Eating too Little?
We are all aware that eating too much has a direct impact to our waistline and general health. However, many of us, in an effort to shed unwanted pounds make excessive modifications to our eating and actually end up eating too little. And this can be just as much of a contributor to the inability to lose weight as eating too much.
An important aspect in the formula of weight loss is your base line amount of calories needed for survival, known as your Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR. There are a lot of online calculators that can help you calculate your specific number. This number is the amount of calories you need to maintain the body functions required for survival not including digestion and temperature control in a 24 hour period. When you consume less than this number on a consistent basis, your body will need to make accommodations for survival. Typically these accommodations will come in the form of holding on to or storing off energy (fat), and getting rid of muscle to decrease overall energy needs. Decreasing muscle and storing fat will not be your friend in the battle to lose weight, not to mention your metabolism slowing and your energy levels dropping.
One way to insure that you don’t lose muscle is to consume enough protein on a daily basis so that your body has the building blocks to build and maintain muscle. However if you are not taking in enough fuel in general (see previous paragraph on BMR), your body will use protein intake for fuel instead of muscle maintenance. Again, causing you to lose muscle and slow down metabolism. You need muscle to boost metabolism. Muscle is active tissue and needs fuel to survive. So if you want to be able to eat more without gaining fat, you need to add muscle. Make sure to have protein with each snack and meal throughout the day.
We have determined that you need a certain amount calories in the form of energy to meet your basic human needs of survival and reach your BMR number. But this doesn’t mean you just need to hit that number. If you want to feel good and maintain a healthy weight you should be choosing quality carbohydrates and healthy fats. Fats and carbohydrates are the preferred fuel source of your body. Think single ingredient items when it comes to carbohydrates. Things like oats, apples, carrots, rice, potato, broccoli, etc. will fit this category nicely. When you think about fats, you should be looking for mostly healthy fats or unsaturated fats versus saturated fats. Healthy fats help keep the arteries clean, and control cholesterol; they are also an excellent source of energy without causing large blood sugar spikes and crashes. This would be things like nut butters, avocado, oils, seeds, etc. Fats are dense in calories so you should be able to easily reach your energy needs with quality carbohydrates and healthy fats included with each meal or snack.
Another area that we tend to consume too little is fiber, which is beneficial on many levels and should absolutely be a consideration in your eating plan. It is helpful in promoting weight loss and lowering blood sugar levels, as well as relieving constipation. The recommended daily intake goal is 25 -30 grams. I would venture a guess to say that most of you are falling short in this category, considering the fact that statistics tell us that the average intake of Americans is about half the recommended goal. With the benefits of weight loss and blood sugar control, don’t skimp on this one.
I’m assuming that most people don’t restrict water in an effort to lose weight, but it is an area that people tend to consume too little. And water does play a significant role in helping to maintain a healthy body weight by increasing metabolism, regulating appetite, and delivering healthy vitamins, minerals, and nutrients through your body.
Although it is probably counter intuitive, eating less will not necessarily equate to healthy sustainable weight loss if you are eating too little. I have seen numerous clients use the above advice to break through weight loss plateaus and find a healthy balance that works long term. Give it a try; I think you will be surprised once you determine your sweet spot between too much and too little.
If you have additional questions regarding this month's article or have a topic you would like to see covered in future articles, please reach out to me via email.