Eat Less to Lose More
No! You do NOT need to starve yourself! In fact, the whole idea of the “starvation diet” is probably the most dangerous myth of all. Eating too FEW calories causes your metabolism to slow down and leads to muscle loss and unnecessary and unmanageable hunger.
If you set your daily calorie limit too low, your body will activate its starvation response. Your body will fight like crazy to conserve energy – fat stores – and will resist all your efforts to drop the pounds. Instead, you need to trick your body with a steady stream of nourishment so that your metabolism does not shut down. Your body and your brain need to feel confident that there is plenty of food around and it is safe to burn up fat.
Of course you MUST maintain a calorie deficit. As we all know, people gain weight because they are in a calorie surplus, meaning they consume more calories than they burn. After all, even a small surplus of 100 more food calories a day than you burn soon adds up to a weight gain of almost one pound per month, or ten pounds in a year. However, an overly restrictive diet slows down your metabolism because your body goes into “starvation mode” and does everything it can to conserve body weight. The most effective approach is to have a small calorie deficit so that your metabolism stays active and burns fat.
You see, our ancient ancestors were hunter gatherers who had no concept of “dieting”. They ate every chance they got because they could never predict when their food supply would be cut off, for example if game became scarce or natural produce fell into short supply. Such famine events triggered what we now know to be the “starvation response” – sudden reductions in food cause our bodies to go into preservation mode and simply shut down. Even in modern times our bodies are evolved to respond to any radical food shortage in exactly the same way.
You want to fasten your metabolism
You want a faster metabolism that burns fat more efficiently, not a slow metabolism that is terrified of starving. This means you must avoid sending your body starvation messages.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you should NEVER cut calories to below 1200 per day for women, or 1800 per day for men. Also, you should never cut your daily calories by more than 1000 calories below your daily calorie requirements. Finally, you should not cut your daily calories by more than 20% of your personal daily calorie requirements. (Don’t worry if this sounds confusing. Later on we will explain how to calculate how many calories you as an individual need each day.)
It seems like a paradox, but you will achieve strong and lasting results through a slow steady weight loss of 1-2 pounds per week. Starvation diets are not the answer!
Find out other myths, more interesting facts, diet plan and workout videos in our Complete Weight Loss Guide!