How To Eat MORE and Weigh LESS

Eat 1800 calories a day AND lose weight???

How in the world was I EVER going to do that???

I remember thinking that to myself as I sat there on the sofa in our living room, going through the Insanity nutrition guide, and following the calculation that it gave me to figure out how many calories I needed to consume every day while doing that fitness program.

Any time I’d wanted to lose weight in the past, I’d exercised and limited myself to 1200 calories a day. That had always worked!

Now I was supposed to eat 600 MORE a day! Following my basic math of 3500 calories equals one pound, I quickly tallied up that over the course of a 9-week program, that was NINE EXTRA POUNDS that I now wasn’t gonna lose!

I was less than thrilled at the idea, but the whole reason I was doing Insanity in the first place was because what I had been doing for years wasn’t working for me anymore.

I had finally admitted to myself that I wasn’t a fitness and nutrition expert, and if I was gonna be following someone else’s fitness program for the next nine weeks, then I figured I may as well do it 100% all-in and follow their nutrition program too.

So 1800 calories a day it was…luckily I didn’t do the Month 2 calculation at the time, which put me at a whopping 2000 calories!

Over the next nine weeks, I defied the odds (in my brain anyway). I ate between 1800 and 2000 calories every single day, and I lost 11 lbs and double digit inches of fat on top of it!

HOW THE HELL DID THIS JUST HAPPEN???

I was intrigued by my results, and I wanted to continue to expand upon them too, so I figured I’d better learn something about this whole calories consumed/weight loss thing.

The first thing that I learned is what a calorie even is – it’s a unit used to measure the amount of energy that your body generates from the food that you eat.

That energy goes not only towards things that you decide to do, like walking, talking, and working out, but also to things that just happen naturally, like breathing, digesting, and your heart beating.

These functions all require a certain amount of energy, so if you consume MORE calories than is required to do them, your body turns them into fat for future use. On the flip side, when you eat FEWER calories than you use, your body typically taps into that stored fat and burns it.

The latter of those two processes was what I was already familiar with, and what I think most other people are too. So it’s easy to think that if you want to lose weight, you’ll just consumer fewer calories, and burn through your fat storage FASTER, right?

WRONG!

Apparently if your calorie deficit gets too large, you can actually do more HARM, than GOOD…WHAAAAAT? This thought process was completely foreign to me.

Yes, your body will tap into your stored fat. But at the same time, it might also start breaking down your muscle for fuel.

Considering that muscle tissue burns calories at about 2.5 times the rate that body fat does (even while you’re RESTING!), it’s pretty easy to conclude that you want as much muscle in your body as possible. Um, wait….I can burn calories while SLEEPING??? I’m in!

I also learned that when you put fewer calories in your body, your metabolism sometimes slows down in an effort to conserve energy, which means that your body is once again burning even FEWER calories.

The general consensus seemed to be that you don’t want to drop below a 500 calorie a day deficit. Great – but what number was I even supposed to subtract 500 calories from?

I did a little bit of research and found a super simple calculator that I could use for everyday purposes.

I sit at a desk all day, which means that my lifestyle is considered “Sedentary.” My current weight in pounds x 12 = My Maintenance Caloric Needs.

If I changed jobs to one where I’m on my feet all day, or if I decided to start doing a moderate workout program, then my lifestyle would become “Moderately active.” My current weight in pounds x 13 = My Maintenance Caloric Needs.

If I changed jobs to one where I did manual labor (I know, I know….HIGHLY unlikely), or if I decided to do Insanity again, or one of Beachbody’s other advanced workout programs, then my lifestyle would become “Highly active.” My current weight in pounds x 14 = My Maintenance Caloric Needs.

If I’m happy with my current weight and just want to maintain it, then that’s the calorie number that I should stick with.

But if I’ve got more work to do, or even just a bender of a weekend like is known to happen from time to time, then I should subtract 500 calories from that number instead. Apparently you never want to drop below 1200 though.

But I’ve gotta tell ya…I can’t even imagine eating ONLY 1200 calories a day now!

It’s funny how perceptions change…in just 60 days I went from being horrified at the thought of “stuffing” 1800 calories into my body, to being horrified at the thought of eating “only” 1200 calories.

I don’t know about you, but it seems like an easy decision to me. Eat LESS food and weigh MORE, or eat MORE food and weigh LESS….hm…

Comment below and let me know what YOU think!

Katie-before November 2011 Pic
 

katiebrenneman

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