Eating Right More Important Than Cutting Calories

Consuming Too Little Can Slow Weight Loss

Fresh Veggies and Low Fat DipCredit: CDC/ Mary Anne FenleyAccording to the University of Florida, two out of every 10 people want to improve their diet. The biggest reason that these people give for dieting is to lose weight. Yet even as some dieters cut calories they actually lose less weight.

The reason for this is that when someone who is trying to lose weight cuts too many calories from their diet their metabolism slows.

Ohio State University defines metabolism as the rate your body burns calories when at rest to give your cells with the fuel they need to work. A person with a slower metabolism, such as someone with a sedentary lifestyle burns fewer calories than an active person with a faster metabolism. 

The Relationship Between Diet and Slower Metabolisms

To understand how a body’s metabolism slows from dieting you must understand how humans are genetically wired for survival. At one time our ancestors lived much closer to starvation than we do now. During lean times their bodies slipped into a starvation mode that slowed down the rate at which their body processes worked. This helped them to get by on fewer calories.

Because our bodies are hardwired for survival, we still slip into starvation mode when we cut our calories drastically. This makes it tougher to lose weight. A suggested calorie intake for weight loss is around 1,200 calories daily.

Avoiding Fad Diets

Fad diets usually overemphasize one food or type of food over all others. Examples include high protein programs or plans such as the cabbage soup or grapefruit diets. People who try these diets usually burn out quickly and then gain all of their weight back. Worse yet, those who try fad diets run the risk of developing health problems that range from gout to cancer. Instead, the USDA recommends eating a balanced diet that has a variety of foods each day.

Eating Properly When Dieting

The solution is to work with a physician to decide a safe amount of calories to cut from your diet. Additionally, you can keep your body from slipping into starvation mode by eating smaller meals more often. According to Clemson State University, any time a person goes six hours without eating, their metabolism slows. Additionally, when they become hungry they are more apt to eat too much of the first fattening food they can find.

Control Portion Sizes

The key to controlling calories is to limit portion sizes. Most dieters should have less than 2 oz. of red meat and not more than 60 grams of carbohydrates each day. The rest of your diet should include healthy fruits and vegetables. The American Institute for Cancer Research estimates that two-thirds or more of your plate should be made up of plant-based foods such as leafy greens and other vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fruits.

Avoid Vice

Dieters should also limit their intake of things that are known to cause weight gain such as sugars, alcohol and deserts such as cakes and cookies.

A diet is not a short-term program. Instead it is a lifelong commitment to eating right. If your diet program is not one you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life, you should find a new program.