Why Low-Calorie Diets Will Make You Fat!
By Flavia Del Monte – RN, CPT, Precision Nutrition Certified
Science shows that diets that restrict calories can actually make it harder to lose fat and keep it off. Learn how to stop the never-ending struggle with stubborn fat in your womens fitness routine.
Being a woman is tougher than ever with all the hype and “1 strange weight loss tip” on the market. Celebrity diets have populated the magazines; even gaining favor in television shows. Horrible!
Low calorie diets rave how “normal” people like you and me can look just like celebrities. But do you really want to be starved of nutrients, while your hormones are completely unbalanced, causing feelings of helplessness and depression?
“Everything in moderation.”
Ever hear that one? Although there is some weak truth to that, eating everything in moderation will keep you overweight!
Women all over the world are suffering from eating disorders who are clearly unaware of having one. If you’re skipping meals or eating very little in order to lose weight….STOP!!
These actions will only make you pack on the pounds, sometimes at rapid rates.
Eating less than your body requires will slow your metabolism, making weight loss impossible and will negatively affect your health.
As you have heard, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and yet many people still confess to eating only a piece of fruit for breakfast.
Food is used for energy, cell structure, regulating hormones and chemical reactions. Food takes one of three directions upon ingestion: energy use, storage, or excretion.
The body receives energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. If our stores of carbohydrates and fats are in short supply, our body will turn to muscle for breakdown of amino acids (stored proteins) for energy, causing muscle atrophy.
Let’s Not Be Mean But Who Looks Better? Higher Calorie Girl or Lower Calorie Girl?
LOW CALORIES = MUSCLE WASTING
- Low Carbohydrate diets deplete the liver and muscle of energy, which causes muscle wasting, lack of energy, and will compromise your health.
- Low Calorie diets, while reducing body weight (usually for a short period of time), will ultimately poorly affect your health and in most cases will have a rebound effect.
- Low calories will reduce muscle mass and strength.
When nutrient intake is low, the metabolic rate will become low for three reasons: Decreased thyroid function, reduced thermic effect of eating and reduction in muscle mass.
While reductions in muscle mass causes a lack of endurance (especially during exercise), in turn will lead to osteoporosis and lack of independence as you age.
The Worst Part: FAT STORAGE
Fat storage is the largest form of storage in the body. Low calorie diets, and long waits in between meals, signal the body that starvation is occurring. With this signaling, the body will turn on the storage mode.
Eating every 2-4 hours has been researched to show a positive effect on body composition and overall heath. Frequent eating boosts metabolism, regulates blood sugars and maintains muscle mass.
Expert Nutritionists believe obesity occurs from a lack of nutrients in diets. Hunger never subsides as the body is signaling for nutrition to be ingested. We are seeing vitamin deficiency diseases come back that haven’t been around for decades.
Your body doesn’t understand what to do with processed foods. Diets high in sugar, sodium and processed foods do not seem to signal the body of being full and therefore leads to hunger.
EATING TOO LITTLE IS WEIGHT LOSS SUICIDE
Eating fewer calories than body requirement will deprive your body of essential nutrients that will poorly influence your health. If you have any questions, I always welcome them below. Keep your questions specific to the article content above.
— Flavia Del Monte
R.N., C.P.T., PN Certified
Join the discussion 35 Comments
Questioning blanket statements is not being negative in my book Flavia and I don’t mean any disrespect but I find you making absolute statements that just don’y hold water or are not 100% true.
Eating less than your body requires will slow your metabolism, making weight loss impossible and will negatively affect your health. As you have heard, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and yet many people still confess to eating only a piece of fruit for breakfast.
Food is used for energy, cell structure, regulating hormones and chemical reactions. Food takes one of three directions upon ingestion: energy use, storage, or excretion. The body receives energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. If our stores of carbohydrates and fats are in short supply, our body will turn to muscle for breakdown of amino acids (stored proteins) for energy, causing muscle atrophy.
The above is somewhat true but not accurate as you have it. For fat loss there will almost always be a need for eating less calories then your maintenance.
What do you mean if fat stores are in short supply? Isn’t that the goal we want if we want to lower body fat? This I find is very confusing.
Also your breakfast is the most important meal of the day does not explain how does who are doing say ESE or Intermittent Fasting who don’t eat breakfast.
The body simply does not start to use muscle as fast as you make it seem.
These are some of the things I was made aware of when someone gave me a copy of a report reviewing yours.
I am not questioning your certs just the information.
Keep up the great work as I know you mean well 🙂
Sally, I will answer questions when I have time to answer them. If I have to give an answer to a long question when I am traveling, I will skip it and get back to it….for all those reading who are not Sally..she sent me a nasty post that I trashed because I didn’t respond at her convenience.
