Fat Loss – Taking a Break from Your Diet
We’ve all been on a diet from time to time and whether we’ve gotten good results or bad results one thing always remains true, when you get low on overall calories that chance to cheat is imminent. Everything seems to be beckoning you to eat it. Those late night nacho commercials and All You Can Eat Buffet’s get better and better with every passing moment. Sooner rather than later you’re going to cheat, we all know it, halting your fat loss in the process.
We simply can’t avoid this fact. Our bodies were meant to consume optimal amounts of nutrients to get the job done. Staying a live just happens to be that job. Your body doesn’t really give a damn about having six pack abs or ripped biceps. All it knows is it needs to survive. So in order to successfully lose fat and burn off those extra pounds of disgusting fat that we don’t want you have to be smarter than your body.
This is easier said than done in most cases.
The term metabolic damage keeps circulating around the interwebs as one of the primary problems with people that are struggling with losing fat and getting that ideal body that they so desire. However, it’s not really that your metabolism is damaged because for one it can’t be damaged.
Metabolism is a collection of processes in the body –it’s not an organ or tissue. It’s a finely tuned machine that depends upon a whole bunch of different elements all working in sync to help you either create, store or burn calories and regulate your overall body composition. It is true you can cause problems with your metabolism by influencing the factors involved which are too complicated for this short post, but let’s just say there are a million things that can go wrong with your metabolism to blunt all your fat burning efforts.
Undereating and overeating too much of the wrong things are the biggest culprits of this term that can cause problems with your body regulating how many calories it expends during the day –thus keeping you fat, but slightly less than happy.
Take for instance the “crash dieters” that attempt to reduce their overall calories to 500-900 kcals a day, far below what they need for maintenance and normal upkeep of their bodies. You know the drill, the body attempts to combat this lack of calories by entering into a form of starvation which hordes calories and reduces overall calorie burn. Technically that’s not overall what happens, but for simplicity sake your metabolism basically shuts down to match the amount of calories you’re eating.
For a while, you may have some good weight loss results with this approach as your body will quickly try to burn off body fat stores and muscle glycogen for fuel, but eventually your body will rebel and you’ll hit a plateau. Upon re-feeding your body your body will absorb as many of those calories as it can because it doesn’t know when it will get the chance again. The re-feed will generally rebound you back up the scale to well beyond your starting weight and if you haven’t been resistance training most of that will be fat.
Another example of “metabolic damage” sufferers are those who simply eat too much of the wrong thing. We all know that cookies and candy bars are bad for us, but we’re going to eat them anyway. Not a big problem as long as you’re not hitting a surplus of calories and exercising, but if you’re trying to lose weight eating the wrong things too often will result in added fat. Simple as that.
Even at the most extremes of the “healthy eaters” that consume all their foods organic, unprocessed and gluten-dairy-whatever free you can sabotage your metabolism by eating too much. Too much is simply too much and it will be stored by the body. It doesn’t really matter what you’re eating if you’re overeating with extreme amounts. Even protein and fats that have a very hard time being converted directly to body fat (as long as they are the only substances eaten) will eventually result in fat being stored.
So how do you lose the weight? Well, many strategies work well for reducing your overall level of body fat, basically it depends on what you can stick with for the long haul and keep yourself satisfied. This is the most important part. Many nutritional programs will fit the bill, it just has to work for your lifestyle and goals. I don’t know about you but I’m not very fond of grapefruit at every meal so judge accordingly.
In the case of those who have been on crash diets or dieting for many years, your body may just need an overall “reset”. This means that you just need to eat ad libitum or re-feed. Eat when you are hungry and not when you’re just bored. Your body may fluctuate in weight for a while, but often times most people lose the ability to control themselves when calories and overall choices in their menu selection are very limited. Give yourself some breathing room and just eat whatever you feel like for a period of 2-4 weeks.
Will your weight fluctuate, yeah, probably. If you’ve been on a low carbohydrate plan forever, you’ll probably bloat up pretty good from water and feel a little bit of discomfort at first. Same for those who have been eating only carbs and protein for many years. Eventually this will stabilize and you’ll feel better.
The body has the ability to process all of those macronutrients, but in scarcity it won’t have the enzymes to process a lot of them at once, so don’t go and kill a huge plate of ice cream. You’ll regret this—trust me!
Simply eat within reason and eat whatever you want. Just like with your resistance training program, you must make changes occasionally in order to achieve good results. You can expect the same results when you always do the same things. I think Einstein had a directly related quote for this, but I’m lazy and don’t want to look it up.
But What Do You Do?
This is the easy part. You simply have to start eating like a normal human being again. Studies have shown that if your body is struggling to lose weight something has to change and more often than not simply eating a bit more food is able to re-start your metabolism to get you back in the action.
Now this advice has to do with persons that are always cycling from diet to diet. Trying this protocol and that protocol constantly is hard on the body and if it has adapted to a lower calorie level of feeding then you have to break the cycle. If this is you keep reading, if not simply go eat some steak and veggies and you’re good.
-Keep a food journal for at least a week. Calculate your overall calorie intake from this journal and be honest. You’re only hurting yourself.
-Calculate how many calories you need daily. Simply multiply your bodyweight by 10. This is a basic format, but it will be close enough for now. If you’re over your numbers figure out where you’re going wrong. Probably that 8oz jar of natural peanut butter in the evening. Or if you’re drastically under then increase your calories by 100kcals per day until you meet those numbers. Slow and sure will help you prevent excess fat gain and make the adjustment nice and slow.
-Don’t avoid macronutrients. They’re all good and they all have their place in your nutrition. If you’re missing something, your body will know it even if you don’t. There’s always a reason you crave popcorn at 10:00pm!
-Don’t monitor your weight. It will only make you either crazy or stray you to go back to your old ways. Simply eat, drink and be merry.
-Do your best to not eat when you’re not hungry. This is the tough part to identify. Just ask yourself, “Hey, am I really hungry or do I just feel lonely, depressed, (insert emotion here).” Your body can always self-regulate how you feel.
-Eat real food. Cut all the processed junk that tastes like garbage anyway and experiment with new dishes and healthy foods.
-Drink plenty of water. Cut down on all the caffeine, sugary drinks and sodas. That stuff is a sure fire way to kill your metabolism.
-Get some serious exercise. Lift heavy weights, go running, do some sprints-sled drags-prowler pushes and walk daily. Exercise will help burn those extra calories and prevent them from turning to fat. Your body uses exercise to help regulate what calories need to do. Without it calories only go to storage and keeping you alive. Let exercise help train your body that fat is for burning and not storage.
-Give yourself about 2-4 weeks for your body to stabilize and then re-investigate your weight loss efforts. Your metabolism should be back and running like a pro now.
Metabolically damaged, not a chance. You’re simply running on fumes. Give your body some time to adjust to eating normally and get all those metabolic processes firing at 100%, then try kick starting your fat loss again. It’s much easier to have your metabolism working for you rather than against you. Sometimes all you need is a break from your diet! Re-feed your body and get those metabolic engines and keep your body firing on all 8-cylinders.
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