We’ve all seen the almost endless round of adverts for slimming teas and meal supplements that promise to make you lose weight with little to no effort. Or perhaps you’ve found a diet that swears you’ll lose a stone in a week if you eat 500 calories a day! What diet culture is trying to convince you of is that you need to be thin. But what they aren’t telling you is that these methods are unsustainable and actually very unhealthy for your body. There is a lot more to being healthy than being skinny, so read on for Being Skinny: It Doesn’t Equal Being Healthy!
Many people’s easy access route to being skinny is an unhealthy, unsustainable calorie deficit, such as the 1,200 calorie number that seems to have come out of nowhere. A calorie deficit is a calorie shortage in relation to the calorie intake you require to maintain your body weight.
Your Calorie Intake Depends on Various Factors
This alone says that every person requires a different amount of calories simply to function. Your calorie intake is dependent on your activity level; the amount and type of exercise you do, your height and your weight.
Food is Your Fuel: Your Body Must Burn Fuel in Order to Move
Not only is 1,200 calories an incredibly low amount of calories to be eating for someone who is inactive, if you try and balance this with any level of activity your body just won’t benefit from it. Food is fuel, and just like a car that burns petrol to run, your body must burn fuel in order to move.
If you’re running on low fuel, your body and brain will feel burnt out. These extreme calorie deficits, unspecific to you and your dietary needs, will leave you with little energy, craving more food and malnourished. To find a responsible calorie deficit catering to your body, have a word with your doctor or a nutritionist!
Weighing Less is Not Necessarily Healthier than Weighing More
A common misconception is that weighing less is healthier than weighing more. This can be completely false, as muscle mass weighs more than fat. The term ‘skinny fat’ means that someone may be skinny, but have too much body fat. This can cause high cholesterol and high blood pressure, so you can still be unhealthy and skinny.
Calorie Deficit Causes Loss of Muscle Tissue & Slow Metabolism
As I mentioned before, eating too few calories can burn you out, quite literally! You may lose muscle and actually cause your metabolism (the system which allows your body to burn calories) to slow down, meaning you won’t burn the few calories that you are actually eating!
The no-eating route to being skinny is dangerously restrictive, and can affect your mental health even more than your physical health. If you restrict yourself by eating too little, you end up craving more than if you were to eat a healthy amount. When you do give in to these cravings, you may punish yourself by either restricting your diet further to make up for it, or torment yourself for your lack of willpower. These obsessive behaviours can often lead to eating disorders.