Dieting is a constant, daily process. Dieting doesn’t work. It will only help you lose weight in the short term by starving yourself for a few weeks or months or whatever your goal length of time happens to be.
However, starvation does not produce permanent weight loss because the metabolism slows down to conserve energy when food intake is low.
This causes much-needed fat to be stored in muscle cells instead of being burned off for fuel by the body’s organs.
Dieting is an endless cycle
So once you stop dieting, your body automatically starts eating into that calorie deficit from when it was dieting and generates a situation where you feel hungry all the time even though you might have lost pounds desperately trying to keep it off.
This, of course, causes you to return to eating as much as before, and so the vicious circle starts all over again.
Calories in, calories out
For this reason, it is essential not to go below 1,000 calories per day. So you should be aware that if your aim is weight loss and not disease management or diabetes control, etc., you will have to combine dieting with calorie-burning exercise such as walking, running, swimming or aerobics to maintain the deficit.
This means that those who do strenuous manual jobs might need to burn as little as 200 calories per day, while those who do sedentary work such as office work might need to work off 500 – 1,000 calories per day.
You need to know that when you are dieting, your metabolism will slow right down to compensate for the lack of calories (energy) so that your body is not malnourished.
Consider your BMR
It is also essential to understand that when you start taking in fewer calories than before, your body’s basal metabolic rate (BMR) will reduce accordingly to keep up with this lower energy intake.
This means that weight loss slows down dramatically after the first few pounds, and at some point, it just stops altogether despite calorie restriction.
For example, if you limit yourself to 800-1,000 calories per day but maintain an exercise program, then you might lose between 1lb and 2lbs every week. After one year of doing this, then you would have lost around 52lbs, and upon reaching the weight of your dreams, you would simply be maintaining it.
This is why people who lose a lot of weight often put some or most back on what they have lost – their bodies have adjusted to lower caloric intakes and higher exercise levels by reducing basal metabolic rates.
Hence, there comes the point when cutting calories further becomes counterproductive. After all, if you eat too little, you will gain weight because your body can’t cope with such low energy intakes.
Some individuals find it so hard to stick with calorie-restricted diets because they feel tired all the time and never feel like exercising. This is not surprising as these same individuals are likely malnourished and, to some degree, physically inactive, so it’s only natural that they don’t feel like doing anything.
Cutting calories in athletes
First of all, it should be mentioned that cutting calories to lose weight is not an option for athletes! This fact stands out whether we’re talking about male or female athletes. It also applies to individuals trying to build bigger muscles even if their primary goal is to put on muscle mass instead of burning fat (post-cycle therapy – PCT).
If you are trying to build bigger muscles, then you are probably thinking that this article can’t be right because “I eat a lot and I still have trouble gaining weight,” but the truth is what matters here isn’t how much you eat but rather how many calories your body burns.
What I’m trying to say here is that your body can’t afford to burn any calories because it’s programmed in a way that makes food the primary source of energy. So if you restrict your caloric intake, you will also have to limit your physical performance in strength, endurance, and speed.
When I had my nutrition dialed in for muscle gains, I’ve noticed that my weight loss was mainly visible on the scale when I under-ate for a couple of days or so. But when I overate after those 2-3 days of under-eating, my weight gain was noticeable on the scale and by looking at how my clothes felt.
What this means is that overeating doesn’t necessarily make you look like The Hulk. Gaining weight is always easier than losing it.
How many calories do you need?
The amount of food you require daily is also based on how much you need to recover from your workouts – we all know individuals who eat like horses and yet can’t gain muscle mass, and we all know those who maintain their body weight on junk food and never even break a sweat at the gym. So clearly, calorie output vs. calorie intake needs to be adjusted according to your fitness goals (which leads us neatly into our next section).
Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) may also play a role since your BMR is responsible for about 60-75% of your total energy expenditure each day.
So, once again, bodyweight maintenance may be the end goal here, but several things can affect how much you need to eat to maintain your weight.
Unfortunately, these are all factors that are often overlooked by people looking to lose fat or gain muscle mass but should prioritize simply determining if you should eat more or less food in the first place.
Everyone is built different
Personal preference also needs to be taken into consideration here. For example, some people could eat large amounts of food and feel relatively good about it, while others would feel like garbage every day if they ate that much (or more) even though their weight was stable. This is often due to how everyone’s body responds differently to specific macronutrient ratios, too.
The best way for you to find out what your personal preference is here is by experimenting with different levels of caloric intake – start low and adjust things up or down as needed once you determine what works for you.
There are several ways you can do this, but the easiest would be to track everything you eat for a week then chill out on the tracking during the next week just so that you do not have to look at numbers all the time. Another option would be to use the daily email summaries on MyFitnessPal or something similar.
You can also try eating at a maintenance level for a week then dial back calories by about 10% the following week in an attempt to determine whether you’re someone who doesn’t require very many calories or if you’d do better with fewer of them, but that’s easier said than done in some cases.
It would be pretty damn depressing to eat just under your caloric needs one day and then just over the next.
Of course, there are other options, such as eating at a very slight calorie deficit (although this would probably be a better option for fat loss) and simply spending a long time in a caloric deficit, but it’s likely not sustainable.
Is dieting healthy or unhealthy?
Dieting is unhealthy.
I’m sure you’ve probably cycled through so many diets in your life trying to lose weight.
And even if you’re successful, the weight seems to always come back.
Don’t go on a diet. Eat healthy food that you love but keep things moderate.
No matter how healthy a food is, eating too much of it can make you gain weight.
The food that is healthy which contains the lowest amount of calories is green leafy vegetables.
You can “probably” stuff yourself silly with spinach until you throw up and won’t gain weight.
But, most people I know are not the vegetable-loving kind.
So, watch the calories instead.
“I have the metabolism of a sloth and a body that hates putting on muscles. This curse motivated me to study weight loss and nutrition. I want to share my experiences and knowledge to help you achieve your ideal body.”— Christian Tanobey