“I’m not eating much, but I’m not losing weight.” As a diet doctor, I hear these words regularly, but you’ve probably heard them too. Most of us have talked to at least one overweight person who can’t understand why they’re not losing weight when they “hardly eat anything.”
Often People Underestimate What They’re Eating
It’s common for people to underestimate what they are eating. Snacks get overlooked, and so do liquid calories. When they keep a food diary, it often surprises them how many things have been forgotten in their typical daily consumption. Portion sizes are tough to calculate – particularly when it comes to high-fat foods, even healthy ones.
Some Do Cut Calories Dramatically
Cutting calories drastically isn’t a safe or effective way for most people to lose weight easily. There are obvious challenges with willpower, but more importantly, there are issues with both adequate nutrition and metabolic impact. For example, when you suddenly cut your eating to 500 calories your body is likely to experience nutritional deficits that trigger a change that slows your metabolic rate. Because your body is panicked by eating too few calories and missing certain nutrients, it goes into survival mode. Your energy requirements are reduced, and your body takes every opportunity to store food. It’s very difficult to lose any fat, because your body is hoarding it. This is why fad diets don’t work. Oh, and this is all very stressful – and stress doesn’t help weight loss.
In fact, it’s worse than failing to lose weight. You actually end up gaining more in these situations because there’s no point in maintaining a severely calorie restricted lifestyle when it’s not working, but as soon as you return to your previous patterns of eating your body (still in survival mode) packs all the excess calories it can get into fat storage. After a prolonged period of deprivation, your body wants to ensure it has what it needs for the next famine, so it stores more fat and is even more reluctant to let it go. This is why many people find themselves heavier after several successive fad diets.
Exercise Can Make It Worse
At this point, a frustrated dieter who’s cut calories and isn’t seeing results often decides they’ll add some exercise to the mix. Even though it feels awful (because they just don’t have enough fuel in their tank), efforts are made to “burn calories” through exercise. If you try this, your body will fight it. It’s already decided that there’s a famine, so doing any physical activity that doesn’t result in food just adds more stress, and your body tries even harder to hoard whatever calories it does get. A body that’s “scared of starvation” doesn’t want to reduce weight, and even if a little is lost, it’s regained as soon as possible.
That’s Why Medical Weight Loss Works
In medical weight loss, calories are certainly reduced, but we ensure that dietary nutritional needs are met. It’s not enough to just be “not eating much.” Targeted nutritional supplementation, regular physical exams, and appetite suppressants where required reduce stress, which is important for diet success and to keep your body out of starvation mode. It’s important not to trigger starvation mode if you want to succeed not only in weight loss, but in permanent weight reduction. Here at dietMD Hawaii, we teach a lifestyle change that is sustainable, and we have lots of stories of weight loss success from real people who prove our methods work – and that they keep the weight off.
If you’re in Hawaii, don’t miss your opportunity for a free initial consultation. You have nothing to lose but excess weight!