"Fercci! Why am I not losing weight!? I’m eating less than 1000 calories a day!!" I got this question a few days ago, and I needed to write an article about it! Calorie counting has been advertised as the key to weight loss; because of this, lots of people think that by lowering the number of calories they eat a day, they will get the body they want! But healthy weight management is so much more than that!
First of all, let’s understand something. A calorie from fat is not the same as a calorie from protein or carbohydrate. If we talk about thermodynamics, FINE, a calorie is a calorie. BUT different foods go through different metabolic pathways. Now that we made that clear let’s move on to another reason why only counting calories is not the way to go. For this, I have invited Michelle Routhenstein, a Preventive Cardiology Dietitian based in NYC. Let’s see what she has to say!
Michelle, thanks so much for taking the time for Team Fercci! We are so thrilled to have you here. Can you tell us what exactly our metabolism is?
Hi Fercci! I’m so glad to participate. Metabolism is the rate at which your body expends energy or burns calories. Your body needs to burn energy to do regular daily functions such as breathing, circulating blood, adjusting hormone levels, and growing/repairing cells.
How exactly does our body burns energy?
It does this in three ways:
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – the energy used to keep the body functioning at rest, 50-80% of daily energy use.
Energy used during physical activity - about 20% of everyday energy use.
Thermic effect of food - energy used to eat, digest and break down food, 5-10% of energy use.
Wow! So Our BMR burns the most energy! What happens to it when we starve and try eating a small number of calories a day for weight loss?
Basal metabolic rate decreases most when calories are over restricted and can be most damaged if you have a history of yo-yo dieting.*
*(Yo-yo dieting is when we do short-term changes in our diet and activity. For example, dropping out of a fad diet because the requirements are ridiculous and not sustainable!)
Why is this so bad and how not eating can make us gain weight!?
By restricting calories, your body goes into starvation mode, which lowers your basal metabolic rate to conserve energy. When your basal metabolic rate is lower, you lower your metabolism and your body’s ability to burn more calories at rest, causing a weight loss effort sabotage.
Interesting! So the less we eat, the longer we starve, the less we lose?
How can we boost our metabolism?
First EAT. Focus on revving your metabolism by listening to your hunger signals. This will allow for proper weight loss and maintenance.
Second. Use a healthy balanced diet to increase your metabolic rate throughout life to avoid weight gain.
Third. Exercise. interval training is a great way to increase the metabolic rate even on the next rest day.
Finally. Sleep! Sleeping is necessary to maintain a healthy metabolic rate. 7-8 hours is ideal.
All this is also an essential piece of the puzzle when we are focusing on preventing heart attacks, stroke, and heart disease! - Michelle Routhenstein
So summarizing, what you want besides counting your calories, is actually increasing your metabolic rate. Being healthy and staying fit is not about punishing yourself and eating less, it is about learning how your body functions and learning how to maintain a healthy lifestyle!
Liked this article!? Share your comments on my page! @AskFercci
Want to connect with Michelle? You can do so by visiting her IG @heart.health.nutritionist
- Or send her an email! Michelle@EntirelyNourished.com