You hear this line thrown out everywhere – “Just eat less and exercise more” – as the magical answer to everyone’s weight issues. The problem is it doesn’t actually work if you do it incorrectly (which most people do) and makes the issues worse, as you will see in this story…
A friend of mine on instagram, let’s call her Miranda, has been following a program for about a month where she has been going on super long walks (like 1-2 hours), doing a bit of body weight exercises and eating less.
The posts follow her not feeling like going for a walk but making herself do it – because society has programmed us to believe we should – and struggle through it all. But despite all this, the result is that she has lost about 3kgs (6lbs) over a month and was making some progress, but really felt like the effort she was putting in wasn’t getting the results.
Then she showed these amazing print outs, where it showed all kinds of stats like her:-
Body fat percentage
Muscle Mass percentage
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – calories to maintain your current weight
So she had one from when she first started and a one-month later result. And she was so disappointed at the outcome that she wanted to give up. (This is why measuring and weighing yourself is a bad idea, because it puts you in a poor mental state, read more about that here.)
But subsequent posts show her continuing to walk and stick to her plan, so obviously her disappointment didn’t last too long. . (At least she is not trying to run though, which would make things worse.)
However the problem is that while she obtained these great stats, she didn’t know how to read them properly (and neither did her doctor it seems, where she got them done) and unfortunately it shows a bleak future for her health and weight loss, if she continues on the same plan.
Let me tell you why…
Her stats showed a total weight decrease of three of kilos. This part is fine.
Her fat percentage also decreased. Awesome! So far so good.
However next, it already starts to go pear-shaped – her muscle mass also decreased. So part of the weight she is losing is her muscle. (It was 2kg of fat & 1kg of muscle.)
And this is what happens when people turn to cardio primarily for weight loss. They end up being skinny-fat. For a while anyway, until the weight comes back on, which it ultimately will because of this next reading…
Her basal metabolic rate declined.
She started off with a BMR of 1700 calories to maintain her weight and after only a month and 3kg lost of some fat and some muscle, it reduced down to 1660 cal.
So think about it. If you have about 30kg (60lb) to lose and metabolically you drop 40 cal for every 3kg you lose – very soon you will be down to about 1,200 cal per day just to maintain your current weight. Which is probably nowhere near the actual weight you wanted to be.
And it gets more and more difficult to lose any more as well, because your body is slowing down to conserve energy for the stress of cardio exercise, also trying to cope with operating on the less fuel you are eating and you’re losing muscle tone along the way.
This is a metabolic disaster.
And it is precisely why 90% of people put all the weight back on that they lose.
It is so disappointing because everyone is trying so hard, they’re really working at it, making sacrifices, often going hungry, suffering, getting up at crazy hours to exercise and doing what everyone is telling them to do and encouraging them in fact!
And some may initially lose some weight and be super excited. But then it all eventually comes back on because of these metabolic issues going on inside and it’s all been for nothing.
So don’t you make the same mistakes. Here’s where we need to make adjustments:-
- find out your BMR and the calories you should be eating each day to maintain your weight. (cronometer.com is a good way to do this at home for free.) The idea is we want to maintain this caloric level the entire way through, if not increase it and still be the weight you want to be.
- Then keeping the same caloric level, change the type of food you are eating to more pro-metabolic foods. To see what these are read this post.
- Eating enough calories is part of what keeps your metabolism intact but it has to be the right food
- Timing of food especially before and after exercise is also important – or again your metabolism takes a whack
- prioritise weight bearing exercise. You don’t actually have to do that much.
(New high metabolism exercise program coming in July, if you would like to be one of the first to preview it, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
- cardio should be kept to a minimum, keep it short duration like 20-30 mins max. Walking is preferred as it does the least metabolic damage, but it also must be fueled correctly and done at the right times or else it can be negative too.
- some HIIT is also good, like 10 mins max, however only if you have a stationary bicycle or can do some sprints on grass – injury rates are high with HIIT, so you must be very careful. (I personally find it all too unpleasant, so I don’t do this.)
- never sacrifice sleep to get up and exercise. (Sleep is where you burn fat as fuel for goodness sake!) This raises cortisol and especially on an empty stomach, does all kinds of damage to your body.
There are a few more things to it but basically eating too few calories lowers your metabolic rate, so the does the wrong exercise fueled incorrectly and not enough sleep.
So stop wasting all your efforts. Learn the real way to lose weight in a healthy, pro metabolic, sustainable way, so you actually enjoy your life and only have to do it once.
To your health.