By: Dr. Keith Kantor
Reducing calories is necessary to lose weight, but eating too few may actually push you further from your weight-loss goals. It is common for people to become extremely motivated to lose weight and they have will power and little patience resulting in torturous exercise and calorie restriction. They lose a tremendous amount of weight but that lifestyle is not easy to maintain and our hormones fight the abuse of excessive exercise and calorie restriction. This severe calorie restriction can cause rapid weight loss at first, but weight gain in the long run. The weight gain causes a yo-yo dieting pattern, reduced quality of life, an overall feeling of defeat and possible health issues with your hormone balance, insulin mechanism and immune disorders.
There is hope for those who have dieted most of their lives; you can slowly repair your metabolism to get used to normal food and calorie consumption. Set a goal of balancing your calories so you have enough deficit to promote weight loss, while still getting the calories and nutrients needed to maintain health, metabolism and lose weight safely for long term results. The best way to promote healthy weight loss is to not only look at the number of calories per day but a macro nutrient balance.
Macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein, fat, water and fiber. An optimal balance of these nutrients will promote healthy weight loss, and leave you feeling satisfied throughout the day, rather than a ravenous dieter. We promote higher heart healthy fat consumption, moderate protein, high fiber and low carbohydrate diet. The macronutrient ranges vary based off of your goals, factoring in activity, lifestyle, total weight and body fat you would like to lose.
Recommended Macro-nutrient percentages per day:
Give Intermittent Fasting a Try Instead
Instead of grazing on small meals and snacks dally like some diet books promote, try intermittent fasting. This method of eating is gaining popularity for its benefits to not only improve insulin levels, promote weight loss, and train your body to utilize its own fat as a fuel source, rather than relying on the last meal or snack as fuel. Allow yourself a 5-8 hour window of your day to consume food. To start I recommend too most people- skip either your first or last meal of the day or better yet have a healthy protein shake as an intermittent fasting technique. In addition to the aesthetic benefits most people find, they are able to think more clearly, have sharper focus and better control of their emotions when they practice intermittent fasting.
Calorie Deficit Increases Cortisol and May Stall Weight Loss
A paper published in the May 2010 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, warns that clinical data strongly link excess calorie restriction to weight gain due to increases in cortisol. Hormonal checks and balances are thrown off when the body is put under stress, which promotes fat storage. Cortisol triggers the release of insulin, which plays a role in storing calories for future fuel use. The psychological stress caused by calorie deprivation increases cortisol as well, according to the authors. These results suggest that the physiological and psychological effects of calorie restriction work against weight loss.
Brian Wansink, Ph.D and author of the best seller “Mindless Eating,” has found through his years of research on food, behavior and nutrition, that successful weight loss that yields long-term results is for those who only lose a ¼ or ½ of pound per week at the most. Changing too many behaviors at once can cause the body to panic resulting in weight gain later on. Small changes yield big results.
Not Eating Enough Slows Metabolism
Eating too few calories sends your body into starvation mode, causing your body to preserve energy by slowing the amount of calories you burn. Researchers confirmed this in a study published in PloS One in 2009. Participants who cut their caloric intake by 25 percent experienced a reduction in metabolism, while volunteers who reduced calories by 12 percent did not. Maintaining a restricted caloric intake is, however, too difficult. Once you return to your normal eating habits, it’s common to regain the weight you lost and then some, due to the drop in metabolism from cutting calories too low. Your goal should be to reduce calories just enough to lose weight while exercising to burn more calories.
Calorie Restriction = Muscle Loss
Too few calories mean too few nutrients, and protein is one nutrient that plays a role in burning calories. Getting enough protein helps your body maintain and build lean mass. However, if you aren’t getting enough calories, you’re likely failing to supply your body with the amount of daily protein your muscles need to maintain themselves. The body responds by breaking down muscle for energy. Because muscle burns more calories than fat, it’s crucial to consume enough calories from protein. Losing muscle due to eating too few calories has a negative impact on your body composition and means that you’ll burn fewer calories than when you began cutting back. In this scenario, once you stop restricting calories, you’re at risk of gaining weight, resulting in the infamous yo-yo dieting concept.
Getting Enough Calories
The calories you need vary based on factors such as your age, activity level, baseline weight and gender. General advice is to avoid eating fewer than 1,200 calories if you’re female and fewer than 1,800 calories if you’re male. This prevents your body from sending food deprivation alarm bells and slowing your metabolism. If you’re worried about not burning enough calories, add aerobic and strength training exercise to boost your metabolism and enhance weight loss. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Losing weight gradually and consistently is a better way to manage weight long-term.
Calories in Calories Out Concept Does Not Work
If we could maintain our weight by eating within a calorie range no matter what we eat, then there would not be an obesity epidemic. Eating within the macronutrient target provided above will promote a healthy hormone balance specifically insulin. When insulin levels are not spiking and our body is trained to use it’s own fat stores as a fuel source, then we have created a fat burning metabolism.
Doughnuts are very low in nutrients and high in sugar and fat, two doughnuts contain about 400-600 calories, a salmon salad with oil and vinegar dressing on it also is about 400-600 calories, but the salmon salad is low in sugar and does not spike the insulin levels, it is a meal that trains your body to burn its own fat as a primary fuel source.
When people say they do not eat that much but they still cannot lose weight, they are most likely eating the wrong food and macronutrient balance.
Consume foods that are rich in quality protein including certified all natural and chemically pure beef, poultry, seafood, pork and eggs. The omega 3 fatty acids from cold water fish, nuts, seeds, avocados, pure coconut and olive oil are essential for a healthy diet to meet the macronutrient daily recommendations. Lastly, fibrous low carbohydrate vegetables and some fruits will also promote an optimal insulin level, resulting in a high functioning metabolism.
Foods to include Daily:
- Protein: Certified all Natural chicken, turkey, eggs, fish, pork, beef
- Produce: Certified All natural dark leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, carrots, zucchini, berries, avocados and most vegetables that are low carbohydrate are acceptable
- Healthy Fats: coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, seeds, nuts, nut butters, real butter and cold water fish, like salmon.
photo credit- www.self.com