Are you eating enough?
I know, media everywhere tells you that 1200 calories is your magic number to lose weight. But did you know that 1200 calories is actually the recommended daily intake of an active 12 year old? Unless you’re a 12 year old scrolling through insta (and if you are, please don’t worry about calories and go enjoy your life), you need to be eating more calories.
Not eating enough in search of the perfect body can not only harm you and your health in numerous ways, but it can also hinder your weight loss goals. When you don’t have the proper fuel for the day, you have less energy and feel tired and run down obviously, but you also aren’t going to be able to put in the quality effort needed in your workouts. It seems counterintuitive to need to eat more to lose weight, but bear with me for a few minutes while we get science-y.
RMR is your resting metabolic rate, or the amount of calories that your body burns daily, not taking into account activity levels. This is the amount that your body would burn if you were in a coma, and is based mainly on your body size. As well, a good amount of your RMR is based on the amount of muscle in your body. As you start to diet and lose weight, you will decrease your body size. This also means your RMR will decrease. Especially if you aren’t eating enough protein, almost 30% of the mass you lose will be muscle, reducing your RMR even further. Your body is not dumb, and it adapts to what you put it through. This means that if you lower the amount of calories you give your body, your body will respond by expending less calories daily. Not only are you expending less calories, but you are losing the muscle definition and appearance that you are dieting to get. To continue to make progress now, we need to lower calories even further. This can lead to dangerously low calorie amounts, so how do we fix this?
To increase the amount of calories in our diets without gaining back everything we’ve lost, we implement a process known as a reverse diet. This is a gradual and systematic increase in calories and carbohydrates to allow for adaptation in the body. As we increase the amount of calories we consume, our body will respond by increasing the amount of energy it expends. Not only will you expend more daily because of the increase in RMR, but also you will get your energy back. You will be able to fly through a workout with the effort that you haven’t been able to because of lack of food.
When do we want to reverse diet?
Have you: 1) been in a calorie deficit for an extended time? 2) stalled in your progress? 3) feel run down and miserable? If any or all of these questions apply to you, then it’s time to reverse diet. Your body is not meant to run at a deficit all the time. If it was, it wouldn’t be a deficit.
Now, it is important to stress that a reverse diet is a gradual process, you don’t just get to eat more overnight. If you jump too much too soon, your body will respond by storing the excess calories that it hasn’t gotten around to expending yet. It also takes a good amount of trial and error to see what calories and carbohydrate jump works best for you personally. It took me around 6 months to reverse myself from 1700 calories up to 2200 calories, losing 15lbs, mostly fat, in the process. You shouldn’t be afraid of calories, they are essential to energy and essential to your results. Make sure your diet isn’t hindering your progress.