March 2·5 min read

Why losing weight sometimes means eating more

It’s counterintuitive, but it all comes down to metabolism.

There are a whole lot of reasons to seek out personal training, but weight loss has to be the most common one. The possibility of progressing towards a healthier place is exciting, but the road that takes you there can feel uncertain. Without a lot of dedicated research or the expertise of a coach at your disposal, it can be all too easy to craft an approach built on outdated assumptions and outright myths about how weight loss should work.  

One of those myths with the most staying power? Losing weight is always a matter of eating less and moving more. 

In today’s fitness world, there’s a whole host of crash diets and fad fixes built around this assumption. There’s definitely a grain of truth in that mantra, but it vastly oversimplifies the process and ignores the unique circumstances everyone faces. Sure, you’ll eventually see a smaller number on the scale if you fixate on a restrictive approach to nutrition, but this approach can rob you of your energy and sometimes even your muscle mass. And if you’ve tried and failed to lose weight through a low-calorie diet before, you may already be familiar with the concept of “yo-yo dieting.” If you’re not, this is when the cycle of on the wagon and off the wagon happens because the approach is too restrictive for long-term success. A gradual erosion of your willpower leads you to overindulge with all the tasty, empty calories you’ve been craving, often leaving yourself worse off than when you started. 

If a reliance on kale salads and cardio hasn’t worked in the past, it’s easy to feel like there’s no hope. There absolutely is, but the solution may initially sound counterintuitive: you have to eat more — at least for a little while. 

For those just getting started with personal training, that pill can be hard to swallow. As it turns out, it may be the best way to reach your weight loss goals without falling back off the wagon. If you’re curious about why your personal training process might start with your coach advising you to eat more, here’s a closer look at the what and why. 

It starts by tracking your nutrition. 

Think of working towards weight loss as a journey. Just like any journey, you need to know where you’re starting from before you can figure out which path will lead towards your goal. That’s why it’s crucial for you to start by understanding how many calories you consume on an average day. In some cases, this might lead you to realize you’re consuming more calories than you thought. When that happens, you might find that the act of cutting back to create a caloric deficit doesn’t require as much deprivation as you might have feared.

However, coaches often find that clients have internalized the “less calories = more weight loss” mantra and already taken it a bit too far. Often, they’ll see clients who aren’t seeing results despite consuming just 1,200 or 1,300 calories a day. For reasons you’ll soon understand, that level of restriction likely isn’t the right approach for most people who want to break through their weight loss plateau and reach their long term goals. 

Why cutting calories isn’t always the right idea.

If you and your coach discover that your baseline caloric intake is already very low, creating an even bigger deficit will likely create more problems than it could ever hope to solve. 

Dropping to a daily intake of around 1,000 calories won’t guarantee weight loss results, but it will negatively impact your quality of life. The biggest reason for this is the fact that the human body needs a certain amount of calories to make it through the day. Especially when a low calorie diet cuts out key macronutrients or micronutrients, your body also doesn’t have what it needs to fully function properly. Most of the calories you do ingest will be routed to essential survival functions, which can lead to complications ranging from fatigue to hair loss. That’s not to mention the moodiness, increased anxiety, and mental fatigue that can come when calories are scarce. 

A severely restrictive diet may lower the number you see on the scale, but that short-term satisfaction can push your fitness goals out of reach. Though we assume fewer pounds means less fat, that isn't always the case. Oftentimes with too low of calories those disappearing pounds can also translate to disappearing muscle mass. 

Significantly curbing your calories can also slows down your metabolism. A slower metabolism burns less calories, which can worsen the effects of overindulgence once you inevitably burn out on your more restrictive approach. And without a certain amount of energy to complete or properly recover from your workouts, you’ll have a very hard time building the lean muscle you’ll need to reach your ideal body composition. 

Eating more builds your weight loss foundation. 

What happens when you can’t cut calories further while fueling up for fitness? The best way around this particular roadblock is to start heading in the other direction. Specifically, a quality coach that will create an effective plan that leads you to ingest more calories, so you can stay active and accelerate your metabolism while keeping your long-term weight loss goals in sight. 

Implementing this approach isn’t just about changing the quantity of calories, but focusing on quality nutrition as well. Your coach might advise adding in foods that are rich in macronutrients, as well as micronutrients like protein and fiber. Focusing on fruits and vegetables will also likely have a key role, as will at least some level of healthy dietary fat. 

This kind of adjustment won’t — and shouldn’t — happen overnight. Your body needs time to adapt to a change in nutrition like this, and it’s important to observe how any new approach to nutrition makes your body feel. On top of that, getting any new habit to stick is all about making small, incremental changes. 

Laying this foundation might take weeks or even months. But by pairing these efforts with a solid strength training program, it’s entirely possible to get your calories to a sustainable level that makes sense for you. With this strategy, eating more can generate the lean muscle mass you need with only a marginal increase to your body weight.

Faster metabolism, meaningful progress.

After properly calibrating your caloric increase and getting into the swing of strength training, things start to come together. Your coach will lock in your progress by imposing a short maintenance period, which buys a little time for your metabolism to increase and stablize in response to these positive changes. Once it’s revved up into high gear, you’ll be in a position where the “eat less and move more” approach will actually lead to weight loss that sticks. 

Though it’s more sustainable, this method definitely demands more patience than those seductive crash diets and quick fixes. That’s why it’s crucial to lean on your coach, who can offer the support and suggestions that keep your eyes focused on the horizon rather than fixating on the scale. 

Beyond losing weight, one of the advantages of this patient, methodical approach is that it can change your relationship with food for the better. Because it doesn’t rely on extreme caloric deprivation, making your metabolism work for you can foster a much more balanced approach to nutrition. That means there’s much less of a temptation to overcompensate with yo-yo dieting, and much more room for delicious foods and dining experiences than you probably assumed.

Don’t be shocked if your coach suggests adding more food into your daily diet. It may not be a strategy you would have pursued on your own, but that’s exactly what makes personal training with a proven fitness coach so valuable. Listen up, trust the process, and get ready to thank them as the results you’re after start to show up on the scale and in the mirror. 

If a reliance on restrictive dieting hasn’t worked for you in the past, joining forces with one of Future’s elite coaches can show you another path to weight loss. Future’s modern approach to training is truly personal. Working with your coach is always an on-demand, one-on-one experience, built on customized workouts plans along with nutrition guidance that seamlessly fit your goals, starting point, and schedule. With their help, advice, and accountability, you and your coach will pursue an ever-evolving plan that creates sustainable results. There’s no better way to boost your metabolism and cut the string of your yo-yo dieting once and for all. 

Instead of cutting calories to lose weight, try cutting costs instead. Save $130 on your first month of Future when you join today for just $19. Cancel at any time. 

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