Can eating LESS make you GAIN weight?

Can eating LESS make you GAIN weight?


When it comes to achieving your goals, it is all about having the right intention.

Once you’ve got the right intention, the next step is to make sure you take the right action to move you towards your goals.

Sometimes though, with all of the best intentions in the World, we may not take the right action to reach our goals.

We may think that we have set the best course of action, and when we do not reach our goal we can feel frustrated.  Frustrated in both ourselves and the plan we followed.  

A perfect example of this is the usual way that most people try to lose weight.

The usual way involves sudden changes in both the amount of food that is eaten and the types of food that are eaten.

You may go from eating whatever you want, whenever you want to eating super healthy food and a much smaller quantity of food overall.

It’s the logical step to take.  And it makes perfect sense.  After all, we need to eat less calories than we are burning to lose weight.

And so, we cut out anything that remotely looks or tastes like a treat.  We eat chicken salad for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We say adios to carbohydrates.  And we switch our favourite cocktails, wines and IPA lagers to the slim line vodka and tonic that we don’t reaaaaalllly like the taste of.

If you’ve tried this sort of plan before, then you know that although you may lose weight for a period of time, ultimately you return from whence you came.  You’re fed up of feeling hungry and missing out on the finer things in life.  You’re left feeling frustrated because you have regained the weight that you lost. As a result, you don’t want to think about weight loss for a while.

This cycle is normal and expected.  

So why do most people get sucked into this cycle again and again?  And how can eating less actually lead to you gaining weight?

It boils down to two things:

Hunger & Satisfaction

Weight loss is a funny thing.  

We are sold an idea by a large part of the dieting industry that we should be able to lose 2+ lbs a week.  Anything less than that is seen as a waste of time.

But if that was true and it was as easy at that, then the first diet you went on would be your last.  All you’d need to do is switch to healthy foods and reduce the amount you eat, as per the example above.

The problem is, that reducing your food intake drastically and cutting out entire food groups has a big impact on both your hunger and satisfaction levels - especially when you make a sudden switch.

Hunger is a strong trigger.  You’ll know that the thought of following a diet or eating healthily can go out of the window when your hunger gets the better of you.  The smell of warm cookies or doughnuts wafting through the supermarket air can feel nigh on impossible to resist when your stomach is grumbling and your blood sugar has dipped.  

Throw in a touch of stress, a good dose of fatigue and lack of satisfaction because you’ve cut out carbs & your favourite treats, and you’ve got a whole new level of challenge.

This is what dieting does.  It makes you hungry.  It leaves you unsatisfied.  And that means, at some point you are going to eat more than you intend to and you’re going to seek out your favourite treats (think sweets, cookies, ice cream, cereals, crisps etc.)  

Throw in a good dose of fatigue and stress and you’ve got a recipe for overeating.

Before you know it, you’ve wiped out your calorie deficit.  In your mind you’re still on a diet, yet you aren’t losing weight!

There is a better way of doing things.  

What to do

Successful, long term weight loss boils down to working with your body and mind.  Instead of fighting your hunger and relying on willpower you can:

  • Say goodbye to hardcore diets once and for all.  Have they really served you over the decade or more?

  • Eat good quality food most of the time, but allow your self some treats occasionally (moderation).  This can keep your cravings at bay and keep you feeling satisfied.

  • Learn to listen to you hunger more often.  Try to start eating when you are comfortably hungry (not ravenous) and stop eating when you are 80% full, most of the time.  This is a great way to automatically reduce the amount you eat without being hyper-focused on calories and macronutrients.

  • Eat whole foods that you enjoy the taste, texture and smell of.  This will make eating healthy foods more satisfying.  Who wants to live on bland salads and chicken breasts?  

  • Try to not cut out entire food groups; proteins, fruits & veggies, fats and carbs will all help to better manage your hunger levels and leave you feeling more satisfied between meals.  

  • Adjust your expectations when it comes to weight loss.  Losing 0.5% of your bodyweight per week is good progress.  If you weigh 80kg/176lbs, then losing 400g/0.9lbs a week is actually good progress.  The harder you push, the more impact there will be on your hunger levels.

About Matt

I want to help empower you to lead an active lifestyle and help you build the habits and practices that will help optimise your health - without counting calories, dieting or following another overly intensive exercise program.