Recently I have been hearing more and more women almost bragging about how much they have cut back their diet. Friends, loved ones, and even clients being proud that they lowered their food intake and calories so significantly.
At first glance you probably think ‘well that’s good right?’. But look a little bit deeper and you will find that these women weren’t trading in their Frappuccino for a green tea or swapping their bag of potato chips for carrots and cucumber slices. Most commonly they were skipping meals, whether that be breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Ultimately I believe this deprivation of calories and food stems from a lack of knowledge in basic nutrition. The average woman trying to watch her weight is protein and fat deprived. Let’s pretend that a woman, we’ll name her Jane, has a bagel in the morning but skips the cream cheese since she is ‘watching her weight’, (bagels range from 200 to 400+ calories) which breaks down into glucose rapidly. It is important to know that glucose is blood sugar and the pancreas releases a hormone in response to high concentrations of it in the blood stream. This then results in your body storing the glucose as fat opposed to glycogen. But things get even worse because the pancreas tends to over react and releases enough insulin to send your blood sugar levels too low.
Now after only an hour Jane is feeling shaky because of the above mentioned and reaches for another snack. Remember she is ‘watching her weight’ so she has brought with her one of those ‘100 calorie’ processed snacks which is mainly made up of carbs. And so the cycle begins again, in another hour her blood sugar peaks then bottoms out.
By this point Jane’s feels light headed and is ready for lunch but since she is ‘watching her weight’ she chooses another meal that is small but primarily carbohydrates. The cycle continues and another snack is required.
Now she has ended her work day but feels too tired to exercise so instead she opts to skip dinner to make up for it. Jane feels a sense of accomplishment because she only consumed 1200 calories for the entire day but doesn’t note that approximately 80% of them came from carbohydrates. With insufficient protein her body has begun to cannibalize her muscle tissue and possibly her vital organs in order to supply itself with the required protein to function. With this loss of muscle tissue she has now ended the day weaker and decreased her metabolism because the body’s natural defense to no food is to store fat and slow the rate at which the body burns energy. Additionally her metabolism has slowed even more since muscle requires more energy to sustain itself and now she has decreased her muscle mass. And don’t forget that the lack of fat, particularly essential fatty acids, diminishes the body’s ability to metabolize fat especially when the insulin is busy clearing blood sugar and storing it away.
Unfortunately this is how carbohydrates get such a bad rep when in reality by consuming a balanced mix of protein, fat and complex carbohydrates as well as having smaller meals and snacks throughout the day it is possible to keep your blood sugar levels steady all day at an optimum zone. The result: a steady supply of energy and far less fat storage while maintaining muscle mass.
If you are guilty of skipping or not eating a well-balanced meal I urge you to stop doing this because it is only hindering you on your way to achieving your health and fitness goals. Remember fad diets are just that fads and will inevitably fade. Any macro-nutrient consumed in too high of amounts can lead to unwanted fat storage and stunt results. End of story.