After dinner, which was a delicious Tex-Mex Paleo Casserole I wrote the previous blog entry about, my wife and I watched some TV shows together, and after she went to sleep, I went to play some computer games and catch up on some reading. For some reason, my mind kept wandering to eating, something that hasn’t happened to me in a long time. Months.
What happened? What is causing this? Turns out, it’s a quite simple answer:
There is a point at which cutting calories will work against weight loss because consuming too few calories (or too few meals) leads to increased appetite and low satiety as your body prevents starvation. (Source)
As it turns out, I didn’t eat enough throughout the day. I don’t count calories, but after thinking about it this morning, I’m pretty sure I probably ate half of what I should have. Why? Because I was distracted all day. Instead of giving thought to making sure I was taking in enough energy, I ate very little and ended up paying the price for it at the end of the day by still being hungry.
Our bodies are a lot more complex than what they taught us in primary or middle school. So, while it’s true that if you eat fewer calories than you expend you will lose weight, there are more factors to consider; namely, thermogenesis.
Eating too little also causes a starvation response (adaptive thermogenesis) where metabolic rate can decrease above and beyond what can be accounted for from the change in body mass (#2 above). This is “starvation response” in the truest sense. It does exist and it is well documented. However, the latest research says that the vast majority of the decrease in metabolism comes from reduced body mass. The adaptive component of the reduced metabolic rate is fairly small, perhaps 10% (ie, 220 calories for an average female with a 2200 TDEE). The result is when you don’t eat enough, your actual weight loss is less than predicted on paper, but weight loss doesn’t stop completely. (Source)
My own experience tells me that I need to eat a regular and steady diet to maintain my weight loss. If I dip too low in calories, I trigger the starvation response. Obviously, if I eat too much, I will store calories, so being careful about volume is paramount. So, how do I do this without counting calories? Trial and error, I guess.
I try to eat until I am comfortable. Not over the point where I am feeling full, but comfortable. I also watch how much food I eat, and depending on what it is, I’ll allow more or restrict myself to less on the plate. Also, I eat from the medium-sized plates now instead of the large ones (unless eating something that is spread out and needs the space like a paleo pizza). This has served me quite well over the past four months.
My current weight is 224.7 lbs for a total loss of 65 lbs to date. I am currently 57% to my goal.