Why very low calorie diets don't work

Written by Mark Coles - Follow on Google+ | Facebook | Twitter

You only have to turn on breakfast television once or twice a week, to hear them talking about low calorie eating and endorsing 3 small meals a day for weight loss. The main emphasis being on small.

What most people fail to realise is that small is always taken to a completely different level. Many people have no concept of essential fats, which ideally should make up at least 20% of your diet. So that leaves protein and carbohydrates. Some people are also frightened of carbohydrates so they often leave them out of the equation when they're trying to lose weight. So that leaves us with protein, salad and vegetables.

Let's say the average chicken breast is around 125 grams, this is about 200 calories. So someone eating 3 small meals, with vegetables and salad would be eating around 600 - 700 calories per day.

Lets use an example of a 35 year old female weighing 65 kg. BMR (base metabolic rate) is the amount of energy you use in a state of coma, so not doing anything at all (lying in bed). This is the amount of energy you use before adding on your day to day energy expenditure and even exercise energy expenditure. Making sure you eat your BMR in calories per day is essential for optimal health and day to day function.

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After calculation, her BMR has come out at 1413 calories per day. So the difference between what she is eating right now and her BMR is around 700 calories. Sure this person will lose weight for the first few weeks (I'm sure you've all done this), but long periods of VLCD (very low calorie dieting) will ultimately see this person coming to a dramatic stand still. She'll also see a large amount of muscle tissue loss. She will lose an amount of scale weight, but she'll see minimal changes to her body shape when she's in her underwear looking in the mirror. Long periods of very low calorie dieting will crash your metabolism and crash your energy levels. This isn't sustainable, and certainly isn't smart if you're going to be adding exercise on top. After long periods of low calorie dieting, your body will take over and force you out of starvation mode. This is the point at which you will rebound and start to eat everything in sight. With a crashed metabolism, this is where you will see your weight climb straight back to your starting point and often a lot higher (I'm sure this has happened to many of you).

Can you eat 3 meals and hit your BMR whilst losing body fat and weight? Sure you can. It just means balancing your protein, with essential fats, vegetables, salads and smart carbohydrate choices. Maybe adding a snack in between one of the meals and you'll easily hit your BMR.

Very low calorie dieting has no place when it comes to weight and fat loss.

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