Is Less Really More When It Comes To Eating?

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Healthy-Eating-101Less is always more, right? Well, not always. As part of my Healthy Eating 101 series, I think it’s important to discuss calorie deficits in more detail since this always seems to be an area that confuses people. Lately at work, there are a few people that have been getting ready for Spring beach vacations. Who can blame them, we all want to turn heads walking down the beach.

Many of us have been there. We’ve got a date in mind that we want to look amazing for so we start dieting and cutting back on calories. Both of them are going to extreme measures. One skipped breakfast and had a lunch of carrots. Yep, just carrots. You wouldn’t want to deal with me in the afternoon if all I’d had was carrots. ūüėČ

The other decided to eat less than 1000 calories a day until goal is met in about a month. I used to do this as I’m sure most of us have at one point or another. You can do it for a day or two here or there without much impact, but day after day is not a good idea.

On a basic level, you won’t get the vitamins and nutrients that you need. Eventually your body will fight back since it wants calories. You end up jumping off the wagon with both feet into a vat of pizza, fries and other goodies. There’s also risk of your metabolism slowing down after a while in an effort to deal with lean times.

It sounds counterintuitive, but you need to eat to lose weight. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You need to be realistic with your plans. It’s reasonable to lose 1 – 2 lbs a week. Anything more will most likely leave you with that skinny fat effect at the end and also be harder to maintain afterwards. If you plan to lose 20 lbs in a month’s time, you may need to rethink your plan. Move the goal date further out if you can or settle for a more reasonable goal. Any step forward gets you closer to a better place than when you started.
  • Be as conservative as you can with weight loss. If you cut your calories by 200 a day and it’s working, don’t get excited and cut out more. Patience, grasshopper. Eventually weight loss will plateau. If you’ve started by cutting 200 calories, there’s plenty of wiggle room to cut more when you hit that plateau. If you start out cutting 1000 and plateau, there isn’t much further you can go. Then what are you going to do?
  • Don’t go crazy with cardio either. I know cardio isn’t healthy eating, but it deserves a mention here. For the same reasoning as cutting too many calories, you don’t want to start with lots and lots of cardio from the get go. Nothing will leave you skinny fat faster than slicing your calories way back and doing a crapton of cardio. Your body will have no choice but to burn through muscle to keep going. Your goal should be to lose fat, not to lose weight. There’s a big difference in the end result.

As I said in an earlier post, start out cutting¬†250 calories a day and see how it goes for a couple weeks. If you get results, don’t change a thing. If not, you’ve got room to cut another¬†small increment of¬†calories or add in 15 minutes of cardio at a time. Everyone is different, and doing things little by little helps you figure out what works and what doesn’t for your body.

It also makes it so much easier to fit into your lifestyle. Think about it. What leaves you more time to enjoy life – 15 minutes of cardio a day or 2 hours of cardio? No one wants to be hungry and live in the gym. We’ve got much more important and fun things to do in life. Do the minimum you can get away with and get the results you want.

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