I am about to shatter all of your diet beliefs.

Here it is, hold on to your seat … eating less does not cause fat loss.

Don’t get me wrong, eating less will at first show a smaller number on a scale but the results are known to be poor and not long-lasting. To change your perspective you need to start seeing the difference in “losing weight” and “losing fat”. Under eating does not create the need to burn body fat, in fact, it creates the need for the body to slow down. Shockingly enough, under eating actually creates the desire for the body to hang on to body fat!

So what does eating less burn? How do I see a smaller weight on the scale? It burns muscle tissue, which worsens the underlying cause of obesity and multiple other health issues. 

Why does the body hang on to body fat and burn muscle? Good question. But look at it another way: What does our body want more of when it thinks we are starving? The answer: Stored energy. What is a great source of stored energy? Body fat. So when our body thinks we are starving, does it want to get rid of or hold on to body fat? It wants to hold on.

Next, what does our body want less of when we are starving? It wants to get rid of calorie hungry tissue. What type of tissue burns a lot of calories? Muscle. So when our body thinks we are starving, it gets rid of calorie-hungry muscle tissue. Studies show that up to 70% of the weight lost while eating less comes from burning muscle - not body fat.  Any success obtained by eating less must be maintained by chronic under-nourishment.  It is not practical or healthy to keep ourselves chronically under-nourished so we don’t. Instead, we yo-yo diet.

But I need to burn more calories than I eat? True, you should a few more calories than you eat each day if you want to lose weight. But do you have any idea how many calories you burn? A 40 year old female that weighs 200 pounds and stands 5 foot 8 inches burns approximately 1,614 calories a day JUST by breathing. That would be if she did not get out of bed or move AT ALL. There is a fine line in creating a calorie deficit and under eating.  Three months postpartum I thought I was doing great but could not figure out why I was stuck at a certain weight, especially because I was becoming more and more active again. I realized my calorie deficit was actually much more significant than I thought because of breastfeeding. Slowly I upped my calories and within a week the weight (and fat) started going down. Within the following three months I was back to pre-pregnancy weight by eating more! If you want to hear some numbers that will make your jaw drop I’ll give them to you: 2,200-2,500. That’s how many calories I eat, everyday! Who knew it was possible to feel good in a swimsuit AND not go hungry???

Under eating does not make us thin. It makes us bloated, sick and tired. It’s bad for health and it’s bad for fat loss. Your body just doesn’t work that way. So what do I eat? How much of it do I eat? What can I do?

1. Find out what is right for you.

 Use credible sources and resources or talk to a professional to determine the best route for you. Get an idea of how many calories you should be eating (and no typing in your height, current weight, how much weight you want to lose and giving an estimate on ‘activity level’ is not credible or accurate).

2. Eat Real Food.

You’re smart and you know what real food is, so stop eating crap.  Real food is real simple: things that grew in the ground, on a tree, came out of the sea, ran on the land or flew through the air. Meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts are all great examples of REAL food. On top of that, you know what crap food is: food that comes from a drive-thru window, vending machine, box, bag or wrapper. You cannot outrun your fork. When trying to lose weight, feel healthy and get in shape, 80% (not an exaggeration) of your success or failure will come from how well you eat.

3. Read Nutrition Labels. 

The nutrition label is on the back on the item not the advertising label that tells you the item is “all natural”, “low fat”, “blah, blah, blah”.  Check the actual nutrients on the label as well as the SERVING SIZE! The serving size is always listed right at the top by the calories.  Remember, you aren’t looking for the lowest calorie counts. Instead look for things low in trans fats (not to be confused with healthy fats found in things like nut butters), sugar, and sodium and items high in proteins, vitamins and fiber.

If you are one of the millions who have been on this weight-loss, low calorie, restrictive dieting merry-go-round don’t feel bad… you are not alone and you have not failed your diets, your diets have failed you!

Sweat & Smiles