Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Too Much Restriction is a Bad Thing

Yesterday I did something bad. I restricted what I ate to the point where I wasn't taking in enough calories. I felt weak. I had no energy. All I wanted to do was climb into bed and never get out. It's true that I've been eating too many calories for a long time, which has led to my weight gain (that and the many, many hours I spend with my butt in a chair). And to lose this weight, I do need to lower my caloric intake each day. But my caloric minimum is not going to be the same now as it will be when I'm at my goal weight, and I simply need to accept that fact. Calories--and food--in and of themselves are not bad. We need energy to go throughout our day. When we exercise (which I hope everyone in Romance Biggest Winner is doing now), we need even more energy.

Another reason why restricting too much is a bad thing? It can lower your metabolism and make losing weight even harder. If you're body thinks you're starving yourself (even if we all know that you're not), it will try to hold on to as many fat stores as it can.

The key here is balance and moderation. Yes, you can shock your system into overdrive by exercising 6 hours a day and keeping to a 1200-calorie diet (by the way, 1200 is the absolute minimum for anyone), but this is not ideal. Remember, we're taking steps in our journey now so that we can last in the long run. Losing weight is our short term goal, but building a lifestyle we can maintain for the rest of our lives is something we should all reach toward as our long-term goal!

This calculator allows you to put in your current weight and your exercise routine to see how many calories you need each day (you would need to re-calculate this as you lose weight). How many calories do you need to achieve "Fat Loss"? I need 2092 each day.


  1. This is so VERY true! For years, I thought I was eating fairly ok. I would compensate when I ate a bad meal, by not really eating anything else. OR I just wasn't hungry and just didn't eat. Weekends are really bad for that for me.
    BUT in January I started to do a food diary, and watched how many calories I ate daily.
    My body was undernourished. I was starving my body. Since then, I am making it a practice to eat more throughout the day, eating more snacks, and consuming more water.
    JUST doing that has allowed me to drop 5 lbs between March and April.

  2. Good points for all of us to remember, Ashley. You have to feed your body to function, especially when you are increasing your activity!

    There are great tools out there to help you calculate what you need and to help you keep track of what you are eating and to make healthy choices. Spark People is free. Weight Watchers online is another.

    I love that we can all come together here to share our tips, trials and ideas!

  3. Thanks for the calculator! According to it, I need 1937 calories a day, to achieve "fat loss."

    One of the Weight Watchers precepts is to always eat your points -- to consume all the calories that you're allowed. I *have* had some luck transferring points, within a couple of days. That is, if I over-consume on one day, I under-consume the next to make things average out. My "under-consumption", though, is never less than 60% of my overall points for the day -- if I cut more than that, I'm a cranky, hungry, ultimately-binging mess! (And I never average over more than two days -- that's just a formula for me to cheat!)

  4. Thanks to this challenge I started looking at calories and what I eat a couple weeks ago. I discovered that I have basically been in starvation mode for years, add to that I did not exercise either. So I found a cool calorie and exercise tracker on and have been learning what I need to do to get the nutrients I need each day, which has not been easy. I have already felt a major difference and surprisingly am starting to enjoy the exercise

  5. That's a nifty little calculator! Thanks for sharing, Ashley. I started using SparkPeople this week and was encouraged to see that I can stay in a good range calorie-wise without feeling like I'm starving.

    I am determined to keep this weight off after this program is over, so I know I have to do this in a way that can feel "normal" to me going forward. But I'm also seeing how all those calories in one little candy bar is not worth the minute of bliss on my tongue. :)

  6. Excellent Post! I've been working with a nutritionist the past few months and this is correct - if you take in 1200 calories and then exercise on top of that, you are putting your body into starvation mode and it will hold onto fat to protect itself.

    You must meet the minimum 1200 calories AFTER you factor in your daily activity calories and any calories you burn with exercise.

    I'm actually taking in about 1600-1700 calories a day and have lost 25 pds in the last 6-8 months.

  7. No starving ourselves!

    Thanks for the info and the calculator, Ashley. Very helpful!

  8. Hey, thanks for the info and no starving here. At my 'advanced' age that would not be good:)
    I see that my cal intake should be 1448 Calories/day for fat loss, but I've decided not to count; very hard for me; I'm cutting out almost all carbs-no bread, no rice, no sweets of any kind (including juices & fruits) and breakfast VERY important...this week every day I'll be doing oat meal, next week eggs and turkey sausage (or bacon) w/tomato, very filling...As for lunch I have a piece of meat (any kind) and salad, LOTS of salad with any dressing and bits of cheese. For dinner it's one of those Steamers bags with veggies and maybe fish or chicken...That's my diet and throughout the day I'm munching on walnuts, pistachios or almonds and some cheese...

  9. Fabulous post. I've never struggled with my weight very much until I quit smoking recently. I have a pretty small frame and the pounds piled up within weeks. I've been working out and doing Weight Watchers, but I have to constantly check myself from getting too stringent with it. Losing excess weight is important, but so is simply living life.