Subscriber’s Secret Article 1

Is weight loss just about cutting calories?

What if I told you that cutting your calories can actually prevent you from burning fat and can actually make you fatter in the long term?

What about if I told you eating more can actually cause you to burn fat faster?

I know, it goes against everything you’ve ever heard before and probably sounds too good to be true. But the fact is, starving your system of calories can, if not correctly managed, have a very negative effect on your fat loss progress.

A calorie deficit is necessary

There is no getting around that. In order to lose weight and burn fat, you must create a calorie deficit. This is not speculation and it’s not up to debate. It is physics. The law of thermodynamics proves that without a calorie deficit, you cannot and will not burn fat and any diets or programmes that tell you calories don’t count are wrong.

There are many things in the fitness and nutrition field that are down to interpretation, but this is not one of them.

But I said eating less could damage your fat loss results, doesn’t that contradict this law?

Absolutely not! Remember, there is more than one value in any equation and in this case a deficit is calculated by comparing calories in to calories out. So, as long as you are burning more than you are consuming, you will be in a calorie deficit.

However, if your route is to simply cut your calorie intake to a minimum in order to lose as much fat as possible (and most popular diet programs take this route) you are likely to get an instant reaction and drop some weight. But most of that weight will be water not fat, some of it may be muscle tissue and very little will be fat.

Such a route has a very negative effect. Your body is a very sophisticated system and will always react and respond to anything you do to it. By starving yourself your system will start to shut down lowering your natural metabolism. Your fat cells will release less leptin (a hormone released to tell your brain you are well fed) and so your fat burning potential goes down with it.

The net effect is, you consume less, you slow your metabolism and so you burn less.

Now what do you do?

If you want to continue to see results, with this method your only option is to further reduce your calorie intake. But then the cycle continues. Eventually you are going to run out of calories to cut.

Your body will start sacrificing muscle tissue for fuel (maintaining muscle takes energy, so your body will panic and start getting rid of this energy draining material, which further lowers your metabolism)

Before too long your appetite will go into overdrive, taking over your thoughts and actions. Your hunger WILL get the better of you and eventually you are going to HAVE to eat more. However, now you are eating more, but with a slower metabolism. The net result is, even if you just go back to eating as you did before (and most people binge to a higher level after such a depletion) your calorie balance is much worse and you will store much higher levels of fat.

On top of that, if you try to diet again you will find it much harder the second time around as you are starting with a poorer metabolism from day one and it’s only going to get worse as you attempt to diet down again.

So let’s switch that around.

If eating less lowers your metabolism due to the thermic effect, then consuming more will, in turn, up your metabolic rate. A higher metabolism means more calories out.

There is a problem with that though, even with the thermic effect, you are obviously not going to burn off all the calories consumed just from the additional calorie burn. So you still have to ensure you keep your intake in check relative to your activity level.

However, if you then up your activity level, you obviously up the calorie burn. And given that calories are essentially energy, the more you consume the more energy you will have. The more energy you have, the more active you will be able to be and so the more calories you will burn.

Unlike the dieting route, there is no end to this cycle. You can obviously continue to up your energy expenditure and in return, that will allow you to eat more without tipping the scales the wrong way. And the more you can eat, the more energy you will have and so it goes on.

There are many ways to really tailor your calorie intake and expenditure to suit your specific goals and body type as well as generating the most efficient returns and I’ll touch on these in future articles.

But for now I’ll leave you with 5 tips to focus on and keep you on the right track:

  • Avoid FAD diets – Most commercial diets are designed to get quick results. The fast results get people talking and it promotes the source material further. But quick results are short lived and are never long term. The faster you lose weight the faster you gain it back (with interest) so look to the long term. Have a look at this article on what happens when you lose weight fast for more on this.
  • Find the calorie range that is right for you – Again many popular diets will specify a calorie range (1200Kcal is a common one) but for 95% of the population this is far too low. You need to find out what works for you. A good way of finding your starting point is to have your body composition tested and use a formula such as the Katch-McArdle formula to find a starting point and then adjust based on your results over the weeks.
  • Work on a small calorie deficit – Very few people can efficiently burn more than 2lbs of fat in a week without causing long term damage to their metabolism so don’t try to push beyond that. A good starting point would be either 20% or 500Kcal below your maintenance level. So if the average woman burns 2000Kcal per day (and hopefully you would be burning more than the average man or woman by being more active)  a 20% deficit would equal 1600Kcal diet and 500Kcal off would be 1500Kcal. Someone who is extremely overweight could cope with a little bigger deficit, but I do find most people underestimate their maintenance level to start with.
  • Increase the calories out part of the equation before cutting calories – Ideally you should be doing some explosive, vigorous exercise (like weight training) 3 or 4 days per week. Though you should look to do something at a higher than average level at least 6 days per week (something as simple as a 20min power walk each morning or lunch time can make a huge difference). And try to simply be more active in your general lifestyle. Take up a sport, go swimming, cycle to work, get off the bus one stop early, park further from the shops, take the stairs rather than the lift. Just look to be more energetic and eat MORE to keep your calorie deficit under control, then use that additional energy to be even MORE energetic.
  • Work with an expert – If you find it difficult to find the correct balance or can’t find the motivation to get to the gym or if you are simply lost for the best route forwards then the most efficient route to the best results is to work with an expert who can show you the way. Whether that is advice from a coach or working one to one with a personal trainer, if your results, body shape or health are important to you, it is an investment you will never regret. Just make sure the person you choose to work with is an expert. A friend who has been going to the gym for a few years or a Personal Trainer who just goes through the motions is not going to do you much good.

If you are considering such a route, have a look at this article on What to look for when Choosing a Personal Trainer.

Just remember, by starving yourself you will shut off your fat burning and long term, are likely to end up fatter.

Hopefully you have gotten something from the above information. Even if you knew it all already, it may just have re-enforced the ideas for you.

Keep your eyes open for a link to the next article which should be hitting your inbox in the next few days.

In the meantime, you might want to check out some of the other articles on the site by visiting the Blog page.

If you have any comments on the above article or anything you’d like clarified in future articles, please post in the box below.

Now take action and go do something active.

Remember, it’s OK to be yourself, just be your BEST self.

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