The goal of any diet should be to burn calories less efficiently. It seems a strange concept to many, as people often think they should be burning calories more efficiently to lose body fat.
A body that burns calories efficiently is usually a body that is on a prolonged low-calorie diet. In a state of constant low calories, the body has to become more efficient at extracting every piece of energy from every calorie, as their is a noted shortage. It also becomes more adept at storing the calories.
This is the reason low calorie diets fail and this is exactly why it’s a poor option for trying to lose weight.
ATP is the energy currency of the cell, meaning it’s the major source of energy for cellular reactions. This energy expenditure happens in the mitochondria. Metabolism is the total of all chemical changes that take place in a cell or an organism to achieve homeostasis (stable equilibrium).
If energy production is inefficient, you spend more energy (burn more calories) to get calories out of the food you consume.
Ideal! If you’re body recognizes a continued over-abundance of energy (calories), it has to increase cellular activity (energy) to achieve homeostasis. Your body isn’t burning calories efficiently as it can, so it’s only recourse is to increase metabolism.
Again, if your body becomes MORE efficient, you burn less calories, as you are less thermogenic (heat producing through the process of metabolic stimulation). This is bad.
What’s So Bad About Low Calorie?
It would be easier to describe what’s good about a low calorie diet, because there’s just not much.
With low calorie dieting, the brain reduces the sensation of satiety and sends signals to eat more. Remember, your body wants to be in a state of homeostasis.
Thyroid hormone and energy levels are reduced as well. The thermic effect of food goes down. Fat oxidation goes down. The expression of genes that cause you to store fat increases. Your overall energy requirement is decreased and energy levels decrease as a result. Sex drive it out the window.
You become the perfect storm for fat storage.
This is important because if you decide to binge for a weekend trip, you’ll add body fat quicker than ever before. Low calorie diets train the body to store fat.
So What’s the Secret to Losing Weight?
As we discussed in a prior post on losing fat, the idea is to create a very small calorie deficit. This is why it’s so important to lose weight slowly.
The most effective diet that a person could have, whereas maintaining metabolism is concerned, is eating the exact amount of fuel (calories) required by the body to neither gain nor lose weight and then create a deficit by expending energy.
What’s the best kind of energy expenditure? It’s not the treadmill. While treadmills can certainly be effective if you have a lot of pounds to take off, the more weight a person loses, the more a weight training program is needed.
Weights build muscle or at the very least, they maintain muscle. That’s of huge importance when trying to burn fat. More muscle equates to a faster metabolism.
Extreme calorie deficits combined with too many hours of exercise on a treadmill (or cardio in general) is muscle wasting and it will eventually be counter-productive to losing fat. Some people call this a plateau but it’s worse, as the body is responding with a slower metabolism and hormonal changes that will stop continued weight loss and create an environment conducive to fat storage.
Want to lose weight? Eat more and exercise more. It’s the only way to achieve long term weight goals and be sure your body is burning calories less efficiently.