“… how about, you give me a 500-calorie meal plan, and I’ll work out everyday?”
When it comes to weight loss, I am no novice to different kinds of questions that may leave any dietician shookt to the core. Some clients would ask for an unrealistic timeframe to reach their goals, while energetically suggesting an approach that would put their lives in danger. Apparently, they do not have the slightest idea of the repercussions that come from that drastic lifestyle change.
Upon listening to their reasons as to why they think that a certain approach would work wonders for them, they would always point out a person they know who has benefited from a subscription to an extreme weight-loss regimen, with both diet and exercise. As expected, the said person eventually became the epitome of a successful flab-to-fab story and entices everyone around to follow suit, without any second thoughts.
So, let’s try to break this issue down.
Does it work?
Yes. We are well aware that many people know the basics of losing weight, which we call caloric deficit. Put simply, caloric deficit is just a general approach of burning more calories than you consume.
Now, dietitians consider this approach as the gold and only standard to weight loss, and we have successfully helped a lot of people achieve their desired weight through it. Nonetheless, some people actually decided to go overboard and hoped for a short-cut by abusing this method. The dangers and limits of doing so are plenty. Here are some things to expect:
Sustained extreme calorie deficit affects the hormones in your body that signal hunger and satiety (the feeling of satisfaction after a meal). Because of this, our bodies’ usual response to hunger would have been altered already. And since we might feel hunger pangs on most hours, we will get carried away and be tempted to eat more on certain meals. As a consequence, even though we manage to curb our hunger, a single heavy meal would definitely make a lot of difference and make you gain weight again in no time. This is because the hormones involved were already used to the limited amount that you practiced for a while.
Let’s go back to the basics: we get energy from the calories in our food. That means a limited supply of energy would make us dull and weak during workouts, which can even be dangerous when lifting weights, jogging outside, or doing any sport that requires sufficient energy.
- Attitude towards meals
Meals should be enjoyed, but due to the risky amount of food consumed, it might now seem like a sweet poison that should be limited at all costs. However, aside from the physical effect of this kind of approach to eating, it also puts our psychological well-being in a dark spot.
Here are some basic questions to answer before doing any kind of caloric deficit:
- Have I asked an expert about this?
This is really important. If you have limited knowledge on nutrition, ask a dietician first. Just a few sessions would already be very enlightening. As a practitioner, we would never allow a healthy adult to go below the 800-calorie threshold. In fact, the approach that we give is always sustainable and adjustable, with the realistic goal of at least 1-2 pounds lost per week. We know what can happen if you do otherwise, and that’s what we are trying to avoid.
- Would this diet ask me to never eat certain food item/s again?
Remember this: if you do not have any medical concerns that warrant elimination of certain food (such as allergies or intolerance), then there is no need to remove a food item from your plate forever. As a basic rule, you can always have any food that you would like to have, just in moderate amounts (we’ll discuss this in another article!).
- Would it require me to spend a freakishly expensive amount of money?
It doesn’t need to. Let’s be realistic. A lot of people can’t afford to have the calorie-free shirataki noodles, kale, or chia seeds everyday. But believe it or not, regular Filipino meals can work out just fine. Here’s a secret: even fast food meals can work too! But going back on how it’s always about the calorie deficit, this should be done right.
If you have any questions, I always suggest that you ask the expert on the matter. You wouldn’t ask for a medical prescription from a plumber the same way you wouldn’t ask for pipe repair from a pharmacist. And this applies to your nutrition as well, which should be suited to your lifestyle and needs.
Got questions? Leave them in the comments!