How to eat more food & lose more weight

There is a concept in dieting that is commonly misunderstood and misinterpreted- thinking you’re not eating enough to lose weight. So you have to eat more food to lose more weight. Sound a little bit too good to be true? Well lets delve into this. 


Remember that the determinate as to whether someone will lose or gain weight is down to the amount of calories they consume (food & drinks) V.s. the amount of calories they burn (exercise, general movement & their bodies own natural calorie burning processes or resting metabolic rate). 


But rather than thinking of it from a daily perspective of in V.s. out its much better to look at it over a longer time frame. Think in terms of a week- i.e. if someone over eats on a Monday they could reduce their portions on the Tuesday to allow for this and bring the weeks average calorie intake back down to normal. 


Now when we consider eating too little, the train of thought goes- you eat too little and so the body recognises you are eating very little and goes into whats sometimes referred to as ‘survival mode’ and stores everything you eat as fat.


Now there is some truth in this in that if you eat very low calorie for long periods of time (emphasis on the LONG periods of time, not just skipping breakfast) your body slows its natural processes down to try to adapt to the new low calorie intake. This in a lot of cases though will speed back up over time as you eat a little more and it certainly wont happen if you skip a meal or eat a small amount over a few days.


Whats important to appreciate here is this will only really be of concern if someone follows a very low calorie diet for a long time (rarely advised). Now this slowing of your body is a rightfully labeled ‘survival strategy’ to make the most of how much you’re eating but even with this slowing if you continued to follow a low calorie plan consistently you would not begin gaining weight.


There was a famous study done in the 1940’s known as the starvation experiment to test the effect of eating very low calorie for a long period of time and the result- the participants lost huge amounts of weight and continued to lose for as long as they followed the diet. They didn’t all suddenly start gaining weight because of ‘survival mode’. 


So with this information how is it possible then to eat more and lose more weight? 


Well it all comes down to your weekly intake of calories. When you under eat for a period of time what usually happens is you then have a period of over eating to compensate for this.


The problem is this is often subconscious (something you do without realising). This period of over eating is then so extreme that it pushes your weekly calorie intake higher than it should be and you don’t lose weight- but because you’re not aware of this overeating you assume its down to eating too little. 


Confused? Lets use an example to demonstrate this. 


Person A wants to lose weight and knows that cutting down on their food intake is something they probably have to do. Now because they want results sooner rather than later they decide to drastically cut their calorie intake and only consume the bare minimum to get through the day. Their week may look a little like this: 


Monday- 800 calories 

Tuesday- 800 calories 

Wednesday- 800 calories 

Thursday- 800 calories 


These 4 days count as the period of under eating. But because peoples schedules are usually more structured and they have work to occupy them they can usually manage the week days on this. Friday, Saturday and Sunday would then be the period of subconscious over eating. These days may look a little like this:


Friday- 6000 calories 

Saturday- 5000 calories 

Sunday- 4000 calories 


Now you might be thinking that 6000 calories in a day would be way more than you could eat but if you consider that a take out and a bottle of wine could easily be over 3000 calories it starts to look more realistic. 


Now what we are interested in here is the weekly average. Add all the days calories up and we get a weekly total of 18,200 calories. Divide by 7 days to find an average and we get 2,600 calories a day average intake. 


Make sense as to why Person A is struggling to see any weight loss? Their average daily intake is simply too high!


So how can we look to change this? 


If we know that a period of under eating results in a period of over eating then trying to lower the extreme of under eating would hopefully mean they over eat less.


I.e. If person A ate a little more throughout the week days, their body (and mind) wouldn’t feel the need to eat quite as much at the weekend therefore bringing their average weekly intake down. As an idea their week might look a little like this: 


Monday- 1500 calories

Tuesday- 1500 calories 

Wednesday- 1500 calories 

Thursday- 1500 calories 

Friday- 2500 calories

Saturday- 3000 calories

Sunday- 2500 calories 


Add all the days calories up and we get a weekly total of 14,000 calories. Divide by 7 days to find the average and we get 2,000 calories a day average intake. A reduction of 600 calories a day!You can see they get nearly double the amount of food they were eating through the week and they still get flexibility at the weekend to enjoy some treats. 


Take home points

  • Eating too little is a thing! But the real issue is the following few days of eating too much. 

  • The solution is not to simply eat more take outs and chocolate at the weekend because you’ve been told you’re eating too little. Its trying to spread out your food intake more evenly across the week- with the ultimate goal of eating less overall. 

  • Cutting down your portions will not immediately put you into ‘survival mode’. It will take a long time of eating very low calorie consistently to really damage your body in any way. 

  • One good day of eating does not earn one binge day of eating. Its far easier to consume huge amounts of calories than people think. 

  • Remember you can still use this information to improve your weekly eating habits even if you don’t track your calories. Doing it with rough portion sizes will stick be effective. 

  • Remember to think in terms of a week rather than a day. You will not alter your weight of physique that much in one day (good or bad). Thinking in weeks takes the pressure off and allows for a lot more flexibility in your diet.  


Hopefully this has highlighted the importance of spreading your food and drink intake out more evenly to avoid the STARVE/BINGE pattern that a lot of people struggle with.


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July 27, 2018

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