One of the most frustrating aspects of starting a weight loss program is how long it takes to see actual results. Many infomercials try to sell you products and supplements promising fast results, but these are nothing but weight loss scams, or are based on unhealthy approaches to fat loss. When it comes to stripping off the fat, you WANT it to be slow and gradual for a number of reasons. Keep yourself committed and hold on to your patience by understanding how the human body works during a fat loss phase.

Low calorie diets will never work

Low calorie diets DO cause fast weight loss. However, when you restrict your calories to really low levels (under 1200 a day), you can almost guarantee that the majority of the weight you lose will be water and lean muscle, NOT fat. What does this mean? Loss of muscle will slow down your metabolism. When the diet phase is over, you’ll gain all the fat back due to your sluggish metabolism.


Starvation response

If you slash your calories too low, your body will detect that you’re going through a famine. Our bodies have incredible defense mechanisms and will eventually start to burn muscle to prevent starvation. Muscle is metabolically active and greatly contributes to your energy expenditure, so the less muscle you have, the less calories your body will burn. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn.

The human body is unable to differentiate between low calorie diets and malnourishment due to famine. In response to extreme shortages of food, your body will stop burning fat for energy and start destroying lean muscle mass to keep you alive longer. In his book, “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle”, Tom Venuto points out that low calorie diets decrease your metabolic rate by 50% within a period of six months. To quote Venuto: “The human body is simply too smart for very low calorie diets to work.”

Extreme hunger

Low calorie diets not only trigger a starvation response, they will also make you feel ravenously hungry. Not many people will be able to sustain themselves on very little food over a prolonged period of time - eventually you’ll crack and binge. Associating extreme hunger with fat loss may discourage you from ever following through with a successful program. Nobody wants to go on a diet if they believe that they’ll feel hungry all the time.

Fat loss won’t be permanent

Even if you do lose weight, your chances of maintaining your new body will be very low. With an increased appetite and a slower metabolism, your weight will most likely creep back. Some people even end up fatter than they were before they started. After a period, many dieters decide to try again and start at the beginning. Another failed attempt at low-calorie dieting will result in an even slower metabolism, and can lead to a frustrating pattern of yo-yo dieting.

Loss of energy and a negative impact on relationships

Low-calorie diets will never fuel your workouts, meaning you won’t be able to progress in the gym or remain physically active. Lack of food will also affect your levels of concentration, meaning your performance at work may also suffer and you’ll be less productive in general.

When you aren’t eating enough, your mood will also suffer. You’ll become irritable and grumpy, and this will have a negative impact on your personal relationships. You might be unpleasant to be around or no longer feel like socializing at all.

Creating successful fat loss

There are several tactics you can apply to fat loss programs to ensure that you keep your metabolism revved up and protect your muscle mass at all costs. If you’ve been a victim of low-calorie diets, incorporating these strategies will help bring levels back up.

Don’t cut calories down too low

The safest approach to a fat loss program is a conservative calorie deficit. Strive to start out with a deficit of 500 calories a day for gradual and progressive fat loss. You can then slowly increase to a deficit of 1000 calories a day, as you lose more fat. Tom Venuto recommends eating a minimum of 1400 calories a day for women and 2100 calories for men. Aim to develop an ongoing lifestyle, instead of going on a diet and then returning to your old habits. When you are in a deficit, you simply eat less of what you should already be eating on a daily basis.

Click here to determine how many calories you should be eating for fat loss.

Maintain muscle mass and hit the gym

Losing fat increases the risk of losing muscle. It’s important to consume enough protein and to lift weights at the gym to protect your muscle mass, keep your metabolism high and accelerate fat loss. It is also more effective to create a deficit through exercise than through dieting alone. Exercise will speed up your metabolism, protect lean muscle mass, generate health benefits and prevent disease. It will also give you the freedom to eat more.

Be patient and consistent

When it comes to fat loss, it pays to be consistent and patient. As we’ve learnt, fat loss is meant to be slow and gradual. When it comes to fitness you’ll always get back exactly what you put in. If you work hard and eat well over a period of time, you WILL see results. There’s no point in crash dieting, or following the latest diet fad. Although you may feel triumphant if you experience rapid weight loss in a short period of time, it is meaningless if most of the weight lost is not fat, and you run the risk of regaining it all anyway.

If you have a damaged metabolism, click here to learn how to get it revived up.

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