Your Metabolism and Fat Loss
Let’s talk about your metabolism for a second.
Everything you’ve probably read or heard sounds something like this.
When you want to lose weight, you should eat less and exercise more. If you’re already exercising, do it more. If you’re not eating a lot, eat less.
That’s the same information passed down year after year. Sometimes it’s backed by a scientific theory of “calories in versus calories out”, that’s to say that is you take in less and do more, you’ll burn more.
Expect it doesn’t work but I’ll get to that in as second.
If you asked a group of trainer or nutritionist and even doctors, the following question “What’s the best diet to lose weight?”, you’d get a few different answers with some agreement across the board.
A section will agree that a good fat loss diet is all about the food and choosing good quality foods and eliminating sugar, trans fat and lowering starchy carbohydrates.
Another group will determine that your hormones control your fat loss so you should focus on eating foods that optimize your hormones like healthy fats such as olive oil and coconut oil but you should also lower your starchy carbohydrate intake to control the hormone insulin.
Lastly, you’ll likely have the calories group that tell you to pick a set calorie diet and follow that.
And of course you’ll have the folks that tell you to get on a specific diet like the paleo diet or the DASH diet.
And you know what? They ALL are missing the point.
When it comes to those of us who really want to lose fat while maintaining or muscle (looking good naked), we need a different approach.
If you were ask me about my “diet” I’d obviously point you to my Physique Formula book but here’s my general theory.
When it’s time to diet you want to diet on as MANY calories as possible while doing as little cardio as possible so that you can maintain your muscle and live an active life.
There’s no awards for suffering through hours in the gym or eating boiled chicken and steamed broccoli. This is not a game of who’s stronger or mentally tougher.
Because at some point during your diet, you’re going to need to adjust things so if you follow a 1500 calorie diet, where do you go? 1300 calories? Maybe you do another 20 minutes of cardio a day.
What happens when you hit ANOTHER plateau?
You can only sustain low levels of calories and high levels of activity before you body fights back.
Think of it this way, at some point your body is going to realize that it needs MORE calories to sustain all the activity you’re forcing it through. So it’s going to be mean and increase your hunger hormones and selfishly hold onto your body fat.
So right now, before you start to diet, you are in the BEST place you’ll be your entire diet.
While you likely have no idea how much you’re eating (protein, carbohydrates and fat), that’s okay. Your metabolism is a cracking fire place with huge flames. Your body will respond to ANY diet change as long as it’s less than what you’re currently eating.
If you could lose the same two pounds this week eating 2400 calories why would you settle for losing those two pounds eating 1400 calories?
There’s a scientific term for when fat loss stops on a diet and that term is adaptive thermogenesis . Studies suggest that any individuals metabolism may slow down by an average of 300 calories but that number can surely be higher in other individuals. So if I focus on your calories , you’ll lose weight but then it will slow down. When this slow down happens, you’ll either need to eat less or DO more, both increase the nasty side effects of more hunger and less energy.
That fancy term refers to the self adjustment that your body undergoes when it gets used to a certain leave of activity or caloric intake.
No one wants to do more. Doesn’t it make more sense to slowly raise your cardio to continually lose 1 or 2 pounds per week?
Doesn’t it make sense to slowly eat less over the course of a few weeks?
It’s it better to lose 1 or 2 pounds a week and lose 8 pounds at the end of the month versus losing 5 pounds this week?
Of course it does.
Here’s my diet to start.
250 grams of protein
160 grams of carbohydrates
50 grams of fat
Looks like a lot of food right?
Well the problem is, most people don’t ever measure their food. You’d be surprised as how little this truly is. That big bowl of pasta you just ate is pretty close to my daily requirements and that salad with a huge hunk of cheese meets my daily requirement right there.
Going back to the concept of adaptive metabolism, your body provides signals a long the way of what it is internally doing to your body.
Your energy and hunger levels are two big keys. when your energy drops and your hunger goes up, that’s your body telling you that isn’t not happy.
When your sleep starts suffering, your sex drive gets low and you’re tired halfway through your workout, your body is telling you that it isn’t happy.
At times, it might be a short term set back. You might just need to double your carbohydrate intake for day or two.
Remember, if you can consistently follow a diet, that’s when you achieve success.
I had a figure competitor email me her diet the other day. Here’s what her trainer told her to eat every day
200 grams of protein
175 grams of carbohydrates
30 grams of fat
She questioned the protein and fat intake. What was my response? Follow it because you have to start somewhere.
Listen to your body then make adjustments.
Now what are these magical adjustments? Here’s a few suggestions
-Lower your carbohydrates by 5 or 10 grams each week
-Bump your cardio up by 5 minutes or so a week
- Follow your signals (energy, hunger, sleep, etc). If your energy is low and your hunger is high, consider having a cheat meal or just raising your carbohydrates by 50% for a day or two
-Use your mirror and assess your body. Do you look soft and flat? Are you getting a bump in the gym? You might need to raise your carbohydrates by 5 or 10 grams.
The options are endless to get your dream physique but the answer is to NEVER follow one course of action. Track what you eat, don’t restrict anything and pay attention to your body. If you make the adjustments when you feel the need, you’ll continually progress.
By listening to your body you can continually work WITH your metabolism and not against it.