Just Cut Calories To Lose Weight?

lower calories to lose weight

Is that all we have to do?  Just reduce our calories all around and we’ll lose weight and get into amazing shape?

Can we eat pizza, donuts, ice cream and cookies? Just less of them?

Well if you scour the internet you’re sure to find plenty of conflicting information on this particular topic.

Today I decipher all of that for you and get to the bottom of this very important question that has many wondering.

Let’s consider a hypothetical:

  • There is a 32-year-old woman and she works full-time outside of the home. She has two kids that keep her SUPER busy as well as a husband and a household to keep up. This woman has got A LOT going on. With all of that going on, she also finds time to go to the gym and work out. She weighs 150 pounds and she wants to lose weight – overall just wants to get into GREAT, AMAZING shape.

So, with those things considered, our 32-year-old woman probably has a maintenance calorie level of about 2,200 calories or so. For those of you who may not be clear on what exactly a maintenance level is – it is simply where we DO NOT GAIN or LOSE weight. She also probably has a BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) of about maybe 1,400/1,500 calories, or somewhere right around that area.

With her desire to want to lose weight, she IS going to cut her calories by 500 calories a day, which will get her a net weight loss of about a pound a week – assuming that she continues to exercise. This particular individual has ALSO CONDUCTED a whole lot of research, and while there is a TON of conflicting information out there – she has read an awful lot that says:

“You know, you really only have to cut calories and maybe exercise a little more and you’ll lose weight.”

Therefore, that is what she is planning on doing. She’s going to cut her calories by 500 calories a day, and over a period of a week, supposedly or theoretically, she should lose about a pound a week and get into great shape, right?

Now, what she could do: she’s cutting by 500 calories a day. This will put her at about 1,700 calories or so that she has to consume in any day. So what she could do is she could CONSUME it all in Snickers bars, right? That would be six Snickers bars a day! You know, but she’s not completely naive and she KNOWS that Snickers bars is not exactly great nutrition. Our woman is going to try to have a somewhat balanced nutritional plan and just cut her calories altogether.

Let’s name our woman… Basil. Basil starts off her day like most of us do – with a bagel and a little bit of cream cheese. Next meal would be lunch, of course, so Miss Basil decides that she is going to go to Subway (eat fresh!) because that’s what we do (right?) when we’re trying to lose weight. We GO to what WE THINK are healthy choices. She orders a six-inch ham sub, gets a small bag of Lay’s classic potato chips and she gets a medium drink… in this case, we’ll say a Coke.

Now for good old dinner – again, Basil is so incredibly busy, she’s actually quite SUPER RUSHED (to put it lightly.) Miss B decides that she is going to run through the McDonald’s drive-thru… (Not a good idea, but hey, I know that it happens.) She has REALIZED that she is getting VERY close to her caloric level for the day and decides to just order a hamburger and a small fry – skips the sugary soda drink and she goes with a diet Coke instead.

If we stop for a moment here and TAKE A LOOK at her total calories for the day we’re talking about 1,850 or so, based on all those food items, which, while it’s above what she was planning to consume for the day, it is at least below her maintenance calories. Theoretically, she should be losing weight over time with that diet considered.

The question we have to ask ourselves: will this work? Consuming those kinds of foods, will this individual actually lose weight?

You know, when we break down what she’s actually taking in, in food products throughout the day and we look at the components, it comes down to about 70 percent of her calories are coming from carbohydrates. THESE ARE NOT JUST ANY CARBOHYDRATES… These are carbohydrates that absorb very quickly into the body. We are talking about SUGARS and FLOURS. This is where YOU need to ask YOURSELF: what is the problem with this? I mean, so what if 70 percent of your calories are coming from very quickly absorbing carbohydrates? What’s the issue with that?

Well, the issue is this:

  • First and foremost – these types of calories/foods are going to spike your insulin levels. That’s because these foods that are absorbed SO QUICKLY!
    • When they’re brought into the body, they’re converted into insulin.
    • Your body creates insulin and spikes your insulin levels and it just creates a whole bunch of negative side effects, like blocking a hormone that regulates your hunger.

That spike in insulin levels actually tells your brain that you have not had enough to eat and you’re going to be very hungry afterwards. I KNOW you know what I’m talking about here because I’m sure you’ve experienced this as well. If you eat a Snickers bar, or you eat something that is VERY sugary OR has A LOT of flour to it – or even worse – a sugar and flour combination… very quickly afterwards, if not like minutes afterwards, you’re STILL HUNGRY and you want to consume more.

That’s that hormone called leptin that the spike in the insulin levels is blocking. Therefore, you’re actually getting a message to your brain that says, “I need more food.” So that’s problem number one.

The second problem with this is, with that spike in insulin and with that VERY QUICK processing of those foods… it doesn’t take long for the body to break them down. Well, your body’s actually going to store that food in FAT because I’m assuming you’re not running a marathon at the time that you’re consuming these products. Since the body processes it so fast, IT HAS NOWHERE TO PUT IT, so it’s going to start storing it in fat – in hopes that you can use it later (kind of like how chipmunk and squirrels store nuts for the winter!)

