Cutting calories tends to be synonymous with weight loss. But what if we told you that another strategy to losing weight is actually eating more?
There is such a thing as sabotaging 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 whilst still losing weight.
You can do this by making smart food choices (low-calorie, high-volume food) and moving more. We’ll explain this strategy in more detail below!
Can Increasing Calories Help Lose Weight?
It sounds very counterintuitive—the idea of increasing your calories to lose weight—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.
Eating too under your caloric maintenance amount can actually cause your metabolism to drop, meaning that you’ll burn fewer calories. If this is the case for you, then increasing calories may actually help you lose weight.
Why You Should Eat More to Lose More
There are three reasons why you should eat more to lose more weight:
- Prevent muscle catabolism
- More enjoyment/freedom
- Minimize Or Prevent Binge Eating Episodes
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.
Ultimately, this will affect your size.
But isn’t that what you want? To lose some size? Fat, yes.
But muscle catabolism will mean you will lose muscle size in particular, and muscle is what gives us a toned look.
So if that’s what you’re going for, then it’s important to eat more to lose weight (but still within your calorie deficit).
Being able to eat more while still losing weight will grant you more freedom and flexibility 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, then not eating foods that have a higher calorie count 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 that are on your completely off-limits list, you can minimize, if not prevent, binge eating episodes that can affect you physically and mentally.
Can I Be 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 mean having a miserable time, not seeing progress and finding yourself in a victorious cycle of eating too little and then eating too much.
It’s important to note that what is ‘too little’ is arbitrary. What is too little to one person may not be the same for the other, so if you’re wondering whether you’re cutting too many calories to lose weight, then here are some signs that you need to eat more:
Being tired is hungry. Suffering from prolonged fatigue is not. It may mean that your energy levels are very low due to lack of food and nutrients and that you’re not giving your body enough fuel.
Being hungry when trying to lose weight is inevitable. After all, you’re deliberately giving your body less fuel than it needs to maintain your current size. However, if you’re finding yourself starving, with food constantly on your mind, then maybe you’re cutting a little too much and/or making the wrong food choices.
You might have to amp up the meals and make better food choices.
“Hanger” is when you’re angry because you’re hungry.
So, imagine how hangry you’d be if you’re constantly hungry. It’ll mean more mood swings, less patience and shorter tempers. If you eat more to lose weight, then your body (and everyone around you) will thank you for it.
Poor performance in gym
If your performance is consistently suffering in the gym—we’re not talking about a once-off bad day, which happens to everyone—and you’re unable to lift as much as you could previously or your endurance has taken a big hit, then you may need to eat more to get more energy.
If your body is very low on fuel, then don’t be surprised if you’re finding yourself suffering from constant dizzy spells or shakiness. It’s your body telling you that you need to feed it more.
Other health problems
Apart from dizzy spells, your body will find other ways to tell you that you’re underfeeding it and that you need to eat more food and nutrients. These signs can come in a variety of ways include:
- loss of menstrual cycle
- brittle fingernails
- hair loss
What You Need to Consider to Lose Weight?
If you want to eat more and lose weight, here are 3 thing to consider:
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 is 2000, then a reasonable deficit would be 1500-1800 calories.
Focus on Macronutrients
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 get each one because they each play a pivotal role in the body. Protein is the building block for muscle and it’s important that you eat enough protein, even when you’re trying to lose weight so that you can minimize muscle catabolism as much as possible.
Not to mention, according to this article, it contributes to satiety and the preservation of bone mineral content. As well, if you’re pairing this with weight training, then you’re going to need more protein than if you were sedentary.
Carbohydrates are your body’s main fuel for energy. With the right carb sources as well, you can get in your dietary fiber which is necessary to regulate bowel movements and blood sugar levels. Not to mention, it, alongside healthy fats, increases satiety so you can feel fuller for longer.
Focus on Micronutrients
Micronutrients are vital to your health. Whether or not you want to lose weight, you need to prioritise your nutrients and minerals and ensure that you get all that you need for your body to function properly. They are integral for your bone health, immune system and growth.
How to Eat More to Lose Weight and Still Be in a Calorie Deficit
So, now you know that you can eat more to lose weight, how do you go about it? We understand that it can be scary to really believe that this can be done, so here are some tips on how to get started:
Volume eating is going to be your new best friend.
You already know that your fruits and vegetables are great for your health and full of all the micronutrients you need, but if you’re trying to eat more to lose weight, then your fruits and veggies will be your best friend.
They are foods that don’t contain too many calories, so you can really fill up your plate with it. Basically, you’ll feel fuller on fewer calories.
Take advantage of these foods by ensuring that you eat a large portion of them with your meals.
This could mean eating a yummy lunch with a big side salad that’ll give you more volume without a lot more calories. It could also mean having fruit as a snack with your dinner such as watermelon or a big bowl of mixed berries.
By adding these foods into your diet, you can really be eating more while still staying on your goal of losing weight.
This means making small changes throughout your day that can result in big changes. Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalators, 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, even just fidgeting all contribute to your NEAT.
If you would like to have a personalized training program that caters to your health and fitness goals, then take a look at our app FitBod. FitBod 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..
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Don’t Drink Your Calories
If you want to be able to eat more while still remaining on your goal of losing weight, then be smart about where to spend your calorie intake and save it for food instead of liquids.
Using your calories on food means that you’ll be fuller and minimize hunger. Not to mention, some liquids can be quite high in calories so you’ll be saving quite a bit.
So, determine what drinks are worth giving up and swapping out for zero-sugar alternatives, swapping out cream in coffee for a lower-calorie alternative or just sipping on plain water.
To lose weight, you need to cut down on your calories. However, be careful not to cut too many. If this is you, then you’ll find that you actually need to eat more to lose weight so that your body can do its job while still getting you to your weight loss goal. By making more informed food choices such as eating low-calorie yet high-volume foods and increasing your NEAT, you can lose weight without having to cut too many calories out of your diet.
About The Author
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.