The Problem With Eating Less and Doing More Cardio
When you eat less food or do more activity or both, your metabolism can’t regulate your hormones or muscles to effectively operate. And it’s not just your metabolism that gets damaged, your nervous system is negatively impacted and you notice changes like an inability to sleep.Your hormones bottom out that leads to low energy, no sex drive and possibly stomach fat gain. Even your digestive system is compromised and your body doesn’t absorb food as efficiently.
That is metabolic damage.
A main complaint that a lot of Crossfitters and physique athletes come to me with is that they always feel anxious and they can’t get to sleep. They feel too stressed out and with good reason. During metabolic damage your sympathetic nervous system, or your fight or flight system, can't handle the overall amount of stress that you’re putting it under.
On the flip side, we also have a parasympathetic nervous system which is suppose to calm us down.Otherwise known as the “rest and digest” system, the parasympathetic system is responsible for helping us to repair our bodies and recover from stress. But getting show ready lean or making Crossfit regionals tends to trump one’s care for their parasympathetic nervous system. Who needs that weird system?
Stress is fine, it’s natural, except when it's either long term, frequent or extreme. What type of athletes engage in activities that are long term AND frequent AND extremely stressful? Athletes that use low calorie diets, hours of cardio and regimented training.
All your nervous system senses is more activity and less incoming food. There’s a lot of classic signs that your body is signalling that it's dealing with metabolic damage but you just need to listen to it.
Signs and Symptoms of Metabolic Damage
You may be…
consistently sore from exercise routines that you normally would recover from.
noticing that you never get a good nights sleep and you often have a hard time actually falling asleep.
lacking motivation to train.
holding water and getting bloated.
gaining body fat, specifically on your lower abs.
bloating, having gas or having heart burn often.
There are numerous other factors in metabolic damage than just those noticeable signs.
Metabolic Damage Recovery and Repair
Begin by eating more. This is not a cheat meal or a “bulk” cycle or anything like that. I simply want to you to eat more starchy carbohydrates. Eating more protein traditionally isn’t the issue but if you aren’t eating enough protein then get more.
Don’t stress, you’re not going to get fat. Here's some general guidelines but I do go more in-depth in my Physique Formula diet book.
Boost your fat intake to 20-25% of total calories
Use small carbohydrates increases of 5-25 grams per week based on your change in weight.Take a 7 day running weight average and if it’s going up a pound or two a week then it’s too fast and you need to drop some carbohydrates. The first week of the adjustment does not count however.
In terms of exercise, I want you to stop cardio. I have nothing against traditional cardio but we need to eliminate one variable at the start and cardio is the best place to begin. You can still train heavy with weights and I want you to strive to gain muscle. That’s important.
In place of the cardio that you USED to do, I want you to start going for long walks or gardening or something physical that is also relaxing. Listen, you can think I’m full of it or be so afraid that you’ll gain fat so you’ll “secretly” do cardio but you can not trick your body. Remember, you came here for help so take the advice and put it into practice for a few weeks.