You start second-guessing everything you’re doing: Maybe I’m eating too much? Should I workout harder? Do I have to live on parsley and hot water?
So you re-strategize. You slash calories and step up the intensity of your workouts. Unfortunately, after another week, you’re still not losing. Now you want to give up altogether. But before you throw in the towel, ask yourself this: Am I eating enough?
Contrary to popular belief, sometimes you have to eat more to lose weight. While that may sound counter intuitive, it often does the trick. Here’s why:
1. Metabolism is the key to weight loss. If you don’t eat enough, or often enough, your metabolism slows to a crawl and weight loss becomes more difficult, especially when you’re exercising. That’s why skipping meals isn’t a good idea if the goal is to shed pounds.
Tip: Always eat breakfast to kick-start metabolism and try eating mini-meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism fired up.
2. To keep your metabolism up, you MUST eat. Conventional wisdom dictates that when you first start dieting, the less you eat, the better. While it’s true that you often should eat less, eating too little can backfire over time. As your body composition changes, your body will think it’s starving, which can make it hold onto fat. (The process actually has to do with an excessive release of a hormone called cortisol, but you don’t need to know the details, so we’ll just call it fat.) To avoid this, most experts agree that over time, you shouldn’t eat fewer than 1,200 calories per day for women; 1,500 for men. If your daily diet consists of fewer calories than that, consider eating more.
Tip: Keep a food diary to track calories.
3. You need more calories when you work out. If you’re exercising while following a low-calorie eating plan, you’ll need to take into account the calories you’re burning. That’s because it’s now easier to enter starvation mode. Let’s say you’re burning 400 calories and only eating 1,200 to 1,300 calories per day. This means you’re really only taking in 800 to 900 calories per day before you begin to calculate how your body composition is changing. Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does, so as your body changes, you need to eat more to keep the weight loss coming.
Tip: Drink an after-workout recovery drink after hard workouts, its calories are utilized so quickly by your body, some people refer to them as “free calories.” They aren’t, but they will ensure your muscles, hence, your metabolism will recover quickly.
And remember this:
Figuring out to what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat isn’t easy. That’s why people often refer to losing weight as a journey. It takes a few different paths to get there. Sometimes you have to adjust your ratio of protein, fat, and carbs to start losing again. Or adjust your calorie level, which can include eating more to lose weight.
Tip: Use the Team Beachbody Meal Planner. It can make figuring out your calories much, much easier. You can personalize an eating plan that takes your workouts into consideration.
Finally, if you’re still on the fence about needing to eat more to lose weight. You might be thinking, “How come I know some really skinny people who barely eat?”
The answer is this: You can eventually lose weight by not eating. It’s called starving. Reduce calories enough and your body will start breaking down its muscle tissue, and this will result in weight loss. However, it makes your body increase its emergency hormonal responses, which also causes your body to be stressed and hang onto fat, making it very easy to gain the weight back again.
So I hope you take this thought away with you today: The idea is to keep your metabolism revving and running. This will help you get healthy and stay strong. Eat the right amount of food to help your body continuously burn calories, and you’re more likely to shed those unwanted pounds. When trying to reach your fitness goals, remember 80% is your diet and 20% is fitness.