If there is something that almost everybody in this industry admires it is a success story. Often this takes the form of somebody making a remarkable physical transformation that serves as an inspiration to us all. This always starts with the initial motivation that ensures you are destined to succeed. But can that motivation cause us to make poor choices?
Look, it is undoubtedly fantastic when somebody wakes up and decides to change their life for the better. Whether that means you don’t like what you see in the mirror or you just want to live life a little bit more healthily, it doesn’t really matter. So let me make it clear from the outset that I am not trying to stifle that motivation.
With that being said, some people find themselves so motivated to change that they are willing to give almost anything a go. Enter the super low calorie diets that have taken our industry by storm. Celebrity trainers and their clients often swear by these nutritional plans that can see you eating as little as 800 calories a day! Your resting burn rate would probably cause you to lose weight with such a small amount of food!
In theory I can see why it makes sense to people. I am always saying weight loss is all about calories in < calories out, so surely if you make the left hand side of that equation as small as possible you are guaranteed to get to where you want to be? Well maybe I haven’t been clear enough in the past, a caloric surplus will never lead to weight loss, And therefore to lose weight you need to establish a caloric deficit. That doesn’t mean that the greater the deficit, the more you will lose.
This blog has spoken before about the minimum intake of calories that you require in order for your body to continue functioning normally. So long as you consistently hit that number your body will continue burning roughly the same number of calories just by functioning and then you can top it up as you see fit with exercise. However, if you calorie intake consistently falls below that level then that all goes out the window. What then happens is your metabolic rate will decrease and in extreme cases your body will try to burn as few calories as possible in order to maintain normal functionality. Also known as starvation mode, this can ensue when a normal adult male starts to consume anywhere below 1200 calories.
1200 calories. 1200. So just imagine what goes on when you start looking at 800 calories. There is another however to this story though. This process of a changing metabolic rate and entering starvation mode won’t all happen overnight. And what that means is that these low calorie diets will often look like they are working at the start. You then end up telling yourself you have seen the success for yourself and you persist. You blame yourself and everyone around you before you even consider it could be this extreme diet.
Extreme low calorie diet prescriptions should be left to the medical professionals. Focus on the small changes that contribute to a more healthy lifestyle. Don’t try to do it all at once.