Metabolic damage from severe dieting – is it real?

What does it mean? It states that excessive dieting will cause your body to gain weight even on 800 or 1,000 calories while training.
Is it true? No, it is not. The laws of physics are unchanged. But let’s take a deeper look behind the scenes to understand how weight loss works.
First, there is energy in vs. energy out. Simple enough, right? Yes, this is the basic formula but there is more to energy out than simply measuring your basic metabolic rate (BMR)
1. Your BMR (the basic amount of calories it takes to power you though a day)
However, not all BMRs are the same. Imagine two people, both weighing 230 lbs. Yet subject A has weighed 230 lbs for a while, but never had to diet to get to that weight whereas subject B came down to 230 from 280lbs through a very strict diet. In that case, subject A would have a higher BMR than his counterpart since his metabolism had not been scuttled by a lengthy diet even though they weigh the same. Henceforth, subject A can eat more , even if the workout regime is the exact same. Such is life
2. TEF (thermic effect of food)
Not all foods are created equal; it takes about 20 calories to digest 100 calories of protein but only two to process the same number of calories from fat. The thermic effect of non processed foods is also much higher than processed foods since it is tougher to break down broccoli or quinoa as opposed to Cheetos.
3. TEE (thermic effect of exercise)
Every form of exercise burns a certain amount of calories. however, again, not all is equal. Larger mammals like yours truly burn more calories than smaller individuals even when they are doing the same things. Life is unfair.
4. Absorption of nutrients
It can vary by about 20% from person to person. A study I found showed that people used up, on average, about 90% of the calories in nuts, but there were large deviations of about 20% within the group. Sadly there is not anything you can do about, just understand that dieting is different for everyone.
4. NEAT (all physical activity that is not exercise-related, such as twitching, fidgeting, gesticulating, walking, etc)
They can sum up to 100s of daily calories, depending on various factors.
What happens with all the above when you diet? Several unfortunate adaptations that make life a lot more uncomfortable I am afraid!
1. Your BMR is lowered because your body thinks it is going though a period of famine and goes into energy preservation mode.
2. the TEF is also lower since you are eating less food.
3. The TEE is also not quite as high since you are lighter and do not train with a the same intensity as when fully fed.
4. Hand in hand with the number 1 on this list, you are getting better at absorbing calories, courtesy of your body being an awesome survival machine.
5. Your extracurricular activities are most likely less since you feel the need to to conserve energy.
In other words, the body learned to do more with less.
In very severe cases this condition can last for up to seven years.
What to do:
1. Take diet breaks. Do not diet longer than 10-12 weeks.
2. Establish a healthy relationship with food. Food is definitely not the enemy, but neither provides happiness. Happiness comes from leading a meaningful life, rooting for the German soccer team, having friends (who also root for Germany), and being good at what you do. Food is only a small part of the equation.
3. Don’t let the scale dictate your life. Instead, judge yourself by the way your clothes fit, measurements such as waist, hips and chest and the compliments you are getting from co workers.

Author: Maik Wiedenbach

Maik Wiedenbach came to the US on a basis of a swimming scholarship to Fordham University where he became athlete of the year 2000 as we ll as a Hall of famer in 2012. Being a professional athlete for 10 years and the highest level gave him a great starting foundation to teach others about health, fitness and nutrition.... Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *