You’re not eating enough to lose weight, and your fear of eating more food is holding you back. Here’s how to bump up your calories without stressing out.
How Eating Too Few Calories Affects Your Weight Loss
Chances are, your weight loss woes are NOT a result of eating too much. In fact, you’re likely eating below your BMR and not getting enough nutrition to support your activity levels.
Eating fewer and fewer calories does not result in better weight loss. When your body senses an energy deficit it slows its metabolism by reducing the output of important hormones.
Keep your energy deficit small and your body will feel safe letting go of stored energy reserves (body fat). Create too large of one and your body will compensate by shutting down the fat loss process.
This leads to a negative feedback cycle of lower calories causing a slower metabolism, which results in you needing fewer and fewer calories to achieve the same fat loss effects. Eventually, you’re eating 1200 calories or less and your weight won’t budge.
If you’re one of those people who barely eats anything and still can’t lose weight, and the thought of raising your calories even the slightest sends you into a panic, the following tips are for you.
Keep Close Track of Your Calories
If you aren’t already doing so, you’re going to want to track your calorie intake to a “T”. Don’t let any food get eaten without being logged. This is going to be an extremely important step towards staying in control while you get over your fear of eating more.
Do It Slowly
To keep your weight gain in check, you must increase your calories in small but incremental steps. If you go from 1200 calories per day to 1800, your metabolism is not going to have a chance to adapt, and you will gain unwanted body fat.
Your goal is going to be to increase your calories by 50-100 per day a week at a time. So, if you’re eating 1200 now, this week you are going to eat 1250. Next week you’ll eat 1300.
Over the course of 12 weeks you will have increased your calories by 600 per day without any negative changes to your body composition. You will feel better, have more energy, and will be getting in more nutrition to support your goals.
Prepare Yourself for Weight (Not Fat Gain)
Now, you absolutely must differentiate between weight and fat during this process. While weight gain is possible, it doesn’t always happen. Regardless, you have to ignore it. Why?
Because weight is not fat. If you are strength training and eating below maintenance calories, it is close to impossible to gain fat.
The weight you do gain (if any) is a function of intracellular water retention from extra fuel inside your muscles in the form of muscle glycogen. This is good weight and will help you with your goals.
It does not make you fatter. It does not make you look bigger. It makes you look fitter and gives you energy to power through intense workouts. Welcome it with open arms.
Measure Your Non-Scale Progress
To ensure you’re on the right track, you have to measure your progress, and the scale just isn’t going to get it done. This is because the scale measures weight, which is close to meaningless for our purposes.
We want to know what’s going on with our body fat, and the scale won’t measure that. To do that we need to measure it with body fat calipers.
If you don’t have those, take a tape measure and measure the circumference of your legs, hips, waist, chest, and arms. Then, go and take a progress picture.
You’ll want these measurements, as they will keep your head screwed on right when the scale is playing tricks on you. Remember, weight is not fat, and fat gain is non-existent in a calorie deficit if you’re exercising.
You Now Have a Primed Metabolism
This is the moment you’ve been working for. This methodical increase in calories has gotten you to a point where your metabolism is running at 100% efficiency.
It now takes the calories you consume and throws them on the fire to be burned. Your new higher calorie intake also brings with it more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to fully optimize the functioning of your body’s fat loss system.
You’re no longer hungry all the time and the added energy is pushing you to new records with your workouts. The best part is you are about to lose weight eating more calories than you ever have before.
Reverse the process and start decreasing your calories by 50 per day for a week at a time. If you made it all the way up to 1800, then lower it to 1750/day for the first week. Watch as your body starts shedding body fat like it’s going out of style.
Go through this process just once and you’ll be a believer. There’s no need to fear eating more food. Food is nutrition. Food is health. Food will help you reach your fat loss goals.