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  • Writer's pictureMindy Roth

Why Very Low Calorie Diets Are NOT Always The Answer

A few days ago, I asked my Facebook group, “What was the lowest amount of calories someone has recommended you to consume to lose weight?” Some of the answers were appalling!

dumping out green juice

As the availability of high-calorie foods has resulted in the widespread incidence of obesity, attempts to decrease body weight have concentrated on a mostly low-calorie intake approach. Although low-calorie diets have shown to lower weight in some people, this is often the result of water and muscle loss - and we usually don't want muscle loss! In the United States, 68% of the population is considered overweight or obese. But has the focus on reducing caloric intake the most appropriate way to battle this pandemic?

I am not saying reducing caloric intake is not appropriate, a calorie deficit is definitely important for most people in regard to weight loss, but there are so many ways to aide in weight loss without an extreme reduction of calorie intake. Many of the big weight loss companies that we hear about often ask male and female participants to consume 600-900 calories a day. The average caloric intake for both men and woman are usually at least twice that amount!

So why do low-calorie diets NOT always lead to weight loss? First, they are tough to stick to for an extended period! An extreme calorie deficit can also lead to a disordered eating pattern, which can have life-long consequences and damage. Also, did you know that your body adapts to changes very easily? That is why many people hit a plateau in their weight loss.

A plateau can also occur with minimal caloric intake, and after our body adapts to the minimal intakes, it learns how to store fat and energy for a later time. This does not aid in weight loss.

David Benton et al. states, “when a larger portion supplies more calories, if it is part of a general and prolonged increase in energy intake, it will tend to be stored as fat.

The body does not try to reduce subsequent food intake to return to the preexisting body weight but rather anticipates starvation by storing energy. In contrast, if calorie intake is reduced, the body compensates by decreasing its metabolic rate or stimulating food intake.” Dieting, even during short term periods, can lead to long term changes in appetite and gut hormone changes, which can cause weight regain. Weight cycling and yo-yo dieting often result in weight regain and an increase in hunger hormones as well.

So what can we do to continue to lose weight? Some things we can do is monitor our portions, pay attention to our hunger cues, and monitor our intakes. These are some of the easiest ways to track our weight in a healthy, long term way.

Are you interested in losing weight without cutting out your favorite foods or too many calories all together? Let’s talk about it!

©Mindy Roth Nutrition

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