This article is a 7-minute read. Within the parameters of this blog, we will address the reality of how metabolic adaptation happens. We will also provide multiple steps you can implement immediately to “fix” the metabolic slowing you have experienced. This rebuilding process is designed to set you up for a successful fat loss phase in the future.
The term “Metabolic damage” came onto the scene of evidence-based nutrition coaching in 2013. The intention of the creation of this internet-breaking Youtube video by Layne Norton was to help unfortunate individuals. Those who were struggling to lose bodyweight on low calories and high levels of cardiovascular training to prepare for physique shows.
Even if you are not a physique athlete, hang out and continue reading as the suggested steps pertain to everyone. This read will be of benefit to you if you have ever found yourself tracking every metric of data, including calories, macro-nutrients, training data, and daily cardio. Feeling like an athlete preparing for a marathon to only find yourself in a place where you are still not losing bodyweight, then this article is for you. We will address what causes metabolic adaptation and provide you four easy to follow steps you can take to recover your metabolism. We know this will help many of you have a better understanding of what happens to your physiology when you or your loved ones try to lose fat.
“The blessing that became a curse.”
imagine…You and I are cave people. In that time, our metabolism’s ability to be adaptive saved our lives. No one was walking around worrying about how amazing they looked in their bikini or board shorts glazed in oil. Through evolution, that has changed, and more and more ladies and men have become obsessed with how they look and how lean they can be year-round. With this pressure, humans began to try and manipulate their body composition (fat: muscle) ratio with various methods of diet and exercise. Here are three physiological actions of metabolic adaptations that occur during any nutritional modality that is designed to place you in a caloric deficit to achieve fat loss.
This adaptation occurs at the cellular level. Let’s discuss why the mitochondria are known as the powerhouse of the cell, and through the Krebs cycle, ATP is the primary energy source. Heat is a byproduct of metabolism quality, have you ever felt cold when you diet for excess periods? Through the aerobic glycolysis and Krebs cycle, your body produces heat. During the time of low calories, that system is operating less than ideal; it reduces heat and thus can make you feel cold. With and form of energy restriction by way of calories or exercise, your cells become less able to metabolize calories at the same rate they did with higher caloric intake.
Metaphorically speaking, let’s take the efficiency of a V8 engine. Unplug four spark plugs and leave yourself with an engine that is capable of V8 performance but is operating as a four-cylinder engine. With that metaphor in mind, think about how much gas a V-8 engine will use in comparison to a 4 Cylinder engine. At times it can be twice as much fuel or in this case, twice as many calories. Doubling your calories may seem dramatic. However, it’s not uncommon for us as a coaching staff to have the ability to double our client’s calories in time. They are rebuilding their metabolism from the four-cylinder engine back into the eight cylinders.
It’s a commonplace that most females will eat between 1,100- 1,400 calories per day, and maintain their weight. However, if we add in more calories, we noticed that said client would also more than likely maintain weight if they are, in fact, under-eating. That is because your metabolism is dynamic and has more capabilities than you give it credit for, similar to the V-8 engine analogy above. If you only use 4 of the eight spark plugs, you can expect half the power. Once we start to add in more calories over time, it’s prevalent to reach 1,800 calories on the low end and over 2,200 calories on the higher end for most women. At that moment, all of their spark plugs are firing correctly, and we are back on track towards living a healthier life.
“Hormonal responses to caloric restrictions.”
You’ll hear me talk about leptin, Ghrelin, and your thyroid all the time if you hang out with us here on this site! In most cases, your metabolism is directly correlated to your thyroid levels. If you have low T3, that equals a reduced rate of metabolic function, and high T3 levels equal a healthy rate of metabolic function. It’s no surprise why so many women are prescribed T3 by their physician.
