie intake:
    Our body is highly adaptable. When we limit our caloric intake for an extended period, our body adjusts by slowing down our metabolism to conserve energy. This means that we need fewer calories to function, and once we return to our normal caloric intake, we may end up gaining weight.

  4. Stress and hormones affect calorie usage:
    Stress and hormonal imbalances can have a significant impact on our weight management journey. Stress causes an increase in our cortisol levels, which can cause weight gain, especially around the belly area.

  5. Underlying medical conditions:
    Certain medical conditions can affect calorie usage and weight management. These include hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).


  1. Can I still lose weight if my calories don’t add up as expected?
    Yes, you can still lose weight, but you may need to look at other factors that could be affecting your weight loss journey, such as stress and hormonal imbalances.

  2. How can I ensure that I am accurately tracking my calories?
    One way to ensure you are accurately tracking your calories is to invest in a food scale and measuring cups. You can also use online resources to double check calorie information.

  3. What types of food have a higher thermic effect?
    Protein has a higher thermic effect than fat and carbohydrates. This means that your body uses more energy to digest protein than it does to digest fat or carbs.

  4. Will my metabolism ever go back to normal after reducing my caloric intake for an extended period?
    Yes, your metabolism can return to normal if you gradually increase your caloric intake and engage in regular exercise.

  5. How do I know if I have an underlying medical condition affecting my weight management?
    If you have been consistently tracking your calories, engaging in regular exercise, and are still not seeing results, it may be worth consulting a medical professional to rule out any underlying medical conditions.


Weight management is not as simple as calories in versus calories out. Several factors influence our weight loss journey, including the type of calories we consume, the accuracy of calorie tracking, our body’s adaptation to calorie intake, stress and hormonal imbalances, and underlying medical conditions. By understanding these factors, we can make more informed decisions to reach our weight loss goals.