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Why Calorie Restriction Results in Weight Gain

August 27th, 2010 No comments

Dieting makes it hard to maintain a healthy weight

It’s no secret I mistrust the weight loss plans found in many health and fitness magazines. I feel they don’t take into account all aspects of how our bodies burn calories an

d that they end up sending readers off in pursuit off what amounts to a starvation diet.

I used one example in the article Do Magazine Diets Sabotage Weight Loss?, in which women were instructed to consume 1,400 calories per day while getting regular exercise. After all factors are accounted for, women following this diet are left with only 500 to 800 calories to fuel their vital organs (the number of calories required to do this is known as BMR), much less than they need. Is it just me or does this plan sound unhealthy, even for a women with a low BMR of 1,200.

The reason so few calories would

be left over is that about 140 would be burned off through digestion, 400 through exercise and several hundred more through non-exercise activity thermogenesis, which is the remainder of the movements we make throughout the day. Many diet plans don’t seem to take into account the combined effects of diet and exercise.

Will you still lose weight?
Some of you are probably thinking, who cares if it’s healthy, at least I’ll lose the weight. But that might not be entirely true. When our bodies aren’t getting enough calories they start conserving and metabolism slows. It’s that very same ability that kept our ancestors alive in times of famine. When your body thinks food is scarce it begins to store more calories as fat.

So while you may think restricting calories to the extreme will help you meet your goals it can actually do the opposite. When you finally give up on these impossible diet plans, as most people do, your body won’t automatically go back to burning the amount of calories it did before you started, but chances are you’ll go back to eating the same amount of food. This is the reason people quit diets and end up weighing more than before they started.

Calorie restriction causes a loss of lean muscle tissue, which is one reason your metabolism will slow. During caloric deficit the body can’t build muscle because it’s too busy using it for fuel. Why would you want to destroy the very thing that speeds up your metabolism and allows you to take in more calories?

If you’re still not convinced, I took some weight loss canadian online pharmacy and weight maintenance advice I gathered from other websites and applied it to myself. For the most part the results don’t even come close to my actual situation. If I followed their advice I would be one unhappy and unhealthy woman.

But don’t give up on your healthy living plans, it is possible to make positive changes in your body that you’ll be able to maintain. As far as I’m concerned it’s a lot easier to lose weight than diet “experts” would have you believe.

Categories: women's fitness Tags:

Know the Facts Before You Cut Calories

June 30th, 2009 No comments

The ridiculous 1200-1600 calorie a day diets that I spoke about in my last post don't often take exercise into account, even though most of the diets can be found in the pages of fitness magazines. When exercise is added it can create a big problem for dieters. As an example, if you shave calories down to 1600 a day and cut 500 more through exercise, it actually brings you lower than the approximately 1200 a day needed just to keep your brain and body functioning properly. Try and build metabolism boosting muscle with that kind of lifestyle. Am I the only one thinking this sounds like a good way to slow down and not speed up your metabolism?

And that’s not a number I pulled out of my head. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, 1200 calories, or more accurately 10 calories for every pound of body weight on a woman and 11 for a man, is the number that your body requires just to keep internal organs functioning while you’re at rest. It is known as your resting metabolic rate (RMR). As soon as you get out of bed your caloric requirements increase.

I view those approximately 1200 calories as the end result, not the target. Say I eat 2100 calories a day. 400-500 go to my workouts, be they cardiovascular or strength. Several hundred more go to activity I engage in throughout the day, like when I walk to my kitchen, car or desk, tidy, water my plants, etc. And of course when I eat more I burn more calories through digestion. The point is at the end of the day I’ve used these calories up so I don’t store them as fat. What should remain is the 1200 calories that go to my body’s basic functions - although since I’ve been building muscle for over a year that base number has probably increased, because muscle requires more calories for maintenance than fat does. We should be trying to meet the goal of using up the calories we take in, not trying to create a deficit.

I should point out that I obviously don't know all the answers, I'm just tired of all the focus on cutting calories as the solution to every person's weight problems. I'd much rather see a "diet" that doesn't mention a calorie goal at all, but that encourages people to eat quality foods and eat small meals more often, which gives the body a steady supply of fuel so it doesn’t have to store unused energy as fat. What are your thoughts on weight maintenance?

Why We Should Be Done with Starvation Diets

June 30th, 2009 No comments

After coming across yet another diet prescribing 1200-1600 calories a day to lose weight safely, I've got to get something off my chest. There are a few things about these diets that really bother me. Since this rant is going to be a little long and scattered I'll continue it on the next post as well.

Most experts say it is safe to lose 1-2 pounds of fat per week, although we've all seen contestants on The Biggest Loser drop twice that amount in a day (that's another issue for another time). So if someone has become overweight by eating 3,000 calories a day, wouldn't it be safe to assume they'd still lose a healthy amount of weight by cutting that down to 2,000?

