Less isn't always more—especially when it comes to food. The ultimate proof is one woman's Instagram transformation pics. The secret behind her "after" photo? Increasing her calories by 1,000 a day.
Madalin Frodsham, a 27-year-old woman from Perth, Australia, was following a ketogenic diet (aka a low-carb, high-fat, and moderate protein diet) and a Kayla Itsines workout plan, when she said she had hit a plateau: "After a while though, salad simply wasn't cutting it, and for all the restrictions I was placing on my diet, I simply wasn't seeing the results I had anticipated," she wrote in an Instagram post.
So she decided to switch it up and talked to a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He told her to count her macronutrients and increase her carb consumption from five to 50 percent. (Pause: here's what you need to know about counting your macronutrients and the IIFYM diet.) Frodsham kept her workout routine the same but switched up her eating style. She stayed about the same weight but saw a huge change in her physique.
Let's just preface this by saying no, I did not have an ED. When I was eating 800 calories a day, I thought I was healthy. I was eating healthy food, but hardly any macronutrients. I was curious to find out what my macros were like before I actually started counting my macros, so I entered my old foods into @myfitnesspal to find out. I was quiet astonished to see how little protein and carbs I was eating. 800 calories seems absurdly low as now I need minimum 1500 calories to be full, but at the time 800 calories was keeping me full because that's what my body was used to. After a while though, salad simply wasn't cutting it, and for all the restrictions I was placing on my diet, I simply wasn't seeing the results I had anticipated. So I got in touch with a PT and nutritional coach and got my macros sorted. When he first told me to eat 50% carbs I nearly died! I was eating about 10% carbs before and could not fathom how 50% carbs would not make me fat. I also freaked out at all the calories. I've been keeping an excel spreadsheet and in the first week of being on macros my average calories for the week was a little over 1000. I remember how hard I struggled to actually eat the size of my meals. I would just put my lunch next to my desk and eat it over the course of 3 hours as I couldn't eat it in one sitting! Now my stomach can take way more and is much happier! In the second week I was averaging 1600 calories a day! It didn't take long for my body to catch up. A part of me may always have that mindset that relates not eating with weight loss and "being good today". Sometimes I may forget to eat lunch just because I got busy and for a second I will revert back to old thinking, and think "ohh, I've done really well today and haven't eaten much at all." That's why I love tracking my macros. It will tell me "Maddy, you need to eat more. Go eat 3 potatoes". And I'll pat myself on the back for being healthy and doing really good today! If you're under feeding yourself in an effort to lose weight, don't do what I did for so long. Don't waste your time eating salad when you could be eating sweet potatoes and banana pancakes. Eat more and get fit. It actually works
Magic? Nope—it's science. Once she upped her carb intake and started tracking her macronutrients, she was eating about 1800 calories a day. Before that? She said she was eating about 800.
Yup, you read that right. 800 calories a day.
The conventional knowledge of Weight Loss 101 might be the simple equation of "eat less than you burn," but it's actually more complicated than that. When you aren't eating enough calories, your body goes into starvation mode.
In fact, it's not recommended for women to eat fewer than 1,200 calories a day, and doing so can actually increase your risk for health problems (like gallstones and heart problems), and may lead to muscle loss and a slowing of your metabolism, as we reported in 10 Things You Don't Know About Calories.
"When you're following a very strict, clean diet, your body actually releases more cortisol into the blood stream, which causes your body to store fat," says Michelle Roots, a Trainerize kinesiologist and nutrition coach. "A lot of women say, 'I want to lose weight so I'm going to only eat 1200 calories a day and workout seven days a week,' as opposed to looking at their macronutrients and seeing how many grams of protein and good fats they get in a day." The result? A body that's over-stressed and under-fed, meaning it will hold onto fat and won't have enough energy to go hard in the gym.
Long story, short: the secret to your best body isn't in eating less and exercising more, it's in fueling your body and making it move.
"Don't waste your time eating salad when you could be eating sweet potatoes and banana pancakes. Eat more and get fit. It actually works," Frodsham wrote in this Instagram post. Mic drop.