BIG FAT LIES Part 1 of 12
Here is the first part of your 12-part mini-course, BIG FAT LIES.
In this lesson, you will learn the physiological truth about why very low calorie diets cannot work long term and why they are only quick fixes that lead to eventual weight re-gain…
Fat Loss Lie #1: “You have to starve yourself to get a lean body”
What if we told you that very low calorie diets will actually make you fatter in the long term, and that there’s an almost embarrassingly simple way that you can eat more and still burn more fat?
Yes, it sounds too good to be true, but you’re about to see the science behind it, and we’ve got the real-world results to prove it, so read on.
To get rid of fat, the laws of energy balance and thermodynamics declare that you have to consume fewer calories than you burn. Sorry, there’s no way around it.
There’s no such thing as “calories don’t count.” Run for cover the next time you hear that claim because it’s absolutely false and any scientist will tell you that.
You must have a “calorie deficit” to burn fat off your body. However, the fatal flaw in most popular diet programs is that the calorie deficit is too aggressive or too extreme.
Have you ever been told that to get a lean body you had to eat 1200 calories a day or 1000 calories a day or even less? Did you ever just get FED UP with no results and tell yourself, “That’s it, I’m NOT going to eat ANY thing,” because you were desperate to get the pounds off as fast as possible?
Yeah, sure, it works in the beginning, because there’s a HUGE calorie deficit at first, but there’s also a HUGE irony:
When you cut your calories too far, eventually YOUR BODY ADAPTS.
If you’re a Star Trek fan, it’s kind of like the BORG, where a phaser weapon works against the alien BORG creatures once, but then they adapt, and soon the same phaser blast no longer does anything.
Well, diets are kind of like that, unfortunately?
You “fire” a low calorie diet at your body and it zaps off some weight in the beginning. But then your body figures out what’s going on. Your body doesn’t care that you want to look good in a swimsuit; your body thinks you’re under attack! Your body thinks you’re about to starve to death!
When you fire something extreme at your body (like hardly eating), you trigger a series of “defense mechanisms” collectively known as “the starvation response.”
When you go into this starvation mode, here are some of the consequences:
1. Your body releases fewer fat-releasing and fat-burning enzymes such as hormone sensitive lipase and lipoprotein lipase.
2. Your fat cells release less of the hormone leptin – which is the signal that tells your brain you are well fed and not starving (it’s the “anti-starvation” hormone)
3. Fat burning hormones crash, including your levels of T3 (no, not the latest Arnold terminator movie, T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone, the important “metabolism-regulating hormone” that you’ve probably heard about before).
4. You lose muscle. Muscle is metabolically-active tissue, which means it takes a lot of energy just to keep it. When you’re “starving,” you’re in an “energy crisis”, so excess muscle is the LAST thing you need. Muscle becomes expendable, and your body cannibalizes your own lean tissue.
5. Appetite hormones rage out of control. When you’re starving, a part of your brain called the hypothalamus switches into high gear and flips the appetite switch, sometimes to the point where you become ravenous and cannot fight these physiological cravings with willpower. (We don’t believe ‘Will Power’ really exists – we’ll explain that one later)
Bottom line: It’s hormonally, metabolically and physiologically impossible to achieve permanent fat loss by starving yourself.
And that’s the first BIG LIE:
Any program that’s extremely low in calories may work in the short term, but the “honeymoon” never lasts for long.
In the long run, very low calorie diets can actually make you fatter. Eventually, they lead to binge eating and weight re-gain and you end up with less muscle and a slower metabolism than when you started.
The TRUTH is, you DON’T have to starve yourself to get a lean body.
In fact, you can eat more and burn more fat.
1. Avoid very low calorie diets.
Before going on any diet, look at the recommended calories. You’ll probably discover that in most cases, you are required to slash your calories to “starvation” levels (1200 or less for women, 1800 or less for men, and active people need even more.
2. Make sure your calorie intake is customized.
Depending on your activity level, age and gender, your calorie needs may be much higher or much lower than the average person. Any diet program recommending the same amount of calories for everyone, you should see a red flag and stay away. It could be perfect for someone else, but starvation level for you.
3. Decrease your calories just a little below maintenance.
Decrease your calories conservatively – only about 20% below your daily maintenance level. A mild calorie cut doesn’t trigger the starvation response as much.
For example: If you’re female and you maintain your weight on 2150 calories per day, a 20% deficit is 1720 calories per day (perfect)
Conventional diets might have you slash to 1000 or 1200 calories per day or less without emphasis on exercise (which is madness)
4. Increase your calorie deficit more by increasing activity
If you only cut calories slightly below maintenance, then how do you reduce body fat without the process taking forever?
Simple, you BURN more calories and increase your deficit by increasing your activity. (No brainer simple!)
First, if you’re not doing so already, you should aim for three days per week of strength training with weights.
Second, you should do at least three days per week of moderate to vigorous cardiovascular exercise.
Third, if you wish to accelerate fat loss more, or if you need to break a progress plateau, you bump up your activity even further by adding additional cardio sessions or increasing the intensity or duration of your current workouts.
It also helps to get more physical activity in general, and to participate in physical hobbies, sports or recreational activities that you enjoy.
Bottom line: The first secret to permanent fat loss is
BURN THE FAT, don’t STARVE THE FAT!
There are some exercise physiologists today, who call this concept maintaining a “high energy flux.” That’s a fancy way of saying, “Eat more, burn more,” (instead of “eat less, be a couch potato”), and that’s what the Burn The Fat philosophy is all about.
If you’d like to learn more, visit our website and watch your email for the next instalment of BIG FAT LIES – there are 11 more great lessons on the way!
Jax Allen Program Director
Fitness Solutions uk