It  takes many years for people to become overweight, why make them feel like a failure by expecting them to take it all back off in a matter of months through something so torturous as starvation? Seriously...if the average moderately active woman requires about 2100 calories a day, why change that formula if you don’t have to (I understand that there are other factors for certain people to consider and they should follow the advice of healthcare professionals). It is just reinforcing the idea that weight maintenance is about sporadic dieting and not an overall healthy lifestyle.

In one very basic way a human body is like a car. It requires fuel to run. But it is obviously much more complicated. Without fuel a car simply won’t run, whereas the human body will continue to run using stored energy. It sounds good for people wanting to get rid of excess fat. Quit giving your body food and it will start to use stored fat for energy.

But using stored energy comes at a big cost. The body reacts to a limited supply of fuel by conserving it and burning fewer calories. And when the body doesn’t get the right amount of calories for maintenance it uses muscle as well as fat for fuel, which can decrease metabolism further. So when the day comes that you discontinue your diet, and it will, you’ll be eating the same as before but with a body that can no longer burn calories as efficiently as it once could. I hope that analogy makes sense and has you questioning the value of restrictive diets. If you're exercising while dieting, there's even more you should consider.

Make a Healthier Pasta Salad

June 23rd, 2009 No comments

Cold pasta salads are synonymous with summer, but so are the excessive amounts of fat and calories that come with the creamy varieties. Not so good if you are trying to lose weight. Before you pick up a premade pasta salad at the grocery store for your next family BBQ, ask yourself if you'd be making the same purchase if the salad was just for yourself.

Even though my personal grocery list would never feature a store bought pasta salad, I usually wouldn't hesitate to grab one for a potluck or take a few scoops at a friendly gathering. Funny thing is I don't even like the overly saucy salads that much...has anyone else noticed the weird aftertaste? Like many unhealthy things they are just convenient. But homemade pasta salad can actually be pretty convenient as well, and a whole lot healthier.

The first rule for making a nutritious pasta salad is cutting down on the mayonnaise dressing, or even better skipping it altogether. Opt for your favorite oil and vinegar based dressing, such as Italian or herb. Then simply chop up any veggies you have on hand. Celery, green, red and yellow peppers, onion, carrot, cucumber, tomato - the combinations are endless. Add in some olives and feta for a Greek version. Canned tuna is a great way to add healthy protein. And I shouldn't have to say it but whole wheat pasta is a must. Never pass up an opportunity to increase your fiber intake.

Directions: Cook the pasta el dente so your salad isn't soggy and mix it all together. No really, that's all you have to do.

As with most foods, no matter how much you alter pasta salad it still won't be lacking in the calories department. So control your portions. Take a small scoop of a few and load the rest of your plate with veggies and some lean protein. And because we all like variety, let us know how you make your pasta salad.

Kentucky Grilled Chicken a Small Step in the Right Direction

May 6th, 2009 No comments

As you know the F in KFC stands for fried. But not anymore. Kentucky Fried Chicken is now offering a slow grilled alternative that has almost half the fat, sodium (although it's still high in sodium) and calories of the original fried recipe.

Sounds like a step in the right direction, but I just can't wrap my mind around the idea of KFC being a place to eat healthy. Hopefully when people are choosing the grilled chicken they also pick better sides and drinks, such as green beans and salad (not the ceaser) while skipping the almost 200 calorie options, which include mac & cheese, BBQ baked beans and of course the home-style biscuit.

Sure the chicken is grilled, but that won't matter if you complete your meal with 800 calories worth of sides and beverages.The garlic parmesan dipping sauce sounds delicious, but at 130 calories and 13 grams of fat it might not be the best idea.

Just for fun I tried out KFC's nutrition calculator (click on nutrition facts) to find out what it would take to put together a decent meal. It's a little time consuming and I can't help but wonder if this was intended. Only the truly motivated will stick around to see the results, and they are probably not the people who would be eating at a KFC anyways.

My meal: 1 grilled chicken breast, a side salad with low fat italian dressing, a small cob of corn (no butter) and the biscuit (8 grams of fat without adding butter). It comes in at just under 500 calories, which comparitively isn't bad. The 1640 mg of sodium is though - it's more than half of what the CDC considers to be the upper limit for sodium intake. It's above the limit for those with high blood pressure or over the age of 40.

The bottom line is if you already eat at KFC a grilled chicken meal is better than a fried one. But don't fool yourself into thinking it is a great choice. If you have the willpower to be around all those temping breads, side dishes, sauces and desserts without giving in and ordering them then a KFC grilled chicken meal every once in a while isn't going to hurt. If you often give in to temptation it's probably best to avoid this sort of place altogether.

The grilled chicken is only in U.S. locations right now so I've haven't had a chance to try it, let me know if you have and what you think about it.

Categories: nutrition and health Tags: ,