Do you think this is a good protocol for getting rid of cellulite?
1. Eat 1,000 calories a day
2. Do vigorous “cardio” exercise for 40 minutes in the morning
3. Do “weights” exercise for 40 minutes in the evening
Rinse, repeat and watch your cellulite disappear. Or until you grind to a screeching halt.
What is wrong with this?
Banish the B.S.
I despair when I see this nonsense. With all the available research, people are still lazily providing a useless and possibly dangerous protocol.
In the first of our Banish The BS series, where we look at different protocols that apparently “get rid of cellulite” and find the truth, we will consider whether this is the best low calorie diet plan.
What is this protocol based on?
The first incorrect assumption is that the body works simply on “calories in – calories out”. If that were true, then everyone who has ever dieted would be lean.
The preposterous claim that doing this for a week, you will lose 7lb of fat and all your cellulite is absurd.
It isn’t possible.
Even by estimating a Resting Metabolic Rate (calories burned sitting on the sofa) of 2000. Add a vastly inflated estimate of 800 calories burned by the prescribed exercise. Combined with circa 200 calories burned by going about daily activities we have a calorie deficit of 2000 per day.
(Adding the calories burned 2000+800+200 = 3000. Minus calories eaten 3000-1000 = 2000)
Over 7 days, the calorie deficit will be 14,000. Wow! That will be amazing. I’ll be lean in no time.
Using an inaccurate estimate that 1 lb of fat equals 3500 calories, then we will actually lose 4 lb.
Banish the BS alert: in a calorie deficit (particularly such a large one) more lean mass than fat will be lost.
All weight-loss consists of three elements: water-weight, lean mass, and fat.
To make up for the calorie deficit, the body will burn both lean mass and fat.
So how would we achieve 7 lb of weight loss in a week?
By grossly overestimating the amount of fat we lose, let’s call it 3 lb; that leaves 1-2lb of water. And a whopping 2-3lb of lean body mass.
That’s just by taking at face value the absurd calculations that might support such a ridiculous claim.
Banish the BS alert: losing lean mass is catastrophic when trying to reduce cellulite and lose fat.
The author of this masterpiece in nutritional programming has failed basic biology. The body doesn’t work on a strictly “numbers basis”. There are many factors to weight loss: hormones, age, genetic makeup, gut health, time spent overweight etc.
Even with the steeliest of willpower, this programme is unsustainable. The most likely outcome is that after two days of eating so little, the idea of getting off the sofa will be impossible. The exercise element will be abandoned.
For a beginner, working out for 80 minutes on the first day with any intensity will render her so sore and exhausted, that exercise on day two will be impossible.
I’ll salute you if you get out of bed on day 3.
If you make it to day 4, there’s a good chance you’ll be starving. By starving, I don’t mean “a bit hungry as I’ve only had one family-sized pizza”. I mean starving. Your body will adjust to this starvation mode by preserving body fat. By down-regulating resting metabolic rate, calorie-burning goes down. The hormone ghrelin will be released triggering hunger and cravings. Energy levels will drop. The stress hormone cortisol will be released.
At all costs, the body seeks homeostasis – balance.
Your body will not kindly oblige you by burning off all that cellulite and giving you perfectly smooth thighs.
The workout regime being suggested is ridiculous. After all, most people can’t find the time for once-a-day workouts. How are they magically going to manage twice a day? hint: they won’t.
This sort of workout regime allows very little time for adequate recovery, coupled with the low calories, stress will increase dramatically.
Banish the BS alert: Stress can halt cellulite loss in its tracks.
A programme like this will be highly stressful:
- Inadequate recovery from far too much unnecessary exercise.
- Macro- and micro- nutrient deficiencies from eating too little.
- Cortisol (stress hormone) causing inflammation and water retention.
- Sleep disruption from hunger and blood sugar fluctuations.
- Mood swings and food cravings. Serotonin (“happy hormone”) goes down as cortisol goes up. This, coupled with poor sleep quality will cause cravings for sugary, calorie-dense carbohydrate foods.
If you do manage to make it through a week or two of this nutritional nonsense, you will rebound like a beach-ball. Gaining all the weight you lost and more. And it won’t be your fault. As your body strives to get away from perceived starvation, you will find yourself hungry. You won’t want to exercise. Your food choices will likely be high-carbohydrate, high-calorie. And all that hardship for nothing. In fact, you are in a worse place than before you began.
Banish the BS alert: Since you’ve lost lean mass, the weight you gain back will be fat.
It’s possible you are either:
- considering trying a crazy programme such as this. DON’T DO IT – or
- you’ve just come off this low calorie diet plan and don’t know where to turn.
For any fat-loss or cellulite-reduction programme to work, lean mass needs to be increased and preserved. We want to burn fat, not muscle.
What are the characteristics of a good cellulite reduction programme?
- It needs to be sustainable. (hint: years of poor diet and lifestyle choices cannot be undone in a month).
- It needs to be enjoyable. (hint: that doesn’t mean “effortless”)
- It needs to promote good health.
Further reading: 7 Mistakes you need to avoid
What to do?
Before taking drastic action and launching into something that makes silly claims, do an ‘audit’ of your current lifestyle choices. Keep a food diary for three days, noting everything you eat and drink. Note down how much exercise you are taking. Note down the quality of your sleep. How you feel, tired all day or full of energy or somewhere in between.
Then make the following assessments:How much processed food are you eating? (
1.How much processed food are you eating? (hint: cut down, opt for unprocessed foods)
2.Are you eating a palm-sized portion of protein 3-5 times per day?
Protein protects lean body mass, promotes recovery after exercise, burns more calories in it’s digestive process and helps you to feel fuller for longer
3. Are you getting adequate vegetables? Do you eat a fist-sized portion of vegetables 3-5 times per day?
Eating lots of vegetables provides plenty of fibre (read more about fibre here), phytonutrients, antioxidants and promotes good gut health.
4. Any sodas or sugary beverages? Just don’t.
5. Are you getting a thumb-sized portion of healthy fats 3 times a day? (hint: nuts, avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, fat from oily fish and good quality meats and poultry… not donuts)
Healthy fats such as Omega-3s can promote fat-burning and fight inflammation.
6. Are you drinking plenty of water? Just do.
7. Are you eating a lot of sugary snacks? Replace these with fruit, which is full of fibre and antioxidants. hint: eat the whole fruit, not fruit juice.
8. Are you getting plenty of regular exercise? (hint: you don’t need to be in the gym for 80 minutes per day) Favour resistance-based exercise 3-4 days per week along with Yoga, walking or some cardio that you enjoy.
Once you’ve answered those questions you will be well on your way to making the right food choices that will support your health and wellbeing as well as reducing fat and cellulite.
Further reading: 6 of the Best Natural Ways to Treat Cellulite
Have you found yourself on a plan like this? Do you have any stories for the Banish The BS series? If so, we’d love to hear from you! Go ahead, leave a comment, ask a question…
References: Precision Nutrition:Can Eating too little actually damage your metabolism. Brian St Pierre Precision Nutrition:Forget Calorie Counting. Brian St Pierre & Ryan Andrews Poliquin Group Editorial Staff: Top 10 pitfalls to weight loss.