Cutting Calories Makes You Fat
iT'S OFFICIAL! What every fit, active, food loving girlie has been saying for years ... scientists have proved that women who cut calories to lose weight, wind up fatter in the end. But it's not just because of the yo-yo-lose-weight-gain-weight-starve-binge pattern, restricting calories can cause the body to produce more of the stress hormone cortisol and cortisol is responsible for loading fat onto that pesky spare tyre around your middle.
According to the University of California, San Francisco research, at least 47% of the US population is dieting at any one time, but 64% of these dieters will gain back more weight than they lost.
Now we all already know that going for more than 4 hours without food reduces your metabolism; that starvation diets can eat away at your hard-fought muscle mass (thus reducing your calorie burning potential); that low-fat/low-calorie processed foods are not healthy foods; and that starving your body makes you crave high calorie foods which will pretty much stick directly on to your thighs. BUT this new link between calories and belly fat is amazing (and please excuse me for getting geekily excited about this) because it's belly fat that is so bad for you. It increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes to name but a few.
And it isn't the feeling of stress when your cutting calories that causes the cortisol response (although of course it does make you feel totally grouchy), it is the effect of starving the body that leads the body to produce cortisol. The study, which was published in Psychosomatic Medicine in April this year, is the first time that scientists have made this connection between calorie restriction, cortisol and belly fat.
So what should we do?
Here are my golden rules for staying in shape:
- Weights weights weights: Muscles are your magic bullets, not diet pills. And if you're not already lifting, pulling or pushing double figures then get a trainer to get you there.
- Eat regularly: Eat at least every four hours to keep your metabolism revved.
- Go paleolithic: By far the best dietary advice out there (in my humble opion) is the Paleo Diet. It's all about natural foods, proteins and vegetables. Think about what our hunter-gatherer ancestors would eat.
- Accept your shape: Stand up tall and be proud of it, a healthy body that works for you is a gift, so look after it!
- And the most important rule of all is to enjoy your food!
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