Health & Wellness Blog

Metabolism & Weight Loss

It’s the same situation, a different day. Here I am partaking in another consult with a female who is as she says ‘over it’.

No matter what she does, how little she eats, or how much work she does, the weight just doesn’t seem to be coming off.

Why can’t she lose any more weight? What more can she physically do?

Diet.

As most females look at this word they feel a sudden sense of discomfort, and of course they would, most ‘diets’ out there are always a quick fix option, “lose X amount of fat in X amount of days or get your money back”. Yes you may lose weight rapidly in that week, of course you will.

Eating next to nothing or only consuming some crazy liquid drink throughout the day is a simple way to drop some quick body weight (often nothing more than water and muscle glycogen). This isn’t the way to go for long-term fat loss and optimal body composition.

How do I know this? I myself will be the first to put my hand up & admit that I have experienced it. Having a background in fitness competitions & currently holding a national figure title, I have gone through many different strategies of getting in the best shape for a show. I have undertaken extreme measures to get where I needed to be as fast as possible, which of course were not the right or safest ways. For my very first show, I was completely cutting calories to less than 1000 per day, doing 2 hours of cardio including 1 hour of weights, water/salt loading, diuretics etc. What happened after that was a HUGE scare…. I had turned into a human water balloon! My body had completely changed in a matter of 1-2 days! WHAT the hell is going on??? My metabolism was at its lowest & most dangerous point, because of the extreme dieting and unhealthy strategies I had implemented to get ‘lean’.

Now, when you hit a sticky point and wonder why you have ‘stopped losing weight’, what is your next natural & logic reaction going to be to counteract that? ‘I think I’ll have to cut an extra 50-100 calories per day and increase my training so i can lose more fat’… NO! This is the worst thing you could possibly do!

Where do you go when you end up getting to as little as 900 calories per day? Continue to drop even more calories? Not only have you cut more calories from your already low calorie diet, but you are also ruining and causing damage to your metabolism. It’s a vicious  cycle, good luck losing weight in the future & maintaining that weight loss.

You need to work on increasing your metabolism and looking after it, as that is what determines how your body responds to certain foods and how it processes it in a negative or positive way. Low calorie diets SLOW down your metabolism, leading to slow, or no weight loss whatsoever and believe me it takes a long time to get it responding again.

If this ever happens to you, it would probably be a smart idea to hire a professional coach who knows what they are doing, as I did. Not only did we work on my metabolism and fixing it, but I am now at a point where I can consume 2,500- 2,700 calories per day and still lose body fat while increasing my lean muscle mass. We have been working on this for at least 6-8 months post contest and by SLOWLY, I mean extremely slowly increasing my caloric intake. Each week we would re test and work closely on skin fold measurements & we would then adjust my calorie intake accordingly. An increase of as little as 50-100 calories would be added into my diet per week, which included 50% carbohydrates & 50% healthy fats. So for my upcoming end of year shows, I can diet down starting at a much higher daily caloric intake, as my body now responds a lot better to carbohydrates & fats. This now gives me a lot more leeway if or when I need to drop some calories closer to contest.

What I’m trying to say is, really, REALLY take care and look after your body. Don’t deprive it from the nutrients that it essentially needs. YES go for the full fat products, YES eat carbohydrates and YES more is sometimes better in regards to nutrition intake.

Now don’t let this confuse you, like I am giving you permission to go out and buy a truck load of food, upping your caloric intake by an extra 400-500 calories in one hit. You must increase very SLOWLY over the weeks, as your body may respond negatively with such a major jump straight away.

Your daily intake of food doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. Stick to the basics, good fats such as nuts, nut butter, organic butter, certain cooking oils, fish oil, avocados etc. And your carbohydrate intake may include; sweet potato, rice, pasta, oatmeal or even a little bit of bread. Obviously if you do have any intolerance’s to certain foods, that should be addressed & taken into account.

Nutrient timing is also quite an important factor, when to consume certain foods such as carbohydrates etc. I generally would recommend pre/post & during training. If you’re hungry, then eat. Your body is telling you to feed it and that’s a good thing as that is your metabolism responding.

Countless times I have had women approach me with issues regarding their struggle to lose body fat and it’s always the same circumstances. Low calorie diets, low or no fat intake, little or no carbohydrates and way too much long slow steady cardio. If this sounds like you, then something may need to change.

Not only does this cause damage to your metabolism, it will also affect your effort in the gym and you will notice your training sessions start to plateau/become somewhat of a struggle, not to mention the disrupted nights sleep that you may get, which is also a very important for recovery and growth.

 

Take home point: Look after your body! You only have one for the rest of your life, so treat it well.

 

Written by Performance Coach Steph Franken

 

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