The third problem and I know all this is probably obvious… WHERE is the nutritional content of this food and HOW is that really going to help your body function? There is simply VERY LITTLE NUTRITIONAL CONTENT in these foods. Over the long run, that’s just going to WREAK HAVOC ON YOUR HEALTH. Okay, I think most of us know that. Now, we get BACK to the question of: will you lose weight on this diet?

 

  • If this individual stays at around 1,700 calories a day and DOES NOT go over that 2,200-maintenance level, is she going to lose weight? Well, the answer is: yes, she will. However, realistically, it’s NOT SUSTAINABLE, and the results that she’s going to get is probably NOT, what she’s looking for.

 

Much of the weight that she MIGHT LOSE is going to be in the form of muscle mass over time. One, because she’s not getting that nutrition that SHE NEEDS in order to have a healthy body to sustain muscle mass or grow muscle mass. In addition, because her body is going to store some of that in fat and she’s losing muscle at the same time… her metabolism is GOING TO SLOW DOWN because she’s not going to be burning as many calories. This is the exact point in which we start REPLACING MUSCLE WITH FAT. We burn less calories just existing, so in order for her to continue to lose weight, she’s GOING to HAVE TO reduce her daily caloric level over time.

Instead of taking in 1,700 calories… Miss Basil will have to consume about 1,600 calories… then this cycle continues – she’s going to have to reduce it even more. So there’s a VERY DESTRUCTIVE CYCLE over time when you take this approach. That’s not even to mention, of course, all the negative side effects to OUR HEALTH. Have we all heard of type 2 diabetes and what an epidemic that it is, as well as, what an epidemic that it’s going to be if we don’t change our eating habits?! WE HAVE CONTROL OVER THIS!!!

Type 2 diabetes is LARGELY a result of these types of foods. Will she lose weight? YES, she will. Will it be temporary? Absolutely. What is most likely going to wind happening to Miss B is that she is going to end up a lot worse off over time than she was when she first started out! Point, blank, period! I see THIS challenge all the time. What she’s likely going to wind up with is a smaller version of herself, but it’s going to be FILLED with maybe cellulite because of all the fat that she’s storing now, and she is certainly NOT STRONG. Poor Miss B is not going to HAVE ENERGY at all to get through her day even. She’s most definitely going to feel like crap, and then, of course, all of the NEGATIVE health benefits that accompany later on directly caused from EATING THESE TYPES OF FOODS.

 

  • Therefore, if JUST reducing calories and NOT changing the types of foods that we’re eating doesn’t work, then what does work? Well, first, you’ve got to fuel your day with the carbohydrates that support your goals.

 

#1 – We’re talking about vegetables – and TONS of vegetables!

BUT… it’s got to be the RIGHT vegetables. We are NOT talking about potatoes. Remember, French fries are made out of potatoes, right? White potatoes actually spike your insulin levels, and A LOT of people DO NOT know that – so if you’re one of them… DON’T WORRY!!! It’s almost as bad as eating a Snickers bar. If you choose vegetables that are VERY HIGH in FIBER, you can eat a TON of them and they will support your goals.

#2 – Then you add lean proteins to that mix and a SIGNIFICANT amount of them.

Chicken breast, ground turkey, and fish are some great options ☺

#3 – Top it off with some HEALTHY FAT sources like NUTS.

Almonds are ONE of MY FAVORITES. You can eat a ton of food that will support muscle growth and fat loss. You will have less hunger because your insulin levels will be maintained throughout the day rather than going through this spike and low… over time, the health benefits are just not to be disputed.

#4 – STAY AWAY FROM PROCESSED FOODS!!!

The white stuff, as I call them. Stay away from the white stuff. Fill up your day with all sorts of vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats. Stick with moderate forms of exercise, and of course, I’m a HUGE proponent of weight training. Following these simple tips, you will surely be able to watch those FAT POUNDS MELT OFF of you as you build muscle, get all sorts of energy, and improve your health over time.

That wraps up my hypothetical situation – and I REALLY hope you got some value out of this (and enjoyed it!) If you did… Please leave a comment. If you have any questions, leave a comment as well. I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU GUYS!

With love,

Kristin

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Hi there! What about white rice vs. brown rice? I personally prefer the flavor and quick cooking time of white rice, but I know that there are more nutrients in brown rice. Does the white rice fall into the “white stuff” category that you talk about here? Or is all rice a no-no? Thanks!

    • That’s a GREAT question! Brown rice is the winner here. White rice processes very quickly in our system, spiking our insulin and causing all sorts of challenges, including storage of fat. So stick with brown rice, which is harder for the body to break down and therefore more effective for fat loss. Just remember that a little bit goes a long way in terms of calories.

