In the years that I have trained for athletic endeavors myself and more recently trained others looking to get in shape, there is generally one common mistake made. For the people trying to lose fat….they think if I eat less and workout more then I will cut fat. This theory has been around forever and while marketing and such is very compelling, that does not mean it is right. Let’s discuss…
Let’s dissect this conversation into 2 pieces….
1- The person wanting to perform better:
Whenever talking with clients looking to increase their athletic performance they rarely ever need to eat less. They actually need to eat more food to sustain their current weight and to cut body fat. The answer to their nutritional needs is usually a better balanced approach and more fuel to support lean muscle mass.
Being at a slight caloric deficit is not that bad but being way under will ultimately undermine your goals.
2- The person that is wanting to cut fat and weight for more confidence:
This is a larger portion of the population, so I will expound a little more on this one. The idea that if a person only eats a small amount and works out a lot more will yield the results is just wrong. And the side effects are much worse than the lack of results alone.
If you have a significant deficit in your caloric intake (food) versus your caloric output (working out) you will create havoc. The result will yield a sluggish metabolism….it will slow itself down. After doing this for several days your body will recognize this new pattern and begin to think you are starving yourself…which you are. Its natural result will cause the metabolism to slow down and will ultimately store fat since it burns slowly. Your body is smart and is designed to survive and defend itself.
It starts by reducing the Thyroid hormones while increasing the stress hormones like Cortisol. When Cortisol is elevated it leads to Leptin and Insulin resistance which work together to regulate your metabolism. Bottom line you end up doing the opposite of what you are wanting to do. Also, not to pour more fuel on the fire but long term under-eating will create other problems:
-Low sex drive
-Bad mood swings
-Lack of concentration
While I have made the argument for not under eating to sabotage your goals, so how many calories do you need and how do you know if you are hitting them? There are several calculators out there, of which none of them are absolutely accurate (I hate to say). However, you first must start seeing where you are at by tracking your food intake over the course of a week or two. Then use a calculator online to get an idea.
I say an idea because there are so many factors:
-medications you take
-how often you excercise
The point is you need to start somewhere and be educated. We love helping to educate others with our nutrition coaches. Let us know if we can help you?