Part I: You Have To EAT To Lose Weight

Weight Loss Unmasked: A five part series looking deeper at why we struggle with losing weight

By: Briana Boehmer

Photo c/o: Britt Selvitelle

Naturally when I hear most people talk about losing weight the word diet is mentioned in one way or another. Diet by definition assumes restriction of food in some form, which often leads to unfortunate behaviors – namely, not eating sufficient calories and more importantly the nutrients your body needs.

I am forever perplexed over why we work against our body’s natural biology.

Here’s a hard fact: Our body is built to SURVIVE. At the most fundamental level your body does what it does to SURVIVE. Bottom line, there comes a point where the fewer calories you take in the fewer calories your body burns. This is your body’s basic response to survival…in other words; it doesn’t want to starve so it will run on less energy to make the most of the calories it does get. This WILL happen when you hit that “danger point” for YOUR body.

This fact has been studied and studied. In fact, you may have already experienced this phenomena: You’ve been cutting your calorie intake by 500 calories a day so that you lose 1 pound per week (500 calories/day x 7 days = 3,500 calories =1 pound) and at first it worked like a charm but suddenly you hit a plateau and the weight loss is less and less each week. Frustrating isn’t it? The simple and hard fact is, your body is just not built to follow such a simple equation. There are so many more variables to consider.

Bottom line – You have to EAT to lose weight safely and effectively. Not too much and not too little…confusing right? Weight loss is a tricky equation but ultimately there is no magic pill or extreme diet that can replace simple healthy eating at regular intervals that corresponds directly with your personal needs. Because all calories are not created equal (an issue I will discuss in the next part of this series), it is critical that your body is getting the nutrients it needs to do basal metabolic tasks. Add in exercise and personal physiological circumstances and there certainly is a lot to think about. Yes, what AND how much you eat aren’t the only factors!

Current research is telling us the best way to keep the body in an optimal state of metabolic bliss is to eat smaller more frequent “meals” throughout the day. There is research to suggest that even small calorie deficits within a single day may alter our metabolism in ways that have negative effects. While the ultimate goal is for the body to burn stored energy, we have to always keep in mind the fact that we don’t want it to enter starvation mode either.

So now you’re wondering how to strike the perfect balance between calorie consumption and energy expenditure aren’t you? Great! Check back next week for my next installment looking deeper into how to set proper weight loss in motion.

In the meantime, if you’re looking for a way to track, check out our nutrition journal at 411.com.

Read Part 2: Food Journaling Matters a LOT by clicking here.

Want to lose weight? Burn bad habits, not excess calories!

By Briana Boehmer

MYTH:  Burning an extra 100 calories a day, multiplied by 365 days in the year means you have an extra 36,500 calories burned if everything else you do stays the same. This means about 10.5 lbs. a year! People hear that cutting 100 calories here and there is the fastest way to lose fat. Wrong!

FACT: There are a decent number of scientific studies that suggest small caloric changes have very little long-term effect on weight. BUT there is good news! Small changes, like adding in an extra walk a day, cutting out a soda, increasing your fiber consumption, or watching less T.V. can create a snowball effect of sorts that eventually leads to long term behavior change.

What we do know is this:  whether the small extras definitively create weight loss or alter metabolism, they do have the potential to create lasting behavior change. Your extra walk turns into a run, your increased fiber consumption turns into cutting out large amounts of sugar.  The extra’s turn into a new lifestyle – and lifestyle change is what scientists and doctors (and 411Fit!) are after.

So, instead of five ways to burn 100 extra calories a day…how about 5 ways to instigate lasting behavior change for the long haul?  Give one a try and you may shed that extra 10 pounds after all!

  1. Fiber is the spice of life.  Fiber is actually a form of carbohydrate that is not absorbed by the body.  It will not just create a sensation of feeling full; it aids in digestion and has several meaningful health benefits including increased heart health.  SO, spice up your diet with a little fiber!
  2. Add power to each hour.  Get up and move on the hour, every hour, during your normal workday.  Just a few minutes will do.  Walk around and do some light active exercises like squats or push-ups.  The movement will help prevent chronic pain and open up tight muscles.
  3. Don’t starve yourself.  Numerous studies have shown us that the fewer calories you consume, the fewer calories your body burns.  Your body is wired on survival, plain and simple.  Research has suggested that eating for your metabolism at regular intervals throughout the day (5-6 small meals) can help create an uptick in your metabolism and avoid causing a slowdown.
  4. Eat REAL food.  If you can’t pronounce the ingredients on the label, chances are it’s not real.  The body is wired to digest REAL FOOD. Give it what it knows!
  5. Journal!  We see it in research, and we see it on 411Fit.  When you journal your food and exercise you are more likely to lose weight!  Knowledge IS power!