I would like to share a different approach to weight loss.
It is lowering your metabolic rate through a caloric restricted diet. What does that mean? Well, our bodies like to stay the same weight. (It is called homeostasis.) When our bodies are at rest, i.e when we are not engaging in any physical activity, we burn a certain amount of calories to maintain our current weight. This is called BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate.
Everyone knows that to lose weight we need to eat less and exercise more, right?
To gain muscle or fat you need to consume a caloric surplus but that is a different topic.
Okay, let’s see what happens to our bodies if we simply opt to eat fewer calories per day. We lose weight! (Notice I used the word weight not fat.) So, for a while our diet is working really well, we are losing weight and are super motivated. Then what happens is we hit the inevitable plateau where no further weight loss occurs. Why is this?
Let’s say that before we went on our diet, our BMR was 1500 calories (amount of calories we burn in a 24-hour-period while awake and at rest). Well, now let’s assume we have been on a caloric deficit (eating less than our maintenance calories, in the example <1500) for long enough. Say we are only consuming 1200 calories for an extended period of time.
Maybe we have also started an exercise program and are performing cardiovascular exercises to accelerate the fat burning. So not only are we eating fewer calories but we are also burning more calories through exercise. Why would your body still burn 1500 calories for energy? It doesn’t need that many calories anymore. So your body drops it’s BMR to adjust to your new caloric intake/expenditure.
Hence the inevitable plateau and you stop losing weight! Gasp! What do we do? Well, we simply do what made us lose weight in the first place. We drop our calories even further and maybe add the duration and/or frequency of cardio. Now let’s see who is smarter, stupid body!
Congratulations! You win the war of losing weight.
Because if you now only eat 900 calories you will continue to drop weight. The weight will be both fat and muscle if you use this method (which is another reason your BMR will drop). But you don’t care, right? Even though muscle mass is a metabolically active tissue, which keeps your metabolism elevated (and burns calories). You just want the number on the scale to go down.
In order to keep losing weight, you will have to continue on this rat race until you achieve your desired scale weight. After that you can congratulate yourself, kick up your feet and go back to your old habits of a sedentary life and a life filled with cupcakes, right?
Wrong! This is the number one reason why most diets fail. See, there is no way you can go back to eating 1500 calories (in our example) now that your body doesn’t expend that many calories to stay alive anymore. So, you put back all the weight you have lost and even more.
You end up where you started only with less muscle and a lower BMR…