Why Cutting Calories Alone Does NOT Work

Fitness model

“Diets” don’t work. It’s not just me saying this either, statistically speaking, 98% of people who lose weight on a diet gain it back within five years. And 90% gain back more than they lost.

I’d even argue “dieting” – in the extreme sense- is a contributing factor to the fact that the United States is fatter than ever.

The main reason I feel diets fail is that they result in an increased appetite drive as weight is lost, making it harder and harder to resist temptation as time passes.

Most diets also focus on total weight loss, without differentiating between muscle loss or fat loss. And when muscle tissue is lost it lowers your metabolic rate which makes long-term weight maintenance that much harder.


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Most importantly though, most diets don’t help you make changes that you can live with for the rest of your life, and eventually, most people just drift back into old habits.

So why the hell do people keep going on “diets”? Or worse- why do they keep hiring coaches who do nothing more then add cardio and reduce calories?

Well because every diet book and every “fitness professional” keeps hammering home how if you want to lose weight you need to eat less and burn more. So common sense tells you that if you want to lose weight then you cut calories and exercise like mad. This mentality bleeds into the world of bodybuilding and contest prep too- “do more cardio” “cut more carbs”.

But clearly, this doesn’t work. Especially not long term. Because nearly everyone who diets regains the weight they lose.

While I’m not arguing against the laws of calories in versus calories out what I am going to get at is that it’s NOT that simple. Cutting calories alone is not enough. There’s a lot more at play when it comes to weight loss, and it’s why I strive to do more, as a coach, then just cut calories and add in more training.

Ripped back

Control Your Appetite

For example appetite control. It is impossible to consistently eat less and exercise more when your appetite is out of control. You can’t correct bad habits and learn to eat sensibly when you’re constantly battling internal and external signals to eat. And studies have shown that overweight individuals have really really poor appetite control. Weight gain actually can magnify your appetite and increase cravings as a result of biochemical and hormonal changes that occur with an increase in visceral adipose tissue (internal belly fat). This is compounded when someone makes poor low nutrient food choices, when does NOTHING to promote satiety.

It’s not because I’m demonizing the consumption of certain foods, it’s because I recognize that the prioritization of nutrient dense, whole foods helps to promote satiety, reduce cravings and keep appetite in check. And when your appetite is under control weight loss just honestly becomes soooo much easier.


Insulin Sensitivity

The other factor I address is that of insulin sensitivity. Most people who battle successful weight loss simply have poor insulin usage. But when insulin sensitivity is restored more nutrients enter muscle cells making fewer calories available to fat cells.

Insulin sensitivity hinges largely on stable blood sugar levels and unstable blood sugar are the product of poor food choices that spike blood sugar after meals, so again, food quality can help here.

When blood sugar is stable around the clock, appetite is reduced, food cravings diminish, and this makes it much easier to reduce calories and lose weight without discomfort.

This is another reason I try to encourage my clients to eat nutrient-dense foods because the ultimate success of any prep or weight loss program comes down to learning how to be satisfied with less than the body needs or wants.


Bad Habits

The other major factor in weight loss is being able to identify the bad habits that sabotage weight loss. Eating habits, when based on unhealthy food choices become learned behaviors that form fixed patterns in the brain, driving you to eat the wrong kinds of foods and forming obsessive and addictive behaviors that can be hard to change. As a coach, I work closely with clients to understand WHY they eat the way they do, or what bad habits they’ve formed over the years and then identify how I can help modify those habits and replace them with healthy, long-term lifestyle change solutions.

It’s not just about eating less and moving more. Don’t think that you should simply live in deprivation to successfully achieve your fitness goals. Piling on cardio and consistently reducing calories is not going to lead to sustainable weight loss. In fact I’ve seen that approach backfire more than I’ve ever seen it be effective. But by helping my clients gain victory over their appetite, re-establish balanced blood sugar, and by strategizing with them on long-term habit change, we don’t just lose weight, we KEEP it off.