In many cases, its influenced by years of diet and exercise. However, the thyroid doesn’t regulate itself. The powerful hormone leptin controls it, and strong signals from leptin to the thyroid are only sent with force when your leptin is satisfied. Which I can assure you, it is not when you’re on the latest weight loss diet your friend patty told you about or while your marching on the step mill trying to lose weight. Leptin levels only receive a bump when calorie intake is sufficient, specifically when glucose is present in the liver and muscle tissue. The power of glucose and its effect on leptin is why we advocate carbohydrates as a fat loss tool.
“Negative effects on energy availability.”
All that is discussed above comes down to this. “You reduce calories. Your body reduces your available energy stores,” leading you to eat less and less and doing more and more to no avail. I know all too well what this feeling is like, both personally and as a practitioner having the experience of helping hundreds of people just like you overcome this. So, where do you start? Let us begin with the most critical factor that everyone neglects; sleep!
“Improve your sleep and lower your stress.”
I can’t tell you how many of our clients come to us with terrible sleep patterns, just like you. As a side effect of that, they live a stressful life or make poor eating choices simply because they don’t sleep enough and live in a chronic state of stress. We also see that stressed individuals even live a reactive life instead of a proactive life. Whether that be from increased workload, waking up late, failing to prepare, relationship issues, family problems, etc. Insufficient sleep on a physiological level can and will impair glucose tolerance and create insulin resistance while also raising stress and hunger hormone levels. Meaning that your body won’t use carbohydrates as well; the rise in stress can cause you to gain fat and lose muscle at a less than desirable rate. Research shows that those who don’t sleep enough can lose more muscle and gain more fat than those who sleep adequate amounts per night, 5 hours per night vs. 8 hours per night.
“Stop dieting and start thriving.”
While this may not be what you want to hear from your nutrition coach,” it’s not my job to tell you what you want to hear, it’s my job to tell you what you need to hear… “OTHERWISE IM NOT HELPING. Hear me out; the low calories and regular cardio sessions are the problems. By adding more calories strategically over time, you can improve your leptin levels. This will improve your thyroid function, and that will place you in a position metabolically to build muscle, eat more calories, and feel better? While that may sound counter-intuitive to everything, you know it will set you up for a successful fat loss phase in the future.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zZ1-N-34wc&t=7s
This tool alone has helped countless women finally learn what it feels like to thrive and be alive. This time spent thriving should be thought of as a long term commitment; if it took years to create, you can’t fix it in a few weeks or months. Six months or longer will provide you the time to build the fantastic shape you want, improve your metabolism, and become a stronger you. This will place you in a position to be leaner in the future.
“Realistically standardize your caloric expenditure.”
Do you wear a badge of honor that’s correlated to how hard you work in the gym? For that, I salute you. However, what if your efforts aren’t providing you any reward? That’s where we have to draw a line in the sand. The problem starts when you don’t see the results of your time your investing, but you still push on — overtime leading you into a place of feeling tired and overworked.
Nutritionally, you are not in control of your caloric data. You’d instead chose to control what you can or what you are confident in, which is your work ethic. I’m here to tell you unless you finally gain control of your nutrition in a detailed fashion, you will keep spinning your wheels. To obtain a better understanding of your energy balance, we need to standardize cardio. It would be ideal for reducing it to a realistic amount that provides the benefits of health and wellness but doesn’t burn you out. Believing that that cardio is the primary driver of fat loss should not be. Which is not the case, cardio should be considered secondary.
(Ex. 2-3 sessions per week 20-30 minutes, not every day for 45-60+ minutes)
“Have patience in this process.”
Last but undoubtedly, the most important, patience. Most of our clients we have helped with this have a hard time grasping the concept. They also save a harder time committing to the process for the required about of time it can take to repair your years of yo-yo dieting. But I can assure you its worth the commitment. Think about fixing anything logically; if you have spent years creating the problem. An unrealistic expectation is to fix it in a short time frame. Use the time to learn, improve your health, build your body, and learn to love yourself at every phase. God Bless, Coach Will
I hope these four tips help you on your journey to improving your metabolic health. If you have any questions, please email the coaching staff of metabolicevolution.com