Low calorie diets are confusing, frustrating, and always seem to work for EVERYONE…… except you.
If you want to read this… welp, keep reading 😉
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Raise your hand if you have been sticking to a low calorie diet for what feels like foreeeeever, and still see the scale stuck on the same number. I know I can’t see you, but I’m guessing a bunch of hands just went up.
Great news: I know why the scale’s stuck. Even better news: I know how to fix it.
If you’ve been here for a while, you’ve actually probably heard me preach against low calorie diets – and you’ve heard me talk about shedding pounds during low calorie diets… Hell, I lost 18 pounds in 4 months! I know. It’s confusing. And I don’t tell you my numbers to discourage those of you with a “stuck scale.” I tell you because there is a way for you to accomplish those kinds of numbers, too! Today, I’m going to pull back the curtain and show you how to make your calories work for you instead of working hard to keep your calories low and getting nowhere.
The Truth About Calories
Here’s the thing: low calorie diets can be extremely effective. I’m living, breathing proof of that! But in order to see any results, we have to zoom out and examine the word “diet” and what it means. Some of us use the word “diet” to mean the way we eat day in and day out. *Bzzzzzt.* Hear that? That’s the sound of a wrong definition. The way we eat on a long-term daily basis is our lifestyle, not our diet. Diets should always take place over a defined, ideally short, period of time, not become our permanent lifestyle. Why? Let me explain through my own story.
My Quarantine Lifestyle
Like everyone else on the planet, when March 2020 hit, I equipped myself with the essential tools of quarantine survival: wine, cheese, and chocolate. It was glorious. But after a while, I started seeing my waistline go in a direction that I really didn’t like. So I decided to bust out my low calorie diet. (Important note: I hadn’t been on any sort of diet for at least six months! You can’t take two weeks off your diet for vacation and call it a break. Your body needs time between cuts – but more on that later.)
Introducing a low calorie diet was a new stimulus to my body, who was used to eating a lot of calories every single day. So after six months of eating at what I call “maintenance,” which is when you’re keeping your cardio as low as possible and calories as high as possible without packing on pounds, I said, “Quarantine is not going to get the best of me.” In fact, it started to feel like the perfect time to lose weight, because all of my favorite things – cocktails with friends, barbecues and cookouts, spontaneous date nights – were all off the table while we were staying home. I took advantage of my lack of a social life and started cutting calories intentionally and WITH a game plan.
Did it work?
It worked for a while. And then it didn’t. Cutting a few hundred calories got me to level one, but then my body started to fight back. This is actually a good thing, historically! When our ancestors went into the winter season, when food was not readily available, their bodies adapted to store nutrients and fat to get them through the scarce days. It’s amazing – we just have to learn to outsmart it. How’d I do it? Well, I cut some more calories, and I added in some more cardio.
This is why it’s never helpful for our bodies to live on consistently low calorie diets! When we hit that stasis and we stop losing weight, we have nowhere to go if we’re already down to 1200 calories a day. But if we pop from 2000 to 1700, we can drop to 1400 when we hit a plateau, and we’re still eating more than our friends who are low calorie all day, every day. Are these temporary drops fun? Absolutely not. But that’s just it – they’re temporary.
Low Calorie Diets and Disney World
Think about your favorite kid – whether it’s your own child, or a niece, nephew, or neighbor. Now, imagine taking them to Disney World for the first time. When that kid steps into the Magic Kingdom for the first time, they are going to lose their actual minds. It’s magical! They’re going to react in a huge way, because this is a brand new, super exciting experience.
If you take them to Disney World again the next year, they’re still going to be super excited, but there’s nothing like the first time. Right? Now, imagine taking that kid to Disney World every single day for two years. After 730 trips, they will not care about Disney World at all. No response. It’s just their new normal, their daily status quo.
Low calorie diets are like Disney World. If you use low calories sparingly, your body is going to react really strongly when that diet is introduced. But if you eat low calories every day for years, you’re just entering a new status quo. Your body won’t care one bit anymore. This is just the lifestyle your body knows now, so it’s not going to reward you with any results. It seems counterintuitive at first, but that is the real kicker: effective low calorie diets only work when they’re used strategically and sparingly.
Put Your Calories to Work for You
Using low calories as a dieting tool is a three step process.
Step 1: Start from a place of calorie abundance, which means eating as much as possible and doing as little cardio as possible while maintaining weight for as long as possible. This is maintenance. It’s really good for our bodies to live in this season whenever they can. **Hint Hint** You should spend MORE time here than on a diet each year.
Step 2: Increase cardio and cut calories, and do both of these things in moderation. Then, when you hit a plateau, you still have room to adjust. If you plummet your calories and send your cardio through the roof, the severity of the calorie deficit will be met with the severity of your body’s reaction. Then, you’re starving and spending hours at the gym, and you have nowhere to go. It’s a major bummer. Avoid it at all costs, or you’ll have to go back to Step 1 and start again… aka, the WORST.
Step 3: Develop a post-diet strategy. Did you know that at the end of your diet, when your calories are at their lowest and your exercise is at its highest, you’re at the greatest risk for putting all the weight back on? You have to slowly increase calories through a “reverse” diet or recovery plan.
If Low Calorie Diets Seem SUPER Confusing, Keep Reading…
If you want to get a foolproof plan to maintain, cut, and recover, it’s time to tap a coach on the shoulder. We’ll help you craft a program that actually works for you and your lifestyle! It’s not magic, but it is strategic. It takes solid science and hard work, but I guarantee you that it’ll be a lot easier with a guide and cheerleader by your side, getting you through it.
You hire a coach not because you can’t figure it out all by yourself, you hire a coach because you want to get there faster and stay there!
Click here if you want to learn more about that 3-step dieting process you just read about. (Oh!, and spoiler alert… come back in a few weeks for a new blog post on the three reasons of how/why your body adapts the way it does to your low calorie lifestyle and what we can do about it!)
Click here if you want to watch a video training on how I, Coach Hannah, used these principles to lose over 10 lbs in under a month.
If you’re ready to take the next step and ditch a low calorie lifestyle and invest in yourself with a program that actually works, apply here for 1:1 coaching.