We live in a world where we want everything NOW. To me, the bottom line is that anything worth having is going to take time. The harder you work for something, the more pride and satisfaction you get out of achieving it. This is no different when we look at our health and fitness goals. We expect our bodies to produce miracles within days and weeks. All to often, we only decide to make changes when we are close to an event for instance, a wedding or a vacation. Leaving it this late doesn’t allow time for a realistic healthy change; it calls for drastic, unhealthy weight loss.
This is where diets come in to play. The first word that comes to mind when we hear the word diet is RESTRICTION. If we restrict our body of calories then we are bound to lose a ton of weight, right? No doubt, you’re absolutely right, you will lose weight, but what kind of weight are you losing? The fat from those notorious ‘problem areas’ or muscle weight from the areas you actually want to look tight and muscular? The answer is the latter.
We have a basal metabolic rate. This is the amount of calories our bodies need on a daily basis just to perform its functions. On top of that you have your daily calorie expenditure from activity and exercise. Now, in order to lose weight, you have to be in a deficit of both of those figures combined. For instance, my BMR is about 1870 calories; my daily calorie expenditure from activity is about 1400 calories. Therefore I need 3300 calories for my body to function and maintain the weight I’m at now. If I want to lose weight healthily, I would look to be in a deficit of that figure by about 500 calories bringing my daily calorie intake to 2800 calories. Why is this important?
A diet is going to convince you that all you need is 500 calories per day. If my body needs 1870 calories just to function daily with NO exercise, how am I going to feel eating 500 calories and exercising? Pretty short of energy I would imagine!
This is the point where my body enters a state of catabolism (I start to store my fat and break down other tissues like muscle protein as a form of energy). Long story short, if you’re in a permanent state of catabolism, you’re going to lose a bunch of muscle weight, and minimal amounts of fat weight. Now, if your only concern is the number on the scales, then bingo and job done! If your concern is how you look, how you feel, how your clothes fit, your health, your strength, your energy levels etc., then chances are you’re further away from where you want to be than when you started the diet.
We haven’t even started to talk about the long-term damage done to your metabolism. There is a direct correlation between the amount of muscle you have and the amount of calories your body requires. If you have broken down muscle tissue and have less muscle mass, your metabolism will be slower. Now, diets are never permanent, they are a temporary ‘fix’ and at some point we resort back to that old lifestyle that got us into trouble with our bodies in the first place. The metabolism is slower than it was and now we have gone back to eating exactly how we did before. Recipe for disaster!!
In America alone we spend $40 billion a year on diet products. We’re literally throwing money away on products that don’t work, offer false promises and lead to us jumping back and forth between our unhealthy lifestyle and the diet.
If you’re serious about losing weight, set yourself a realistic time frame and purchase a meal plan tailored specifically to you and your daily calorie requirement. From that point, take measurements of the areas you want to lose weight from, avoid the scales and pay close attention to how your clothes fit.
What wasn’t put on overnight, cant be expected to be lost overnight.
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