Caloric Restriction May Be Inhibiting Your Weight Loss
The common theme of dieting all boils down to one thing- caloric restriction. Caloric restriction refers to reducing the number of calories consumed each day for the purpose of weight loss. While over-eating is undeniably a large factor in the epidemic of obesity, under-eating is not the obvious solution it seems to be.
Caloric needs are determined by your basal metabolic rate (BMR) which represents the minimum number of calories your body needs while at rest to sustain proper function of vital organs. The average BMR for women is about 1,500 calories, and for men about 1,700 calories. As we breathe, digest, and move around every day we increase calorie expenditure and thus caloric needs. Weight loss recommendations are based off of your BMR + activity level including exercise. Eating at a deficit of your total caloric needs is different than eating at a deficit of your BMR requirements.
Over time, consuming less than your BMR is a stressor on your body as it struggles to maintain metabolic and energy levels. Your cells do not receive the energy and nutrients they are used to getting, and therefore cellular metabolism slows down to preserve what little energy you are consuming to sustain vital organs. In other words, mobilization of fat for weight loss is put on the back burners as your body shifts into survival, or “starvation mode”.
But what about Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting focuses on meeting your body’s daily demands for caloric and nutrient intake, while integrating periods of fasting for cellular repair and regeneration. By consuming adequate fats, proteins, and complex carbohydrates, your cells are provided the fuel needed to carry out metabolic reactions, rid the body of toxic substances, and maintain hormone production, all of which is ramped up in a fasted state.
In some individuals, when switching from a standard diet to intermittent fasting, there is a natural decrease in total caloric consumption by eliminating late night snacking and the excess calories from grazing throughout the day. However, the goal of intermittent fasting is to nourish the body and support proper metabolic and elimination pathways.
More is not always better
Remember, more is not always better when it comes to reducing calories. Caloric restriction can easily become malnutrition and cause more harm than benefit if taken too far. If you are struggling with weight loss despite cutting back portion sizes and choosing low-calorie options, it’s time to discover a new perspective on food.