Monday, November 24, 2014

1200 Calories. Zero Results

No.
Alright let's cut to it.

Last week I promised I'd write an article for all the people who are dieting on 1200 calories a day, minus however many they burn off doing "cardio" exercise... but STILL aren't seeing any progress.

Why not? What gives? And why was "cardio" in quotation marks like that?

Well, I will tell you.

First of all, if you're on 1200 calories a day and only eating healthy foods, but still not seeing results... your lack of progress isn't because of the odd isolated day when you inevitably end up going over your 1200 calorie limit, and it isn't because of that one day last week when you ate something not on the "clean eating" list you got from some fkn idiot's facebook or pinterest page. Some clueless fkn idiot barely capable of a thought who has woke up one morning and decided "hey I'm a health and wellness and nutrition expert now all of a sudden". No. No you fucking well are not.

There's cardio, and then there's “cardio”.

It might be helpful to draw a distinction between different ideas about cardio (or more correctly “cardiovascular exercise”) before we continue. Let's break it down roughly into three categories.

  1. Training with a specific aim of increasing cardiovascular health and fitness. I'll throw lung capacity in as well for good measure. These are good and sensible things.
  2. Training to improve fitness and performance to compete or participate in a particular event. For example to run a half marathon.
  3. What most people seem to be doing.

We'll come back to this in due course.

Actually, trying to work out exactly how to tackle this topic is tricky because there's just SO MUCH WRONG with a 1200 calorie recommendation that is is difficult to know where to start. To begin with, it is just a blanket, one size fits all recommendation that doesn't take individual characteristics into account. I had in mind that I would compare to the average recommended intake, which is about 2000 calories for an adult. That's problematic as again, it is an average amount which might not be suitable to you currently reading this entry. Taller people require more than shorter people, males typically more than females, and so on. So depending on your physical characteristics, 2000 might be too much for you, or it might not be enough.

1200 though? 1200 is not enough for anyone. Ever.

I did some work on a new plan for a new client this morning. The client is a younger female adult of average height and already within a historically normal weight range, who is looking for better results from more strategic training. Using the established mathematical equations I determine that her Basal Metabolic Rate is 1400 calories per day.

Basal Metabolic Rate is the amount of energy you will burn through in a day, just in the process of being alive. Without taking any level of activity into account. Without so much as rolling over in bed all day, that's the amount of energy required just to maintain body temperature, run your organs, grow your fingernails and so forth. Yours is quite likely to be higher than the 1400 I'm taking about here, which in case you didn't notice, is already higher than 1200 calories as well.

Now let's back up. Those first two categories I broke “cardio” down into... you're either training for the health benefits, or to participate in sport or an event, or both. For some reason, you've been lead to believe that you should be able to do this and expect excellent results, on LESS fuel than a person who's not training for a specific goal would require just to go about their day? Forget that though, because on 1200 calories we're literally talking about expecting results from training while limiting to less energy intake than would be required to not even get out of bed all day.

How on Earth can this appear to make any sense?

Now... we're talking about people limiting to 1200 calories a day, doing “cardio” in inverted commas and being frustrated with a lack of results for all of their deprivation, discipline and physical effort. Above we talked about people training for a specific result or to be able to participate in a particular event, but I also pointed out that this isn't “what most people seem to be doing”.

What most people are doing when they talk about “cardio” isn't really cardio at all, in the true sense of having the goal of improving cardiovascular health and fitness. Usually these days, people are encouraged to participate in activity simply with the aim of “burning calories”.

This is problematic. We're not training to change our body composition, to reap the benefits of physical exercise, or to participate in sport. It is merely “to burn calories”, because we've been conditioned to associate “calories” with “getting fat”. We've been conditioned to associate “eating food” with “getting fat”, and so we are encouraged to “burn off” whatever energy we do take in, to make up for having eaten. “Burn off the guilt” is an even more problematic marketing angle I see a lot of, too.

It is horrendous.

Inactivity and consistently excessive intake will make you fat. This does not mean that getting fat is something we need to be afraid of at all times, and need to avoid with strict discipline in adhering to low calorie, low carb, or other restrictive forms of dieting. It will not, and simply can not happen to an active person who is not in the habit of consistent and dramatic over consumption.

For best results, you need both a balanced training program and a balanced diet. The training program should be suited to your goal, whether that is a body condition goal or a sports participation goal. Best performance and results from training and at sport simply cannot occur via deprivation of energy and other nutritional resources on low calorie diets.

There is zero potential for getting fat while training effectively and fuelling appropriately for performance and results. It is simply physiologically impossible.

Ignore the fear mongers and the shame peddlers. You require energy to survive and to thrive. Even a less active person would require a certain amount of energy. As an active person training strategically towards your specific goal, you require MORE, not less.

Register for VIP Access To My Flexible Fueling Program, and say goodbye to restrictive low calorie dieting and hello to tremendous results from training.