Eat More to Lose Weight? Yes, It’s a Successful Strategy

eat more to lose weight

Cutting calories tends to be synonymous with weight loss. 

But contrary to popular belief, you might sabotage your weight loss efforts by cutting too many calories. 

In some cases, you have to eat more to lose weight so your body can function properly.

Key Takeaways 

Making smart food choices by eating low-calorie, high-volume food and moving more can help you lose pounds.

Feeling tired, hungry, or moody can be a sign you’re eating too few calories and need to adjust your diet.

Calculating your ideal caloric maintenance can help tell you if you’re eating too little to lose weight.

Can Increasing Calories Help You Lose Weight?

Increasing your calories to lose weight seems counterintuitive, but it is possible. 

In fact, in certain cases, it can actually help you achieve your weight loss goal as opposed to severely restricting your calories. 

It’s also known as “reverse dieting,” which can help rev up your metabolism.

Eating well under your caloric maintenance amount can actually cause your metabolism to drop, so you burn fewer calories. 

If this is the case,  increasing calories may actually help you lose weight.

Nicole Ibarra, Registered Dietitian, explains:

“Eating too few calories can impede weight loss as it negatively impacts your metabolism. We have our Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR), which is the number of calories our bodies will burn just to simply live (i.e. calories needed for breathing, etc.) without including activity. When you eat very low calories, it reduces your RMR and can lead to weight gain.”

Another way increasing your calories can jumpstart weight loss is by avoiding plateaus. 

Alex Oskian, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach, explains:

“The reason your body plateaus is because your body is actually really great at keeping you alive!  This means that your body will down regulate certain body functions if it doesn’t have enough calories to fuel the important body functions. For example, a female that is chronically under-eating may eventually lose their menstrual cycle. Compared to essential functions that are necessary for life like keeping your heart beating, lungs expanding, stomach and intestines working, and keeping the brain functioning, menstruation is considered non-essential.”

She continues:

“If there aren’t enough calories consumed, non-essential functions, including fat burning, are paused. Instead of fat burning, fat will be stored in your body to help have a store of calories to preserve life. This is known as metabolic adaptation; the metabolism will adapt to the amount of calories that are consumed.”

Why You Should Eat More to Lose More

Eating to lose more might sound counterintuitive, but it actually works.

Oskian explains:

“I like to relate this concept to a bonfire or a fire of any kind. In order for a fire to keep burning, it needs fuel to burn. We have to keep on feeding the fire with wood otherwise it is going to slow down and eventually fizzle out. Our metabolism is very similar to a fire as it needs fuel to burn effectively.”

There are three main reasons why you should eat more to lose more weight:

  • To prevent muscle catabolism
  • For more enjoyment/freedom
  • To minimize or prevent binge eating episodes

Let’s take a closer look at each.

Prevent Muscle Catabolism

When you drastically cut calories and eat significantly fewer calories than what your body needs to maintain weight, your body will burn through muscle.

While this always happens when you cut calories, doing it at a dramatic rate will speed up what is called muscle catabolism, which breaks larger molecules in the body into smaller ones. Ultimately, this will affect your size, but the problem is, it will also affect your lean muscle mass.

Muscle catabolism will cause you to lose muscle size in particular, and muscle is what gives you definition. So if your goal is a lean, toned body, it’s important to eat more to lose weight (but still within your calorie deficit).

If you’re interested in calculating your ideal number of calories for weight loss, check out our article on calories for weight loss

In addition to proper nutrition, maintaining a regular strength training routine is key to building lean muscle mass. With a customized workout from Fitbod, you can build upon your progress without worrying about how to adjust your exercise regime accordingly.

More Enjoyment/Freedom

Being able to eat more while still losing weight will grant you more freedom with your daily food choices. It means that you’ll have more flexibility in what you eat and how much you can eat. It’ll make losing weight less of a tedious task, which can do wonders for your mentality.

Minimize or Prevent Binge Eating Episodes

You only have a finite amount of willpower. If you severely restrict your calorie intake, it will only work for some time before you hit a certain point and start binge eating.

By allowing yourself to eat more calories and not having any foods on your “completely off-limits list,” you can minimize, if not prevent, binge eating episodes that can affect you physically and mentally.

Related Article: 8 Healthy Lunch Ideas For Weight Loss 

Can I Be Eating Too Little to Lose Weight? 

eating too little to lose weight

Contrary to belief, there is such a thing as eating too little to lose weight. 

Going too hard can halt your progress and put you in a vicious cycle of eating too little and then eating too much.

Ibarra notes:

“Eating more food can help someone lose weight as you’re supporting your metabolism by adequately providing the calories (energy) your body needs. Too often, I see individuals eating too few calories, which can halt weight loss. Sometimes, I’ll work with patients who were consuming too little calories by adding food back in slowly to support their metabolism, which is called reverse dieting.”

However, it’s important to note that “eating too little” varies from person to person. You’ll want to calculate your ideal caloric maintenance amount to find out how many calories you ideally need to be eating.

Oskian explains:

“Calculate your current body weight in pounds multiplied by an activity factor. The activity factor could be anywhere from 10-16, where 10 is completely sedentary or for individuals that are largely overweight and 16 is for those that have a very active job or lifestyle where they are always on their feet and moving all day long. From there, you can reduce calories by 15-30% if you want to lose fat. Keep in mind, the higher percentage should be reserved for individuals with a lot of weight to lose or those that are great at managing hunger and intake.”

Another way to go about it is by consulting with a professional. Registered Dietitian at Living.Fit, Catherine Gervacio, advises:

“It’s best to talk to a healthcare professional to determine the best amount of calories for you because an individualized approach is needed to include factors such as age, gender, weight, height, activity level, and metabolic rate. There are also some calorie calculators to use, but make sure it is from a credible source.”

