One of my pet peeves is when people come to me and say that they are going to lose weight simply by cutting their caloric intake. They are right. If you are eating 2000 calories a day and cut it down to 1700, you will lose weight. Yes, I said it, cutting calories will help you lose weight, folks. But my question is: what kind of weight are you losing? If you do nothing but cut calories, you are going to lose minimal amounts of fat and are mostly going to lose your muscle mass.
By not taking in the proper amount of calories to keep your body running the way it should, you will not be able to sustain your muscles, and you are going to lose them. Think about this for a second. It really is common sense. As mentioned in the above example, if your body needs 2000 calories a day and you cut down to 1700, there is a 300 calorie deficit. Now, where is the body going to get the extra 300 calories necessary? It only has two choices, body fat or muscle. Now muscle is made up of good proteins and carbs, the body’s preferred fuel source. Body fat is quite simply waste material. So, what will the body burn more efficiently for the extra 300 calories? That’s right! Muscle!
Basically this means, although you will be losing weight, your body fat will increase while your muscle mass decreases. You will then become what I like to refer to as “skinny fat”—where you are very little, but you are still flabby and have little to no tone or definition. The best example I can give of this is when women’s arms get about 7 inches in diameter, but even after they are done waving at someone, you can still see the arm jiggling a little bit.
By just cutting calories and not taking into account the balance of nutrients that your body needs in order to function properly, you will cause your body to reset at a lower metabolic body level. When you finally get tired of dieting and go back to your normal eating habits — which, face it, is going to happen — you will have a lower metabolism. This means that weight will come on faster, and will be much harder to lose the second time around. You end up with more body fat, which contributes to a whole host of diseases and problems (but that’s a whole other issue), and less muscle mass to work out with and help burn off the fat.
This is the vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting. As humans, we are behavior driven. It’s why programs like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig make millions of dollars. They know you are going to fail. They set you up to fail. So, when you stop using their programs, gain 20 pounds, and then want to lose it again, you think back to what worked before and immediately start counting your points all over again. This isn’t the way to do it, folks. If you want to see some real lasting change, you’ve got to start going about in a different way—the right way. Stop calling it a diet. Start changing your life.