Monday, 22 February 2016

What happens to your metabolism when you eat too little?

You know the scenario; despite eating carefully and exercising loads, you have stopped losing weight.  You were doing OK – you had quite a bit to lose, but now it’s just stopped? Ring any bells?

You are wondering what’s gone wrong, what you should be doing, what you could be doing to shift those last few pounds.

Its probably due to some changes in your metabolism.  First of all, let’s look at how our metabolism works anyway. 
  • we all need a certain number of calories (energy) to stay alive and to move around.  This energy can either come from food that we take in or from our stores (fat)
  • theoretically if we eat fewer calories than we use, we should lose weight
  • and conversely if we eat more calories than we burn off we will put on weight
  • the reason that these two apparently simple equations don’t always work is because it’s a lot more complicated than it seems.
  • so – ‘eat less and move more’ is good advice, but it’s not enough on its own

Here are some reasons why;
  • its not always what it says on the tin – the food labels are not always accurate
  • we don’t always get the same amount of energy from the food that we consume
    • we absorb less energy (fewer calories) from food that has been minimally processed.  This is because its not been broken down before we eat it and is less easy for us to absorb
    • we absorb more energy (more calories) from processed food. Processed food is best thought of as partially digested, therefore, ready and easy for us to assimilate.  
    • we absorb more energy from cooked food as it is broken down by cooking and therefore easier to digest.
    • the bacteria in our gut influence how much of our intake of calories we actually absorb
  • So, we will do better if we eat a diet full of whole, minimally processed foods 
Read our next blog to find out more about energy burnt (calories out)

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