I was doing some research on a popular appetite suppressant for a future post when I had the thought “why do you want to suppress your appetite?” Well of course we know why you would want to do this: so that you’re not hungry and you don’t eat! 😉 You don’t want to eat because you think that’s what you must do to lose weight, and in order to not eat you want to kill your appetite. Does this really work – you eat very little and then you lose weight?
It is a very common misconception that the way to lose weight is to restrict your caloric intake and increase your level of exercise. Here’s a recent example from Julia at I Do Things So You Don’t Have To: Julia decided to embark on a “crazy diet” to lose weight in one week (possibly two) for an upcoming event, a trip to Las Vegas. Her plan was to drink Slim Fast (contains sugar) 3 times a day, have fruit for breakfast, eat a frozen (a.k.a. processed) diet dinner, and walk 45-90 minutes each day. This is way less than I eat each day following the Six Week Body Makeover, and it’s a great way to grind your metabolism to a halt.
Julia admits in her article and her comments that this isn’t a healthy way to lose weight, and I want to include that in no way am I trying to criticize her (I emailed her before posting this to verify that she would want me to use her as an example), but instead to illustrate the point that many people mistakenly think that this type of restrictive dieting and increased exercise will get them the results that they want (I used to think this way, too). Instead while you might lose weight (if this is the first few times you have done this), the effects are much greater long term because of what this does to your metabolism.
When you restrict your food intake your body goes into starvation mode, a process that has been in place for thousands of years. As you know, our ancestors didn’t have food so easily available like we do today, and would experience times of famine. In order to survive during those times, the human body developed a way to slow down its metabolism and hang onto its reserves (fat). Then, when food was plentiful again and it was time to feast, the body would take in that food and store it, waiting for the next famine to arrive.
Your body works exactly the same way today: when you continually diet, restrict your food intake, don’t eat when you are hungry, and increase your physical activity, your metabolism slows down and makes it difficult for you to lose weight. In fact, just because a person is obese, doesn’t even mean that they are eating that much; it’s usually the opposite: they don’t eat enough. It’s very easy to diet your way up to an obese range because when you crank your metabolism so low by continually dieting, when you do end up eating that food just gets stored as fat.
This can be very frustrating if you don’t know what is happening: you think that you’re doing all the right things, perhaps you are even only eating whole foods, but you eat very small amounts only a couple times a day even though you are hungry much more often. You also increase your exercise, and you wonder why the heck you aren’t losing weight? You’ve done the same things before, several times, and lost weight, but this time the scale just won’t budge.
So how do you get out of this cycle and lose the weight? By eating. Does this work if you eat anything you want? No. Sugared, processed and fast foods won’t help you shed the pounds, however if you change your lifestyle and eat whole foods, in smaller portions every 2-3 hours, your body will get the message that its not starving and will begin to release the weight. It is also important to exercise, however 30-60 minutes of paced walking 5 times a week is plenty, along with muscle toning exercise a couple of times a week. (This does go into a further topic for a separate post however, that you must eat prior to exercise, as well as after.)
As long as you keep eating (and eat the correct, healthy foods – lean proteins, veggies, whole carbs, fruits low in natural sugar) and don’t go beyond 3 hours between your meals or your snacks, your metabolism will fire up and allow the weight to drop off of you. Your body will move out of starvation mode because you are eating so often (and again, you do need to choose healthy, whole foods), and won’t be hanging onto its fat reserves in fear of another famine (restrictive diet) right around the corner. 😉
If you want to get out of that cycle of restrictive dieting and speed up your metabolism but just don’t have the time to put your own healthy eating and exercise plan together, I highly recommend the Six Week Body Makeover. This is what has worked and still does work for me, and you can find in the eMiniMall below: