been cutting calories and starving yourself in order to get to
an ideal weight, stop.
On the surface,
it sounds like a simple equation: eat less, and you'll lose weight.
Many dieters follow a "starvation" tactic, counting
calories and sometimes drastically reducing their intake to lose
weight. But the body is complicated, and sometimes the simplest
diet plan isn't the most healthy.
You will lose
a lot of weight if you drastically reduce your calorie intake.
But it will be a long and painful process-and you won't develop
healthy muscle tone as you go. Here are a few reasons calorie
counting alone isn't going to get you to a healthy state.
calories means working against your body. Our bodies are designed
to fight back when we cut calories. When you cut down on your
calorie intake, your body resists by slowing your metabolism,
allowing you to get more energy from each calorie you consume.
This keeps your body from having to cut into its fat deposits
in order to survive. This is an evolutionary development that
helped us survive in times of famine long ago-but it gets in the
way of weight loss efforts today.
calories means less energy. Calories are essentially units
of energy. The fewer calories you eat, the less energy you'll
have to pursue a rigorous exercise program. Healthy eating is
only one piece of the fitness puzzle-you also have to exercise
and lead an active lifestyle in order to optimize your health,
and you can't do that if you limit your calories too much-you
won't have enough energy to pursue physical activity.
calories means fewer nutrients. Food doesn't just give you
fat. It also gives you the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients
your body needs to survive. Cutting your calories drastically
means reducing these essential nutrients as well. Anorexics, who
generally follow the starvation method to its extreme, often have
dull hair, bad skin, brittle nails and fragile bones-all because
they've limited the amount of healthy vitamins they eat in addition
to the amount of fat. If you lose weight this way, you won't necessarily
get more attractive and you also aren't likely to feel good.
calories means losing strength. When you go into "starvation
mode," your body doesn't just digest fat to survive. It also
goes after muscle, reducing your muscle weight and limiting your
strength as your diet progresses. If you pursue an exercise plan
while not eating enough to sustain your activity, you could speed
up the muscle reduction process-and you could lose strength and
muscle definition instead of gaining it. It's crucial to keep
up a diet plan that allows for the activity you're pursuing and
the goals you've set.
calories means starving muscle. Muscles need nutrients to
grow and become more developed. When you limit your calorie intake,
you limit the nutrients your muscles can use to get big and well
defined. This can lead to a thin, malnourished look instead of
a healthy and strong physique, even when you're pursuing a good
simply starving yourself, you'll need to eat enough of the right
foods and on the right schedule in order to boost your metabolism,
nourish your body and give your muscles the nutrients they need
to grow and develop. Here are a few weight loss tactics to follow
if you want to lose weight the healthy way.
Clean eating doesn't involve cutting down. Instead, it involves
eating the right foods-lean proteins, mono- and poly-unsaturated
fats, and unrefined sugars and carbs. It also involves avoiding
processed, canned, frozen, concentrated and boxed foods; eating
clean means eating foods as close to their fresh, natural state
as possible. It also means avoiding alcohol, sweets, and refined
carbohydrates like white rices, pastas, and breads. While eating
clean requires significant discipline, it's not as tough as following
a starvation diet-and you'll get healthier results.
a consistent exercise routine. Losing weight by diet alone
is rarely effective. You'll also need to follow an exercise routine
that involves both weight lifting and cardio workouts. Talk to
a personal trainer, doctor or fitness expert to design a program
that will fit with your fitness goals and lifestyle.
your metabolism. Cutting calories will slow your metabolism
down. Building muscle will speed it up. So will changing your
eating habits so that you're eating less per meal, and more frequent
meals per day. Many body builders eat six or more small meals
per day instead of the three or fewer regular meals most people
sit down to. Limiting your portion size is key, but so is increasing
the number of meals you eat-this will cut down on the amount of
time your body waits for its next meal, so it won't feel the need
to conserve calories between meals.
shouldn't be a goal in itself. Starving your body means working
against its natural inclinations, as well as depriving it of important
vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that will help your muscles
grow and develop. Instead, your goal should be to get fit and
healthy, with weight loss as a natural extension of that goal.
If you work with your body to boost metabolism, change your eating
habits for optimal health, and stick to an exercise program, you're
likely to feel better, look better, and develop healthy habits
that will last you for life.
Jean Lam is the webmaster of Body
Building Resource which provides articles on weight training,
nutrition and fitness, body building book and DVDs.