Are you eating enough to lose weight?

When your body is not receiving enough calories, it adjusts its priorities

Recently a lady wanting to lose some body fat told me that she was getting a little dizzy, had very little energy, and just didn’t have any motivation to work out.

As always, my standard question is, ‘What do you typically eat in a day?’

I took down all of the information from her for a typical day of eating and found the same result I (nearly) always find: she was not eating enough.

Of course, when I told her this, her answer was: “WHAT? I’m trying to LOSE weight – doesn’t that mean eating less?”

No, not necessarily.

People come to me and talk about losing weight and getting rid of body fat and are always surprised by the first few weeks, when their preconceived notions of what to expect are shattered.

Each day, your body requires a level of calories in order to function.

You must not go below that number otherwise your body will never release fat. This is a mistake that many people make – it’s very common, and most diets and weight loss programs live by it.

Starving is a terrible way to lose weight, and here’s why:

When you eat too little, your body (thanks to its ancient design) thinks that there is a famine, and the body shifts into ‘economy’ mode.

When your body is not receiving enough calories, it adjusts its priorities. Since you are not getting enough fuel, then muscles must be reduced because muscles use up food for energy.

According to your body, step one on a low calorie diet is get rid of muscle to make the body more efficient. It would be like driving a big fancy car with a big engine but refusing to put gas in it. If your body were a car, it would shrink the engine, so your car would use less gas.

According to your body, step two on a low-calorie diet is reduce metabolism and slow down everything.

Conserve energy! Since you do not have enough fuel, you must go slowly at everything you do, in order to preserve energy. Back to the car – that would mean you would have a smaller engine and not be able to drive faster than 40km/hr for maximum fuel efficiency.

Here’s the other challenge with eating too little: you will eventually crack. I have yet to meet anyone who can live on rice cakes and pills for long, eventually you will eat a normal meal, or two or three… once.

The pounds pack on fast, because the body sees storing fuel as fat, as the best way to survive a famine, and muscle takes months to rebuild.

So it took you weeks and weeks to lose 5 lbs. and in one meal, you gain four.


The key to permanent weight loss is a good, healthy, nutritious meal plan that has you eating every three to four hours plus exercising consistently.

Here’s the other thing: the number ONE complaint I get from clients after a few days on their new meal plan is this.

“I cannot possibly eat all this food!”

If you look at what some people eat for a normal meal, vs. a clean healthy meal – the answer becomes clear.

Picture a hamburger and a drink. Think about how large that is, and how much room it takes up on a plate (not much). Now picture a chicken breast or piece of fish or lean beef, plus some rice and a big chunky salad and veggies each the size of your fist all on another plate, with a glass of water beside it.

The first meal is small in size, but huge in calories: a standard hamburger is nearly 700 calories, and the soft drink is over 200 calories. So that’s a small looking meal, for 900 calories.

Most people need 1,600 to 2,400 a day depending on their size of course. The healthy meal by contrast, fills a large plate in size, and is only 450 calories. half the calories but over twice the physical size.

The healthy meal will leave you FULL, with less calories.

By knowing exactly how many calories they need to eat to serve their body, and by getting in the minimums then adding 500 calories of exercise averaged per day – we can achieve permanent fat loss, preserve or increase muscle and preserve or increase energy.

Further, what if your car got a stronger, more powerful engine and ran way better if all you had to do was put enough good gas in it, and once a day, drive up and down a hill twice?

Would you do it? Your body is the same. Fill it with good fuel and move once a day for 30 minutes. You will get stronger, leaner, and drop body fat while you increase energy.

Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.

Just Posted

Tom Pyper’s life on the South Saskatchewan Pipeline

Red Deer man looks back on his time working on the Cantuar pump station

Central Alberta Theatre is gearing up to present Neil LaBute’s Some Girl(s)

Opening night is April 20th with shows running through to May 5th.

Burman U prof publishes international development book

The Development Trap: How Thinking Big Fails the Poor looks to challenge perceptions

WATCH: Check out this week’s What’s Up Wednesday

A weekly recap of the week in news

WATCH: Red Deerian receives award for aiding RCMP officer in arrest

Lonnie Amundson, rugby player, tackled a fleeing suspect to help ailing officer

WATCH: Red Deer’s latest ‘Ghost’ statue unveiled at Servus Arena

‘The Face-off’ is the 11th ‘Ghost’ in the notable bronze series

Driving Change: A B.C. man’s charitable trip across Canada

A Kelowna man, his bus, and his mission for positive change across our country

Case of teacher secretly filming teens reaches top court

Acquittal of teacher, Ryan Jarvis, who secretly videoed teens ‘dangerous,’ top court told

Why a 14-year-old will lead the charge at annual marijuana protest on the Hill

Marijuana enthusiasts have long been circling April 20 on their calendars as annual day of cannabis

RCMP say too early to know what happened in Broncos crash

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said collission very complex

Conservative MP wants feds to close loophole for illegal border crossers

Immigration advocates call on government to suspend Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement

Alberta university criticized for honouring David Suzuki

University of Alberta plans to bestow environmentalist with honourary degree

Lance Armstrong settles $100M lawsuit with U.S. government

Disgraced cyclist reached $5-million settlement with sponsor U.S. Postal Service

Black Press Media acquires two new Alaska newspapers

New Media Investment Group to acquire the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal while Black Press Media takes on daily newspapers in Juneau and Kenai Alaska

Most Read