What?!? Not Eating Enough?!?
The answer to your weight loss goals is NOT blindly cutting calories and doing a ton of work. If you want to lose weight, make sure you aren’t doing too much and not eating enough. Most people will decide at some point that they need to lose weight. What do they do? They cut calories and begin some aggressive cardio routine or weight train thinking high reps with a blistering pace is the answer because they have to “burn fat”. This is NOT the answer and is OFTEN setting you up for failure in the long term. Most people have gained this weight while only eating 1 or 2 meals per day. In reality, they have been UNDER EATING and have a slowed metabolism.
So, here’s the lowdown. I see this all the time. I’ve seen a grown man of 300 pounds, asked him to log down what he was eating everyday so I can see what his calorie intake was at that time before he started his diet, the result, he was undereating. He had been eating just over 1000 calories per day. Ladies are included in this scenario also. I’ve seen ladies eating 750 calories per day and GAINING weight. Why is this?
Your Body The Machine
When we go so long, eating so little calories, our body (an adaptive machine that doesn’t care if you look good) and metabolism starts to slow down. It’s like turning off lights switches that you don’t need in your home. Your body is trying to CONSERVE energy. It’s working to adapt to your low-calorie intake and hold on to its LONG-TERM reserves, FAT! All it cares about is keeping your ass alive!
What is your metabolism? Your metabolism is the hundreds of thousands of chemical processes that go on in your body every day. So, if you’re not feeding it the right amount to sustain these processes and your muscle tissue with the right timing, your body begins to slow everything down. You might notice that you’ve gotten lethargic, tired and you don’t have much energy. Maybe your hair doesn’t grow as much. Your fingernails don’t grow as fast. Maybe you really just don’t notice it because it’s been happening slowly over time.
Your Body The Cannibal
As great as it is that you’ve made a choice/decision that you want to go all beast mode, if you just go out there and get started this way, you’re breaking your body down even further. Muscle is very expensive for your body in calories and by not eating enough, you’re already in the hole. Muscle tissue will get broken down in a catabolic state (muscle burning / fat storing). Your body will break down muscle tissue to become more efficient at burning LESS calories and use it as fuel while holding on to its long-term energy stores, FAT. Once the muscle tissue is broken down, it can no longer help you burn calories to lose fat which was your original goal, right? You are setting yourself up for FAT regain once you stop dieting and risk gaining even more fat than what you had at the beginning.
Are You Stuck?
Cleaning up your choices, eating more frequent and smaller portions will be the process of making a change for a person who has been extremely sedentary for a very long time. Just getting up and getting moving will spark change, however, if you go too far, too fast, you will put yourself in the rough situation I discussed above. If you’re working out and beating that treadmill down two hours a day, sure you may lose a little weight at first. Next, you stall but you keep going. Your body won’t budge, you have hit a plateau, your body is fighting you, it’s trying to survive and that’s what it’s supposed to do!
Keep this in mind! Even though you make some progress, your body adapts to what you are doing quickly. Your body adapts to that level of work and you have to maintain it to keep your progress. You are then forced to do even more and eat even less to get progress again. Once again, there are levels to this shit. You basically have to keep your body on its toes. You have to make small changes in your routine and nutrition along the way for STEADY PROGRESS.
The number one problem is not eating enough and doing too much. What do you do? Well, of course, you will want to know where you are right now. There are lots of apps out there to use or you can contact me for help. I will calculate what your intake should be right now and compare that to what you’re actually eating. With this information, we can make a plan going forward that ensures you are getting adequate calories to sustain your muscle and your activity level without triggering your body to fight you.
You never want to do more work or put more stress on the body than is absolutely necessary to make progress or start losing weight. You need to build muscle because it is the muscle that’s going to burn calories on 24-hour day basis, helping you lose weight and get lean. Once you start making better food choices, you need to use meal timing and increase your meal frequency. Don’t freak out but you need to get to where you’re eating every three to four hours in the correct portions with cleaner, better choices. If you need help with that, I’m certainly here to help.
I wouldn’t recommend any more than three days per week for a beginner starting out on weight training. Muscle building is the way to go! Remember, muscles burn calories. Weight training (resistance training) is the way to your long-term goals. Start out and progress appropriately over time by making small adjustments in your calorie intake and food choices. You didn’t gain weight overnight, you’re not going to lose all that weight overnight.
Be sure you are eating properly and have a proper plan. Of course, it’s better to just get out there and get started than to do nothing at all. However, you don’t want to do any more work than is absolutely, 100% necessary. Do just enough work to get progress. When that progress stalls, then you may have to make an adjustment. You’re not going to cut calories and get one workout program that’s going to solve all your problems for the rest of your life. That’s just not the way it works.
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