One of the biggest issues people are facing when they come to me for coaching is they’re unable to lose weight eating very few calories per day. When I tell them they are going to need to raise them up if they want to make progress they are fearful of the sudden weight gain they might experience.
Today I’m opening up enrollment into the 1-on-1 coaching program. And this week I’m going to be sharing three case studies from personal clients that showcase three very common weight loss mistakes people make and the solutions to make them work for you.
Today I’m sharing the first case study with you. Wednesday and Friday I will be sharing the next two. So let’s get started…
There is Only One Direction to Go
Unless you weigh 120lbs there really is no reason to be eating sub 1200 calories/day. For men, going under 1600 is rarely necessary.
If you’re not losing weight at these levels then going lower is not the answer. Think about it – if you’re maintaining your weight eating 1200 calories per day, that means you’d theoretically need to eat 700 calories/day to lose 1lb/week.
Does that sound realistic? Sustainable?
The problem is you’re letting fear get in the way. It’s understandable. After all, if you’re maintaining your weight eating 1200 calories per day then eating anything more will result in weight gain – right?
Differentiating Between Weight and Fat
Your fears are justified and you very well might gain weight in the interim. But remember, weight is not fat.
Any time you go from a long period of under-eating to suddenly eating more food there is a good chance you’re going to gain some weight.
You’re likely walking around with depleted glycogen reserves. All this means is that the fuel your muscles store for exercise isn’t topped off. Glycogen is water and glucose. It is not fat.
When you raise your calories by 200, 500, or more your muscles are going to soak up the additional fuel. This is good weight. Again, it is not fat.
Most people assume any weight gain is bad. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s all about body composition. When your muscles store that extra glycogen that means you just increased your lean body mass. This is going to benefit you in the long run.
A Real Life Example of Increasing Calories
Let’s take a look at a past client of mine. We’ll call her Heather.
She came to me upset that no matter what she did she couldn’t lose weight. She was eating between 1000-1200 calories/day and exercising 5-6 days per week.
She was exhausted, frustrated, and confused.
When I told her she was under-eating and would need to increase her calories to lose weight she was scared. So scared, in fact, that she was about to change her mind and not go through with the coaching.
I told her to give me 2 weeks at a higher calorie intake to assess the results. And after a “few” email exchanges she gathered enough courage and support to give it a go. The alternative obviously wasn’t working, so why not?
And her results?
A Weight Increase Then a Decrease
Heather upped her calories by 500-600 per day overnight (more on this later). The result? She actually gained weight that first week. In fact, her fears were coming true.
The first day she gained almost a pound. The next two another pound. But when we took an average at the end of the week her weight was only .2lbs higher than the day she had started.
At this point she was at least happy that she wasn’t gaining any weight eating more food. Her energy levels were higher and her gym performance was much better.
From week 2 on she never had a week that didn’t result in a loss. Yes, her calories needed to come down some in order for her to hit our weekly weight loss goal, but they were still 400 higher than when she started, even though she finished the 12 weeks 8lbs lighter.
How to Limit Any Weight Increase
Heather was a client, so we were on an accelerated timetable. We went with the large increase in calories all at once because I knew she would have me for support to talk her down if her weight increased suddenly.
For people doing this on their own and are very afraid of what the extra food might do I recommend you take the calorie increase in stages through a process called reverse dieting.
It’s very simple – you slowly increase your calories by 50-100 a week at a time until you’re at more manageable levels. If you don’t count calories then you just slightly increase your food intake.
This 50-100 number isn’t set in stone, but the slower you go the less potential for any weight gain. Of course on the flip side to that it means it will take longer for you to get up to a higher caloric base to start losing weight from.
I’ve personally found that under-eaters can usually add 200 calories to their diet without any substantial weight gain. So start there if you’re feeling a little courageous.
Monitor your weight for a couple of weeks and see what happens. I think you might be surprised at the results and you’ll be one step closer to achieving the weight loss you’ve been working so hard for.
On Wednesday I’m going to share another case study with you, and it’s specifically for the person who likes to constantly fiddle with their program – making unnecessary changes that actually hurt your progress. So keep an eye out for that in a couple of days.
In the meantime, check out the 1-on-1 coaching enrollment page to get all the details and consider getting personalized help for your weight loss goals.