You probably know by now that your calorie intake has to be lower than your caloric expenditure in order to create a caloric deficit. This translates to eating less and doing more calorie expending activities. However, far too often we see people doing it wrong in the eating department. Here are some issues we see and how you can work around them.
1. You’re Eating Too Few Calories
In most cases people want to lose weight quickly and dive straight into the deep end by severely restricting food intake. While definitely effective in contributing to weight loss, eating too little leads to a few issues.
Firstly, for most people it’s common to misinterpret weight loss as coming solely from fat and many will think their weight dropping significantly is fantastic. Unfortunately the two are not synonymous and when you lose weight you are also losing a portion of your lean body mass. In a severe caloric deficit, you will start to compromise muscle mass - a huge negative.
The amount of calories you burn on a daily basis is largely determined by how much lean body mass your body is comprised of. If you start to lose lean mass, your ability to continue to drop weight at the same level of calorie intake reduces and eventually plateaus, forcing you to have to go even lower to continue progressing.
Secondly, we know that there are optimal requirements for fat and protein intake to ensure lean mass retention and maintain overall well being. If caloric intake starts getting too low and you don’t get enough fat or micronutrients, your body will eventually protect itself from starvation by shifting hormonal balance and lead to the complete resistance of weight loss.
What you need to do is eat more if you’re one of these people. Try going for a reasonable deficit that will facilitate a 0.5-1.0% weight loss weekly, which should be about 10-11x body weight in pounds.
2. You’re Eating Too Little Volume Of Food
While overly restricting calories actually isn't great, there are those that keep a reasonable deficit in terms of calories yet eat the wrong foods. While less common, there are some people that fill up most of their daily caloric budget with calorie dense foods such as burgers, protein bars, or even deep fried food products. While these foods are not inherently unhealthy, they generally do not provide the volume and micronutrient profile that is favoured when on a diet and end up leaving you hungry and not feeling satisfied.
Saying that, losing weight is not a comfortable process and in general you will be hungry. However, to make things easier, eating foods that are high in fiber, water, and are low in sugar content are going to improve the feeling of fullness. Compare a 200 calorie chocolate bar to cooked broccoli - you’d have to eat 600 grams worth of broccoli while the chocolate bar would only amount to about 30-40 grams. The fiber and water content in broccoli will have you feeling satiated much longer, and the effect on blood sugar being low won’t have you craving for quick energy like most refined carb foods will.
On a side note, while eating more volume is definitely beneficial in dieting, it’s not to say the bar of chocolate is evil. Some people find they can adhere to diets better if they can have a snack at the end of the day, and in these cases, it would be more beneficial than not to have the chocolate. That said, like we mentioned earlier, your body has a requirement when it comes to micronutrients, and if you aren’t having a balanced diet, chances are you also aren’t getting sufficient micronutrients and potentially creating issues down the line.
In short, have more low calorie per gram foods to keep you fuller for longer and rethink your eating strategy if you’re feeling like you’re starving all the time. The bulk of your food sources should be from whole foods that are high in fiber and water, promoting satiety and ensuring a good balance of micronutrients.