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March 31, 2008

Why Diets Fail....part II

Not eating enough - This is a common theme and probably the hardest to get dieters to understand.  While it is true that to lose weight you need to consume fewer calories than you burn, dieters take tend to take it farther than they should.

Over restricting your caloric intake has a number of effects, not the least of which is that it will slow metabolism.  This is sometimes called starvation mode.  I don't like the term because it implies that there is a switch in your body that gets flipped.  This isn't really what happens.  The body simply slows down to protect itself....registering the drastic reduction of food as a famine.  While fat stores are burned for energy, so is muscle mass.....and that is where the real problem comes from.

If a person over restricts their calories, they will burn not just fat...but a combination of fat and muscle.  So while they come off the diet, they now have less muscle than they started with...so they burn less calories than they did before starting the diet.  Before the diet, they might have been able to eat 2000 calories a day and maintain their weight....but now that they lost some muscle, they will gain weight on that same 2000 calories a day. 

This is of course oversimplifying.  Most everyone that loses weight also loses some muscle in the process.  That is why weight lifting is pushed so much by fitness professionals.  Constantly rebuilding lost muscle while you diet will keep you burning calories at a high rate.  But if you are over restricting calories, then no amount of weight lifting is going to keep you from burning off your muscle while you go deeper into the hole.

I had this happen to me a couple of times before I got a good grasp on what I was doing.  The last time I had restricted my calories down to about 1400 a day.  While I was still losing weight, it was starting to seriously slow down.

I was in a panic.  I couldn't eat any less...and I didn't see how I could exercise more.  I was already working out twice a day.

I had the good fortune to have a friend that set me straight on how much I should be eating.  Around the same time, I got my Body Bugg...so I was able to track how many calories my body was burning.  The first three months I had the Bugg, I increased my caloric intake to 2000/day and watched as my muscles slowly built back up.  And I was still losing weight at the same time....slowly...but it was still coming off.

The interesting part of this happened while I slept.CantSleep2  The Body Bugg reported that I burned about 50 calories per hour.  After I increased my calories, my burn rate increased immediately.  It settled down at about 100 calories per hour.  This makes the point more than anything else.  When I was over restricting, I would only burn about 400 calories during those 8 hours.  But when I properly fueled my body, I could burn about 800 calories in the same amount of time.

I could burn an extra 400 calories a night....and all I had to do was eat more.

Progress Report

Went clothes shopping last weekend.  Picked up two XL shirts and two size 33 pants.  Just to see if I could do it, I tried on the size 32s.  I could squeeze into them...but they weren't really comfortable enough to wear.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

As always a great read with valuable information. I have fallen into that cycle before and still have to remind myself to build as I lose. Thanks for the lift.


April 2, 2008 at 10:23 AM  

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