Here are some long-held beliefs when it comes to losing weight: One, if a diet doesn’t put your taste buds in a coma, it’s not effective. Two, a grumbling stomach is a good sign that you’ve cut back on enough food to finally lose all that extra weight. Three, diets are supposed to make you feel deprived.
Honestly, that’s three strikes on all counts. It’s time to let go of all that received "wisdom" and learn what you should really do (and really not do) to keep those pounds off.
You shouldn’t starve yourself. “Starvation diets and excessive calorie counting are the worst ways to lose weight,” reveals sports nutritionist Harvie De Baron, founder of the Baron Method nutrition plan that focuses on fixing one’s eating habits in order to improve quality of life. “By eating too little, your body’s metabolism slows down significantly.” And when your metabolism slows, your body eventually adjusts to your methods of crash-dieting.
The less you eat, the more fat you’ll gain. Faith Nacional, R.N.D., section manager of the Obesity and Weight Management Center of St. Luke’s Medical Center Global City, explains: “You are setting yourself up [to regain] weight because when your metabolism slows down, any little food you take in will be stored as fat. Your body will act like it is starving, so instead of burning fat, it will conserve it.”
The most sustainable way to weight loss is, believe or not, by eating more. “[When you keep] your fuel tank from running on empty, your body trusts you more, and your metabolism is regulated,” notes De Baron. That’s why nutritionists advocate eating every 2.5 to 3 hours, for a total of 6 to 8 meals a day.
The goal is to keep the body from feeling hungry to prevent you from mindlessly munching or bingeing on fatty, oily, and processed foods. “The meals [shouldn’t be] heavy, as long as they’re balanced to meet your nutritional needs,” adds Nacional.
Cutting calories? Don’t go overboard. If you’re looking to scale down your food intake, Nacional cautions against drastic calorie-slashing. “If you eat less than 1,000 calories a day, starvation mode will again kick in. Your body will get its energy from the [fat stores in your] muscles,” she says.
And when your body eats up your own muscles for prolonged periods of time, you get muscle wastage. “Kaya pumapayat ka nga, pero mukhang bagsak ang cheeks at mukha, or the arms sag,” she explains further. Not exactly the lean look you were gunning for.
More food should always mean getting better food. The best principle to follow is quality over quantity. “If the food you eat is whole, unprocessed, and healthy, you shouldn’t be afraid of eating more,” shares De Baron. The problem with most diets, he continues, is that they only focus on weight loss without solving the root of the problem. “You have to start seeing food for what it really is: your friend, not your enemy. It’s meant to heal your body. This mindset will fix your eating habits.”
This story originally appeared on Menshealth.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by Cosmo.ph editors