So, there are going to be two spins to this article because I feel that many times (actually more often than not), I get an email that someone is eating 1800-2000 calories and they tell me that they have been strict on this for awhile with no results, and feel as if the reason that they are not losing weight is because they are eating too little. Okay, everyone is very different but 1800 calories is not so low that it's going to have this effect. If you are going to go into a true "starvation" then this is going to be something that none of us have ever experienced, and honestly is a really bad way of saying things. FIRSTWORLDPROBZ, we have no idea what starvation is.
But, what is this that everyone talks about that you have to eat ENOUGH to lose weight? Energy in has to be less than energy out whether that be through nutrition or working out. I always say that working out is completely not even necessary if you have your nutrition on point, but in the same respect if you are working out 15 hours per day then you can in fact "out train a bad diet" because at the end of the day, it's that exchange of calories that is going to either make you gain fat or lose fat.
However, there is that place where your body sees what you are doing in restriction, and prevents that amount of calories out in order to maintain the energy balance, and there has to be some break in there to stop this. If you are someone that has dieted for a very long time and continuing with weight loss, then you are going to have to dip your calories lower and lower to be able to lose weight. There is a reduction in basal metabolic rates as you continue to lose weight, and this is your body's attempt at stopping this adaptive thermogenesis. It's quite frankly a little ridiculous that our bodies do this, and completely unfair! haha! But, if you have lost a lot of weight, and you hit that plateau then yes you can push forward. You just might need to take a break.
The fact of the matter is, more calorie restriction equals more weight loss. But, it becomes unhealthy. You can't eat 500 and 800 calories per day (duh, don't even go there). You want to keep your metabolism EFFICIENT which is why you begin a weight loss journey, you should keep your calories as high as possible. You don't want to cut to that golden 1200 calories immediately because this becomes almost like a "set point" and then you are going to have to go lower and lower if you reach that plateau. The other option is to take a break.
We have hormones in our bodies that control metabolism, and to keep those high, refeeds are used many times. This is a controlled increase in calories, and can play a vital role when trying to maintain metabolism in weight loss. You will retain water on these days most likely, but again, it's just water and it's better for you in the long run to have a day such as this.
You also want to make sure that you are keeping your protein high and resistance training of some sort. This doesn't have to be heavy lifting, but the goal in weight loss needs to ALWAYS be: How can I make my metabolism stronger? How can I burn more calories at rest? (basal metabolic rate) One way to help this is through resistance training and protein!
If you are eating 1000 calories per day and you have plateaued, then it would really benefit you to take some time and work on your metabolism whether that be through a slow increase with reverse dieting, or whether you just want to just take a break entirely or maybe just adding in refeed days. But, in order to break this point, you are going to have to either diet lower (NOT RECOMMENDED) or do something to let your body know that you are not in fact going to starve it. Sometimes lower calories like this can even make the body GAIN weight.
There is the opposite spin however and that's probably the best frequent one that I hear about. If you are eating 1800 calories per day, and you're like "I have been doing this diet for like a month now and haven't lost weight. I must not be eating enough." No, no no. Your body just simply does not need that much for fuel, and you need to decrease your calories to see results. You can change up the macro distribution to try more protein and less carbs or just reduce overall calories in general but you don't need to increase. That's not going to work.
Many times girls on my program lose weight on a reverse diet. I think there are two reasons for that, but one is very important to mention in this article. I think many times, the body finally breaks through the adaptive thermogenesis, and allows your body to actually believe that you are not going to starve while at the same time, you actually are intaking less than your body is burning so it finally almost releases those "fat cells from jail."
The other reason that I believe also that may not be as relevant to this is that many times girls are restricting most days and then having an all out binge session and even if that binge is only once per week, the body is going to just hang onto everything. Many times, with reverse dieting, people are able to break that binge cycle and the consistency of diet causes weight loss.
I feel as if this was not as streamlined as usual because it can be difficult to explain, but the most important parts are:
- Eat ya protein
- Lift ya weights (or some other form of resistance training)
- Don't eat so little that your body is fighting you
- If you've been dieting forever, take a small break or at least add a refeed day
With love and weight loss,