Adding Calories. Why Sometimes More Means Less
“Less calories in, more calories out” has been a mantra touted by the diet industry for decades. While there is truth in this, if you want to lose weight you do need to burn more than you eat, there is not a one size fits all for how many calories to cut and how. We all have different Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), the number of calories someone burns as they go about their day. This differs based on how active you are in your everyday life and your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). BMR is what you burn when your body is at rest in order to keep you alive. Because of these differences amongst how all our bodies burn energy, it’s impossible to make a base rule for losing weight. You can’t just wake up and start eating 1,200 calories and expect to look and feel great in a week. Our bodies are smart. Cutting your calories too drastically can lower your metabolism, therefore decreasing the amount of calories your body is actually burning. A decrease in caloric intake can also cause fatigue, making it less likely for you to be motivated to get out of bed in the morning to workout or go to the gym after work, activities that will actively help you gain muscle mass and promote fat loss.
Amanda Howell MS, MPH, does a great job of figuring out how much her clients should be eating in order to lose weight in a healthy way:
“If the goal is fat loss, we find our TDEE & then subtract from that. You don’t need to slash 500 calories. In fact, I put most clients in a gentle deficit (100-300 cal). This helps to avoid extreme hunger, thyroid down-regulation, crashing energy, or binges.”
This is where having a coach can help to figure out what a healthy number is for you, not just someone close to your age and weight.
Weight loss and being healthy are two things that do not always go hand in hand. If you are trying to lose weight, it’s smart to look at what you are consuming first instead of just slashing calories. Ensuring that your body is getting the right amount of protein and other macronutrients is the first step to making sure your body is using the calories you consume efficiently. From there, cutting a small number of calories (100-300 calories) while continuing to have regular resistance training in your workout regime are pivotal for you to lose fat, not muscle mass. This process may seem slower, but you will be able to maintain it and stay healthier as you do.