Did you know that dieting can increase your chances of gaining weight? Yup, that’s right, I said gaining. How does this happen? Simple, if you drastically reduce your calories, your body will go into a famine state. What does this mean? It means, on a cellular level, your body will become efficient at conserving energy and this will cause your metabolism to slow down. As your metabolism is slowing, your body is being forced to break down muscle to use as fuel. This is not your body’s preferred source of energy because it is inefficient. As your muscle breaks down, it releases water. This is why you will get on the scale and jump for joy, because you have lost pounds of water weight! Of course, maybe you shouldn’t get too excited yet because do you really want to lose muscle?
Once your crash diet has ended either because you have achieved your goal weight, or you are tired of eating tuna for breakfast – what do you do? You start eating a regular diet again, you may even overeat because you have been depriving yourself for so long. Only now, your metabolism is slower because you were previously restricting calories. Between a slow metabolism and the tendency to overeat after dieting you get the result of added weight gain.
There are ways to non-diet that will result in weight loss and will reduce your chances of regaining the weight. Here are the top 5 ways to lose weight in a healthy way:
1. Look for ways to cut 300-500 calories out of your day. This could be as simple as eliminating your regular soda with lunch, or swapping your afternoon vending machine snack with a 100 calorie snack pack.
2. Buy a pedometer and start tracking your steps. Work towards the goal of 10,000 steps each day. Start taking a walk on your lunch break, taking the stairs when you can and parking further from the entrance of a building.
3. Slow Down. Eat more slowly, make sure you are breathing between bites of food. Slowing down will allow you to enjoy your food more and will also give your brain time to figure out that your belly is full.
4. Only eat if you are truly hungry. If you find yourself grazing mindlessly at your desk, take a quick break instead. Get up, go outside, stretch a bit. If you tend to eat for emotional reasons, get into the habit of asking yourself, “am I hungry”, when you start reaching for food. Eating will only fix hunger.
5. Buy smaller packages of food, or put your food into smaller containers. Studies show that the larger the package, the more we will serve or cook. The more we serve or cook the more we will eat. Cook less and use smaller plates. Using a smaller plate will “trick” your brain into thinking you have eaten more. Fix your plate in the kitchen and then carry your plate to the table to eat. If you want seconds, load up on the vegetables.
By consistently making a conscious effort to cut extra calories, walk more, tune into your hunger, eat more slowly and cook and serve less food you can lose up to a pound a week without putting your body into a famine state. As a matter of fact, you may barely notice the changes at all- no deprivation involved!