Updated: Oct 18, 2021
Unlike popular beliefs, drastically cutting down calories until you nearly starve to death will not help you reduce fat. Most of the weight you lose with a low-calorie diet will be muscle.
Why is losing muscle so bad?
Our muscles are like our car engines. Just like how fast cars with stronger engines will burn fuel quicker, a body with a bigger muscle framework will burn more calories not only during exercise but also during rest. In other words, your metabolism will be higher. So, with less muscle mass, your weight scale will go down at first which will make you happy but this will eventually lead to a disaster. Once you start to increase your intake again, your metabolism will be much lower, so your body will quickly start gaining weight, only this time, it is not muscle, but fat. This is called a yo-yo diet. To make things worse, muscle is also essential to protect us from injuries and giving us that firm shape that all of us desire. So not only your body will become saggier, but the risks of injuries will be higher.
Eating can help you reduce this risk. And it does not have to be all boring food either. There are many delicious foods that you can eat like different meats, fish, eggs, dried fruits, nuts, almonds, yogurt, and vegetables. Foods that are high in proteins are not only delicious but help you maintain muscle. Protein-rich food also takes longer to digest inside the body so it helps you stay fuller for longer periods and reduces your appetite and the risk of nibbling useless junk between meals. This also means that protein also requires more energy for the body to digest, thus increasing metabolism.
Eating often is very important to keep the metabolism fired up. Skipping meals will alert your body to reduce its metabolism, thinking that it’s going to face a time of starvation. This is done to preserve the energy the body already has. If starvation is prolonged, the body will start burning muscle tissue for energy, reducing the metabolic rate even further. Eating irregular patterns such as skipping breakfast and eating dinner late at night can result in abnormal metabolisms, which can lead to obesity. Eating regularly, therefore, will help you keep your metabolism fired up. You should aim for five small meals: breakfast-lunch-dinner and two snacks, instead of one or two large meals.
Plan your diet in advance. If you cannot find proper meals, you will end up nibbling useless calories without being even fully satisfied. Planning will help you prevent that.
Thanks for reading, and as always stay fit!
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Watanabe, Y., Saito, I., Henmi, I., Yoshimura, K., Maruyama, H., Yamauchi, K., ... & Asada, Y. (2014). Skipping breakfast is correlated with obesity. Journal of Rural Medicine, 2887.