Now this title may not be what you want to hear, as I imagine you would like to lose the weight you want to get rid of as quickly as you can. However, despite the idea of quick weight loss being just what you want, it is more than likely not what you need…..especially if you want it to stay off.
The thinking of trying to drop your calories really low an often be a thought process that is problematic when it comes to getting long-term results. Here’s why:
You Eat More Than You Think
If you have never really paid a lot of attention to how much you eat each day or specifically tracked what you are eating, I can see why you might think your total calorie intake is low. The problem is, unless you track what you eat then you will more often than not be consuming more calories than you think. Just a few examples for you to highlight the point:
2 slices of toast with butter and jam and a coffee with milk – 521 calories
1 handful of nuts – 150-200 kcals
Small portion of pasta with pesto – 535 kcals
It is pretty surprising how quickly it can all clock up. You might not have eaten that much food, but due to the high calories those foods you have eaten contain, the calorie intake can really build up.
Furthermore, if you add some extra snacks and drinks into the mix (and any chocolate, sweets, alcohol or other indulgences) , and you’ll have consumed way more than you anticipate each day.
So at the extreme end of the spectrum, the 1500 calories you may think you’re eating each day might be more like 3000!
If this is the case and you set the starting calories on your diet around the 1500 mark – you could well be putting yourself into a massive caloric deficit, which is both unnecessary for fat loss and will set you up for failure and a heavy rebound further down the line.
Your Results will not be sustainable:
Dropping your calories to a low level is both physically and psychologically difficult. That’s just one of the reasons we aren’t all walking round looking like cover models the whole time.
You can make the whole processes much, much easier on yourself by reducing calories slowly and in small increments. Yes, the process will be a little bit slower, but you’ll feel better, your performance in the gym will be better (which will have a positive effect on results) and you will be much more likely to stick to your diet.
The affect that being in a severe calorie restriction has cannot be underestimated.
Trying to undergo a massive drop in calories over the long-term can result in big drops in fat, muscle, and total weight.
However, just some other side effects of a large calorie deficit can be:
Decreases in strength and stamina
Obsession with food (dreaming about it, thinking about it constantly)
Decreased sex drive
This is exactly why fad diets and short terms fixes are doomed to fail. They are completely unsustainable and will have potentially serious implications on your health and well-being.
Dieting Doesn’t Work
In pure fat loss or weight loss terms, dieting is effective, but the psychology associated with the term can put you into a vulnerable position.
A diet is perceived as something with a fixed start and finish.
I am sure you may have planned to ‘diet’ for your holiday or get in shape for a wedding or special occasion. The focus is always on a short period of time (4 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks) and the end result. The thought and focus is always about how great they’ll look and feel on the beach.
But how do they plan on maintaining that physique after their holiday?
This is when they then start to fall right back into old habits and the weight creeps back on (often with a little extra!)
To have a short term focus is good, as it can be daunting to think too far ahead. But you need to recognise that consistency in the long-term will yield far better results than intense dieting for a short time, followed by a period of relaxed eating.
I am sure most people who have struggled with their weight will recall a successful stint of dieting followed by the inevitable weight gain, and then how the cycle all starts again.
Getting results, and keeping them
These cycles of losing and gaining weight I am sure will take its toll and leave many people sick and tired of dieting hard, feeling miserable and then losing all the results within a week.
If this is you, then you need to shift your perspective and start focusing on a lifestyle you can maintain.
You don’t need to starve yourself to get results. Ask yourself the question – can I see myself eating like this in a year’s time? If the answer is no, then how do you expect your results to be sustainable? Of course dieting requires some sacrifice and hard work, but if each day is unbearable, you’re doing it wrong.
Focus instead on introducing healthy lifestyle changes that you can keep going in the long term. Base your diet around:
Plenty of vegetables and some fruit
Quality sources of protein
A wide variety of whole foods
Allow yourself the occasional treat (you don’t have to forego all of your favourite foods!) and remember that moderation is king, and the results will come.
Once you have the basics nailed – by which I mean you’re eating regularly, consuming the foods mentioned above and have broken the cycle of severe dieting – you can look to get more advanced and pay closer focus to things like your macronutrient intake, which will make a big difference to your results.