BY AOIFE MORRISON
EAT less, move more. The familiar war cry of the diet industry. But this seemingly innocent approach has been the undoing of so many women.
On the surface, the concept seems to make sense. Eat less calories, while burning more calories, and you will have weight loss, right?
However, when you dive deeper, really look at how the human body, and mind works, it begins to quickly unravel.
So, lets unpack all that is wrong with this notion.
Firstly, you require a certain number of calories just to stay alive. While we rarely consider it, our body is working constantly while we sleep. And all the activities like breathing, require energy. This energy has been stored by the food we have eaten and is utilised for essential bodily functions. Every person has an average number of calories their individual body requires just to keep them alive, and when this is not achieved, the metabolism slows to ensure it conserves energy.
Where people get confused is they believe their metabolism is then ‘broken’. That the main reason they are not losing weight, should that be their goal, is due to this ‘broken’ metabolism. It is not! It has simply adapted to the current situation. So, imagine you are not eating enough, and then decide you need to go on a diet and cut calories even further.
What do you think will happen to your metabolism now? You got it; it will adapt even further.
Now you cannot go past the psychological aspect of restricting calories either. Just like telling your toddler NOT to touch the big red button, when told we cannot eat the foods we love, the desire to do so grows exponentially.
The success of your day starts to become dictated by whether you have been ‘good’ or ‘bad’, based on what you ate. You may start to introduce ‘cheat days’ to indulge in all the foods you have denied yourself the rest of the week.
But eventually, the desire to eat these foods will win. And this is the most common issue I see with clients.
They restrict so strongly throughout the day, that when they arrive home, or after the kids go to bed, they are headfirst into a tub of ice-cream or a packet of biscuits. The result? They have consumed more calories than if they had eaten well throughout the day, and then they not only feel bad emotionally, but also physically.
Add in a metabolism that has been adapting to a low caloric intake and they start to see weight gain again.
Nutrition is much more than just calories in versus calories out. Just like people are so much more than the number on a scale or the size of their clothes. You need to look at the whole picture!
So, what is the solution? Keep it simple.
• Rather than restricting food, see what you can add. Restriction only serves to increase desirability. Have a handful of crisps, but couple it with some fruit and nuts. Your craving is satisfied but you will also nourish your body and reduce feeling hungry soon after.
• 80% of fat loss is nutrition. While exercise is important for physical and mental health, find the type you enjoy so it is sustainable.
• Keep a food journal for a few days, this will show you in black and white exactly what, and how much you are eating. The results might surprise you!
• Stop viewing foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’. They have no moral value!