Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Very Low Calorie Diet

The VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet): 1000 calories or less=danger.

When you first began to consider managing your weight, were you surprised by the recommendations given to you by your doctor or trainer?  Did you feel frustrated that they said losing 1-2 pounds a week was what was reasonable?  Did you feel like if you just ate less than what was recommended, the weight would surely come off faster?  Were you tempted to try one of the many "crash" diets that are popular with starlets today?

You're not alone. Extreme calorie restriction is a growing trend, and not a good one.  Eating a diet well below the amount of calories your body needs to function properly can lead to losing muscle mass, going into starvation mode and losing fat that supports your organs, resulting in dropped organs, a life threatening situation.  In an effort to grasp how this can effect you, read this post about how extreme calorie restriction led to a harsh reality.

This is solely from my perspective, but to everyone that has asked, "why can't I eat <1000 calories a day for weight loss? I've seen the numbers on the scale, it's working..."
I've been there. Ten years ago I lost 65 pounds in about six months. For ten years I consumed between 700-900 calories per day. I started at 1000, but as I got older the weight kept creeping on even at that low amount, so I cut further to maintain. When I started eating 400 calories per day about six months ago, I realized it's not worth it. There are consequences for losing that quickly and in such an unhealthy way.
I have been put on new medication and doctors orders, 1600 calories per day. Not an amount that a person should gain on, but I am. I have put on fifteen pounds in an incredibly short period of time. When I finally balance out, I have a long road of weight loss ahead of me.
Starving like that has put me in a ten year battle with my weight that didn't have to happen. When done in a healthy way, weight loss can be achieved and maintained. Do it the way I did, and you are in for constant misery with the scale dictating your life. People would always say to me, "You're so lucky you're thin." They didn't know that I kept two food diaries (in case one was off), an exercise diary and an activity diary. I became a group fitness instructor so that I had a reason to exercise MANY hours a day. This is the path of starvation. This is what happens when you cut too drastically, and lose too quickly. It's still misery, it's just skinny misery.
I finish my medication in two weeks. I can tell you that I have been happier these last four weeks than I have been in years. I am not counting calories to the last degree. I am not constantly moving to burn more, and I'm not worried about what the scale will say next week (I only weigh once a week now instead of every day). I will drop some of these pounds, and I will do it in healthy way. I even increased my calories to 1850 to ensure that I can do it the right way. I can't go back to being a slave to the scale.
The next time you ask yourself if you should eat less calories than is wise, ask yourself if you are willing to give up eating and drinking with friends. Ask yourself what you will do as you age and can't maintain the loss anymore. Ask yourself what you will do when start driving everyone around you away because of your obsession with your weight. It's a road that is VERY hard to come back from.
Weight lost from starving CAN'T be maintained. What will you have left when the weight creeps up? It's not worth it. -end

Final Thoughts

Healthy weight loss begins with a determination to change your habits in a positive way.  Cut out foods that are unreasonable, like fast food and soda.  Add foods like vegetables, and fruits, and think about what you are putting in your mouth.  Will this help my body today?  Will this create better cells?  Will I be able to do what I want to do, and enjoy my life?  These are more important than strict calorie restriction.  That said, you can get a better idea if what you're doing is healthy, by healthfully logging your food.  Myfitnesspal.com (online and app) and Lose It (app) will both give you reports on what nutrients you are getting and which you are not.  This can help to guide you in a healthier direction.  I know this is hard.  Hang in there.

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