If you are reading this, then I assume, you might now know the gurumantra (the doctrine) of burning fat – Calorie deficit. Now let’s assume you are on a standard diet, with a calorie defecit than your TEE (Total Energy expenditure) and you seem to get results. Hurray. A month passed by. You getting shredded. Proud of yourself. Few more days pass by, your body shows results. Confidence is surging. Suddenly you hit a plateau.
You have just hit a wall. No fat loss seems to occur after a stage, even though your food is on track, your exercise is on mark. Why the hell in world then? Assuming you still believe in the above mentioned mantra, decide to reduce your calories intake further. You start getting results again. Bazinga! Problem solved?
Scientifically you can cross 9 such walls, only to find a steel one. This ain’t that easy my friend. By 9 reductions you are hardly on any calorie and any further reduction won’t do good to you.Then what do we do?
Some might logically argue, that they would reach their goal before those 9 cycles, then why do we care about the knowldege. Well my friend, if you won’t you are going to get fatter in no time, even you only eat the maintenance calorie from then onwards. Why? The answer to every question is – Slow metabolism or metabolic breakdown or crashdown. (Metabolic setpoint is a point where you don’t lose any more body fat. But if you decrease calories, you can still lose further weight. But in case of metabolic damage, you can’t go lower on any count – fat or weight. That’s the steel wall which you can’t move anymore)
So the question now – Why does this happen?
Your metabolism is not a simple standalone process. It is a correlated complex biochemical mechanism of innumerous processes occuring inside the body. Our brain then as a response to these processes adjusts various systems to increase the efficiency of the body. This behaviour of slow metabolism is a result of one such efficiency.
Your body achieves this in the following way –
Total energy expenditure
ATP is the energy currency of the body. A certain amount of energy is required for producing every unit of ATP energy in the mitochondria. Studies have shown that this required energy gradually goes down with a calorie restricted diet. The mitochondrial efficiency increases. Hence the age long calorie in and calorie out theory isn’t satisfied in this case. Report – Calorie restriction induces mitochondrial biogenesis and bioenergetic efficiency
Lowers level of Leptin
Leptin is nothing but a gauge meter to your body fat level. So when this level goes down without the actual body fat level being down, it signals the brain to stabilize the body and evade from starvation – a state where body burns stored fat to fulfill its need. On the contrary, it compels body to store more fuel to it. Next point is the same.
When there is consistent less input of calories in the body, Ghrelin – the hunger hormone level is set to increase, thereby causing a diet a draconian task signalling the body incessantly to fill in the energy reserves.
Thyroid hormone decreases
Eating is directly proportional to thyroid levels. When we eat at a deficit, the thyroid levels go down, thereby affecting the metabolic rate further and taking it further down. Find the report here – (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10837281 ; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/pmc2678563)
Deficit diet also tends to lower the level of free testosterone in the body. Testosterone is the magic hormone which can directly affect your ability to lose fat, or build muscles, apart from its primary function as a sex hormone. With lowered testosterone levels, your body compromises on its energy requirement and also its potential to maintain a proper body composition, thereby making you susceptible to muscle loss and fat gain.
What should you do in this case then? The answer is same as the topic of this blog – Reverse Dieting.
You should get your metabolism up and this is again a slow process hence you would have to increase your calories intake slowly and steadily. Reverse dieting is a month long process, one has to be patient for a healthy metabolic recovery.
Though achieving the original state of metabolism would be comparitively tougher due to several compelling factors such as Ghrelin, satiety factors, etc. – thereby making you more hungry and vulnerable to all types of food. But the end result is a healthy metabolism. So it’s worth it.
Who to do
Are you on a diet? Do you strictly eat what you are suppose to? Do you have a transformation goal? Then this knowledge is for you not only to learn but to impement as well. For all others – you might want to read it for your knowledge in probable future, as we clearly see, your goals are not yet on ground. Don’t think, Act today as tomorrow never comes, never ever! Nevertheless, coming back to our topic – Reverse Diet.
How to do it
Till now you might have understood what to do when you have hit a plateau while on a diet. The ultimate solution to get of this region is a reverse diet.
Increase your calories in the diet very steadily allowing the body processes to adjust the mechanism. To qunatify it, an addition of about 60-80 calories per week would suffice. Once the metabolism reaches the original state, the calorie math would again start giving you results. Just remember to workout extra for those added calories so it doesn’t add up you weight what you have already lost on diet. And also it’s always advisable to keep a healthy diet irrespective of the calorie one need to take.