As much as you want to just wring it out …
Instead, it’s as if every time you eat a cookie, it sticks right to your hips.
I’m going to explain why this happens and exactly how to fix it.
Someone on Instagram asked me … how do you stop chronically under eating when you’ve been told for 40 years that you need to eat very low calorie to lose weight?
Do you not think that 40 years is a large enough sample size to realize that if that shit was going to work it would’ve worked by now?
Sure, you’ve been told your whole life that 1200 calories is necessary for weight loss (or constant restriction or eliminating entire foods group or whatever nonsense is being shilled).
But, isn’t personal anecdote more powerful?
Anyway, let’s look at what happens when we chronically under eat and create the sponge-like environment for body fat gain.
The effects of under eating
First, it must be understood that under eating is a STRESS.
It may not feel that way at first because you’re accustomed to it, but just because it seems “normal”, that doesn’t mean it actually is.
Let’s say you start eating 1200 calories per day (or any sort of restrictive approach).
Your body receives that information and it triggers a stress response.
Increase in cortisol and other stress hormones to mobilize stored energy to prepare you for that perceived threat.
Which isn’t a bad thing. That’s what your body is supposed to do.
And, it’s actually necessary for the fat loss process to occur.
However, that only happens if we “turn off” that stress signal.
When we’re consistently under eating, the stress response stays activated and that’s when things get ugly.
This can be exacerbated by other stressors in your life (hello COVID, relationship drama, work stress, kid stress, training stress, etc.).
At a certain point, your body realizes that this isn’t just a temporary stress.
So, it acts accordingly.
Lowering metabolic rate and thyroid function. Increasing hunger hormones and suppressing satiety hormones. Depressing immune function. And, lowering sex hormones.
I can almost guarantee that the times you were dieting the MOST … are the times you had sex the LEAST.
Why does your body do this?
Again, it’s supposed to. To protect you. To keep you alive.
If you’re under eating, then it doesn’t make sense to keep your metabolism firing because you’d starve to death quicker.
It doesn’t make sense to increase sex drive because it’s not safe for a baby.
And, it doesn’t make sense to waste energy on immune function or your cycle because you need to preserve energy.
So essentially, that 1200 calorie diet has become your temporary new maintenance.
I say temporary because it can be repaired.
During that chronic dieting period (whether it’s months, years, or decades), you’ve created a sponge-like environment.
Your body is requesting fuel for survival and wants extra body fat to keep you alive longer in case of another “famine.”
Enter: the cookie – sponge effect.
You eat a glorious cookie (which is exactly what your body is craving because it’ll help lower stress hormones and the salt-sugar-fat combo will give you a nice dopamine hit).
However, the environment you created is one that is set to storage mode.
So, you feel like anytime you eat “normally” you gain fat.
And, you probably do.
Which isn’t the cookie’s fault. Or your lack of discipline. Or your body’s fault.
It’s the chronic under eating.
You may have even noticed some gnarly side effects like hypothyroidism, PCOS, or gut health issues.
The first step is to stop the chronic dieting
Recognize the pattern and understand that if you were going to be successful with 1200 calories per day, it would’ve happened already.
Especially if you’ve been doing that for 40 years and are still searching for answers.
Well, look no further.
The answer is to gradually eat more.
Let’s use the example of 1200 calories being your new temporary maintenance.
Begin by gradually eating more (how much more depends on the person) but the first thing I’d check is protein.
It’s damn near impossible to store protein as body fat so make sure your protein is between 0.7-1 g/lb. of body weight.
That’s a quick way to start eating more calories.
But in reality, you really need more usable fuel and stress lowering food.
That’s where carbs and fats come into play.
Slowly build those up over time and get yourself back to homeostasis.
I call this process metabolic priming.
I prefer that over metabolic repair.
The bottom line is that you want to eat enough to send the “safety” signal to your body.
Once your body feels safe and there’s no longer a constant perceived threat, you’ll more efficiently release body fat.
Yes, that’s correct, no more extreme restriction or bullshit diets.
From under eating to food freedom
Then, you want to eat and structure your plan based on your unique brain chemistry which you can determine from our personality assessment.
This will also give insight into the macro ratios that make the most sense for you. Especially when we factor in your training routine, lifestyle, and personal preferences.
That will ensure you maintain muscle and lose body fat specifically. Which means you’ll look leaner and more toned on more calories. I’d say that’s a win.
I also highly recommend that you incorporate the things you love into the process. Whether that’s date nights, social events, alcohol, or restaurant meals.
Build it in and make the process more fun!
Lastly, keep tabs on your daily stressors and pay attention to how your body is responding. You should notice things like high energy, stable mood, low cravings, not too much hunger, proper digestion, great performance, adequate recovery.
If some of those things are off, then it’s a red flag and we may need to adjust.
All of these steps are exactly what we do for our clients in our signature 6-month 1:1 coaching program that produces the most sustainable results you’ll ever find.
You absolutely can do this on your own. But, if you need expert guidance and support to get leaner and more toned, and feel more confident and comfortable in your own skin, then our program can deliver exactly that.
It’s perfect for women who have been struggling for years with chronic under eating and feel like nothing has ever worked for them.
We deliver the last program you’ll ever need.