“YOU’RE NOT EATING ENOUGH TO LOSE WEIGHT” IS AWFUL ADVICE
“You’re not eating enough to lose weight” sounds like the news we’ve all been waiting for, right?
I mean, bring on the f**king pancakes!
But is it true? Is it really possible that you’re not eating enough calories to lose weight? Heck, have you been dieting WRONG this entire time?
Today I’m going to look into this issue and help you debunk some bad fitness myths that have caught on in recent years. And ‘influencers’ beware; I’m bringing the science down HARD on this one!
IS STARVATION MODE REAL?
Some people believe that the body enters stavation mode if you’ve been too aggressive in cutting calories.
When this happens your metabolism will grind to a halt, your body will cling on to fat, and you’ll find it impossible to lose weight no matter how low you go in calories. Eventually this will put you into a state of FAT GAIN, even though your calories are lower than that of a mouse.
When people say “you’re not eating enough to lose weight”, this is what they’re suggesting is happening to you.
Sounds scary, right?
Well, the good news is that you don’t need to worry about this. Starvation mode (or at least, metabolic adaptation) IS a real thing, but it’s actually very difficult to achieve. (1)
The problem with this type of advice is that as soon as people hit a wall with their weight loss results they believe there’s something wrong with their body – and 99.9% of the time, there isn’t.
In my 20 years of working in the fitness industry, I can tell you that the vast majority of the time there’s another culprit responsible for the lack of results…
“I’M EATING 1000 CALORIES PER DAY AND CAN’T LOSE WEIGHT!”
I WISH it was as simple as eating more food.
Believe me, if I thought I could smash a pizza and drop 10lbs, I’d get a face tan from sitting in front of the oven watching it cook.
Unfortunately, it’s bulls**t.
The number 1 reason I see people struggling to lose weight on what I would consider LOW daily calories is that their trainers have given them nutrition plans which overlook the #1 factor in a successful weight loss diet: SUSTAINABILITY.
We know that there’s never (EVER) been any academic research showing that INCREASING calories causes weight loss. None. In fact, there’s stacks of research showing the opposite is true. (2, 3, 4, 5)
And in a previous article I explained how calories in versus calories out is the deciding factor in whether you gain or lose weight, and showed you that total calorie balance even over-rides which macronutrients those calories come from.
(So yes, you can gain weight eating only chicken and broccoli if you eat too much – which is a f**king terrible way of gaining weight!)
So what’s really going on when somebody says “I only eat 1000 calories per day and can’t lose weight!” – are they ‘broken’?
This is usually a sign that somebody has gone too hard with their diet, and are finding it too hard to sustain their lifestyle long enough to see any results from it. (6)
As an example, I’m inventing a fictional female character for the sake of this article, let’s call her Rose.
Rose cuts down to 1000 calories per day, and generally lasts until about Friday before frustration takes over and she goes off track at the weekend, before starting up again next Monday morning.
This is a lifestyle a lot of people have.
Let’s break the numbers down…
If Rose was previously eating about 1800 calories per day before she started dieting, that’s 13,000 calories per week. She may not have known this was her number if she wasn’t tracking, but her body doesn’t give a flying f**k.
If she cuts down to just 1000 calories per day she’d be eating only 7000 calories per week, which puts her into a MEGA CALORIE DEFICIT and she’d DEFINITELY lose weight.
So why isn’t she?
Well, because one thousand calories per day is so challenging that she can only stick to it for a few days at a time, so instead we get 1k calories Monday to Thursday then 3k calories on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
That’s 13,000 calories per week, which is NOT a deficit. Therefore, she will NOT lose weight – despite feeling like she’s always on a diet.
Remember, your nutrition plan is a numbers game. If something isn’t working, it’s because the numbers are off somewhere.
So in Rose’s case it isn’t that she’s not eating enough calories to lose weight, but rather she’s not eating enough calories to make her diet sustainable.
She’d be better off increasing her regular daily calories to around 1600 per day. This would give her 12,250 per week, which puts her into a calorie deficit and will result in weight loss.
When the inevitable metabolic adaptations occur and weight loss begins to plateau, she can lower this figure slightly and unlock more results.
(Plus she’d find her daily diet MUCH EASIER to stick to, and her friends won’t need to worry if she’s going to throw a headbutt their way at any given moment.)
Make sense? GREAT!!!
The next time you hear somebody claiming they’re not eating enough to lose weight, feel free to share this article with them or nominate them for a Nobel Prize for being the only person in history to defy the law of thermodynamics.
- Camps, S., et al. Weight loss, weight maintenance, and adaptive thermogenesis. Am J Clin Nutr (2013)
- Howell S., et al. “Calories in, calories out” and macronutrient intake: the hope, hype, and science of calories. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. (2017)
- Leibel R.L., et al. Energy intake required to maintain body weight is not affected by wide variation in diet composition . Am J Clin Nutr. (1992)
- Golay A., et al. Similar weight loss with low- or high-carbohydrate diets. Am J Clin Nutr. (1996)
- Golay A., et al. Weight-loss with low or high carbohydrate diet. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. (1996)
- Stewart T. M., et al. Rigid vs. flexible dieting: association with eating disorder symptoms in nonobese women. Appetite. (2002)