When you tell your friends or family that you’re looking to lose weight, they probably adopt a didactic tone and tell you that you simply need to, “Eat less and exercise more.” That’s easier said than done. First of all, it makes most people want to throw up their hands and exclaim, “WOW, thank you so much! I’m cured! Why didn’t I think of that?” Second of all, though, that simplistic view of weight loss can be incorrect.
Any diet that recommends simply eating less than 1,200 calories per day (depending on your gender, age and weight) is almost 100 percent likely to be a step in the wrong direction. Although it makes sense to us that eating fewer calories will cause us to lose weight, you must be careful not to eat too little. Not consuming enough calories can cause your body to go into what’s called “starvation mode,” which is thought to have been an adaptation our ancestors developed for survival. During this time, your body stores the fat you consume and instead burns muscle to provide it with the calories it needs to function. Over time, this leads to a significant loss in muscle causing the metabolic rate to slow down. A slow metabolic rate means any weight loss you initially expected will not occur.
Another problem with the “eat less” philosophy is it doesn’t take what you eat into consideration. If you limit yourself to a certain number of calories, (let’s say 2,000 just for the purpose of the upcoming example), and eat every single one of those calories in doughnuts, it’s guaranteed you will feel sluggish and/or sick. You won’t ever feel full and you will probably feel yourself losing most of your muscle and replacing that muscle with fat. After all, 2000 calories is only 7-10 doughnuts for your entire day and those doughnuts have practically no nutritional value. Eating less in general is important if you previously consumed four full plates of food at breakfast, lunch and dinner. But eating less junk food and more healthy food is just as important for your health and weight loss goals.
There isn’t really a set number of calories you can consume that marks the difference between experiencing weight loss and going into starvation mode. It all depends, as previously mentioned, on your gender, age and weight. However, being patient with your diet and allowing yourself to eat when you’re hungry can prevent you from reaching that point. Seeking guidance and making a weight loss plan (as opposed to letting your ‘diet’ consist of 10 doughnuts per day) can help you achieve your weight loss goals while receiving proper nutrients and ensuring your body is healthy.