So you want to achieve or maintain a healthy weight, the trick is to eat less right? Not necessarily. When you eat too little for too long, your body goes into starvation mode, slowing down your metabolism and halting fat loss. So where is the sweet spot?
Really, this will be different for everyone based on your height, lean muscle mass, weight, activity level, age and metabolism. Using an online calculator to figure out your bodies unique caloric needs based on these factors can be helpful in finding that sweet spot. In a previous article It is all about the numbers February 2018 we shared some helpful tips and online calculators pertaining to this very subject.
Here are some helpful tips to help you determine if you are eating enough:
- Listen to your body. Are you hungry? Not sure? Try drinking water to rule out dehydration and if your body is still asking for food 15 minutes later, then try a small snack.
- Do you feel like you are low on energy? Again, try drinking some water as dehydration is the number 1 reason for that mid afternoon slump. If your exhaustion is more constant and you have been restricting your calories, try upping your calories a little to see if you notice a difference.
- Get the best bang for your buck – choose nutrient dense foods that will sustain blood sugar levels and fuel your body. Foods high in protein, healthy fats, minimally processed whole or sprouted grains and fruits and vegetables are superior choices over highly processed foods, fast foods and foods with added sugars.
- Do you notice that despite working out you are not seeing the muscle tone you hoped for? This could be a sign that you are not getting enough to fuel your body, especially enough protein to support lean muscle.
Most importantly, know that weight loss does not mean that you are becoming healthier. The number on the scale is simply a representation of gravity pushing down on your body. When the scale goes down, the decrease should be from fat loss and not muscle and bone loss. Unfortunately, with most calorie restrictive diets, more muscle and bone are lost due to starvation than fat. Traditional medical practices are not helpful in this area either as the Body Mass Index is still widely used as an indicator of ideal weight and overall health. BMI is solely based on your height and weight and makes no accommodations for lean body mass (muscle, skin, bone) versus body fat. Someone who is muscular with low body fat is often deemed obese and unhealthy by their BMI and likewise someone who is thin, but has higher body fat and less muscle is deemed healthy.
Instead of focusing solely on the scale, pay attention to how you feel, how your clothes fit and how your body is responding in regards to lean muscle mass. It is possible to lose fat, feel great and develop lean muscle without starving and depriving yourself.