Are You Stalling Because You Are Eating Too Much or Too Little?

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So, you want to start losing weight. What’s the first thing that you think of? Reducing your calorie intake, correct? This isn’t always the answer, though cutting out processed foods is the best idea.

So, it’s common knowledge that it’s a good idea to keep an eye on how much you eat, especially when the goal is weight loss. There is the possibility to take too little calories. In some cases, not eating enough can affect your weight-loss efforts, especially if you have hit a plateau.

I’m going to explain the scientific reasons of when, why, and how eating more can help you lose weight.

Eating too little can sabotage your weight-loss efforts.

Let’s say you are seriously under eating. Usually, 500 calories or more under what your maintenance calories are at. But after a while, your body will start to panic.

When you are not supporting your body with enough calories or fuel, your metabolism takes a dive, and you burn fewer calories. This is an adaptive response to your body believing that it is in famine mode and wanting to conserve energy (aka hold on to those calories).

I have seen clients eating why too few calories and could not lose weight. Once they allow more foods into their diets (complex carbohydrates that so many are afraid to touch and were able to get their calorie intake up to the appropriate amount, they started losing weight again. It’s not always as simple as the “calories in, calories out”. That idea only applies when you’re providing enough fuel for your body.

Your body needs food for support, so it feels safe and be able to support the energy needs, but also the right proportions of nutrients (carbs, fats, proteins) and vitamins and minerals.

Types of food matter.

Like eating enough, you cannot eat the correct types of foods. You want to prioritize high-quality whole foods over processed food.

While some may think it sounds completely crazy that eating more can be the key to losing weight, but when you are talking about the type of food you eat, then this might not be as insane as you think. Often it’s forgotten that it’s not always about the physical amount of food that you are eating, but also the types of food you are eating. For example, those protein bars your friend has given you a discount code for and you start by eating those all the time, is not the same as eating a well-balanced diet of voluminous fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins. It might look like you are eating more food in the second situation, but you’re giving your body more to work with that can be turned into energy.

You should consider eating more complex carbs and high-fiber foods. Compared to simple carbohydrates and highly refined processed foods, complex carbohydrates and fibrous foods take longer to digest so your body uses more energy (or calories) to break them down. So, try increasing the amount of fruit, beans, grains, and vegetables in your diet.

You’re burning calories without even knowing it.

There are several ways that your body burns calories for energy. One is through your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, which is how many calories your body burns each day at rest. You can also burn energy through activity, but also through when your body digests your food. If you don’t know your BMR, you can always contact us at BariatricA on Facebook.

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT, is the energy that you burn while doing everything that is not digesting, breathing, eating, or doing any sports-like activity. Some examples of NEAT activities include cooking, cleaning, fidgeting, yard work, or manual labor. It is all the small activities that you do outside of the gym that can help you burn more calories in the long run.

People with more NEAT in their lives tend to be leaner than those who are more sedentary. So, when you look at someone who seems to be “naturally lean” it’s not always that they have a faster metabolism, it may just be they are more active than most people.

So, what does this all have to do with eating more? Science shows that people who eat more are more likely to move more. Therefore, they will burn more calories. Research suggests that when subjects are provided too few calories, their NEAT scores drop. This contrasts with subjects who were deliberately overfed calories, who saw a resulting increase in NEAT. NO, I’m not saying go out and overeat. The mechanism behind NEAT isn’t known, but it’s thought to be a combination of conscious efforts to move more because you have more energy and moving more in unconscious ways, like fidgeting.

Now before you get TOO excited, whether that increased activity nets out to increased weight loss is highly individual. Some people may experience weight gain when they increase their calories and NEAT if that extra NEAT doesn’t quite compensate for the calorie increase, especially if they were already eating plenty. But if you’re feeling supper lethargic and you’re eating a very low number of calories, it might be worth considering increasing your calories and prioritizing movement.

Regardless, trying to incorporate more NEAT into your day can promote weight loss – provided you have an adequate calorie intake to fuel it. NEAT itself can be beneficial for an individual who is overweight and sedentary. Increasing daily activities, like parking at the back of the parking lot, choosing the stairs instead of the elevator, or doing yard work instead of hiring a landscaper can help someone be more active, increase NEAT, and burn more calories.

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