Why Can’t I Diet? – 3/7
This one is easy. Eat too much and you will put fat on, we all know that. But why?
Well, there is an energy balance to be squared off and a little rule in physics called the ‘First Law of Thermodynamics’. Your body needs a certain amount of energy to operate with. There are 2 levels.
The amount at which it can just about survive on, and I mean only survive. Your health, appearance, energy etc will all be compromised but you will still be breathing and in most cases capable of reproduction, that’s pretty much it (actually for some people that is probably enough). You will however look terrible, operate appallingly and be ill.
Just the right amount. All your systems are operating at 100%, your immune system does an excellent job of keeping you healthy, you have an abundance of energy, you look great, hair, eyes, skin, the works. You are mentally alert and your cells regularly regenerate and replace in order to keep you in tip top condition. Your body fat levels are just enough to protect your organs, provide a little insulation and to keep you operating optimally. Life is good, woo hoo….
Where this goes wrong is if you eat more than you need for level 2, consistently. Now occasionally eating more than you need is fine. The body has systems in place to compensate for this and it just ramps up your metabolic rate (the amount of calories you burn just doing normal daily stuff) to burn off the surplus you have eaten. It actually does this every day, lowers your metabolic rate when you eat less, ups it when you eat more, all in an effort to maintain a healthy balance (homeostasis).
This is why sometimes you can be on a diet, things can be slowing down, you then have a day where you eat a load more and amazingly the next day you have actually weighed less! All that happened is your body ramped up your metabolic rate but got a bit excited and overdid it!
But, consistently overeating will eventually beat the system and the surplus you consume will be laid down as fat (your body’s reserve supply). That’s all nice and easy to understand.
When it comes to dieting though we all know we have to eat less than we need in order for the process to be reversed and the fat stores to be tapped in to to make up the eating shortfall. Where people fail is they don’t get this figure right, sometimes through lack of knowledge and sometimes through naivety.
EVERYTHING, except water, has a calorie count to it, everything, and it ALL COUNTS.
VEG IS NOT FREE
EATING CARBS ON SEPARATE DAYS TO FATS DOES NOT MAKE IT CALORIE FREE
SUGAR FREE JELLY OR DIET DRINKS ARE NOT CALORIE FREE
CELERY IS NOT A NEGATIVE CALORIE
etc etc, you get my point.
When you are dieting (and assuming you are counting calories) every little counts. You have to track everything that goes in your mouth, even the diet stuff with 1 calorie. Don’t trick yourself into thinking that just a little of this won’t hurt. it does. It all matters.
The danger to the dieter and the reason why I’ve included this post in this series is that not controlling how much you eat will lead to poor results, which of course will lead you to fall off the diet and fail because you are not seeing results.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Plan your day – Know what you are going to eat that day in advance so that you are not winging it on an hour by hour basis. I ask every one of my dieting face to face clients every session what they are eating that day, and I expect them to be able to reel off to me exactly what they have planned.
Count Everything – Even the veg and the diet drinks. They all add to your daily total, nothing is free, remember that.
Get It Right – Don’t guess calories, use the weighing scales, use the measuring spoons etc. Look up the calories you don’t know of certain foods and get it right. Don’t just wing it and think ‘that looks about right’.
The truth though is that I am not a big fan of calorie counting however calories DO matter and have to be managed if you wish to lose weight. However you do it and whatever diet you follow there will be quantities applied to it and the same principle still holds, get those quantities right and you will succeed, apathy however and complacency will fail you.