How can eating more actually help you lose fat?
Most women I talk to about nutrition are not eating enough calories and they look at my with horror in their eyes when I calculate their BMR (basal metabolic rate) and tell them their calorie needs.
It’s typical for women I coach to be taking in 1000 – 1,200 calories a day and “wonder why” they are not losing weight.
Let’s start with basal metabolic rate — this is the amount of calories your body burns just to keep you alive, and that doesn’t take into account any physical activity. If you want to know your BMR there are some great calculators out there like this one at bodybuilding.com .
That will be a good starting place for your calorie needs, but we’ve got to cover some other things first.
Do me a favor and open up the “notes” section in your phone. Follow along with me and answer these questions:
- Do you eat breakfast? Write down what time and what you eat.
- Do you have a snack between breakfast/lunch or lunch/dinner? Write it down.
- What do you have at lunch?
- What happens after lunch around 3pm? Do you eat again?
- What time do you eat dinner? What happens after work? How do you feel?
The reason I ask these questions is because this is a pretty good indicator of if your blood sugar is staying stable throughout the day.
First of all we need to eat enough calories to sustain our hard earned muscle, and to ignite fat burning.
Our bodies have evolved to hold on to fat because our ancestors had to survive the long winters with scarce food. So basically all the people who could not hold onto fat died out, and the fat-holding genes were passed on to us. (Yey!)
So our bodies were designed to hold onto fat when they are being starved — now what? Well now — we feed them! We’ve got to feed that lean muscle in order to keep it, and in order to speed up our metabolism and increase our fat burning.
Now hopefully, you can see that eating enough calories is important, but also the spacing of those calories and the macronutritients in each meal play a role. (If you want to learn more about how to create balanced meals, read this post.)
For now if you are just trying to get in more calories, then I would advise #MMMP — more meals, more protein.
Don’t try to be perfect, just try to fit in more meals (300-400 cals) and more protein at each meal, every 3-4 hours.
Here are some ways you can add more calories and protein without increasing too much right away.
- Add in a protein shake for breakfast (meal replacements are great – here’s what I use)
- Greek yogurt or low fat cottage cheese for a snack
- Add protein to your lunch salad (chicken, egg whites, salmon, tuna, etc)
- Add a protein bar for your 3pm snack (here’s what I use)
- Low fat cheese stick and beef jerky snack
- Edamamme (dried)
More meals, more protein (#MMMP) will help you get your calories higher and speed up your metabolism. You must trust the process, because if you have been eating low calories for a long period of time it may take 3 months to boost your metabolism again. Take progress pictures now, and then take them again in 8 weeks to see how your body is changing. I like using pictures rather than the scale because the scale doesn’t account for muscle gain.
This post is part of a series of posts that are part of the curiculum from my online nutrition course The Better Method. You can find out more about it here.
I only open The Better Method a few times a year, so if it is closed, you can get on the waitlist for the next session here.