We hear it all the time: “if you want to lose weight, just eat less!” Is it really that simple? Not exactly! While there are times where overeating can lead to weight gain, undereating is definitely not the answer to successful weight loss. Building healthy habits and making long term lifestyle changes are way more effective, and here’s why…
Undereating Can Slow Down Your Metabolism
Did you know undereating can actually slow down your metabolism…aka, the exact opposite of what you want for weight loss. Our bodies burn a certain amount of calories in a day. This total amount of calories burned is affected by a number of different factors such as your exercise level, your genetics, your age, your gender, etc. If you start to eat less calories than you burn for a long period of time, your body starts to adjust to this new caloric intake. This is a survival mechanism known as starvation mode. Your body starts to conserve energy since it knows it isn’t getting much energy in, it doesn’t want to put too much energy out. This process results in a slowed metabolism. The reason this becomes such an issue is that once you stop undereating, your body will still be burning less calories than it once did as your metabolism is still slowed. This means you may start to gain weight on a healthy amount of calories resulting in weight gain later on.
Less Calories Does Not Equal Health
Just because your diet is low calorie does not mean your diet is healthy. Undereating puts you at risk for vitamin and mineral deficiency and also makes it difficult to be consuming adequate amounts of major nutrients like protein, carbohydrates and fat. While you may see some weight loss at first, this is unhealthy weight loss that cannot be sustained due to the issues with metabolism discussed above, as well as the fact that this is an unenjoyable and unhealthy way of life. Restriction almost always leads to overeating later on, and it is very difficult to restrict your favorite foods long term.
Quality Over Quantity
Nutrient dense food is not always low calorie food, and that does not mean it should be avoided. For example: a grain bowl with rice, veggies and protein may be more calories than a simple salad, but it will also keep you fuller for longer due to the added satisfying carbohydrates and protein. Try focusing on what you can add to your diet instead of what you can take away. More fruits, more veggies, more protein and more whole grains will get you further than thinking of all the foods you “shouldn’t eat”. Think about eating more whole quality foods and don’t stress so much about eating less.
If you’re tired of undereating in an effort to lose weight and want to learn healthy habits that can be used for long term success in terms of both weight loss and overall health, schedule a call with Alli or inquire about her Nourished Nutrition Breakthrough.
Undereating is never the answer, and you deserve to live a life free of dieting and restriction!
This article was written by Lindsey Moser, nutrition intern. Fact checked by Allison Tallman RD.