So what is a low calorie diet?
A low calorie diet is something that has been pushed on us for the last 50 or so years as the way to lose fat and to lose weight. This came about from about 1960’s where the ‘calorie in, calorie out’ theory caught on due to all the publicity for it. The calorie in, calorie out theory has been out there since the early 1900’s but from the 1950’s – 60’s it has gained so much more momentum. All the marketing that has been done has pushed low calorie diets as the be all and end all of weight loss. But unfortunately, in the long term, low calorie diets DO NOT work.
Now, you’ll probably thinking, ‘wait a minute, you’re saying 50+ years’ worth of beliefs are wrong? Is conventional wisdom wrong?’ I’ll say that this is not some conspiracy theory or something, but based on actual personal experience which led me to research on it. Its 10+ years of seeing friends, family and people around me going through this, trying low calorie and low fat diets, but making no progress.
So, how is it not effective in the long term?
In the long term, what happens is, let’s say your maintenance requirement is 2500 calories per day. What I mean by maintenance is – the amount of calories that you need to have for your weight to stay where it is right now. Let’s say your 60 kilos now, or 70 kilos for examples, fairly active, and 2500 calories is your base maintenance requirements. Now, let’s say you want to lose weight and get down to 60 kilos. If you go based on calories in, calories out and the low calorie diet principles, you would drop down to let’s say 2200 or 2000 calories and by means of a deficit, you’d start losing weight.
But as time goes on, you’d notice 2 things: one thing is you start getting tired and moodier. The other thing you’d notice is your weight loss sort of plateaus. If you’re like me, who actually takes body measurement rather than just my weight, you’d also notice that your measurements start getting slightly bigger. Even though your weight might remain at a lower, let’s say, you weigh 65 kilos and stay there. Your weight might stay there but then you start increasing in size.
Why is that?
That’s because your body goes into starvation mode and when it hits starvation mode, your body is holding on to fat as much as it can and storing fat as much as it can. It’s getting rid of your body muscle as an adaptation, as a survival mechanism. Which is why, every time you see people going on crash diets, they’ll lose weight quickly but most of that weight lost is muscle mass rather than fat.
You might be thinking, ‘you are so full of it.’
But let me be really straight with you, I personally, almost 12 years ago when I first started on my fat loss journey, I did a crash diet. I lost 35 kilos. But later I realised I’d lost a lot of muscle, and lost very little fat. So even though I had gone from 103 kilos to 68 kilos, I was what you would call ‘skinny fat’, which meant I looked skinny but I was fat around my waist and all that. So, in reality, it’s taken me about 10 years after that to work on losing that fat and regaining some of the lost muscle.
I had to learn a lot, and actually get my nutrition right to put back some of the muscle and lose most of that fat and get to the point where, now I’m at about 12 to 13% body fat which is fantastic for someone who had struggled with obesity from the age of 3 to the age of 18.
It’s been a fantastic journey, being able to learn about nutrition and understanding that low calorie diets don’t work. It’s eating the right foods that nourish our body and get our body to actually use up the fat stored in our body, that actually works.
In terms of low calorie diets, in the long term, it’s not sustainable because
1. you feel hungry, moody and angry
2. your starvation mode kicks in
3. Because of starvation mode kicking in, the body starts cannibalizing on your muscle to preserve itself.
Basically, for effective fat loss, you need to eat the right foods that support fat loss and nourish your body. In most, if not all cases of people who are obese, the foods that help with losing fat are foods that contain higher fat, moderate protein food with very low amounts of carbohydrate (under 100 gms per day). The amount of carb intake can vary. If you’re more active, then you could have anywhere between 50 to a 100 grams of carbs. But if you are not active, you are fairly sedentary, then under 50 grams of carbs a day, with the rest of your calorie intake being filled with protein and fat is the way to go.
If you liked this post, do read the other articles where I talk more in detail about what fats to eat, for good fat loss, and what proteins to eat for good fat loss and what carbs to have for effective fat loss. If you need to have 50 or more grams of carbs, which is only if you are very active.
Basically, if you need help and support to reach your fat loss goals, do check out our coaching program at http://realnaturalfatloss.com/get-coaching/. You not only get the right information and accountability but also the required tools, support and the opportunity get your questions answered live on the call, as part of the main coaching program. The main coaching program will be a few minutes of training, in addition to what will be available in the membership area, followed by an open, live Q&A session, where you can ask me questions and I will give you answers to help you with your journey. Although unlikely, if for some reason I can’t give you an answers straight away, I will spend my time and research to find out and give you the right answers, and I would test it before giving you the answers. That’s pretty much it. I depend on testing. I want to make sure that the information I give you is tested and works.
So to conclude, Do Low Calorie Diets Work? Not really, not in the long term perspective, as your body adapts to your calorie intake, and can do more damage than good.
Thank you for taking time to read this article, and I hope it’s made a positive impact to your life or it’s at least opened your mind and has got you thinking.
To your success in losing fat, gaining health and living an energetic life.
Have a fantastic day!