Low Calorie Diets Explained
Low Calorie Diets Explained
Answered by NTA Instructor Erin Foushee, NTP
Question: If low calorie diets eventually make you store more fat, why is it that they help people lose weight?
A low calorie diet will initially cause a person to drop weight. When the body isn’t given enough fuel, it starts to tap into its own stores of energy. The body will atrophy the muscle and eventually start using up the fat.
Many dieters are “skinny fat” because they look ascetically thin, but their body has lost mostly muscle weight because of caloric deprivation. Often they don’t have a healthy body fat % even though they look like they do when wearing those skinny jeans. The dieters are seeing change in their body, but it is a short term weight loss that is unsustainable (if a client wants to be healthy, drop weight long term, and not stress about every calorie that goes into their mouth.)
When the body is deprived of a sufficient amount of calories for a prolonged period of time, the person’s metabolic rate slows down. The body basically stretches calories to get the most out of them. Low muscle mass also contributes to a slower metabolism. Low muscle mass is caused by eating too few calories, and a slow metabolism is bad for long term weight loss.
When people cheat or come off their low calorie diet for even a day, they often gain several pounds. Why? Their body is in starvation mode. It is holding on to every calorie that enters the body and is trying to store those calories for the next day of “famine.”
These low calorie diets are very confusing and frustrating for dieters, who will drop the weight short term, and then hit a wall where they can’t seem to lose any more. They often cut back a few more calories and see a slight weight loss. This fuels their fire, making them think that cutting calories is the answer. The vicious cycle continues and can lead to a serious eating disorder.
How It’s Supposed to Work
When the body’s foundations are supported, the body and the brain work together to naturally regulate food intake and thus weight. For example, digestion health and hormone balance help a person to trigger satiation and therefore not overeat. Also, eating the right macronutrient balance helps a person to not overeat. Think about it… how many avocados can a person really eat at one sitting?
If people’s nutritional foundations are balanced, not only will they be able to drop weight when needed but also gain weight when needed. Eating a sufficient amount of good quality calories and good sources of fat can help to increase weight if someone is really struggling to gain. Also, NTPs would do well to investigate adrenal and thyroid health if a person can’t gain after balancing the main foundations. Gentle exercise is also an important component to dropping or gaining weight in a healthy manner.
This is a topic that I’m very passionate about. I’ve seen so many people (especially women) wreak their metabolism and spiral into eating disorders because they didn’t understand that there was more to dieting than calories in, calories out.
About the Instructor:
Erin Foushee, NTP, is the founder and owner of Fortis Wellness, LLC, a company dedicated to strengthening individuals and companies in the greater Washington D.C. area through preventative nutrition and fitness programs. Erin is also the developer of the Fortis Corporate Wellness Program, which provides a tried-and-true business model and workshop materials for NTPs to market, sell, and service the program to companies in their area.
Erin has experience with numerous facets of the wellness field and has enjoyed working with a variety of clients, including nationally ranked athletes, business people, senior citizens, and children. Her passion and mission is to educate Corporate America and the next generation of NTPs about the power of preventative wellness.