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Metabolic damage. What is it? When clients undergo long periods of drastic calorie cutting (sub 1000) and add excessive amounts of exercise, the body goes into survival mode, meaning it lowers the thermostat. Thyroid hormones drop, cortisol surges, sex hormones peter out, and insulin efficiency is diminished. In turn, the cardio components of that excessive exercise routine are burning zero fat. In fact, the body stops losing fat no matter what. This then leads to frustration and often binge eating, making things worse. After the long diet, the body is in prime fat storage mode so they gain fat rapidly.
What should one do?
A. Improve insulin sensitivity. Yoyo dieting, and the accompanying fat storage, cause a diminished insulin efficiency; meaning the cells start to reject insulin resulting in the body producing more and more insulin. With increased insulin in the bloodstream at all times, a feeling of hunger will occur … especially for sugars. This will make it impossible for a client to lose body fat.
B. Improve food partitioning and TEF thermic effect of food. Yoyo bodies have a harder time utilizing food properly, which means more calories go toward fat storage and less toward muscle.
How does one do that?
Often someone comes to me with 1100 cals in a meal plan and wants to lose more body fat. What am I going to do? Cut even more? There is no magic food plan/foods to lose more fat. We need to fix the metabolism first.
You need to slowly increase the set point/thermostat of the client’s body, this is done by building more muscle. Muscle will enable them to store more carbs and increase the basal metabolic rate. The more muscle they carry, the better their body will handle insulin. Adding cinnamon to food can also make a difference, it helps with glycogen storage. Since they may be losing a lot of potassium and b vitamins with poor insulin efficiency, I recommend a yeast and a potassium supplement.
Think 5 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fat a week. This will allow for:
- The metabolism to slowly normalize
- Increase in energy to train
- The development of a healthy relationship with food over time
Depending on how severe the damage is, it may take 12 to 18 months to be up and running again.
Your client may think they are a failure. That it’s their fault their body is now reacting the way it is. Assure them it’s simply their body going into survival mode so they don’t die. This has nothing to do with them being weak!