Why Most Diets Fail
by: Nathan Latvaitis
Ever thought of, known someone, or gone on a diet? You probably have. The word diet seems like a common word for someone who is unsatisfied with their current physical condition. The problem is that most diets usually end up failing…in the long run. Going on a "diet" usually refers to eating alot less food, in the hope that it will make us lose those unwanted pounds of fat. Although there are different types of diets, 90% of them stress a strong reduction in calories one way or another.
Everyone has a certain amount of calories that they require per day to keep themselves alive and to perform bodily processes. This requirement of calories is known as Resting Metabolic Rate or RMR for short. For the purpose of this article, we will use my body as an example. My RMR is about 2500 calories/day. I will eat about 2500 calories to just keep myself alive. Note: You can calculate your RMR at http://www.weight-loss-resources.com/calculators/rmr.html
On another note, our bodies adapt to the stimuli that they are exposed to. For instance, when one lifts weights their body adapts by growing muscle, when one runs long distances their bodies adapt by building more capillaries to enhance blood flow, when one is exposed to cold temperatures their body begins to shiver in an attempt to create heat through muscle contractions, etc. The point is our bodies adapt to essentially everything that they are exposed to, including how many calories we eat per day.
So, when our bodies are exposed to a calorie deficit (a lower number of calories than our RMR) they must adapt. Let's say that I want to go on a diet and I begin to eat 1000 calories a day instead of the normal 2500 (Actually, I eat more than 2500 calories because I exercise and perform daily activities. 2500 only accounts for the calories needed to keep my body alive. Although for the sake of simplicity, we are only using the RMR. If the message within these parentheses confused you, simply ignore it.) One of the first ways my body is going to adapt is by using up my fat stores to make up for the lack of calories. This is why most diets seem to work in the beginning. The thing is, the body does not want to keep using its precious fat stores for energy. The human body does not see fat as a bad thing; it is a backup mechanism for when a calorie deficit is introduced.
Now here's the kicker. Since my body is not going to want to keep using up its fat stores, it is going to adapt by lowering how many calories my body needs per day to keep itself running (RMR). One of the main ways it accomplishes this is by eating away at it's own muscle. Instead of requiring 2500 calories a day to keep my body running, my body will eventually adapt over a period of time and only require 1000 calories to keep running. Back when our ancestors lived they needed this calorie adaptation to survive when food was short and they were starving. The trouble is, the body cannot tell the difference between starvation and dieting.
Now that my body's RMR has adjusted to the new number of calories that I'm are eating, it no longer needs to use its emergency fat stores to keep itself alive. This is when your fat loss stops from a diet. In addition to this, if I decide that I want to go off of my 1000 calories a day diet and begin to eat 2500 calories a day again then there is a calorie surplus. The body does not need these extra calories so it will store them as fat. The exception to storing them as fat is when the body needs to build muscle because it has been exposed to some type of exercise or weight lifting, and even then all of the calories are not used for muscle growth.
Now that I have changed my RMR to 1000 calories per day, I have really wrecked my metabolism and it's going to be harder to get to my goal of actually losing fat. That is, unless of course If I want to stay on my diet forever.
So what is the best way to lose fat without messing up my metabolism (RMR)?
A calorie deficit is required to lose weight, but eating less is not the only way to create a calorie deficit. Another safer way is to exercise. More detail can be found on this in Tom Venuto's book "Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle", which is located at http://www.weight-loss-resources.com. You can also calculate your RMR at http://www.weight-loss-resources.com/calculators/rmr.html
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice from you're a physician or your health care provider.
About The Author
Nathan Latvaitis: An avid fitness researcher - helping other people realize their goals through knowledge. Nathan runs a fitness website at http://www.weight-loss-resources.com where you can find more fitness tips, articles, calculators, reviews, a message board, and more.
This article was posted on February 22, 2005
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