How to Recover Your Metabolism From Over Dieting
This subject can be a touchy one and also one that we seem to see happening a lot, especially in the world of physique competition. Most people who end up with metabolic issues really have no clue what has even happened. All they know is they are living in a body they can no longer control. In some cases it is much worse than others.
The good news is that it can be reversed! I am living, walking proof. In this short article I would like to talk about some warning signs of over dieting yourself, how to pull yourself out of an over dieting phase, key ways to speed up your metabolism and keep it running properly as well as help you to take back control of your body.
Warning signs your metabolism and hormones could be in trouble may present as loss of hair, dry skin, extreme fatigue, depression, dark spots in your vision, extreme mental fog, and loss of appetite. A crazy craving for salt could also mean that you are going into adrenal fatigue because by now your cortisol levels (all hormonal) are out of control due to all the stress you’ve placed on your body. This is in large part due to a lack of proper nutrition and over training.
What once seemed to work for you no longer does. For instance, if you have been on a low carb diet for a period of time and suddenly you start gaining weight even though you haven’t upped your calories or eaten more carbs and you are still doing the same workouts. This is a sure sign that your body is rebelling against what you have done to it.
A lot of times people will cut out healthy fats in their diets as well in hopes to get leaner. Doing so will cause a hormonal imbalance… especially in women. It can make you feel literally crazy and send you right into the doctor’s office. My advice is, YES, you should go be seen by a physician but know the reason you are going there!
I have seen it a million times now. Looking back, most physicians will want to prescribe you something for depression or for hormones. NO, NO, NO! Have a FULL hormone panel done, have your thyroid checked, liver enzymes, and kidney function all checked. The lack of healthy fats and carbohydrates in your diet for a period of time can cause damage to your internal organs and send you into a hormonal nightmare. Tell the doc those are the tests you would like to have run on you and why.
Also remember that doctors do not go to school for nutrition like a nutritionist would, so they will not be looking for those imbalances to be possible causes of your issues unless you go there knowing specifically what you want to have tested.
Now that you have recognized there is some issue going on and you have taken yourself to the doctor to have the tests I mentioned completed it is time to keep moving forward no matter what results are determined. It’s critical to try to fix your problems with nutrition first.
Keep going back to the doctor every few weeks and have the same tests retaken again and again until you start to see some normalcy in those levels where an imbalance was noted. Every case is different and the recovery time is also different. It could be six months or more than a year to finally get your body running smoothly again. BE PATIENT! Stay positive and stay focused on the end result – a healthier you!
During the process keep exercising and eating clean! Don’t give up and use that as an excuse to not eat clean or work out as we can be very cruel to ourselves sometimes without even realizing it and actually do more harm than good.
While continuing to go through all of this keep doing cardio, but don’t overdo it! Use HITT cardio and interval training, starting at maybe three days a week to start, especially if you are coming from a place where you were doing an hour or more of steady state cardio every day! You may find it necessary to cut back your cardio session days per week and/or the duration of those sessions. In extreme cases, stop cardio all together for a few weeks but continue your weight training.
The HITT cardio will push your body into fat burning overdrive and not only help you speed up your metabolism during exercise, but it will keep you burning longer after your workouts plus help you maintain muscle as well. For instance where steady state cardio is included you may burn some fat during exercise but not so much afterwards. So this is one example of how HITT cardio is way more beneficial at times.
Other recommendations include: LIFT HEAVY WEIGHTS, eat frequently (5-7 small, balanced meals a day), eat NATURAL WHOLE FOODS, drink LOTS of water daily (1 gallon or more), supplement with a high quality fish oil daily, take B vitamins, take a high quality multivitamin and add calcium and magnesium to your daily regimen. Keep on keeping on with the routine and don’t stop don’t give up on your crazy body.
In my opinion the best way to pull yourself out of an over dieting phase is to follow the steps above and DO NOT go crazy eating whatever you want. If you stuff your face like a lot of people do because they have been over dieting for so long, STOP RIGHT AWAY!
Over eating after being over dieted in the first place will cause a metabolic freak out times ten, spinning your body out of control into a horrible rebound causing you to gain body fat at a rapid pace. If you have done this it’s time to stop and drop your calories lower, cut out the fatty foods, and slowly reintroduce foods again while continuing to train hard while reintroducing cardio back into your routine if you have stopped or, as I mentioned previously, in extreme cases where your body goes into adrenal fatigue you might find it helpful to stop cardio for a few weeks.
No doubt it is going to take some time to recover, but as long as you stay focused and don’t beat yourself up saying you have” metabolic damage” or whatever, you will see positive results again. Metabolic damage is a term that I feel is misused a lot. Even though it can happen, a lot of times your body is just going through a very bad rebound which can set off some temporary metabolic and hormonal issues.
With regard to your nutrition, to help reverse the temporary damage that has been done to your body I would suggest some form of reverse dieting. From your starting point which has been the low-calorie plan you’ve been following (that probably doesn’t include much carbohydrates or fats) start with these steps: Each week add 80-100 calories or 20-30 grams of carbs to your daily caloric intake and if you were eating very little healthy fats then slowly reintroduce them as well, a little at a time each week or even every other week.
Use the scale, mirror, and progress pictures as good indicators of progress or if you are gaining weight or not. Suggestion for the progress pictures, take them weekly at the same time and day, and try out different lightings until you find the best setup. And weigh yourself weekly same time and day also preferably first thing in the morning.
The goal is to up your caloric intake to where it should be for your BMR (basil metabolic rate) without gaining much bad weight or body fat, especially if you are an athlete. This will slowly increase your metabolic rate again and get your metabolism firing again.
If you start to gain unnecessary weight then stop adding calories for the next week or even two weeks and give your body time to adjust to the added calories. It will! Patience is key. I know it may feel like you are fighting a losing battle, but if you do things correctly and in this order I promise you will get better. CONSISTENCY, CONSISTENCY, CONSISTENCY!
In this article I do not claim to know it all, but I do know some about how the body works and what works as well as what is working for me. There is such a fine line on where you can push your body and everyone’s genetics are different. This makes it easier for some to push their bodies to different limits before any damage is done.
My advice would be to never eat below 1200 calories period, and if you are an athlete or very active you will need to incorporate a lot more calories to your daily caloric intake. To find out exactly what you should be eating for calories look up a BMR calculator and do the calculation adding in all food, body stats, and exercise activity. Obviously, to cut you will eat SLIGHTLY below your BMR but only for a short period of time or use a carb cycling method. Remember to give your body breaks from periods of dieting.
Eat a clean, healthy, balanced diet consisting of healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and good, healthy, lean proteins. If over dieting hasn’t happened to you yet then use the steps above to prevent it from happening. Know your body and know how to listen to what it needs because I promise it will tell you one way or another. Healthy diet equals healthy body, healthy mind, balanced hormones, and an overall better sense of well-being.