A simple equation of less is more.
Don’t dig your grave with your own knife and fork. — Old English Proverb
EDITORIAL DISCLAIMER: Any advice or recommendation given in my writing is what works for ME and may not be the best regimen for you based on your psychological or physiological makeup and stability. Please consult a doctor when making decisions about your health.
When the pandemic hit, there were many things that seemed would never be the same in our lives.
For someone like me in sales, the thought of not meeting my clients face to face and trying to build that all-important business relationship seemed in jeopardy.
And while it has not been anywhere near as difficult to build relationships over zoom as I thought it would be, the one thing that has changed for me is my ability to do meals with my clients as I did in the past.
This reality forced me to be much more intentional with my relationships than before, which was expected. However, there was a much-unexpected consequence of this new circumstance of which I had no idea.
I ate way less.
Before the pandemic, I ate the normal daily recommended amount of anywhere from 2000–2500 calories per day, base on my weight and that I exercised every day.
After the pandemic, however, I was amazed to recognize that I was only consuming about 900–1000 calories per day and in no way felt like I was depriving myself in any capacity.
I was a bit surprised by this at first, but then the reality of why became pretty apparent.
I’m one of those people who LOVES to consume. What that typically means is that when I do something, I am pretty much all or nothing.
While this can be good when it comes to being successful at work, it can be NOT so good when it comes to controlling how much I do things that are not good for me, i.e., consume alcohol, sugar, etc.
This also created the interesting trait in which if I eat something that I like, I pretty much consume all of it. At restaurants, this invariably ends with me finishing whatever is put in front of me.
In fact, I always looked at individuals who could stop eating something about half-way or three-fourths of the way through as having some type of superpower, as I did not have this ability at all.
Therefore, I was excited about this newfound phenomenon ability to consume fewer calories for a number of benefits that I recognized helped my overall fitness regimen and could help you as well.
It can help you keep your weight under control easier.
This was the first realization that was a bit of a doozy for me.
As shared, when the pandemic began, I began to weigh myself daily to better understand how different foods affected me and where there could be opportunities to improve in my daily and weekly diet.
What this helped me understand was that by consuming way fewer calories daily, I was able to accurately predict what kind of weight loss or gain I would see each day on the scale.
If I stayed consistent with my diet, I would see anywhere from a .5 to 1.5 decrease in weight daily.
If I then had a normal weekend cheat meal, I could see a 2–3 lb increase, while a heavy vacation cheat weekend could yield as much as a 4–6 lb increase.
This allowed me to then be able to manipulate what I would eat on what days to ensure that I would stay within an equilibrium weight that allowed me to function optimally.
While this was not really needed when I was younger, as I’ve aged this has been the best strategy for me based on the natural slowing of my metabolism. So many people don’t take this into consideration as they age and feel the daily recommended amount of 2000 plus calories is something they should subscribe to forever.
This is one of the reasons that it just seems “natural” for individuals to gain weight over time.
As we age, our metabolism slows down naturally. There isn’t a whole lot we can do about this.
When we were younger and growing like crazy (teenage years), consuming 3–5k calories in a day seemed normal based on the volume of energy our body needed to handle all of the work it was doing to achieve muscle growth and development.
It has been estimated that your metabolism is at its absolute highest at the age of 20 and decreases by 10 percent each decade after that. What that means is by the age of 50, your metabolism is 30 percent slower than it was 30 years earlier.
Therefore, if we consume the daily recommended amount of 2,000 calories each day forever, we are inevitably going to gain weight as our metabolism slows unless we do something different to combat this.
One idea is to work out more, but as we age and take on more responsibilities like kids, work, and life in general, the thought of having MORE time to work out doesn’t seem very realistic.
Therefore, by reducing our intake of calories slowly over time, we give ourselves a lower baseline to work with, as well as a much better chance of maintaining or decreasing our weight based on this decision.
By staying within my new daily intake of 900–1000 calories, I was able to focus on working out enough to stay in a caloric deficit each day without having to worry about working out all the time.
