Todays topic is one that I dismissed for the longest time : metabolic damage. I used to to think ( since we don’t have any literature on the topic) that the metabolic damage thing was just a fairly tale people told themselves when they simply could not stick to a diet.
Yet, I have seen enough people in my practice that suffered from it.
So what is it? When athletes or regular people undergo longer periods of drastic calorie cutting ( sub 1000) and add excessive amounts of exercise, the body goes into survival mode, meaning it lowers the thermostat.
Thyroid hormones drop, sex hormones go down, cortisol is up, insulin efficiency is diminished.
Which means those people will not get any fat burning effect out of cardio and not thermic effect of food. In fact, their body stops losing fat no matter what.
This then leads to frustration and often binge eating, making things worse.
Why? After the long diet, the body is in prime fat storage mode so they gain fat rapidly, when then sets off another set cycle.
What should one do?
A few things you need to accomplish.
A. Improve your insulinsensitivity. Yoyo dieting and the accompanying fat storage cause a diminished insulin efficiency meaning the cells starting to reject insulin. causing the body to produce more and more insulin. Now the insulin is in the bloodstream at all times, so you will be hungry often especially for sugars. This will make it impossible for you to lose body fat.
B.Improve food partitioning and TEF thermic effect of food. Yoyo bodies have a harder time utilizing food properly which means more calories go toward fat storage and less toward muscle.
How does one do that?
1. Stop dieting right away.
Often someone comes to me with 1100 cals in a meal plan and wants to lose more body fat. What am I going to do? Cut even more? There is no magic food plan/foods to lose more fat. We need to fix the metabolism at first.
2.Train with weights right away, more often the better.
You need to slowly increase the set point/ thermostat of your body, this is done by building more muscle. Muscle will enable you to store more carbs and increase your basic metabolic rate.
The more muscle you carry, the better your body will handle insulin, since you just opened up a whole lot of parking spots for it. Adding cinnamon to your food can also make a difference, it helps with glycogen storage. Since you are losing a lot of potassium and b vitamins with poor insulin efficiency, I recommend a yeast and a potassium supplement.
3. Do high intensity cardio since low intensity will not work in this case, in fact it will slow the metabolism even more . So think spinning, sprints , rowing.
4. Add food gradually, think 5 grams of carbs a , 2 grams of fat a week. This will enable your metabolism to a. get slowly back to to normal b. you will have the energy to train and. c it will enable you to have a healthy relationship with food over time.
5. Give yourself time. Depending on how severe the damage is, it may take 12 to 18 months to be up and running again.
6. Stop blaming yourself or thinking that you are a failure/ bad person. Its simply your body going into survival mode so you don’t die. This has nothing to do with you being weak!