Thursday, August 21, 2008

Starving is Not the Answer

One of my good friends, a guy who happens to be about 6 feet tall, has been trying to drop a few pounds...mostly around his middle. He has that lanky build that no one in my family has, so instead of chunking out all over like we do, he was developing a little pot belly. Or beer belly. Literally.

He finally gave up the beer because of some health issues and he is looking good. When I saw him last he mentioned that he had hit a wall though. Hmmm...I think we call that a "plateau", and practically every woman on earth, or at least in the US knows that.

He told me he was frustrated because he was taking in less than 1000 calories a day and not losing weight.

If you are like my buddy, thinking that by dropping your caloric intake to extreme lows you will lose weight, then you too are in for a rude shock. Frankly, I thought he knew better than this, but he didn't.

If you reduce your calories you will lose weight at first. But if you do it by too much for very long your body thinks you are going through a famine period and will actually retain weight! Your metabolism will slow down and, because it won't be possible for you to maintain a ridiculously low caloric intake (especially if you aren't getting rewarded with dropping fat)you will start to eat more. So now if you eat a healthy amount of calories, say 1200-1500 for a typical woman wanting to drop some fat, more for a guy my friend's size, you will actually GAIN fat back.

I know this from personal experience. I tried the Liquid Protein Diet back in the 70s. I lost a lot of fat, sure, but it didn't last. And when I put the weight back on, it came on super fast and even more than I had lost. AND I had years and years of a whacked out metabolism making maintaining any kind of healthy weight extraordinarily difficult.

I have found that by mixing it up, I feel better and my body responds much better, too. Some days I might eat less than 1000 calories, but other days I eat over 2000. As long as I keep the variety my body stays in a healthy balance and my fat level is dropping. Not that I'm actually counting calories--but after decades of dieting, you start to get an idea of how many calories you are taking in, even without counting. Kind of like cooking without a recipe.

So my tip for the day is mix it up. Don't pig out all the time, but don't let your body think it will be starved either. You'll be able to enjoy life and you will be a healthier weight while you do!

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