HypnoSlim Weight Loss Blog

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27 August 2014

Why Cutting Calories Could Be Making You Fat!

Walking away from the destruction of fad dieting and embarking on a journey to heal your relationship with food begins with letting go of one idea that has been ingrained in many of us since birth – that cutting calories is the key to losing weight.

Sounds crazy, right? I mean, all the experts have told you that the only way to lose weight is to cut down the amount of calories you consume. The entire billion dollar diet industry is built on that premise, but if you really want to be thin, healthy, and happy, you have to stop counting and cutting calories.

Let take a look at an article called The Starvation Study (1.) This study shows us just how much calorie restriction can impact our hunger and our weight. This study took place in Minnesota near the end of World War II. The goal was to gain a better understanding of how starvation affects humans and to determine the most effective ways to rehabilitate starving people.  The results were groundbreaking. They gave us an understanding of how calorie restriction affects the human mind and body and insight into what happens when access to food is restored.

See if you recognize any of these impacts in your own life:

1. Low Calorie Diets Are Starving Your Body

The amount of calories study participants ate during the “starvation” period of the study was around the same as recommended on many fad diets. The lowest intake of calories by the male study participants was 1, 570 calories a day. Most calorie restrictive diets recommend around 1,200-1, 500 a day for women and 1, 500-1, 800 a day for men. This means that when you participate in a diet program that restricts your caloric intake to these levels, you are telling your body that you don’t have access to enough food and your body goes into starvation mode.

2. Low Calorie Diets Slow Down Your Metabolism

When in starvation mode, the body does everything it can to conserve energy so that it can survive longer. In the study, this was demonstrated by the physiological changes displayed during the starvation phase. The basal
metabolic rate (BMR) of the participants, which is the number of calories the body needs just to perform basic functions like breathing and  digestion, decreased by 40%. They also experienced significant losses in their overall strength and fitness level. This means that when you cut your calories way back, your metabolism slows way down and your ability to participate in an active lifestyle is compromised.

3. Low Calorie Diets Make You Obsessed With Food

Over the course of the starvation phase of the study, the participants become increasing preoccupied with food. It became their central  focus to the exclusion of everything else. They lost all interest in everything, including sex, except food. They began to hoard food, smuggle food, and developed elaborate rituals relating to food. This helps explain why it can be so difficult not to think about all the food you aren’t eating when on a calorie restrictive diet. It also underlines how simply being hungry can override everything else.

4. Low Calorie Diets Make you Hungry for up to 6 Months After Returning to Normal Eating

During the study, the need for food caused extreme behavior in some of the participants including binge eating and eating from garbage cans. But even more importantly, in the second half of the study and after its completion participants were prone to binge eating, to eating until they felt sick and still feeling hungry.They felt were unable to control their need to eat as much as possible whenever food was available. It took as long as 6 months after the study ended for the hunger response and eating habits of most participants to return to normal.

This means that when your body is in starvation mode and you start eating more, it takes time for your body to believe the danger is over. This helps to explain why so many people who lose weight on calorie restrictive diets regain any weight they have lost and often add more weight when the diet ends.

5. Low Calorie Diets Can Make you Depressed

The effects of starvation seen in the study weren’t limited to physiology.  Participants experienced severe depression, rapid mood swings, extreme anxiety, and even bouts of rage. Feelings of  apathy and negativity also abounded and these effects lasted long after the study was completed.

This shows the emotional toll that a body  operating in starvation mode can experience that can be common to those on calorie restrictive programs, even though we don’t always make the connection between the two.

6. Low Calorie Diets Make You Fat!

As the participants began to regain the weight they had lost, their body composition changed in one significant way. They gained more weight in the form of fat which meant that when they reached their pre-study weight, they had a higher percentage of body fat than they did at the start of the study, even though their weight was the same. It is as if the body, having suffered through this phase of starvation, is now conditioned to store any excess energy as fat in order to prepare for the next famine. This helps explain why yo-yo dieting often results in not only regaining weight but also in gaining a higher percentage of body fat.

Now it should be clear why cutting calories is not only making you fat but making you gain even more weight each time you diet. Then, as you regain whatever weight you managed to lose, you feel like a failure and shame drives you to do it all again. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

Even if the programs are different, any fad diet that involves cutting calories is essentially doing the same thing. It is time to stop the starvation madness and take back control of your body.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Starvation_Experiment

If cutting calories isn't the answer, then what is?

Eating real food.  Check out my blog Stop Dieting and Start Eating to Energize Your Body.

Author Kylie Daniel

About the author: Kylie Daniel

Kylie has 20+ years experience as a Naturopath, Counsellor, Hypnotherapist and Weight Loss expert. She is the author of the HypnoSlim program and has helped thousands of clients both personally & through her recorded programs.

So what are you waiting for? Download the free HypnoSlim App today and begin creating the body of your dreams, all from the comfort of your own home.