So you’ve heard it said, over and over again, “If you want to lose weight you have to burn more calories than you consume.” Before you decide to eat just a salad today because you want to lose weight, understand that losing weight is not always a good thing. If you lose water or muscle, you lose your ability to burn calories – making it a whole heck of a lot easier to get fat again!
Remember that “losing weight” is not the same as “losing FAT”. It’s the FAT we don’t like. Excess fat causes many health problems and most of us would agree that fat doesn’t look too pretty either. Low calorie fad diets, those that recommend consuming less than 1,200 calories a day, are geared to make you lose weight, not fat.
The skinny is, low calorie diets simply do not work! Here’s why… When you go on a low calorie diet the body begins to burn muscle as energy. Your body becomes more efficient at preserving extra calories as fat, called the “starvation response”. When you hit the dieting plateau you get frustrated and start eating normal again and you start to put on fat easily. You start to think you have bad genetics and that there is no way out. Yep, this is a vicious cycle.
So, what’s happening in the body? Muscle breakdown increases urine production and water loss. This slows down your metabolism even more and causes a cascade of hormonal changes. Losing muscle and water weight is a very bad thing because muscle burns FAT! Yep, muscle is metabolically active (meaning it uses energy, i.e. fat). Depending on your fitness and activity levels, one pound of muscle burns anywhere from 6 to 50 calories per day, just to maintain itself.
Solution? Change your mindset and change your lifestyle. Start trying to build muscle – hit the gym, start slow and work on basic, proper muscle-building form. And ladies, as long as you start with light weight-training movements, you will not look like a muscle bound freak. I’ll cover this in another article, but in the meantime, please stay away from fad and low calorie diets!
Dr. Travis Illian received his Ph.D. from the University of Alabama in Human Performance. He is certified nationally as a strength and conditioning coach and has published several scientific studies on Greens+ Products.