Eating Less is Not Better

Eating Less is Not Better

Eat less.  Workout more.

Who’s heard that before?  I have.  You probably have.

And on the surface it makes sense, right?

If I want to lose weight, and drop body fat, you need to eat less and be more active.  This creates a negative energy balance and elicits weight loss.

MyFitnessPal certainly leads us to believe things work this simply.  More on this later.

You Probably Know This Doesn’t Work Forever, Though…

Any diet works for a little while.  Starving yourself will help you lose weight for at least SOME amount of time.  And let’s be honest, it’s exciting when clothes begin to fit better.

You might find yourself saying, “it’s working!”

What’s probably happening is your body is slowing down its’ metabolism.  Your body is not stupid.

Let’s say your resting metabolic rate (RMR) is 1500 calories/day.  This means, if you did nothing [and I mean nothing] in a day, your body requires 1500 calories just to perform its’ most basic life sustaining functions.

When we factor in stress, work, moving around during the day, exercise, and anything else which might increase your energy burn, this raises your daily requirement for intake.  But… we will use 1500 for argument’s sake.

If I am eating 1200 calories per day, I am at a negative energy balance and my body will be forced to drop weight.

This is good, right?

Well, not exactly.

Skeletal muscle maintenance, hair growth, and nail growth [for examples] are deemed as unnecessary functions by your body.  Your body will find processes it needs to slow down to meet the intake you’re giving it.

In other words, you need more than 1500 calories, you’re giving it 1200, your body will slow itself down until its’ functioning at 1200 (or less).

Have You Ever Experienced Weight Loss and Then it Stopped?

Well, this is probably why.  Your body slows things down until it meets what you’re giving it and then [BOOM], no more negative energy balance and no more weight loss.

Here’s the other problem:  You.  Are.  Constantly.  Hungry.

This is no way to live because when you can’t meet this basic need, it’s hard to focus on anything else.  Think Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

You were hungry when you started the diet but there was weight loss.  Now, you’re hungry still and there is no more weight loss and when you go back to eating the way you did before?  Well, hello aggressive weight gain!

Hardly seems worth it.

Here’s a Simple Solution…

While energy balance does, in fact, matter, it is not the only thing to consider when coming up with a plan.

First:  Make sure you’re eating enough.  You can go HERE to estimate your caloric needs.  This is definitely not the gold standard but can get you in the ballpark.  I’d suggest talking to a nutrition professional.  We have one in our gym!

Make sure you are NOT below your RMR when you’re eating.

Second:  Rather than thinking, “I need to cut all these things out,” think “I’m going to introduce a bunch of better things.”  Think of it this way, if I eat way more veggies and proteins I’m going to be less inclined to eat a bunch of starches and sugars.

Satiety is satiety.

Third:  Eat your starches based on your activity level.  If I was active today, maybe I add an additional serving of starch.  If I was not active today, I will NOT add that extra serving of starch.

I say extra because it probably shouldn’t be above 3 servings of starch regardless if you worked out today or not.

For example:  I might normally have a single serving of starch with no working out in that day.  I would have a second serving [post workout] of starch if I did workout in that day.

Finally:  If you’re constantly hungry, your body is trying to tell you something.  Don’t ignore it.

You, and your loved ones, will be better for it!  #JustSayNoToHangry

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