Most people have tried diet after diet, some success here, a little success there, some major fails. Over and over I hear the same story people experience some amount of weight loss followed by weight gain, usually more than was originally lost. Have you ever said, “and then I gained an extra 10 pounds” when describing a diet experience.
Most people weigh 5 to 10 pounds more than their ideal body weight for every diet they have tried in their life. The sad truth is that the diet industry (a multi-billion dollar industry - this alone should tell you something - they are in it for the money) is very good at providing a solution that will work for a while but, will inevitably stop. The industry plans on it, depends on it, and defrauds you in the process.
If a client comes to me after dieting without success time and time again, I start by assuming your metabolism is already broken, and needs fixing. How did it break? Any diet you were ever on, no matter how long ago or for how long contributed to a slower metabolism. Don’t worry though, you can HEAL your metabolism, with the right actions. I do want you to commit to never "dieting" every again, and never fall prey to a vicious yo-yo dieting cycle in the future.
What the diet industry isn’t telling you is that there are really only two effective ways to lose weight:
1) limit your calories OR
2) limit your carbohydrates
In either case, you can and will lose weight. However, if you keep your body in a state of calorie or carb restriction for too long, you will damage your metabolism. So what the diet industry really isn’t telling you is this:
If you restrict your calories or carbohydrate intake for too long you will slow your metabolism and make it extremely difficult to continue losing weight, you will also be in danger of gaining back everything you have lost, even if you do not increase your intake to what it was before.
Why? Your body and your metabolism have been programmed to keep you alive. So for a time when you restrict, you enjoy the benefits of pulling from fat and lean muscle stores and weight is lost, but eventually that will stop. It will stop because your body is concerned it is not receiving enough fuel, so it will shift everything it can to a slower pace. Simply put, it slows your metabolism because you have been eating less. This is actually quite miraculous. It is evolution at it’s best! The point is to preserve you alive. However in our modern day, most of us don’t really NEED to starve ourselves, so when we do, we do it not because food is scarce, but because we’d like our love handles to become scarce.
The impending problem is that when you lost weight in the early part of your diet you didn’t just lose fat. You lost lean muscle tissue too. But, after a period of starvation, your body will have shifted priorities, so when extra food is available it will start storing this food as fat. It is guarding in case you are starved again. Almost any diet will leave you in worse shape than when you started. You lost fat and lean body mass. You gained back mostly fat, and your body is now programmed that you might starve it – so it is burning calories very slowly.
WARNING: Any diet that cuts out carbs completely or drops you below 1200 calories is going to harm your metabolism and cause extreme weight gain later.
If you feel like your metabolism is damaged and would describe it as slow, you would benefit from working with someone trained in metabolic rehabilitation or what I like to call metabolic healing. There are strategies you can do to increase your metabolism so you don't have to cut carbs and calories forever. So that you can lose weight and be burning more calories once you reach your goal.
Caitlin Johnson is a dietitian, wife, lover of ice cream, chef wannabe, California-girl, Christian, liver eating, "food-avore."
110 N McClelland Street
Santa Maria, California 93454
Hours: Tues and Thurs 10-5 PST