Week 3 of the GET FIT Challenge requires participants to eat based on their total daily expenditure and BMR. We then reduce this by 25%, which is a very aggressive cut in calories. The participants received their calorie numbers yesterday and since then the questions have been rolling in. Why so many calories? How can I eat that much and still lose weight? For some of them this number is much higher than the last two weeks. Week 1 being a detox and week 2 involved restricting calories to 1200 for women and 1500 for men. To answer their questions and a very common question asked in the fitness industry I thought it was a good time for a blog post.
Your body burns calories every day just by existing. This is known as your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is determined by your weight, height, and age. Exercise and physical activity cause you to burn additional calories. BMR combined with calories you burn through physical activity is called Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). IF you eat this amount of calories you will maintain your weight.
Weight loss happens when a calorie deficit is created. Let’s say that based on your age, weight, and height your BMR is 1400 calories and through some physical activity you end up with a TDEE of 2100 calories. To maintain your weight you simply eat 2100 calories every day. What we have done for week 3 of THE CHALLENGE is reduced that number by 25%. If this example were for you, then for this weight loss program you would be eating 1,575 calories per day.
For many people the key to losing weight is eating more. I know this sounds weird because you have been told the way to lose weight is by following a low calorie diet. Using our above example this person’s body would need 2100 calories every day, we cut this for weight loss and then consume those calories daily. What do you think your body is going to do if you need at least 1,575 calories a day but only give it 1,200 or worse 900?
You might think wow; I am going to hit my goal in no time. WRONG! A little bit of an extreme calorie deficit is fine and will not cause any huge damage but after a while starvation mode happens and your body begins to slow things down. Muscle will begin breaking down and fat burning also slows down. Extreme calorie deficits can also cause muscle cannibalization. This is where your body breaks down muscle and uses it for energy. Not eating enough protein can also cause this to happen. We want to get energy from our fat stores not our muscles.
Sooooo…. What can we do about this? EAT MORE FOOD! J It is important to make sure that our bodies are getting enough fuel to function on a daily basis. It can be really difficult to trust the process and develop a better relationship with food since it has been drilled into our heads that low calorie is the way to go. It is time to get healthy by eating more food that is nutritious and staying away from processed foods. Focus on that and you will reach all of your goals.