I Hope This Person Isn’t Your Nutritionist

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I received this email from one of my female clients yesterday:

Today at the gym I was chatting with a girl who has recently gotten into lifting. She comes to spin a lot. I told her I was so psyched she was lifting etc etc. She was discouraged because the lbs weren’t coming off (started 2 weeks ago). Then, THIS CAME OUT: “I have been sure not to eat more than 1000 calories a day too”. Guess what she is by profession? A nutritionist!! Saaaad.

Wow, just wow. Can you imagine what it’s like to be a client of this “nutritionist”??????? I’d love to be a fly on the wall as she takes a client through a session:

Nutritionist: So, how have things been going since the last time I we met?

Client: Okay, I guess. I’ve been following everything you’ve told me to do. The first month was great – I lost like ten lbs and was really motivated, but ever since then I feel like I’ve hit a wall. I mean, I can’t walk more than ten feet without feeling like I’m going to faint, I have no energy at all during the day, I haven’t menstruated in three months, and I’m pretty sure the last time I had a bowel movement was Valentine’s Day.

Nutritionist: Hmmm, I see. Well, after looking at your food log, it’s readily apparent that we need to lower your calories even more.

Client: Are you sure?

Nutritionist: Trust me, I read like three books, I know what I’m talking about.

Client: Okay. I guess I’ll see you in a few weeks. Actually, can you help me up? I can’t feel the left side of my body.

How can someone call themselves a nutritionist and not understand basic physiology? 1000 calories a day? Really? Does she not realize that the whole “subtract 500 calories a day thing” only works for so long?

Sure, if you burn 500 more calories than you take in every day, you’ll probably lose roughly one pound per week. Thing is, as one study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (88: 906, 2008) showed, once someone has lost roughly 10% of their bodyweight, the body – afraid of starving – starts to burn fewer and fewer calories.

In short, the body becomes a more efficient engine. It’s gone from a Cadillac to a motorcycle – it’s getting more miles per gallon, and it’s a smaller vehicle. By continuing to lower calories lower and lower, you’re just telling the body to go into preservation mode. As a result, the last thing on it’s agenda is to burn fat. Contrarily, it will want to hold on to as much fat as possible.

This is why I always tell my clients that when it comes to fat loss – while calorie control is important – it’s not the end all be all. Dieting alone will only take you so far. This is why lifting heavy things is so crucial to one’s overall success. Not only will you maintain more lean body mass while dieting (a good thing), but you may actually build some muscle, which will burn more calories in the long run. In the end, you may not necessarily have to decrease your overall food intake that much.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

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