Big calorie restriction might slow down your metabolism
In order to understand why big calorie restriction might slow down your metabolism, let’s first take a look at the metabolism itself.
Metabolism is simply the sum of the chemical processes in the body which convert substances into bigger or smaller molecules. When it comes to weight, by metabolism we usually mean only those processes which take the food and beverages and convert them into energy.
When you are resting, your body still needs energy to perform the basic functions as breathing, circulating the blood, growing and repairing the cells, adjusting the levels of hormones, etc. How much calories your body needs to perform those functions is the basal metabolic rate – this is what people usually mean by metabolism.
The basal metabolism is individual and varies between people. It’s affected by:
– The size of your body and it’s composition – larger bodies burn more calories, more muscular bodies burn more calories;
– Sex – mean usually burn more calories;
– Age – older people usually burn less calories than younger people.
And there are two other factors which determine the number of calories your body will burn.
– Food processing (or thermogenesis) – calories are also necessary to do the digestion,absorption, transportation and storing of the consumed food.
– Physical activity – and the rest of the calories your body burns are spent for doing the physical activities you perform throughout the day.
How does big calorie restriction slow down your metabolism?
If you regularly eat fewer calories than the body needs, then your metabolic rate might slow down.
Some studies have shown that diets with low calories decrease the number of calories burnt by the body by 23%.
Also, the metabolism can stay slower long time after you’ve finished the calorie restricting diet.
Scientists believe that this may be part of the reason why over 80% of the people regain weight after finishing a calorie-restricted diet.
The low-calorie diet may cause you to lose muscle mass. This is particularly likely to happen if you don’t consume enough protein and if you don’t exercise. And since muscle helps you burn more calories throughout the day, the loss of muscle mass may mean your metabolic rate will drop.
So how to lose weight
Well, first it’s good to start by calculating your basal metabolic rate. There are some online calculators which offer you this calculation. They will show you the minimum number of calories required by your body per day. Do not consume fewer calories than this ever.
Then estimate how much calories are needed to maintain the current weight of your body.
Here you can also use various online calculators.
Now determine how much calories should you consume to lose weight. It’s recommended to aim for a weight loss of 1-2 pound a week (don’t go more than this). For this rate of weight loss you need to consume about 500 less calories than the number required to maintain your current weight.
Also, you need to burn more calories a day. This means you need to make some lifestyle changes and be more active.
You can start by doing regular aerobic exercises. This is the most efficient method for losing calories. Aerobic activities are, for example, swimming, bicycling, walking, hiking, etc. Try to achieve no less than 30 minutes aerobic physical activity a day. You may need even a bigger amount of aerobic training if you are willing to lose weight.
Also, it’s recommended to do some strength training at least two times a week. This helps to counteract the muscle loss which can occur while you are losing weight. And even more,because muscle mass burns more calories than fat, you’ll be burning more calories throughout the day if you are more muscular.
Look for ways to include more healthy habits in your daily life. Try eating a healthy and balanced diet (yes, one that includes fats and carbs) and try to find ways to be active more often. For example, walk instead of taking the car. Take the stairs rather than going up or down with the elevator. Cook rather than ordering food from the restaurant. Such small changes may help you lose weight.
But don’t fall for the diets which heavily restrict your calories. They can harm you in various ways (not listed in this article) and can also slow down your metabolic rate which means you’ll regain the lost weight once you finish the diet.