A common event we see take place when people start a new training or exercise program, or start adjusting their diet, is that they often opt for low calorie foods. From a young age the media, people around us, and even the education system have told us that calories (and counting them daily) is a way to stay on top of what you're eating, or a way to lose weight. "Low calorie" is a selling point on the labels of products you'll commonly see in the grocery store. While yes, it's true that a caloric surplus over an extended period of time can cause weight gain, most people don't realise that they simply aren't eating enough (for some, this can be noticed by bad cravings or wanting to binge eat).
After a few weeks of eating a low calorie diet a change will take place in your body. Your metabolism will begin to slow and your weight loss will plateau. In this situation it is common for people to cut calories again to see more weight loss. After a few months you may begin to find yourself getting fatigue, nausea, constipation or diarrhoea and even gallstones. If you still continue to stay on a low calorie diet after a few months you may see more serious side-effects, such as extremely low blood pressure, swelling of the joints, trouble concentrating, anaemia, brittle fingernails, potassium deficiency, heart abnormalities, and depression.
Often diet plans or online advice will tell women to opt for calorie ranges as low as "1200-1400" (note: depending on your height, age, sex 1200 cal/day may be acceptable for your body). We've also noticed that apps such as MyFitnessPal will generally set your "calorie goal" for the day at 1200, as standard. Calories are not something you should be overly worried about, just something to check in on from time to time; you should be more concerned about the type of foods you are eating. 500 calories of vegetables will not have the same impact on your body as 500 calories of a doughnut. Often, a correctly calculated and sustainable caloric intake will be higher than you think, you'd be surprised how difficult it can be some days to get enough calories in of the right foods (especially if you're someone who eats a plant-based diet). The Get Lean: Nutrition Guide offers a full explanation and way to calculate your daily caloric intake if you're unsure what it really is.
I have compiled a list of some calorie-dense healthy foods to help ensure that you're not under-eating!
If you'd like to learn more, grab your copy of the Nutrition Guide, or subscribe to the blog so we can keep in touch!