- Lucas Vermot-Desroches
How Eating Less Actually Makes You Fat
There is a common myth that eating less will make you lose weight and have less body fat. This article will debunk this claim that holds supermodels and everyday people alike to some false notion that eating a peanut for lunch will make us all more slim. When we starve ourselves, our body goes into ‘starvation mode’. This means that our body becomes conscious that we are desperately in need of the nutrients we crave for life. Our body fears that we will continue to lack the proper nutrition and nutrients required to live. Therefore, we store body fat well above our average rate, to cope with our starving state.
In addition to this increased fat storage rate, our physiology changes in other ways. Our metabolism slows down dramatically to salvage all of the nutrients possible from this awareness of potential starvation. Contrary to what most may believe, or what would appear to be ‘common sense’, this state of starvation actually contributes to obesity. Whether we eat very little, or eat foods with almost no nutrition value (junk food such as chips, candy bars, soda, and so on), we store this fat at a far higher rate than if we ate appropriate proportions of food with beneficial nutritional values.
Our genes also play a role in this. Our genetic makeup decides how much of this fat we keep when we decide not to properly eat proportioned and nutritionally valuable foods. The way our society is now set up allows for us to have an abundance of food at any time. This was not true in the past. Our physiological history prepared us for more scarce amounts of food that would fluctuate in the natural world. Therefore, this starvation mechanism that stores food is left over from this past in the wild that we all share. Since this is our physical reality, we are more likely to overeat without realizing it, since no mechanism in our body stops us from doing so. On the other hand, when we starve, our body is prepared and gains weight. Whether we overeat or starve, our body is holding onto the fat that we have already accumulated. Obesity is in fact usually caused by the combination of these two factors: overeating foods with no nutritional value, causing our body to go into starvation mode and store these nutritionally devoid fats in our cells.
There are many ways to combat this tendency to eat less in an effort to lose weight. We should seek to maintain a healthy weight with proper nutrition, exercise, and other daily regiments. We should not skip meals or try to reduce the amount of food we eat. Instead, we should seek points of improvement in our diet to allow us to make better decisions, swapping out chips, candy and sodas for apples, carrots, tea and water. This way, our body will reward us by never going into starvation mode and losing that fat that we do not in fact need, since we are not actually starving.
The same is true for exercise: we should replenish our body with the appropriate number of carbs and calories after a workout, especially emphasizing protein intake to rebuild the muscles we tear down. This allows our body to recover after our physical depletion. This way, we won’t enter starvation mode. People who are overweight are told by society at large to eat less and to constantly work out more. However, moderation and appropriate actions are critical here. People seeking to lose weight should maintain a healthy diet with a minimum of about 1,500 calories per day (for the average individual). They should exercise intelligently, not pushing their body past their physical potential (which can also result in injury), forcing them into a starvation mode that will directly work against their physical goal. There is a common misconception that eating less will result in weight loss. However, we should instead seek to maintain our regular diets, but replace empty carbs with nutritious foods that give us the nutrients we require for life. This will help us maintain a healthy weight and lose the unnecessary fat we put on from entering ‘starvation’ mode.