When going on a diet, you may not be aware of some things that happen to your body when you lose weight, so I’m going to share them with you. Losing weight is no easy task, but it is one that anyone can do. Yet, I do think that everyone should know about what is going on inside the body in the meantime, for the best success possible. Understanding body chemistry during weight loss can help prevent getting frustrated, keep you from going hungry and “cheating” from not getting enough calories, or from suffering from changes to the hormones or energy levels during weight loss. Read about some of these simple things that happen to your body when you lose weight. By being informed, you’ll have all the information you need for success that won’t lead you to giving up or feeling poorly.
1. Your Cortisol Increases
One of the many things that happen to your body when you lose weight that people don’t consider is that it physically stresses your body out, especially your hormones, unless you're careful. While many doctors prescribe patients to lose weight to remove stress, losing weight actually increases stress in the body for some people instead. Depending on your state of health, weight loss can increase cortisol, the stress hormone. Your hormones directly affect every function in your body, and your hormones are also affected by how you eat and how active you are. It can be a tricky thing to manage, so it is important to eat in a way that prevents excess cortisol surges. To lower stress, participate in activities that are more calming like yoga, walking and PIlates, or even hiking. These are great low stress exercises that actually lower cortisol in the body, while also promoting calorie burning and weight loss. You should also eat mostly protein, greens, green vegetables and low glycemic starches, with healthy fats. Controlling your blood sugar is key to losing weight, so eat and exercise to combat excess cortisol that leads to stress, binging, and weight gain.
2. You Lose Water First
When you go on a diet, chances are you’ll probably lose a lot of weight at first, and then things start to slow down. The reason why all has to do with water weight. You’ll lose water weight before anything else, which is why it is easy to lose 5 pounds the first week and then become stagnant. Losing water weight isn’t a bad thing, but is something to be aware of you don’t give up when things start to slow down. If nothing else, it helps get the bloat off!
3. Your Body Stores Fat
Yes, when you start any diet, and the body sees it is getting less calories, it will store fat more readily. In fact, it can become harder to lose weight if you cut calories too low, because your body holds onto every little calorie you eat, storing fat more easily. The best way to combat this is to exercise a moderate amount and stick with a plan of no less than 1500 calories a day. I personally don’t count calories for this very purpose, and instead, eat enough of the right foods so my body never gets hungry. This ensures the body it isn’t starving and doesn’t need to prepare for famine, which it will do when you start to lose weight.
4. You Need More Sleep
Losing weight truly does exhaust the body. Don’t fight rest during weight loss! Instead, embrace it. Rest more if you need to. This will lower stress and as long as you have a good exercise plan in place, there’s no reason resting more should make you feel guilty. It doesn’t mean you should lie around on the couch all day, but as long as you’re eating enough calories, then you should feel free to rest if your body tells you to. Losing weight stresses the body out, and it will need to repair itself and regain energy. Make 8 hours a night a priority and take time to meditate, or have a 20 minute nap each day.
5. It Makes You Moody
Losing weight can make you very moody, especially if you’re coming off refined sugar, junk foods and fast foods. The body is literally detoxing from all those foods it was addicted to. Don’t worry; it will pass as soon as your body balances itself back out again. Refined and processed foods have been proven to be as addictive as heroin, especially sugar. Your body can crave them and when you don’t have them, you feel like a fussy baby in need of a 2 a.m. feeding! Remember, it will pass, and before long, you'll no longer suffer mood swings or cravings. Just be sure to eat plenty of healthy foods from protein, greens and healthy fats. This gets rid of cravings and halts those raging hormones.
6. It Can Keep You Awake
Losing weight can alter how you sleep, and this can be a tempting time for binge eating to occur. If your’e not getting enough calories, it can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night. To combat this, I recommend eating a large enough dinner to keep you full, or have a glass of almond milk before bed. The almond milk is rich in calcium and essential fats that calm the brain and can help induce sleep. My favorite brand is Silk unsweetened vanilla almond mik, which has more calcium than other brands. I like to add a bit of stevia and cinnamon to sweeten it and lower my blood sugar. I’m off to sleep like a baby in minutes without feeling the need to raid the fridge because I can’t sleep.
7. You Lose Muscle First
When you start to diet, you’ll start to lose muscle mass, not just fat, which isn't good news. To combat this issue, be sure you implement weight training, even if it is just body weight training like yoga. This will ensure your muscle mass continues to build itself and repair itself properly. Muscle mass is important for a good metabolism and for bone health. Muscle burns fat and fuels metabolism, and supports your skeletal system to prevent osteoporosis and atrophy. You won’t bulk up, but you will stay lean and support your body, so lift those weights a few times a week or get your downward dog on regularly.
It is important to remember to eat enough each day so you don’t lower your metabolism and cause excess stress. If you’re eating too few calories, it can stop you from losing weight. Eat up to lose more - just be sure to choose the right foods as mentioned above. Limit starches and sugars for faster progress and for better hormone function. If you’ve recently lost weight, what’s something that happened to you unexpectedly? Or, if you’re considering going on a diet, what concerns do you have?