With convenience being the standard we value as a society, eating empty calories has never been easier. Think about fast food and what it did to our country, now throw in Door Dash and getting junk food delivered right to your door has never been easier.
So how should people combat this excess of junk food if they want to stay fit? In all my years of being involved in fitness, the only way I ever leaned out for a six pack type of body, was by cutting calories to a healthy deficit.
Why You Must Restrict Calories
It takes a lot of work for our body to break down food. From the moment a steak first hits our tongue, hormones and enzymes get to work, kicking off the digestive process. Unfortunately, our internal factory system doesn't have enough time to finish their job before more work is unloaded on them. So, things can get a bit backed up.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over one-third of the population is overweight. The average person eats a lot of nutrient-deficient foods that are high in calories. These excess calories get stored in our fat tissue for future. It’s just that...the future never comes.
Many of us forget why we eat in the first place. We get lost in the smells, flavors, and presentation of the foods. However, the reason we eat food is for energy. Our body converts the calories into energy that it uses to power us through our days. The more food we eat, the more energy we need to burn off. That's where restricting calories comes into play.
How Restricting Calories Helps Burn Fat
Since we're in this never-ending cycle of binge-watching and binge-eating, our body doesn't get a chance to burn off the calories we consumed. We just sit around all day, accumulating this extra fat. Besides, we're adding more calories to the mix. So, that's even more fat that we'll have to blast away.
The only way to break the cycle is to cut back on the calories. When you follow a low-calorie protocol, your body goes into survival mode. Your liver starts producing all-natural energy known as ketone bodies.
Ketones not only stimulate our minds, but they also stimulate fat burning. When ketone bodies are produced, they cause a phenomenon known as fat-browning. This process is when sticky, white fatty tissue turns a beige shade.
Brown fat tissue is easier for your body to burn off. It's not as sticky as its white counterparts. Therefore, it doesn't accumulate more tissue around the gut. Plus, being less sticky makes it easier for the body to draw energy from within these brown tissues.
How to Follow a Calorie Restriction Protocol
There are many ways to follow a calorie restriction (or intermittent fasting) protocol:
- 16:8 (Fast for 16 hours; Eat for 8)
- Alternate Day Fasting (Fast every 24 hours)
- Eat, Stop Eat (Fast for 24 hours in 1 week)
- 5:2 (Pick 2 days to eat 0-500 calories)
- OMAD (One Meal a Day)
During a fasting protocol, you may drink water, some herbal teas, and black coffee. When you eat, you are free to consume whatever you'd like. However, if you make unhealthy choices, they might negate all the positive benefits of calorie restriction. So, you should break your fast with the right balance of macronutrients.
Stop eating around 2 hours before your bedtime. Drink coffee, water, and tea to get you through the morning. Then, break your fast at lunch!
Macronutrient Portions for Calorie Restriction
What you eat when you break the fast is just as important as restricting calories in the first place. These foods have a clean slate in your belly and can make or break your wellness. So, first, let's determine how many calories you need in the first place. Use this calculator to determine an adequate daily intake.
Now, how you fill your plate with those calories matters. It's essential to have the correct amount of healthy fats, protein, and complex carbs proportionate to your body type.
The three body types and recommended macronutrient intake portions are:
- Ectomorphs (Skinny with high metabolism)
- Protein: 25%
- Carbohydrates: 55%
- Fats: 20%
- Mesomorphs (Naturally muscular, high carb tolerance)
- Protein: 30%
- Carbohydrates: 40%
- Fats: 30%
- Endomorphs (Thicker frame with slower metabolism)
- Protein: 35%
- Carbohydrates: 25%
- Fats: 40%
The quality of these foods matters just as much as the portions themselves. Make sure you are choosing organic animal and plant agriculture. Consider consuming leaner proteins like salmon, chicken, and plants than red meat every day. Also, stay away from vegetable oils. Opt for healthy fruit oils, like avocado, coconut, and extra virgin olive oil.
Why Fat Burners Might Not Work
Many people turn to fat burner drinks and expect a miracle. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to wellness. You most certainly aren't going to find the answer in a bottle.
With that said, fat burners are useful tools. They are an excellent way for active people to burn fat. These supplements do wonders for many.
For some, fat burners help you control your appetite, while others claim they got an increase in energy that resulted in a better workout. However, these fat burners are used in conjunction with regular exercise and a balanced macronutrient diet. Otherwise, consuming fat burners is just consuming more calories.
What to Know Before Starting Calorie Restriction
Whenever you make any alterations to your wellness routine, speak to your physician. It's especially crucial you do so when you start restricting calories. You don't want to put your health in jeopardy just to lose a few pounds!
Our system syncs up with our daily habits. So, it expects us to eat at certain times. When this doesn't happen, we change how things run on a molecular level. Therefore, some of your hormones can get out of whack when you restrict calories. If your hormones are already imbalanced, then switching your diet may complicate things even more.
Before you start, consider ordering the following tests:
When hormones are imbalanced, we tend to accumulate more weight instead of losing it. You can restrict all the calories in the world and workout all day long and still might not see the results you desire. So, make sure your hormones are functioning optimally so you can blast the fat away for good.