Empty plate with the words "How many calories?"

Why Cutting Calories is NOT the Answer

It’s official, summertime is here. That means it’s time to get outside and enjoy the warm weather. With that, comes the dreaded “swimsuit season.” So, now you are ready to start eating better to lose a few of those extra pounds. We have all seen diet ads that promise amazing results. To get those results you just need to starve yourself. Literally. This may have even worked for you in the past, but most likely you have since gained that weight back. In this post, we are putting those calorie cutting diets on center stage and dissecting why they are not sustainable. 

Now, if you are thinking there is a “quick fix” to get you back into your dream bathing suit body, I have bad news. It does NOT exist. There is no overnight remedy or magic wand that will undo years of weight gain and poor eating habits. What you should instead be searching for, is a lifestyle change. Something that will not only give you the results you desire but will also help you to keep those results!

The Truth About Calories

A calorie is a unit that measures energy. Weight gain happens when we consistently consume more calories than our bodies need to use. The unused calories are stored as body fat.

Our bodies need calories. This is where we get our energy from. When you start to drastically cut your daily caloric intake (i.e. 600/day), you will feel tired and run down. Have you ever tried to exercise when you are feeling sluggish and have no energy? It most likely did not go well! We must eat a certain number of calories to fuel our bodies to make it function properly.

When you drastically reduce the number of calories you take in, you can actually cause damage to your body. You’re going to feel tired all the time. Which is why these diets are not sustainable and you go right back to the way you were eating before you started. It causes hormonal imbalances like excess estrogen. It stresses out your adrenal glands which causes you to gain weight around your hips and that spare tire look around your abdomen (no one wants excess weight in these areas!)

We all know that the average person should consume around 2,000 calories each day. Don’t let this number fool you, this is only an average. Each individual person has a unique caloric need. Men often require more calories than women, but these numbers vary depending on your size and activity level.

Now, if you are consuming 4,000+ calories each day without exercise, yes you may need to drastically reduce your daily intake. But, to lose weight you do not need to starve yourself. Yes, really!! It is possible to eat food and still lose weight.

How to Manage Calories and Lose Weight

So, what can you do? Try thinking about calories in a different way. Consider the kind of calories you are eating versus the number you consume. Healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and lean meats will fuel your body significantly more than processed foods. To feel your best, you should be eating real, whole foods. Not pre-packaged, full of preservative foods that have extended shelf lives.

Just because two food items contain the same number of calories does not mean they provide the same amount of energy for your body. If you are comparing eating fresh vegetables to a bag of Doritos, you may see that they contain the same number of calories. However, your body will see these calories differently and use them differently. You will not only feel better after eating the vegetables, but your body will use the energy differently.

Instead of drastically reducing the number of calories you consume to lose weight, you should instead make a small calorie deficit. If you normally consume 2,000 calories/day, cut back to 1,800 calories/day. This will prevent your body from going into starvation mode. It will keep your body fueled and energized instead of feeling run down. It will also prevent your body from going into “starvation mode” which would not only interfere with your metabolism but can also affect your hormones.

 

Recap

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, crashing your diet is not the answer. Sure, you may lose a few pounds in the beginning, but it is not sustainable. The weight loss will plateau as your body goes into starvation mode and starts to store the few calories you are eating to use for energy.

Our bodies need calories to function properly. When you drastically limit the number of calories you consume, your organs will start to be affected too. It will create hormone imbalances that actually cause weight gain around the mid-section and buttock.

Start thinking about the type of calories you are consuming and less about the number. Start eating more healthy, whole foods with lots of protein. Cut out processed foods! This will allow your body to lose weight and keep it off for the long term.

If you are ready to make a lifestyle change AND you want to start feeling better, sleeping better, and fitting in your clothes better… we can help you make this change. Our team at Twin Oaks Health is here to give you the tools you need to start living a more vibrant life so you can enjoy life to the fullest. For more information about starting your new healthy lifestyle journey, contact our team today!  

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Dr. Sauer

Dr. Forrest Sauer

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