Conventional wisdom says that the way to lose weight is to eat less and exercise more. This may be true for some, but not for all. Here's why: ~ Our bodies need fuel (calories) to survive: to beat the heart, to grow the cells, to digest food, etc. The amount of daily energy we require for these activities is called our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). ~ Our BMR includes the extra calories (energy) used each day in order to perform activities other than basic life support, such as gardening, dancing, weight lifting, swimming, etc. ~ Basal, otherwise "basic," means the necessary requirements needed for the body to survive and function properly. ~ While eating fewer calories appears to be the solution to losing fat, falling below the recommended calorie intake can have a reverse effect. Specifically, you can actually gain more weight (i.e., FAT) by restricting your calories. This happens because your body tries to save the fat for later energy use.
Now that we’ve discussed how the body needs a certain number of calories per day to function, we should examine what happens if the body is not getting those calories. One would think the body would go to fat stores for fuel. This is not the case! ~ The body will put itself in "starvation mode" and save the fat for future survival. ~ The body will use muscle mass instead. That's right, if you starve your body, you will lose muscle, not fat. ~ What's more, the body already loses muscle mass (lean body weight) through the aging process, starting at about age 25 (yes, twenty-five- it's not a typo!). ~ So, you've lost muscle through aging. Then, you've lost more through dieting. Now what?! ~ Now, your BMR is SLOWER than before. So you eat the same (or go back to your old eating habits), but this time, you are burning fewer calories, so you gain weight. Only this time, your body composition is worse off: you have a higher percentage of fat.
FCCS is directed by Melinda Haynes, MA, California LMFT 102308. Oklahoma LMFT 1153. North Carolina LMFT 2143.