so our metabolism is highly adaptive - cool. what does this mean for fat loss & body composition? let’s dive in:
first, let’s talk about what happens when you diet. when you’re aiming for fat loss, you’re likely decreasing calories and potentially adding in more cardio or expenditure. this is usually successful for most people assuming you’re in a proper calorie deficit, managing stress, training hard and staying consistent. but, as we continue to diet and lower calories, our metabolism will adapt to the new intake over time. this means as we diet, our metabolism slowly down-regulates.
this is why a lot of times people will experience plateaus or phases where they feel like they're not progressing. this happens because even though you might have been losing weight at that intake / expenditure level previously, your metabolism has adapted and you likely need to lower your intake or increase activity level in order to see further progress.
now, let’s talk about how this can be approached incorrectly and create issues for dieters:
- when starting a diet, some people slash their calories or decrease them drastically in an attempt to lose as much weight as possible as quickly as possible.
- this isn’t the right approach because the most effective and sustainable diet is one that’s taken slowly, over 8-12 weeks rather than the 4-week programs or fads you might find online. slashing calories may result in some upfront weight loss, but ultimately this will cause significant stress on your body from reducing your intake so quickly, and will also put you at a plateau that will be hard to get out of since you won’t have sufficient calories to continue cutting from.
- people who want to diet have already been chronically under-eating, so their metabolism is highly down-regulated and isn’t in a spot where the person can effectively lose fat.
- in this instance, continuing to drop calories or add expenditure doesn’t make sense since you really can only go so low with calories without sacrificing the essential macro & micro nutrients your body needs to survive.
- this is where reverse dieting is super helpful! reverse dieting is the practice of building calories up slowly over time coming out of a dieting phase in order to upregulate the metabolism. when we reverse diet to a sufficient calorie intake and give the body time to optimize with the fuel it’s been needing for a long time, we’ll see other hormones start to improve and eventually get to a place where the person can diet again and experience great results after taking time to prime the metabolism!
what are things you can do to support our metabolism outside of eating sufficient calories? we’ve got two main points here:
- make sure you have a proper spit of macronutrients! this means you’re eating the right amount of protein, fats and carbs for your body and your goals. for most people, the proper protein intake daily is around 1g per pound of body weight. if you struggle hitting this, beam’s whey or vegan protein powders can be so handy! make meals protein-packed by adding 1 scoop of protein to oatmeal, cream of rice, yogurt, smoothies, baking with it, or just on it’s own! it’s super easy to digest plus comes in delicious flavors like chocolate peanut butter and blueberry muffin.
- prioritizing stress management: this means sleep, hydration, nutrient variety, gym recovery, and practices like deep breathing or meditation. high levels of stress can have a negative impact on your metabolism, so making sure you’re mitigating this as much as possible is key.
when you understand how the metabolism works, you can set yourself up to have an effective dieting phase