Is Fat Loss Wrecking Your Metabolism ? (Part 3)

This is the last  installment in a  three part blog series on fat loss and your metabolism. In the first blog we covered the three main parts of your metabolism and how they each contribute to daily energy expenditures.

The discussion of the hormone leptin, your thyroid and the brain helped you to explain how  leptin and the thyroid come into this equation to impact the metabolism and daily energy requirements. You can read Part 1 HERE

In the second blog we looked at the different stages of metabolic damage and the negative impacts you can expect to see in each stage.

We wrapped the second blog post  of this series with WHAT NOT to do in response to metabolic damage. You can read Part 2 HERE

This week is the part you have all been waiting for where we discuss the different tactics used to address metabolic damage.

Maybe have been dieting on too few calories, and doing excessive amounts of cardio to force fat loss or you could suspect that you have a naturally slow metabolism. Either way the tips below will be very helpful when followed correctly.

Suffice it to say that your metabolism doesn’t work like a calculator, it is more like a thermostat. The unfortunate part is that now your thermostat has broken, and we have to figure out how to repair it. Luckily the human body is an amazing machine!

How To Repair A Damaged Metabolism

The approaches and principles to restoring your metabolism to a healthy place are going to be largely the same as many others.

However based on the degree of damage you have done to your metabolism there are  small tweaks that will needs to be made to these principles to make sure they are the most effective for you. We will cover these tweaks in the principles that they apply to below.

  • Prioritize Your Health Over Fat Loss:If you have damaged your metabolism significantly through extreme dieting and exercise the ramifications go beyond not achieving the leanness you desire.

Eventually your libido will diminish, you can develop adrenal fatigue, lower thyroid function,you will sleep horribly and have zero energy.

Guys testosterone drops off the map, women can lose their cycle altogether, you’ll get sick all the time and will feel depressed and anxious. All in the name of getting leaner.

For this period of time while you are fixing your metabolism focus on getting healthier as the priority.

If you don’t fix this problem getting leaner in the future will be a huge waste of time, and only be more difficult and frustrating.

There is a possibility that you are going to gain some body fat while doing this initially, but you have to think long term and realize that by repairing your metabolism it will make getting leaner in the future easier. Think long term.  

  • It Takes Time: To fully restore your metabolism you should give yourself an equal amount of time to your dieting. This means if you dieted for 6 months, you should give yourself 6 months to repair your metabolism.

There is no magic detox or supplement you can do to speed things up. You will need to be patient with the process and realize you have dug a hole that requires equal time to fill back up.

  • Greatly Reduce or Eliminate Chronic Cardio: This form of cardio will will slow metabolic rates over time, and release the stress hormone cortisol which triggers hinders metabolic function. Chronic cardio also will burn up muscle, and as we know muscle mass increases our metabolic rate.

If you require a form of cardio use sprints, sled drags. Both forms burn up much more fat, and take a fraction of the time.

Make sure you are not overdoing these forms of cardio in place of chronic cardio. Hit 1-2 sessions max per week until you have regained metabolic health.

  • Lift Heavy: Increased muscle mass increases increases your metabolic rate. Muscle cells have  mitochondria that require us to pull energy inside the cell to use for fuel.

The more muscle mass we have the greater number mitochondria we will have that require energy in the form of calories. Greater caloric requirement means that we will have a higher metabolic need.

  • Eat the Maximum You Can Without Significant Weight Gain: You should look to eat the maximum amount of calories you can over time while maintaining or gaining as little as possible. 

You have been underrating for a very long period of time, and your body has matched that low energy intake by lowering your metabolism. By eating more in a responsible fashion the body will adjust by increasing the metabolism. 

You need to accept some fat gain is going to happen, but you will be able to lose it easier once you are healthy without extreme exercise and caloric restriction.

If you balloon up right away and gain a significant amount of weight in a few days you are doing too much too soon and need to take a slower approach.

There are some people who will actually initially lean out a little because of the extra calories in the beginning, but eventually will gain a little body fat. Don’t freak out and think long term.

  • Choose Your Approach Based On Degree Of Metabolic Damage : You will need to eat more, exercise smarter and relax more to raise your metabolic rate, and return to health.

The principles  to restoring your metabolism will largely be the same, but you will have to tinker in the margins based on your degree of metabolic adaptation.  

The key to this is to add calories back to the diet from fat and carbohydrates, and don’t worry too much about protein right now.

For someone who is in the deeper stages of metabolic adaptation you will need to add calories in a slower fashion and take more time because you have been dieting for much longer.

As small as 100 calories every two weeks will be necessary with extreme metabolic adaptation. While this seems like a trivial amount of calories over time it does add up and remember the longer you have been dieting the longer it will require  to repair your metabolism.

For those who are in the earlier stages of metabolic damage and have not been extreme dieting for more than weeks to a few months you will be able to add calories back quicker.

Your metabolism is not entirely bottomed out, and you want to send the signal that you are not in starvation mode and have some excess energy to use.

I would recommend adding at least 300 calories to start with and go from there naturally with goal of increasing calories over time to 1,800-2,500.

While this is a big range in terms of calories, this is because women should aim to be consuming at least 1,800 calories and men should be consuming at least 2,200 calories per day, but these are ranges, not rules.

  • Listen To Your Body: If you are feeling stuffed allow your body more time to adjust before adding more calories. On the flip side if you are voraciously hungry or you feel like your portions are way to small don’t be afraid to consume more calories. Your body is pretty good at regulating these kinds of things, we tend to get in the way of that process though. 

  • Walk More: When repairing the metabolism and looking to get back to health you are not going to be able to crush the gym like you were before until you are healthy again

However you should absolutely still move and exercise, but with less intense forms of movement. This is where something like walking is perfect.

Walking provides nutritious movement that you can do anywhere anytime with no equipment. While you are not going to get shredded walking, the calories add up and it is a pillar for optimal health. Get yourself an activity tracker and set a goal of at least 10,000 steps a day.

  • You Will Get A Little Uncomfortable: Chances are good that by adding in more carbohydrates after times of extreme restriction you are going to retain more water weight and feel somewhat bloated and full. 

Carbohydrates cause the body to retain water, but this is an initial reaction after long periods of muscle glycogen depletion and carb restriction. It can take a few weeks for the body to adjust, but the excess water will be lost after the adjustment.

  • Sleep: I know sleep is recommended for whatever ails you, and that's because it really is that powerful and restorative to our health. You will need to prioritize sleep aim for at least eight hours a night in a pitch black room. 

In Conclusion

Now that you have a better understanding of the metabolism and how it works, you can  prevent yourself from damaging your own metabolism and health in the pursuit to get leaner.

If you have followed mainstream advice to eat less and exercise more only to get poor results and damage your health the principles described above should be a great place to start towards improving health and your metabolism.

I know when you are in the pursuit of losing fat the idea of doing something that causes you to gain some back may seem scary.

To be healthy, and even consider fat loss in the future you will need to repair metabolic adaptation first. Think long term and realize those who achieve their goals look at it like a marathon not a sprint.

Fill out the form below if you’re looking for a coach who can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health, fat loss or muscle building goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained, while keeping you accountable along the way.

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