Why you should not keep lowering you calorific intake?
This article will be short. Consider it as an introduction to something much wider related to balance and wellness rather than diet. It is however fundamental. Few paragraphs that everybody should read - or at least, that I wish I could have read years ago.
Here is where we start : You want to lose a few pounds. Or you have lost a few pounds. You have a complicated relationship with your body or simple want to precisely control how it looks. Why? This is a whole other article!
Whatever your why is (does it really matter at this point?), you decide to cut down calories to 1600 per day. Results start to show. It looks good, it feels great. Okay, you’re hungry as hell but whatever. The, someday, you hit a plateau. You don’t understand. Get pissed. And cut down calories again to 1400. And the cycle repeats itself. Suddenly, you are exercising 5 times a week, surviving on a 1200 calories diet. Your relationship to yourself is crap. You hate yourself, hate your body for not doing what you want and looking how you want. You don’t go out anymore as you don’t want to risk overeating and wasting your efforts. Your sex drive disappeared along with cookies and wine (maybe your period too if you are a woman). You don’t get the nutrients you need anymore as the quantity of food is so low. Your cortisol levels are through the roof due to the stress created by a lack of nutrients, strenuous exercise but also the psychological stress you are creating by controlling everything that passes your lips. Your metabolism has been slowed down and you are stocking whatever you can to produce energy meaning that you don’t lose weight anymore even if you’re starving yourself. You tend to overtrain to maintain this weight or beat yourself up every time you indulge.
You feel so tired, mentally and physically. Your life is about numbers. Hours of training, calories eaten, macros, weight…
So concretely what does happens when you don’t eat enough? Well, it depends for each of us. But among the most common effects, we often witness hormones imbalances (including loss of periods), fatigue, depression and mood swings, loss of sex drive, eating disorders, metabolism slow down leading to a difficulty to lose weight…
Does this ring a bell? You may not be there yet. But if you can relate to this in some ways, it is time to reconsider the process.
Your body is a temple (yes it is!). It is precious and needs fuel to perform beautifully. There is a minimum amount you need to just live, breath, walk, work, be there.
For most people, this minimal amount of energy is way more than the 1200 calories many popular diets target. Just imagine, what you would need if you train, cook, run, take care of your kid or simply enjoy a nice walk on top of just being awake…!
A good diet can be defined as an efficient energy balancing protocol. Depending on our lifestyle and training patterns, we require more or less energy. Many people undereating end up spending a long period of time daily with a negative energy balance (they spend more energy that the fuel available in their body). This is not always bad. But definitely is when this is a daily situation over a too-long timeframe.
A diet is a strategy. Weight loss like weight gain should be smooth and controlled to avoid issues. You can positively impact your metabolism and your energy balance but it needs to be accompanied without forcing and traumatizing the body.
Why would you starve yourself if you could eat more, don’t restrict yourself, be energized, enjoy dinners out as much as dinners it? What about a balanced diet based on intuition, hunger cues, pleasure and quality?
I know it sounds crazy! But this is actually what we all need. Understanding how we function is important - tracking macros for instance stresses the importance of all food groups and diversity, but it should not be your life. Your life is about being present and enjoying every sip of air, every smell, every smile.
Don’t say you’re not hungry. Eat to fuel yourself and be healthy.
Don’t create compulsions though restrictions and ego-driven images of what you could look like. Love every cm of your body as it is, working towards a healthy balance that works for YOU.
Don’t complain about feeling full. Be grateful for what you have.
Don’t do to yourself what you would NEVER do to others. Remember what truly matters.
« You can't go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending. » C.S. Lewis