My point is to make women aware that eating too little calories will negatively impact their body composition. If I were to go to the gym and have a hard workout without eating prior, I would certainly breakdown my muscle. Points I am trying to get women to understand is they need to eat enough proper nutritients to have a better body composition…while starving themselves to get lean will only hurt them in the long run.
I fast day once a month….but that is not what I am teaching in my report.
I am shocked that you say I trashed you Flavia when I was just pointing out some statements that are not 100% correct. I understand that in marketing we need to stretch things.
My point is to make women aware that eating too little calories will negatively impact their body composition. If I were to go to the gym and have a hard workout without eating prior, I would certainly breakdown my muscle.
You might want to talk with Martin Berkhan about that statement as his clients train fasted for 18 hours and are not losing muscle.
Are you talking fat loss or building muscle as I would agree if it was building muscle.
I see that flavia is speaking to the masses and educating many. You are both right. Eating too little will slow metabolism so low calorie diets have shown time and time again to be bad. Of fact to lose FAT most people start eating whole foods and the right foods with good nutrients an often eat more than ever before. As for IF, this may help some and shows to be good to heal and repair digestion and can increase growth hormone for muscle growth. But then we go back to the need to eat more calories to have muscle growth. So IF can work but be very careful who you use IF with most o our society needs to eat more real food and cut out the stuff without nutrients. Cut out the fake foods
So I would say flavia is correct. Enuf said
I’m not hungery in the morning. Haven’t eaten breakfast for seven years, have been lifting weights for 10 years. Well my energy levels are fine throughout the day and the feeling of hunger as well as symptoms of low blood sugar is very rare for me–I skip lunch regularily as well… . The most I feel is parched so I drink water like a mad woman. I haven’t noticed muscle wasting or strength loss either, though my body fat percentage is 18.9.
When I do eat I get bloated and very uncomfortable. Doesn’t matter what or amount unless it is very little.
What do you suggest I do for better eating habits and what kind of tests should I have done by my doctor?
PS: Loved the response you gave to “sally”*g*
Hey Loni, I get that way when I don’t eat enough fiber and don’t get enough water in. Try to increase fiber and water and try to eat small meals throughout the day, starting with breakfast….you can train your body to get hungry by feeding it in the morning!
4 yrs ago I underwent gastric bypass surgery and so I am not able to consume the amount of food and calories the program suggests (2520), how do you think this will affect my fat and weight loss and muscle gain? I began the program today (5/2/11), and within the first 4 meals I have consumed 1322 (protein and 2 veggies at each meal and a carb after my morning workout). I enjoy juicing, do you think this will be an effective way to add more calories?
Eat as you feel comfortable doing. You will just lose weight at a rapid rate but not build a lot of muscle in doing so. IF you want to build muscle, you will have slow down your workout and concentrate on slow controlled movements instead of the rapid speed that is suggested in the program.
I love your workout! when I ordered it, it offered to let me buy the nutrition plan and I didn’t, but now I wish I did. Is there a way that I could purchase it? what exactly does it include?
Yes but can you email me at [email protected] or submit a helpdesk ticket at flaviliciousfitness.com/helpdesk as this is only available to members…when you receive the link, it will provide you with all the details before you purchase it.
Thank you so much!
I’m very excited to start your workout, all of the complaints about soreness must mean it does an amazing job 🙂 I just have a question about carbs vs calories. From skimming some of your material it sounds like you go for a combination of some low cal days and some low carb days. I guess I’m just confused about carbs in general because certain fruits are so high in carbs. On a low carb day should you avoid fruits as well or are fruit carbs “ok”?
Yes you should avoid fruit carbs on low cal/carb days.
What is this nutrition plan that I keep reading so much about? How can I get more info on it? I have 7 weeks before my beach vacation and I want to get the best results I can before I go. Thanks.
P.S.- love, love, LOVE the workouts!! They are challenging, but I’m definitely seeing results and I love the soreness that I feel in my muscles the day after a workout.
Can you send in a ticket to the helpdesk…it is available only to members so I can’t give it to you over the blog…. flaviliciousfitness.com/helpdesk Thanks so much!!!
so much wonderful info on here, : D.
Thanks for the post I actually learned something from it. Very good content on this site Always looking forward to new post.
Love your workouts!! They are fantastic! but the hardest I have ever done… and i just finished a round of P90X .. so thats saying something 🙂
My question is about nutrition, I have your nutrition guides and also the free recipes, I love the banana cinamon egg pancakes !! actually all those recipes were great and I was wondering where I could find more recipes like this?? did you create them? or did you get them from a book?? I really want more 😀
I created them and will be sending more as the weeks go by and will be adding them to this blog. I have friends that have great recipe books: http://www.MetabolicFatLossRecipes.com Check them out…really great stuff!