If you’re wondering whether you’re cutting too many calories to lose weight, there are some key signs that indicate you’re not eating enough food.

You’re Always Tired

Constantly feeling tired might be a result of hunger. However, suffering from prolonged fatigue could also mean your energy levels are very low. This is due to a lack of food and nutrients and indicates you’re not giving your body enough fuel.

You’re Always Hungry

Feeling hungry when trying to lose weight is sometimes inevitable. After all, you’re deliberately giving your body less fuel than it needs to maintain your current size. However, if you find yourself starving, with food constantly on your mind, you might be cutting a little too much and/or making the wrong food choices.

You might have to amp up your calorie intake and eat more whole, nutrient-dense foods.

You’re Moody

“Hanger” is when you’re angry because you’re hungry. So, if you’re constantly hungry, agitation and moodiness can result. A lack of food means more mood swings, less patience, and a shorter temper. If you eat more to lose weight, your body (and everyone around you) will thank you for it.

You’re Struggling in the Gym

If your performance is consistently suffering in the gym and you’re unable to lift as much as you could previously or your endurance has taken a hit, you may need to eat more to get more energy.

With Fitbod, you’ll never have to worry about whether or not you’re adding too much weight to your lifting reps. The app automatically adjusts your workout accordingly as you gain muscle strength.

You Feel Dizzy

If your body is very low on fuel, then don’t be surprised if you suffer from constant dizzy spells or shakiness. It’s your body telling you that you need to feed it more.

You Develop Other Health Problems

Apart from dizzy spells, your body will find other ways to tell you that you’re underfeeding it and need to eat more food and nutrients. These signs can come in a variety of ways, including:

  • Loss of menstrual cycle
  • Brittle fingernails
  • Hair loss

What You Need to Consider to Lose Weight?

3 thing to consider if you want to eat more and lose weight

If you want to eat more and lose body fat, here are 3 things to focus on:

Calorie Deficit

If you want to lose weight, you need to be in a calorie deficit. This means eating fewer calories than your body needs to maintain its weight.

Aim for about 200-500 calories less to maintain a negative energy balance. So if your maintenance calories are 2000, then a reasonable deficit would be 1500-1800 calories.


While a calorie deficit is key to losing weight, what you eat can make a significant difference. Balance your meals with a mixture of macronutrients—protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. 

It’s important to consume all of them since they each play a pivotal role in the body. Protein is the building block for muscle. It’s important to eat enough when you’re trying to lose or maintain so you minimize muscle catabolism as much as possible.

Not to mention, eating protein contributes to satiety and the preservation of bone mineral content. Remember, if weight training is part of your exercise regimen, you’ll need even more protein than if you were sedentary.

Carbohydrates are your body’s main fuel for energy. With the right carb sources, you can get in your dietary fiber, which is necessary to regulate bowel movements and blood sugar levels. Alongside healthy fats, increases satiety so you feel fuller for longer.

Alyssa Pacheco, Registered Dietitian of The PCOS Nutritionist Alyssa, advises:

“If weight loss is your goal, fiber and protein are two nutrients you should not skimp on. These two nutrients can help to keep your blood sugar levels more regulated, which will keep you feeling full for longer periods of time. Some high fiber foods to incorporate are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds. Some good sources of fiber are meat, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, beans, tofu, and edamame.”


Micronutrients are vital to your health. Whether or not you want to lose weight, you need to prioritize your nutrients and minerals to ensure you get what you need for your body to function properly. They are integral for your bone health, immune system and growth.

Related Article: Top 13 High Thermic Effect Foods To Boost Your Metabolism

How to Eat More to Lose Weight and Still Be in a Calorie Deficit

how to eat more to lose weight

So, now you know you can eat more to lose weight, but how do you go about it? Here are some tips on how to get started:

Low-Calorie, High-Volume Eating

Make high-volume eating your new best friend. 

Fruits and vegetables are great for your health and are full of all the micronutrients you need. They also don’t contain too many calories, so you can fill up your plate with them at every meal. You’ll feel fuller while still consuming fewer calories. Take advantage of these foods by eating a large portion of them with your meals.

For instance, you can indulge in a yummy lunch full of protein with a big side salad to give you more volume without a lot of calories. You can also have fruit as a snack with your dinner, such as watermelon or a big bowl of mixed berries.

By adding these foods to your diet, you can eat more while still achieving your goal of losing or maintaining weight.

Move More

If you want to eat more, you need to move more. This doesn’t mean that you have to do two workouts a day instead of one or double the length of your training session. A simple yet effective way of doing this is to increase your non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT.

This means making small changes throughout your day to get in more movement. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Walk or cycle around instead of driving, and make an effort to hit a certain number of steps per day. Daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and even just fidgeting all contribute to your NEAT.

For a personalized training program that caters to your health and fitness goals, look no further than Fitbod. It generates a customized workout session just for you, according to the type of training you want, the goals you want to reach, and the equipment and space you have available.

Need a workout program? Try Fitbod for Free.

Don’t Drink Your Calories

If you want to eat more while working toward your goal, then be smart about where you spend your calorie intake and save it for food instead of liquids.

Spending your calories on food helps keep you full and minimizes hunger. Plus, some liquids can be quite high in calories, especially when it comes to juices, sugary drinks, and alcohol.

Determine what drinks are worth giving up and swapping out for zero-sugar alternatives. You can also swap out cream in your coffee for a lower-calorie alternative. However, sipping on water is always your best bet. As a bonus, staying hydrated will help keep you energized and ensure your body is functioning optimally throughout the day.

About The Author

Emily Trinh

As a health and fitness writer, Emily combines her two passions—powerlifting and writing. With a creative writing degree under her belt, she spends her mornings lifting weights, her nights putting pen to paper, and eating too many snacks in between.