Why Low Calorie Diets Don’t Work

By Mathew Murphy

The leading cause of obesity in America are low calorie weight loss programs.

Americans will spend more than $42 billion this year on weight loss programs and diet products, according to a
consumer research firm. However, obesity in America is more prevalent today than ever before. The problem of
childhood obesity in the United States has grown considerably in recent years. Approximately 34% of Adults in the
US are considered obese (73 million). 31.7 % of children and adolescents are considered obese in the US. The fact is
that for 97% of the people finishing such diet programs, the weight loss was due to a loss of muscle and water, not
necessarily loss of fat.

The biggest misconception is that “Weight Loss” means losing fat. The diet – weight loss industry would like all of us
to believe that all weight loss is fat loss. In most calorie restricted diets, the body will use the muscle for energy and
hold onto the fat for survival. The body needs to consume a certain number of nutrients and calories in order to
maintain its muscle and use its fat stores for energy.

Once the body starts to run on its muscle tissue, even the slightest increase in calories will be stored as fat. This is
why people who loss weight can’t seem to keep it off. Their bodies become extremely efficient at storing fat.
In most cases, when people lose weight, they do not look like they envisioned. People often ask what “weight
training exercise helps people tone up?” There are no exercises that will help them tone simply because weight
training works with muscle, and the muscle is already tone. If the weight lost would have been fat, people would be
left largely with toned muscle. Instead, they become a smaller version of themselves with a high percentage of body

Having an understanding of how the human body works is the first step to a successful fat-loss program. Since the
earliest days humans walked the earth, the human body has fought to stay alive by making the necessary
adjustments for survival. Eliminating much of the calories which the body needs to survive, the body reacts in such a
way that it perceives its state as starvation. When a person on a diet further reduces calories in an attempt to lose
weight, the body will put itself into a defensive reaction in which case it fights harder to store fat and conserve
energy. The human body is an efficient fat storing machine.

All the weight loss programs should be structured toward the individual. We are all individuals-height, weight, sex,
age; activity levels, food preference, body composition, genetics, lifestyle and specific goals determine the type and
amount of exercise, as well as, the type and amount of food needed to reach our goals. One plan does not fit all.
The truth: Be concerned about fat loss only! Scales are a measurement to be combined with body fat percentage to
determine a net figure of fat loss and muscle retention. Never measure progress by a scale alone. Remember, it’s not
how much you lost, but what you lost. When you feed the muscle the muscle will expend a substantial amount of
energy to absorb the nutrients in order to build more muscle fibers. The energy which the muscle is expending will
then burn more fat and obtain an ideal body by eating properly with regular exercise.

Matt Murphy is a Certified Nutrition and Fitness Counselor, Specializing in Healthy Weight Management and Sports Nutrition.
Matt can be reached at 603-498-3445 or mattmurphy@newtrition360.com. Covering the Mt. Washington Valley and Greater Seacoast areas of NH.