Why Cutting Calories Won’t Help You Lose Weight, According to a Nutrition Expert

The No. 1 tip for weight loss may not be so accurate, after all.

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So, you’re looking to shed a pound or two. Time to cut back on those pesky calories, right?

Not so fast. According to Michelle Adams-Arent, a sports nutrition consultant and the Director of Science and Education for Metabolic Precision, reducing your food intake might not work like you originally thought. (Forget about these 10 myths about fat, too.) In fact, it might actually backfire.

“Your body is built for survival,” Adams-Arent told Business Insider. “It doesn’t care what you want to look like.”

The minute you start cutting back on your caloric consumption, your body goes into full-on starvation mode. Translation? Your metabolic rate will actually decrease as your body tries to preserve what little nutrition it has. A lower metabolism means fewer calories burned. What’s more, research even shows burning more calories than you consume over a long period of time can increase your body fat. Not exactly the outcome you were hoping for. (You’re probably better off with these 42 fast, easy tips for weight loss, instead.)

As for the best way to burn body fat? Decrease your caloric consumption by only a small amount, which avoids a panicky response from your body, Adams-Arent says. She recommends consuming small meals throughout the day, making sure to include a serving of protein in every one. And make breakfast your largest meal; doing so will help you burn more calories for the rest of the day. This one breakfast, in particular, is said to boost your metabolism almost instantly.

Kicking up your exercise a notch will banish your body fat, too. Plus, sleep—both its quality and quantity—affects how many calories you burn in a 24 hour period, Adams-Arent said. Here’s how you can literally lose weight in your sleep. And if none of those options work for you, here are 12 more ways to jump-start your metabolism.

Need to see it in visuals? These 15 pictures prove that calorie-counting won’t always help you lose weight.

[Source: Business Insider]

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Brooke Nelson
Brooke Nelson is a researcher at PBS FRONTLINE in Boston, Massachusetts, and writes regularly about travel, health, and culture news for Reader’s Digest. Previously she was a staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her articles have also appeared on MSN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance, among other sites. She earned a BA in international relations from Hendrix College. Follow her on Twitter @BrookeTNelson.