I am going to start by saying I am not an expert, not a dietician, nutritionist, or licensed anything. I am just a regular person who has screwed up her metabolism before by dieting. One thing I have learned by watching people is that most of the people that I’ve known who are overweight eat way less calories than me and yet they struggle to lose weight. I have experimented a lot with my calories and have gone from maintaining my weight on 1200 calories to now eating around 2200. And, I may in fact bump those calories a little more soon. I am going to share what I’ve done to improve my metabolism and also some things that I have read.
Everyone has heard of the starvation mode theory. While I don’t entirely agree with it, I do know that research supports the idea that our bodies adapt to starvation calories. There was a recent study on the Biggest Loser contestants and how many of them regained the weight. Many people might believe this is because they just went back to bad eating habits. But, that’s not the case. Researchers found that the contestants’ extreme dieting and exercise had caused their metabolism to slow down. In the short term, they lost a lot of weight. But, in order for them to maintain this weight, they had to continue dieting and exercising at this pace. This is not sustainable for most people. And I believe this is why so many people struggle with their weight. It’s a cycle. You gain. You go on a diet. You mess up your metabolism. You gain it back. You diet some more. Or in other cases you diet, and you lose for a while, but then your body gets used to your new caloric budget and you hit a stand still.
If you are only eating 1200 calories how can you cut back anymore? I watch so many people trying to lose weight and see what they are eating and it makes me sad. 1200 calories is nothing. And to see people eating 1200 calories and still not losing breaks my heart.
So the reason I am writing this is to give some tips on how to fix your metabolism, or break through a plateau.
STOP STARVING The first step is STOP eating 1200 calories. Stop starving yourself. There are some people that may only need 1200, but most people need more than this. I am not going to send you a link to a calculator, because quite honestly I don’t have faith in any of them. I think they are a useful tool, but you will need to adjust your calories for your needs. If you are starving, you are telling your body that it needs to conserve all your energy and it slows down your metabolism so that you use food more conservatively.
BUMP YOUR CALORIES SLOWLY. If you have damaged your metabolism by dieting or eating really low calorie, switching back to higher calories too quickly will just result in weight gain, especially since your metabolism is already damaged. So, to keep this from happening bump up your calories slowly. Add 100-200 calories to your daily calories and monitor your weight gain for a week or two. Once you are maintaining at this weight you can bump your calories again. The goal is to improve your metabolism. This may seem counterintuitive but if you are eating at 1200 calories, there is no room to cut if you hit a plateau or stop losing weight.
PUT ON MUSCLE. Yes, you need cardio exercise to burn fat but you can’t burn your way to a better metabolism. The best way to improve your metabolism is to add lean muscle. Lean muscle burns 3-5 times as many calories as fat. So if you have more lean muscle, naturally, you will burn more calories and have a better metabolism. Strength training is the best way to add lean muscle. I plan to add more info on getting started with strength training as I add to this blog. But, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want any advice on how to get started or find me on Facebook.
CALORIE CYCLE. If you eat the same exact calories every day, your body starts to say hey, this is what we eat this is what we need, and your metabolism will be based on that. If you want to confuse your body, mix it up. Some days eat high calories and some days eat lower. This is why some people swear by cheat days.
INTERMITTENT FASTING. Another thing you can try to help you lose weight without damaging your metabolism. Intermittent fasting involves fasting for portions of time. There are several ways to do it, but the most common way is the 8:16 ratio. This means you have a fasting window of 16 hours, and a window where you can eat of 8. You eat the same amount of calories, you just time your meals differently. Most people have two meals starting at around noon and then having a second meal before 8. They then fast for the remaining hours. By doing this, your body burns fat during the time where it is fasting but still gets the calories it needs during the feeding window. There are many other benefits to intermittent fasting that I’m not going to discuss here. But it’s definitely something to consider if you are trying to change up your metabolism or how you eat.
Please REMEMBER I am not a professional and this is not medical advice. Please do your own research or talk with your doctor.