It’s the magic number.
The golden ticket to weightloss.
Heck, even weight maintenance.
But oh, how eating a 1200 calorie diet is so, so wrong.
And for many reasons.
Divide that number by 3 and that’s 400 calories per meal. No snacking, no caloric drinks. Nada.
I actually don’t really know how, or by who with this arbitrary number was invented. And if I did…well I don’t know, maybe I’d write them a letter or something.
On this WIAW, instead of wondering if we’ll lose weight if we adhere to this nonsense number, let’s take a look at why this number is so wrong in so many ways.
Our bodies need a minimal amount of energy to simply function–breath, pump our heart, sweat, pee, etc, etc. And for the majority of people, this minimal amount of energy [aka calories] is more than 1200 for the majority of people. And that doesn’t even include when you shower or when you make breakfast or when you do laundry or any of those daily activities. And that sure as haaayyy doesn’t include exercise.
So right off the bat by trying to eat 1200 calories a day, you are withholding the nutrients and energy your body needs to do the bare essentials. And when our bodies don’t get enough food in general, especially when they don’t get enough food to carry out basic processes they go into starvation mode and your body begins to store everything you eat instead of burning it.
Our bodies need a good hearty breakfast to get the day started! My favorite is a green smoothie and bowl of oatmeal. I’m currently loving blueberry pumpkin oatmeal with chia seeds, coconut oil and Naturally Nutty sunflower seed butter.
And our bodies need snacks to keep our metabolisms humming along. With only eating 1200 calories a day, there is little room, if any, for snacks.
Running with Spoon’s chunky monkey bites are perfect mid morning.You might initially lose weight eating 1200 calories a day, but over time your body will adjust to this low intake and metabolism will slow. And from there it becomes extremely difficult to not only lose weight eating this low amount, but eventually it can become difficult to maintain your weight on anything more than 1200 calories. Our bodies are really good at compensating and conserving energy when there isn’t much energy coming in.
In addition to starving your body of the energy it needs, you’re also starving it of the nutrients it needs. In consuming that low number of calories it is very, very difficult to get all the macronutrients, vitamins and minerals your body needs to function. There just isn’t enough calories in a day to get all the nutrients your body needs. And taking a boatload of supplements to make up for this gap is not the same as getting these nutrients from food- most synthetic vitamins and minerals are metabolized and absorbed differently than the ones found in your food that’s grown in the ground.
Our bodies need a nutrient dense lunch to get us through the afternoon! Ya’ll, afternoon slumps aren’t normal. Yesterday’s lunch was a big salad with balsamic and olive oil, some blue corn chips, a mega grapefruit and an avocado pizza! Loving this lately. I made a few of these vegan 3 ingredient pan breads on Sunday and then took one out of the fridge, mashed 1/2 avocado on top and piled on some spinach, bell pepper and cucumber with sea salt.
By restricting your food intake, your body is now deprived of calories and nutrients which causes your cortisol levels to rise which only exacerbates the slowing of metabolism (cortisol is an energy storing hormone) and your body going into an inflammatory, energy storing mode. And that is the last thing we want for our bodies.
But I think even more importantly, is that when we adhere to 1200 calories a day- day after day after day- or really undereating in general it affects how we view food. It affects our mood. And it affects our relationships. There really isn’t much wiggle room when it comes to 1200 calories.
You either restrict yourself all day long to enjoy a meal out with family or friends or avoid those situations all together. Enjoying a slice of banana bread your neighbor baked or a accepting spontaneous lunch invite is hard to do when you’ve only got 1200 calories to budget.
Simple dinners at home are great, but I think dinners out with those you love are of one of life’s greatest joys. Last night was sautéed veggies with a Hillary’s black bean burger; kale salad with avocado; and brown rice with coconut and cumin.
You begin to feel completely controlled by a calorie number.
And when our body isn’t getting the calories and nutrients it needs we become irritable, isolated, and even depressed. We lose sight of what life is really about. Social situations become cumbersome rather than something that brings us joy.And that’s not living. We can’t be who we were fully created to be when food has such a fierce grip on our lives.
A question for another post is accepting your body’s natural set point. And when you do that, you can start to begin eating intuitively instead of dieting and your body will settle into a healthy, sustainable weight.