Awesome!! thanks so much 🙂 looking forward to more recipes 🙂
Just starting week 5 of your workouts, still loving it.. Have lost 4% body fat! But not a single pound, plus i havent dropped any size , feel firmer but still cant squeeze into my jeans! Is reducing calories the way to go here? I got the best results when on your deadline diet, but it also made me a bit hormone wacky. ha ha.. thanks a bunch Kate
Hey Kate….have you been measuring? Great job by the way! You need to measure and you will see that you are losing size just that I will be more noticable in certain areas where there is more fat….calorie reduction is good, but The Dealine Diet is not for a long term solution. Did you pick up No Brainer Nutrition Strategies?
I just want to say that you look absolutely amazing. Too many women try to starve themselves thin and become a slave to the scale.
My question is, when in a caloric deficit and the scale isn’t budging…what is the cause? I am doing EVERYTHING right and have been at a standstill for at least 5 weeks.
How many calories do you eat on intense workout days and on low calorie/low carb days? How many hours of activity do you log a week?
My calories and intensity varies depending on whether I am trying to lose weight or maintain. I never calorie count unless I am getting ready for something big (like now). The only thing I count is my carbs on my carb up days to make sure I am getting enough to re-fuel. You can find all of that information in ‘The Deadline Diet’. Right now I am doing HIIT 4 times a week with 1 slower cardio day (all 45 min) and doing 5 weight training sessions at night. I take two full days off. On an average week (when I am maintaining) I bank 5 hours of weight training at night with 3-45 min cardio sessions in the morning or at night after weights.
Do you just do the running/sprinting HIT workouts on 3 days, my cardiovasculor fitness isn’t great but would love to add in the HIT to boost my weight loss, would you suggest following the HIT programme that you have given us or should i start a bit slower, also i was planning on doing HIT in the morning and weight training in the evening, should i have carbs after both or just after my evening workout as usual?
Many thanks Flavia for the advice and the amazing programme 🙂
Follow the HIIT that came with FBL and only have carbs post evening workouts. The only time I would add it to the morning also is during maintaince phase or to increase muscle!
I have a question about the deadline diet. On the low cal/carb days I can do the 95 g of protein but I find that i am under for the fat and a little over on the carbs. On the high cal/carb days again no problem with the protein but way under with the carbs even though I ate two pieces of ezekiel bread and a bowl of oatmeal i only came to 158 and i was 15 g over on the fat. So can we have some sepecific deets of what you eat for a week.
when would you incorporate your leg routine that you did with roman.
There are some sample meal plans in The Deadline Diet. Use any of those carb sources and you want to stuff yourself with carbs to re-set your body. For the fats, a handful of almonds is around 15 grams so you can cut that out and again look at all your options. Don’t worry too much about 5 g here or there. Roman’s….if you are travelling or want to switch up Tight and Trim Thigs here and there, or add in some exercises onto any day of FBL!
On the deadline diet, can i take out the highcal/carb days and just do all low cal/carb days, as i have a holiday in 2 weeks and i would like to lose as much weight as possible, just wondering if this would maximize results?
No, you have to have the high cal/carb days to reboost your metabolism. The diet only works with the combination of the both days 🙂
I have severe muscle atrophy I am down to 450 calories a day and gaining not from starvation but losing muslce metabolism shut down. What should I do?
Increase your calories….450 is WAY to low. At least double that what you are taking in and slowly increase to 12 to 15 times your body weight. You should see a doctor with that low intake….very unhealthy and dangerous.
I’m having difficulty with the carb concept. I lost a lot of weight going low carb (I are a LOT of veggies though) I gained the weight back I believe because my calories were too low? I was eating a 1/3 cup of egg whites in the morning with avocado and then 7 oz of cod with a big salad. Is this why I gained? I’m so afraid that if I eat a serving of oatmeal or sweet potatoe or brown rice (basically any healthy carb) that I will gain even more weight. Can you give me some advice?also I am 5’7 and weigh 115 lbs but I have some fat on my inner thighs and lower belly that I’d like to tackle . I weight lift for an hour 4 days a week and do hiit 2 times. One day I spend doing a hill workout on the elliptical for 45 min . What am I doing wrong?
Thank you so much
I would recommend slowly increasing your daily carbohydrate intake and you could gain a few pounds at first but it is more than likely you replenishing your glycogen stores so do not be afraid of a couple pounds. Have you tried Flavia’s Curvalicious program? I think adding some more muscle mass to your body would greatly increase your metabolism so you will burn more calories and help you get that last bit of fat off. You can check it out here: http://www.curvaliciousworkout.com
All the best!
Anna, CPT, FF Specialist
I’d have to agree with Anna. I would have a good carb meal after your workouts to replenish. You may be starving your body of nutrients. Make sure you are writing down in a food journal every day so you can look back and see what is working and what isn’t working.