Last week in our post Understanding Metabolism, we discussed some of the basics of metabolism and how our bodies process food and calories. Be sure to check that post out if you want to catch up on what we’re discussing today.
There are a few things I want to address specifically when it comes to the topic above. Firstly, let’s say you’re on a weight loss journey, you’ve already begun to eat healthier by adding in more veggies and less processed foods. However, you keep gaining weight–why? I see it quite frequently with my clients and usually one of the biggest culprits is eating only once a day, maybe twice.
Your first thought might be “Okay, I though eating less = weight loss?” This maybe true but it has to be done correctly. Say during that one meal you’re only eating 300-600 calories and that is it for the day. Your body will slow down its metabolism to meet the demands placed on it. We also need think about metabolism more broadly then just in relation to food. Metabolic processes include all chemical reactions in the body that sustain life. Your body will literally slow theses process down to meet the caloric intake. It essentially goes into starvation mode, it stops metabolizing the foods you eat and converts them into stored energy AKA fat in order to spare metabolizing other forms of energy such as muscle. In a starvation scenario the bodies main source of fuel would be fat, again, this is in order to spare muscle tissues and other important body tissues. So, it makes since why the body would do this. Fat also yields the highest number of calories per gram:
1 g Fat = 9 cal
1g Carb = 4 cal
1g Protein = 4 cal
What we can do in order to keep this from happening is by consuming enough calories throughout the day. It is generally recommend to increase weight loss and maintain a healthy weight that you eat 5-6 smaller meals throughout the course of a day. This keeps your metabolism up, energy levels up, and can assist in weight loss and maintenance. That would translate into eating about every 2 hrs. Obviously, with that in mind we want to keep our portions sizes low and watch the amount of calories.
Now, let’s say you’re eating 3,000 kcals/day. Obviously that is high, unless you’re an athlete or have an incredibly high metabolic rate. Say you wanted to lose 1 lb of fat per week. Well, we’ve already established there are 3,500 kcals per 1 Ib of fat. We just need to do the math. You would need to be in a caloric deficit of 500 calories each day.
3,500 kcal/1 Ib fat
500 kcals x 7days/wk = 3,500kcals = 1 Ib fat
3,000 kcals/day – 500 kcals = 2,500 kcals/day
Stay tuned for more post to come as we go through our weight loss series! Comment below and ask questions if you have any!