I can’t tell you how many women I meet who are on a 1200 calorie day ‘diet.’ Sadly this phenomenon is not just limited to riders but all women. In a time when so man girls and women suffer from low-self esteem, lack of confidence and sometimes even self-loathing, I am determined to expose this myth for what it is:
A potentially dangerous calorie goal that is doing so much harm-both physically and emotionally.*
Somehow a long, long time ago, somewhere in a fantasy land of body perfection, some fool came up with the idea that every girl and woman needs to eat only 1200 calories a day to lose fat and reach her ideal weight. She will then transform into the coveted air-brushed models in magazines.
Do I sound a little emotional and irritated with this topic? I hope so. I take this topic personally because I WAS one of those girls. Then I became the 1000 calorie a day girl (because I could not lose enough weight at 1200), then I developed into the 800 calorie a day girl (because I plateaued at 1000). I finally finished off somewhere around the under 500 calorie a day girl (because every time I ate more, I felt bloated and fat). I was in college-and I was not the only girl in my peer group facing this emotional and physical obstacle. Did I end up losing weight? Yes I did. And I also lost a whole lot more, including lean muscle, essential nutrients and overall health. Not to mention happiness.
Sound familiar? Maybe not your story but the story of a friend or family member? Isn’t it odd that this popular trend is happening in the same country that owns the highest obesity rates in the world? There is actually a sound (albeit no healthier) reason for the correlation.
While my experience resulted in one extreme, there is actually another extreme of the 1200 Calorie Myth Diet that creates a different result. You may not recognize the “other” 1200 calorie girl because she could actually be a young man, grown woman or even an adult man. The other 1200 Calorie Myth person is also overweight.
In other words, anyone can fall for the myth, but not everyone loses weight from the myth.
One of my most difficult challenges as a rider fitness trainer and nutrition coach is convincing my boot campers (who have a goal of weight loss) that eating more could actually help them lose weight.
No, I do not need more coffee to correct my mistake. And yes, you read that last sentence right.
Sometimes (more often than you might realize) a rider needs to eat MORE to be able to jump start her metabolism and start to lose excess fat. Why is that?
When you restrict calories below what your body needs, your body interprets the calorie deficit as a “health emergency.” Your body thinks it is starving (well it is about to if the diet lasts long enough) and adjusts your metabolism-but not in a good way.
Your body deliberately slows down your metabolism so the calories you do eat are not burned but are stored as fat. In other words when you eat less, you can gain more fat. Not quite the result most people embracing the 1200 Calorie Myth have in mind!
Yes, there is a tipping point that if you reduce your calories long enough for low enough that you can lose weight. But at what cost? Restricting calories, regardless of the final weight outcome can cause you to lose lean muscle, essential nutrients, and overall all health. Not to mention happiness.
What is the solution if you don’t know where to start? Work closely with a registered dietician, nutritionist or nutrition coach to determine the correct plan for your needs and goals. If you want some direction on how to get started, CONTACT me. I offer virtual fitness and nutrition coaching. If your needs are beyond my scope of practice, I will do my best to get you in touch with a registered dietician or licensed nutritionist in your area.
The myth has been going on long enough. It is definitely time to End this Trend for good.
*The exception to this statement would be someone under the care of a medical or nutrition professional or for very short periods of time to achieve a specific goal.