I AM NOT DIETING?

“I can’t stress this enough, I AM NOT DIETING.”  Or so says a young woman who was profiled on the Rachel Ray show after she lost 180 pounds (350 down to 170 pounds) in less than 2 years. That represents about a 2-pound weight loss each week.

What did she do to achieve this amazing weight loss? She ate only homemade unprocessed foods at meals. She exercised regularly instead of sitting on the couch. And she decreased her calories from 3,000-4,000 per day to 1,200.

If 1,200 calories per day, day after day, is not a diet, then what is?  Even the trainer on Ray’s show, Bob Harper, called her intake a “drastic reduction.”

Her question for Bob was what was a good maintenance level of calorie intake?  He suggested 2,000 calories per day as an appropriate long-term plan. This remains to be seen of course, and he added that she should keep tabs on her weight on a weekly basis to see if the 2K estimate was a good one.

I hope they follow this young woman over time, as it will be interesting to see what happens when she begins to eat 2,000 calories per day. I wish this woman well, but my suspicion is she will immediately begin to gain back some weight, how much is hard to say.

Think about this, she has stopped losing weight, or at least slowed down considerably at this point. This is a good thing because her body, just like everyone else’s, knows how to protect itself from wasting away when food is scarce. Otherwise, she could theoretically just keep losing weight until she was skin and bones.

Of course, she could waste away eventually, but she would probably have to decrease her calories even more now to have this happen. The human body is very smart and knows how to adapt to very low food availability.

What point am I trying to make here? Well there are a few important takeaways from her story. First, 1,200 calories per day for an active woman IS A DIET, no matter how high quality the foods eaten are. Second, this is a highly unusual outcome – to steadily lose this much weight without hitting at least one plateau. It is very likely that this woman had not dieted before, at least not on a regular or protracted basis. Third, exercise is just as important as food to help preserve muscle mass – and she did look pretty fit healthy even with the advantage of being in her 20s.

Finally, fourth, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME! You do not want to risk melting down your metabolism, which is almost a guaranteed outcome of this type of weight loss. I repeat, you do not want to put yourself in a metabolic state where your body has adapted to consuming a very low-calorie diet. If you do, there is a strong probability that you will struggle with maintaining an ideal body weight for perhaps the remainder of your life.

If you are experiencing difficulty losing weight, consider how many times you have been on a diet. If more than a half-dozen or so, your body has adapted to a low-calorie intake to some extent. This does not mean it is impossible to get closer to your goal, but it is not easy. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise – fast weight loss equals fast weight regain. (If you have not been chronically on a diet, several other factors may be in play which can be uncovered with a good nutritional assessment).

What can you do? Don’t give up hope, give me a call to see what I can do for you. I cannot promise that you will reach the weight you were in your 20’s, but I can help you get healthier and fitter and have more energy – all things that must happen before you can lose fat and keep it off for good.