A GIFT FROM THE CAVEMAN IS IN YOUR INBOX
AND IT’S THERE TO RUIN YOUR FITNESS GOALS
OK. It’s not in your inbox. It’s in your brain……
The technical name is “Adaptive Thermogenesis”. The layman’s term is “starvation mode”. What it means is your body is hard wired from thousands of years of protecting itself and your genes and our species by adapting to a perceived shortage of food. And your body is very, very good at it.
When you make a drastic cut in calories (fuel the body needs to keep you alive) the body reacts to conserve that fuel. It makes you feel hungrier, slower, and lazier. It does all it can to keep you from what it perceives as starvation. It attempts to balance calorie expenditure with calorie intake.
This adaption was very useful in the past. It helped keep our species alive. But that was before we had office jobs, fast food restaurants, supermarkets and TV.
Now, the majority of our population is either overweight or obese and Adaptive Thermogenesis gets in the way of getting healthier. To your brain, reducing calories =beginning of starvation so it goes to work to stop it. And it’s damned good at it!
Reduction in calories burned.
Some studies indicate that losing 10% of body weight can reduce calorie burn by as much as 15-25% and may be even greater than that in certain groups.
Muscle mass goes down. You see, muscle burns more calories than fat and burns it 24 hours a day. Muscle is “expensive” in terms of calorie expenditure so your body will try to reduce the amount of muscle you carry.
The body becomes more efficient at doing work (physical activity).
The body reduces the amount of calories needed to maintain your bodily functions. Brain activity slows, heart rate can slow and digestive activity slows.
Increase in calorie consumption.
Despite digestive activity slowing, you feel hungrier and develop cravings. Usually the cravings are for high calorie foods.
HOW TO AVOID “STARVATION MODE”
Although the slowdown in metabolism can’t be avoided entirely there are some things that can help mitigate the effects.
Resistance training is the single most effective action you can take against the slowing metabolism. Resistance training can reduce the effects by maintaining or even increasing muscle lost to dieting. Thus increasing your metabolic rate or at least reducing the amount of the decrease.
Increase protein intake
Protein can help reduce appetite. It takes longer to digest and burns more calories in the digestive process. It can also reduce cravings and snacking. High protein intake can also keep your body from breaking down muscle for energy.
Don’t be too strict in your diet.
Give yourself an occasional break from a strict diet. Allow yourself a “cheat meal” once a week. That doesn’t mean eat two large pizzas and quart of ice cream. It means have a meal composed of foods you really enjoy without going too overboard. Make your diet too strict and odds are you won’t stick to it long term.
There is also evidence that the timing of the consumption of certain foods can not only do no harm but may actually help you lose weight.
“Carb cycling” is one such method. The entire process deserves a thorough explanation too detailed to cover here though it is not overly complicated. The basics are you eat more carbs (but good carbs-not junk) on days when you burn more carbs and fewer carbs when you don’t need as much energy. This helps fuel your workouts, keeps your metabolism somewhat higher and prevents some of the negative side effects of cutting calories.
Keep in mind that the more severe the caloric deficits of your weight reduction plan the more rapid and severe the effects of Adaptive Thermogenesis. Weight and fat loss should be a long term process. Rushing it will only make your body push back harder. Shoot for a loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week maximum and follow the suggestions to help mitigate “starvation mode” and you can do this!
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