CALORIE RESTRICTION MAY MAKE YOU FAT

One thing that I have done, and I think many of you have as well is when wanting to lose a bit of weight we cut down on calories. Nowadays, many of us even try to be under a certain amount of calories for our dietary intake to make sure we stay on track or even lose a bit of weight. I used to calculate everything I ate(especially when on diet prep) or always tried to go for the low-calorie options.

However by doing this I got obsessed with food, felt bad if I ever ate more calories than what I allowed myself to eat and sometimes when I was a bit under I tried to make sure I ate the calories(even though I was not hungry) to hit my daily target.  In my eyes this is not healthy!



Although there are so many studies showing that eating fewer calories will lead to a longer life and many preach by this – however, Ross pointed out to me the other day these studies are only done in rats or mice and have not been proven in humans. Although this might be right, I personally think it might not be the case. I think its good for the body to have to work and constantly be challenge in some ways. Hence why I think a different calorie intake every day. The body never knows what is going to come and have to be ready for it. I might be absolutely wrong, but this is just my theory.

When you cut down on your calories the body will go into starvation mode(adaptive thermogenesis). When this happens your metabolic rate(metabolism) will slow down as it have to save on all the stored energy in your body and by this it needs fewer calories to work which equals slower weight loss and will result in faster weight gain if you eat more than what your body needs.

Unfortunately, there is no known way of preventing going into starvation mode – although if we did, we would maybe have found the key to weight loss?

One study showed that short term calorie restriction will not have a negative long term impact on your metabolism – however, Im not sure if there is studies on this but they say(especially in the fitness community) that you can get “metabolic damaged” if you have caloric restriction for too long. And I believe this is true. Maybe not a damaged metabolism but definitely not a optimal working one. (to learn more go to YouTube and search metabolic damage)

Talking about this, as I mentioned before I started my diet experiment I said I do not want to count calories, hence to what Ive written above. I want to be able to enjoy eating, without feeling guilty or have to make sure I know every single calories that goes in me. But still be healthy and look great.

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  1. Jess2569 says: Reply

    So true! Good work! I have lots of easy diet recipes on my blog, vegan and vegetarian. I also have a free book with smoothie recipes which are great for weight loss! Jess x http://feedyourprettysoul.com/?page_id=1231

  2. I lost 87 pounds without diets, surgery, or pills.

    1. That’s fantastic 👏

  3. Eat more move more is problably a much better route to take.

  4. YES. people forget that it’s all about NUTRITION. thank you for reminding. <3

  5. I have a few comments to add to the conversation.

    Firstly, the fast majority of studies on extending longevity via calorie restriction (CR) have been done on lower species such as rats and mice, and these studies have shown CR to increase lifespan. In humans, the research is not as extensive, mainly due to the fact that humans live longer than mice, worms or fish, and therefore cannot realistically be monitored from a start-point (adulthood) to an end-point (death). And even if you could do this, the results would be meaningless, as it would be virtually impossible for someone to consciously follow a calorie-restricted diet for a lifetime.

    However, there is an excellent review paper from 2009 which looked at studies on CR and longevity effects in humans revealing that it is becoming possible to analyse “biomarkers of aging”, which may potentially identify the mechanisms that confer longevity through CR, without the need to follow human subjects for unrealistic periods of time. The paper can be found here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19007855

    A further review from 2011, by the same researchers, can be found here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20518700

    Excitingly, a 2-Year Randomized Controlled Trial of Human Caloric Restriction study paper was released last month, and concluded that “The effects of the achieved CR on correlates of human survival and disease risk factors suggest potential benefits for aging-related outcomes that could be elucidated by further human studies”. The two words, correlate and potential, are important here, as any student of nutrition should know that correlation does not equal causation, and potential does not mean definite – the researchers themselves even recognise this, hence the reason they call for further studies. However, the results point in the direction of CR aiding longevity in humans. What’s more, the participants in this study were also non-obese, which suggests that CR is effective for those of stable weight.
    The study is here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26187233

    I therefore agree with Dina that it probably does have some benefit to eat restricted calories on certain days, or even have days where you fast or only eat within a set time window (a form of intermittent fasting). From an evolutionary standpoint this makes sense, as it is clear that we did not evolve with constant access to an abundant food supply -sometimes food would be abundant, but sometimes it would be scarce, and we may have developed biological mechanisms to deal with this (look up the “thrifty gene hypothesis” for more on this). Like moderate exercise, CR seems to exert a type of hormesis upon the body that looks like it confers positive health effects, and in the RCT study that I just mentioned, this hormetic effect was achieved with a 25% reduction in calories.

    Dina also speaks about adaptive thermogenesis, which is a type of starvation response, and how this can lower basal metabolic rate (BMR) and consequently make it easier to regain weight when ad libitum eating is resumed. However, what if your BMR set-point is lowered due to a decrease in calories, and you end up no longer needing the same amount of calories as previously in order to maintain energy balance? In such a case, the hormetic effect of CR may be enough to stress the body without leading to adaptive thermogenesis? For adaptive thermogenesis to occur, perhaps the CR would have to be greater than 25% of total calories? This is, no doubt, the reason why people who starve themselves on crash diets (i.e. over 50% CR) easily regain when the they resume ad libitum eating – they have gone way beyond hormesis and the body thinks it is dealing with outright starvation.

    So, in summary, although I don’t see any evidence that a modest calorie restriction over the long-term causes metabolic damage (in fact, the science is suggesting exactly the opposite), there is plenty evidence showing that starvation does. The take home message must therefore be that if you are modestly restricting calories or intermittent fasting, you’re probably doing no harm and may in fact be doing a lot of good. If, however, you are crash dieting by slashing your total calorie intake over an extended period of time, you are most certainly asking for trouble.

  6. I also loved the following statement from the blog post: “Unfortunately, there is no known way of preventing going into starvation mode”.

    There is, and it is very simple: eat enough calories!!

    1. Haha! You know what I meant 😉

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