If you’re trying to lose weight, your first instinct has probably been to reduce the amount of food you eat, right? This seems to be the solution that we have been programmed to believe works for weight loss. And while there may be some diets and nutritional plans that do work for some period of time after initially reducing your calories, more often than not the long-term solution that will keep the weight off is to increase your calories. Yes, you read that right – to lose weight, you need to eat more.
Now, this obviously depends on your starting point. If you currently already eat 6 balanced meals a day (in line with your macronutrient calculations), this may not be applicable to you. However, if you are one of those women who try to eat as little food as possible during the day, this applies to you!
Eating more to lose weight seems counterintuitive. But it’s not – it’s been backed by science. Restricting your calorie intake beyond what your body needs for normal day to day function pushes your body into starvation mode, which in simple terms means that as soon as you eat something, your body will store the food as fat rather than burning it for energy. This way, it prevents starvation.
In addition, when you consume too little calories, you are more likely to suffer from immense cravings and then end up binge-eating, which makes you feel bad mentally and leads to starving your body even more to try and balance out the calories consumed during your binge. It can become a vicious cycle that is bad for your mental and physical health.
In order to get your body to burn fat instead of storing calories, you need to feed it often and consistently with nutrient-dense calories that are made up of micro- and macronutrients. Your metabolism is like a fire – the more wood you throw on it, the longer it will burn. In order to get your metabolism fired up and your body in fat-burning mode, you need to feed it with just enough carbohydrates, healthy fats and protein every day.
Your macronutrients are made up of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. You need a certain amount of each every day to maintain, lose weight or gain weight – how much of each would depend on your goal. If you want to lose fat, you’ll need to consume fewer calories than you burn during the day. And keep in mind that the calories you consume need to contain both macro and micronutrients and need to be high in nutrients.
Here are a few tips on eating more to lose fat:
- Never skip breakfast. Not only is it the most important meal of the day, but it also kickstarts your metabolism to get the fat-burning going.
- Make sure you eat a source of protein, healthy fat and carbohydrates with every meal.
- Try to eat something every 3 or so hours.
- Have a professional work out a nutritional plan for you based on your goals and energy expenditure.
- Eat wholesome, nutrient-dense foods.
- Keep your portions controlled.
Eating less will not help you lose fat. It may just lead to a slower metabolism which will delay your fat loss in the long run.
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Author: Mariska du Plessis
Mariska is the editor of Fitness Magazine, a writer, photographer, videographer and Wellness Blogger.
Follow her on Instagram: @justmariska_