Source: Medline Plus (Summary by NIM)
For those who want to lose weight, cutting calories or 'dieting' brings to mind many unpleasant thoughts such as deprivation, monotony, difficulty, discomfort and so on. This does not have to be the case, but according to researchers, this type of thinking increases levels of the stress hormone cortisol, actually making it harder to lose weight.
The researchers in this new study have found that restricting caloric intake tends to be stressful, and as levels of cortisol increase, more fat is stored, especially on the tummy. Since we know that weight loss is the result of a negative energy balance (more calories burned/used than calories consumed), one might wonder how it's possible to lose weight if cutting calories isn't the best answer!
Cutting calories is certainly part of the equation, however the missing piece of the puzzle is physical activity. With physical activity, we burn calories but we also get to eat a bit more food, making us feel far less deprived but also more accomplished. Take someone who needs to consume 2,000 calories per day, for example. They could eat 2,500 and burn 500 through exercise, which not only increases their metabolism but also adds lean muscle mass and definition to their bodies, OR they could just eat 2,000 calories and possibly be more stressed. Option A sounds a lot better than option B!
Everyone wishes there was some magic method of weight loss that isn't at all challenging, but sorry - it's going to take discipline, committment and a bit of hard work no matter how you cut it!
Find out more about this study by reading the article called "Low-Cal Diets May Make You Gain Weight" from Medline Plus (Apr. 8, 2010).