This led me to only working out about 60 minutes each day and knowing that this would allow me to decrease my weight a certain amount each day, as opposed to only maintaining or even gaining each day in the past.
It can help you not feel so guilty on your cheat days.
When I would consume the daily recommended calories for my weight and size, I would find myself either always maintaining my current weight or gaining daily.
What this led to was a situation in which when the weekend came, and I felt I had been eating “healthy” all week, I decided I earned one meal in which I would eat what I wanted for a mental break…the all important cheat meal.
As shared above, the ability to control how much I eat of something that I find delicious is not something that I will admit to having, so often on the weekends when I would have some type of cheat meal, I found myself consuming MASSIVE amounts of food.
You can check out one of my recent cheats meals from our NYC trip on instagram here.
I don’t ever count calories during my cheat meals because I feel that wholeheartedly goes against the concept of what a cheat meal is supposed to be. I just use the barometer of eating until I am full to decide that’s it time to stop eating.
What this sometimes led to, however, were circumstances in which I would eat enough on the weekend to add 2–3 lbs to my weight from the day before.
When I was consuming the normal caloric intake of 2000 plus calories per day, this would then lead to me having a net gain of those 2–3 lbs since I was maintaining my weight on all the other days during the week.
However, now that I eat in such a dramatic deficit on a daily basis, as shared, I typically lose .5 to 1 lb per day during the course of the week.
Therefore, when I reach my cheat meal day on Saturday, I can afford to go a bit overboard and still maintain and sometimes still decrease my body weight from earlier in the week.
For you, this knowledge of knowing that you have been committed during the weekend and have dropped 5 lbs by Saturday will make that cheat meal that much more satisfying and not as guilt-ridden because you know you’ll be right back on the focused, caloric deficit to control your weight the next day.
It can help decrease your chances of developing cancer.
This may sound a bit dramatic, but I assure you it is not.
This is something that most people don’t even consider, but it is probably the most important reason that you should plan to taper your food consumption back a bit as you age.
One of the interesting byproducts of our digestion is that with every calorie we metabolize and turn into energy, our body will also release these things known as free radicals.
Free radicals are atoms that contain an unpaired electron. They only have a lifespan of a fraction of a second, but during that time, they can do major damage to your DNA.
The body has two major ways to create free radicals. One is through carcinogens that we may be exposed to based on various things we may come across or digest within our body (alcohol being one of this), and the other way is through the natural food that we eat.
It is believed that free radicals can be a highly contributing factor to the formation of cancer in the body. This is one of the reasons that the chances of cancer increase with age because your body has more chances to create dangerous free radicals with time.
Since, as of today, Elon Musk nor Jeff Bezos have added time stoppage to their endeavors for the world, the only other way one has to decrease the number of opportunities for free radicals to form in the body would be to decrease the volume of food that goes through the metabolic process.
The simplest way to decrease this, of course, is to eat less food.
While this may sound a bit “radical” (haha…pun intended) and perhaps dangerous to eat below the daily recommended amount, it is actually the opposite.
Not only will the restriction of calories decrease your opportunities at forming the free radicals that could cause cancer, new research has shown that individuals who eat as much at 30% less than the average have a number of positive results (less inflammation, more efficient oxygen creation, less immune overreaction) that seemed to delay the overall affects of aging and could result in longer lives.
This was also one of the takeaways from the book, The Okinawa Program that looked at the lives of individuals from Okinawa, Japan who have an average life span of 81.2 years.
Outside of eating less meat and a much higher mix of fruit and vegetables, the other diet takeaway was the these individuals just consume way fewer calories on a daily basis than the average person.
This is very likely a contributing factor to the fact they also have a proven much lower risk of developing cancer as a group, something that just can’t be ignored.
Most people love food.
I definitely do.
There is no doubt about that.
However, the thing that keeps us alive is also the thing that could end our lives if we are not disciplined in our consumption of it.
And while no one wants to always count calories at every meal, if one reduces the amount of calories one consumes on the majority of meals that are counted, the number of benefits are hard to outweigh (haha…pun also intended).