Friday 4 February 2011

Weight loss: but I'm eating practically nothing!

It's a common cry; "I'm eating practically nothing, I'm starving, why am I not losing weight?", most usually heard part-way through a weight loss regime that involves reducing calorie intake.

Quite simply, the human body is pretty clever.  Have you seen those documentaries on anorexics who survive on 600-800 kcals a day?  They, even though they weigh very very little, exist on way below the number of calories required to maintain their weight and yet it takes significantly longer for them to lose any further weight than it should do given the deficit they're in.  OK, they're a pretty extreme case, but it does illustrate what the human body can do when put under those kinds of conditions.

If you restrict calories significantly for a period of time (the length of which appears to be dependant on the individual) your body starts to become more creative about using those calories.  The one I noticed more than anything else while I was losing weight was that I got cold.  Not just because I had less fat to keep me warm but because my metabolism slowed down!  My body decided that rather than using up fat (oh yes, and muscle too!) to fuel my needs, it would cut down on generating warmth.  It wasn't a huge amount of temperature drop and I was still losing some weight but there was certainly a trade off there and I got oh so very very cold and had to wear many layers more than I was used to just to stay warm.

Other ways your body will adjust to the continued lower calorie intake is to stop laying down as much glycogen for ready energy for your muscles, so you'll get fatigued more quickly when doing anything physical; like getting out of bed in the morning perhaps...


  1. Mornings: oh god tell me about it. I have a cold too on top of a weight-loss diet and right now I am tired *all* the time.

  2. Great post Kate. Was this prompted by the Biggest Loser by any chance? My PT and physio ranting about it to me today!

  3. LNR: It's quite draining, isn't it?

    Alison: I'd been thinking about it for a while and wrote most of it just after Christmas, but didn't get around to finishing it until recently. I've not been watching Biggest Loser because I know it will make me very very angry. From the little I've seen and heard it just seems to be a showcase in how to humiliate people and drive them to really endanger their health through over-stressing their bodies, when they're not used to it, while under fuelling to a ridiculous degree. Long-term results... I'm not so sure whether the "contestants" will have a healthy attitude to food and exercise.

  4. I love the biggest loser. I love seeing any transformation, Brand New you, home makeover etc what i dont get is how they are allowed to train as much as they do when so overweight.
    as far as the starving thing goes, girl Gina at my work says it often. I even bought her a bag of babybels last summer and said have one in morning and one in afternoon for me pls. Shes still big tho but far too restrictive. I even sent her a link about the starvation mode(leptin levels etc) still dieting away so she is.