      With love ~Kristin <3

  • Hi Kristin! Thanks for putting up this video, and I like it being on FAB-U 🙂 great! Excellent, well-though out info and as always you present it so well–and so encouragingly. Thank you!

    • Katharine thank you for your kind kind words!!! I’m so pleased you enjoyed it so much. :):)

      With love,

      Kristin

  • Great video!
    I especially like the “smaller version of yourself” comment, in regards to the results one would get by just calorie reduction . Adequate protein intake and STRENGTH training is the key to reshaping your body. Focus on free weights and compound exercise.

    • Thanks Kelly! Yes, I learned a long long time ago that I could complete reshape my body through weight training and clean eating. Up until then I was stuck in the same trap as most – thinking if I just reduced calories that I would lose weight. Well, I did, but I still didn’t look the way I wanted to. And as I stated in the video, it was a vicious cycle.

      Thanks so much for leaving your thoughts!

      With love,

      Kristin

  • I agree with you 100%. I have found that the more vegetables and lean protein I eat, the better I feel. Thanks for your videos – very informative.
    Chris Swanzy

    • You’re welcome Chris! I’m so glad you’re enjoying. 🙂

      With love,

      Kristin

  • Kristin,
    I agree with all you said however you are giving an example of a younger person. My issue is that I am 5′ 6″ weigh 200 lbs am 52 years old I have Hypothyroidism and am heading into Menopause I already carry an additional 60 pounds of unnecessary weight and work a very stressful desk job, I work out three times a week (Zumba) and eat 5 or six times a day and consume around 1500 to 1800 calories a day. Breakfast is a bowl of Oatmeal or cereal like Special K then a couple of hours later I have a snack like a Cliff bar or an apple then for lunch a salad with chicken or turkey and no sugar no fat dressing (not on the salad) snack a couple of hours later is a hand full (1/4 cup) of natural almonds or a trail mix. then for diner 3 oz of protein like fish chicken or beef with lots of vegies (usually steamed broccoli mix with squash & bell peppers) I drink 4 to 5 bottles of water per day and still I am not losing weight. How do I figure the rate at which I burn calories when i am not working out? Maybe I need to reduce my intake of calories even more because the burn rate is lower than what I am consuming. Please help. I hate the way I look and I am so tired of the roller coaster and fad diets that I see on the internet.
    Jodi Bright

    • I hope to hear an answer to Jodi. I am in a similar situation. Thanks. Evonne

      • Thanks Evonne for chiming in! I just replied to her comment. :):)

        With love,

        Kristin

    • Jodi, if I may, as soon as I read that you were hypothyroid, I knew why you were having issues with weight loss. I am hypothyroid as well and can tell you that you must first get your thyroid levels in check or you will be fighting a losing battle. Are you currently taking anything for it? If so, maybe you could talk to your doc about switching. If not, don’t delay. If you are on Facebook, I highly recommend friending or following Hypothyroid Mom. This is a group of other hypothyroid sufferers who can offer their advice and experience, and is a great resource for information. Once you get that taken care of you can follow Kristin’s advice on clean, healthy eating and you will then see results. Best of luck!

      • I agree with you Nikki. Spot on!

        With love,

        Kristin

    • Hi Jodi,

      Thank you so much for writing! I agree with Nikki’s comment that the hypothyroid challenge is probably your best bet to address as it sounds like your diet is very good overall. After you have that in check maybe with help from your doctor, the only other thing I would recommend is adding weight training to your exercise schedule. Zumba is wonderful and super fun, but you won’t be building a lot of muscle with that exercise program. And especially as we age the muscle building and muscle preservation becomes more and more important.

      Please do come back and report on your progress.

      With love,

      Kristin

      • Wow you all here are just awesome and a big help. Thank You. EB

        • I love our FAB gals!!! <3

    • Hi Jodi,
      Good for you for taking control of your health. I’m about your age/height, through menopause and hypothyroid. I also eat 5 times a day and go to the gym where I lift heavy weights and do cardio. I weigh 115-120lbs. I am feeling great so want you to know it is possible:)
      I am sure Kristin will help you sort out your diet but a couple of things to just point out. For Breakfast it’s better to switch from cereal (which is mostly low quality high carbs/sugar and milk/dairy) to 3-4 egg whites or a protein shake mixed with water. Also your portions are large…for your size probably no more than 1/3- ½ cup of dry oatmeal (not the flavored kind in packets) mixed with water not milk would be best. For flavor mix in ½ scoop of protein powder w/ water to the oats. Cliff bars and trail mix are processed and high in sugar so a better alternative would be the apple or nuts. If at all possible buy a water filter and avoid bottled water whenever possible. Better to fill a gallon jug and refill a glass from that throughout the day. For exercise stop concentrating on how many calories you burn and incorporate weight lifting/resistance training into your program to burn more calories throughout the day. With these few changes you will change your body for sure.
      If you want to slow aging and look like Kristen and feel like me these suggestions should help 🙂 Best of all things in Life!