How Crash Dieting Makes You Fatter

2fc7cb1569c10feb4467318411207415By Alex Cromartie, CPT

It always bothers me as a trainer when I see people giving their best effort to make positive changes in their life and failing miserably at it. More often than not, I see this happen with dieting before people are educated about the way their metabolism works. That’s because people think you have to deprive yourself to lose body fat, and that simply isn’t true. You do need to eat the RIGHT foods though.

It is true that you need to have a calorie deficit to lose body fat, but its only about 500 calories a day below the  recommended calorie intake for your weight. A more drastic reduction doesn’t mean you’ll lose more weight. In fact, doing so will actually make you’re body fat percentage go up! Here’s why:

In the words of radio host Carl Lanore, “Muscle is metabolic currency.” That’s because the more of it you have, the healthier you’ll be. You’ll live longer, have more energy, and burn more body fat. When you crash diet and lose more than one or two pounds a week, you are losing muscle in addition to body fat. Eventually… you have to eat! It may be two weeks, or it may be two months. But you WILL eventually eat. And when you do, you’re body will be almost supernaturally efficient at putting on body fat. Because it has been deprived, your body thinks its starving, and fat is the quickest way to store energy.

But here’s the real kicker… Remember that you originally lost fat AND muscle. But when you rebounded from the diet you only gain the weight back in body fat! Because muscle makes your metabolism higher, you have effectively lowered your metabolism and are worse off than where you started. Repeat this cycle a handful of times, and you’ll begin to develop metabolic syndrome. You can see where this is going…

So what’s the solution? Nourish your body with whole foods, whole grains, and lots of protein. Avoid processed foods and sugar in all its forms. Exercise regularly. A small calorie reduction is fine, and necessary to lose weight. But whatever you do, don’t think you need to deprive yourself to be healthy!

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