If you’re on a calorie-restricted diet, you might want to look away now – because scientists have discovered that losing weight will be twice as hard as you think.
Researchers from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease have challenged the conventional diet guidelines that advise dieters to cut 500 calories from their diet a day to see steady weight-loss.
The study claims that the advice doesn’t take metabolism levels into account, as continuous dieting and calorie counting slows the metabolism, meaning it’s harder for the body to shed weight and will eventually reach a standstill.
As a result, dieting is always going to be a struggle as cutting calories means that ultimately, it’ll take the body longer to lose weight.
"People have used this rule of thumb to predict how much weight people should lose for decades now, but it turns out to be incredibly wrong,” Dr Kevin Hall said during an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), as reported by the Press Association.
"The reason it's wrong is because it doesn't account for the metabolic changes that take place when people change their diet.
"We know that if you cut the calories in somebody's diet their metabolism starts to slow down, and it slows down more and more the more weight that is lost. So eventually you'll reach a plateau.
"Some of my work has been to develop realistic mathematical models about what happens to metabolism when people start changing their diets and can we come up with some better rules and better predictions."
Researchers predicted that if a dieter slashed 100 calories from their diet a day, it would lead to a loss of just 10lbs in three years.
And 5lbs of that weight would fall off in the first year and the rest would slowly drop off over the next two years, due to a slow metabolism from constant calorie cutting.
According to NHS Choices, the recommended daily calorie amount for men is 2,500 and for women it's 2,000.
If you want to speed up your metabolism and drop those stubborn pounds, here are simple ways to do it:
Eat plenty of protein-rich foods. Research shows that around 25% of calories in a protein-rich meal may be burnt off. But make sure you choose low-fat protein foods such as lean meat, skinless chicken and low-fat dairy products.
Drink ice cold water. One calorie is burned when the body temperature is raised by one degree. This is because the stomach has to heat up cold liquid in the stomach, meaning the metabolism has to work harder and faster.
Go spicy. Adding spices to food increases the metabolic rate, as the heat from the spices keep the metabolism racing three hours after you've eaten them.
Eat breakfast. If you start the day on empty, your body goes into starvation mode, slowing the metabolism right down to preserve energy. Eating breakfast kick starts it for the day.