Why Calorie Restriction Is the Worst

small_happy_meal_03

 Yea, that looks about right.

Often times in the media, we hear about restricting calories in order to lose weight. 1200-1400 calorie diets seem to be popular when talking about weight loss. While it’s true that you’ll likely lose weight, a good amount of that weight will be muscle. I’m guessing that you all would like to keep your muscle while losing fat, so it would seem that calorie restriction is a bit contrary to your goals. Here are a few other reasons why calorie restriction isn’t the best idea.

1)   It will slow down your metabolism

Fewer calories ingested over a sustained period of time will lead to a slower metabolism. Clearly, a slower metabolism is not the goal of any fat-loss program, so this is a big no-no. How does this happen? It could be a number of things. Calories are energy; if you have less energy throughout the day, you are less likely to be moving around and doing things. Also, consuming 1200-1400 calories a day is too low for just about everyone. If this amount of calorie restriction is sustained for a long period of time, your metabolism slows down because your body is unsure if it will receive sufficient calories. The body switches from optimal performance mode to survival mode. Which leads to reason number 2.

2)   Sluggishness

couch-potato

Ignore the smile. That potato is miserable.

If you have tried severely restricting calories before, I’m sure you’ve noticed that you don’t have much energy during the day. You may even turn into a couch potato. This makes sense as food is energy and you’re not having very much of it! This lack of energy means you’re sluggish throughout the day and also during your training sessions. If your sessions aren’t as productive, you’re not getting stronger, plain and simple. Since we’re trying to build muscle, this lack of energy just isn’t going to fly.

3)   It sucks

Finally, calorie restriction just flat out sucks. To go along with the sluggishness, you also don’t get as much satisfaction at any given meal because you’re likely not feeling very satiated. You’ll likely feel hungry much of the time, which leads to thinking about food all the time. I can only speak for myself, but I turn into a Grumpasaurus Rex when I'm hungry. This combination of sluggishness and hunger means it will be very difficult to adhere to the calorie restriction, and you’re more likely to binge in a major way. On a more serious note, severe calorie restriction can take a major toll on your body. In women, amenorrhea, or the absence of a menstrual cycle while at a reproductive age, can occur as a result of too few calories. In men, it can mean a decline in sex drive. Like I said before, calorie restriction sucks.

 

So remember to eat in a manner that complements your training, not conflicts with it. This means having a post-workout shake immediately after your session (Re-Con, Advocare Post-Workout Recovery, etc.), followed by a meal 30-60 minutes after this. The meal should be composed of veggies, maybe some fruit, a complete protein (i.e., meat, eggs), and some starchy carbohydrates. Your body can utilize these starchy carbohydrates in the period of time after your session, so they’re actually encouraged in this situation. Eat right, lift big, and get lean; it’s that easy! Happy lifting!

 

-Andrew

Blog, NutritionB.J. Bliffert