Is “Low Cal” Dead?
It used to be that low calorie was the way to go. After all, it seemed to make sense. Cutting out calories and consuming less than you needed for your day to day activities would seem to be the best way to ensure that you got the pounds off.
But weight loss is not so simple as all that. If the low calorie diet is not dead, it should be.
The Problem with Low-Cal Programs
There’s no question that if you cut your caloric intake down to a certain level, you will lose weight. That’s why people starve. You have to have food to survive, and if you don’t have food, then your body starts to consume fat.
If it doesn’t have fat, it consumes the muscles, the ligaments, the tendons, the muscles, and everything else. What should go without saying though is that that is detrimental to health.
Before your body reaches that stage, it will go through a process of shutting down your metabolism. Web MD actually lists the low calorie diets as being among the worst and most dangerous diets out there.
Low calorie diets typically take dieters below 1500 and 1200 calories a day, depending on whether you are male or female. When your metabolism drops to accommodate this lowered caloric intake, you will find your weight loss slows. The problem is that when you start eating more again, your metabolism does not increase to accommodate that increase. This means that you will gain fat again quickly.
The other problem is that low calorie diets do not leave you feeling better. They typically result in
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Mood swings
- Will power exhaustion
A Matter of Improper Nutrition
Low-calorie diets generally result in an obsession over the lowest calorie options possible. Dieters turn to diet foods. Most of the time, these foods have low to zero fats.
People just assume that these are the healthier foods, but your body has to have fats to survive. Certain fats like omega 3 fatty acids actually promote metabolic function and weight loss. The other problem with diet foods is that they are generally low in calories without being high in nutrition.
Some of the most popular health foods are actually bad for you as they increase your sugar levels and risk for diseases like diabetes and fibromyalgia.
The Benefits of Low-Carb
When you cut out sugars and focus instead on eating healthy fats, lean proteins, and a large amount of vegetables, you will notice a fast transformation.
The first few days are some of the hardest. As your body adjusts to the lowered sugar and carbohydrate levels, you may feel a little nauseated. Sugar addiction is quite real. In fact, according to “Is Sugar More Addictive than Cocaine,” refined sugar can actually be more addictive than cocaine and other drugs.
Once you push past this though and realize that you don’t have to worry about focusing on lowered calories, you can expect to find a number of benefits from a low carb diet. Some of these benefits include
- Increased focus
- Clearer skin
- Increased fat loss
- Improved strength
- Heightened energy levels
- Better sleep
The important thing to remember is that low carbohydrates does not mean low calories. You should not take your caloric intake below 1200 if you are a woman and 1500 if you are a man. In fact, you should probably be eating more than that. 1500 is generally a good general ballpark for women while over 1800 is good for men.
This can be adjusted based on your activity levels and needs. It’s also important not to take a low carb diet as an excuse to sit down and eat ribeyes, steaks, cream cheese, and butter for every meal. You still need to eat plenty of fiber rich vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, green leafy vegetables, and the like.
Only with sufficient healthy calories will you be able to function throughout the day. More importantly, it is the only way that you will be able to keep your willpower strong. When you’re tired, worn out, moody, and irritable, it can be difficult to make healthy choices. With sufficient healthy calories and all of the nutrients and healthy fats you need, it will be significantly easier.
“The Worst Diets Ever: Diets That Don’t Work,” Web MD http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/worst-diets-ever-diets-that-dont-work?page=2 (2012).
Joseph Mercola, “Is Sugar More Addictive than Cocaine?” Mercola.com http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2007/08/23/is-sugar-more-addictive-than-cocaine.aspx (2007).