Spending too long in a deficit

 

I understand that many of us spend a significant portion of the year eating in a deficit. I get that. I do as well. However, this state is not healthy physiologically or psychologically. (Not to mention emotionally or in the way it impacts quality of life, family & co-workers)

You cannot expect your body to be in a state of constant energy deprivation yet continue to function in an optimal fashion.

Specifically everyone, but especially if you are a young woman planning on having children you are doing yourself a severe disservice.

If you’ve been dieting for 6-12 months, then you need to get yourself to maintenance immediately and stay there for a year and focus on eating and building muscle and then possibly going into a caloric deficit for 20 weeks or so once you’ve become weight stable.

Then once you lose the desired fat you must go back to maintenance (or a surplus depending on your goals) again for 6-12 months before even considering going into a deficit again.

Over 2 years ago, I dieted for the first time for 6 months and then went into a surplus for nearly 18 months (with a few weeks of deficits interposed in between). I recently started dieting again in January (with weekly refeeds) & more recently spent the last 10 days having a diet break where I was eating 2400 calories per day with zero weight gain. (Some water weight gain initially but that leveled off after the 10 days ended)

My point is this: the metabolism adapts. Yes, I have to drop pretty low, relatively speaking, to lose 1/2 -3/4 lb per week but I also can eat my bodyweight x 17- 18 calories and maintain which is pretty damn good bc of the lean mass I’ve accumulated over the years. I’m also 5’4″ & 47 years old. When I was in my 20’s & 30’s although I didn’t track, I easily ate more than any 200 pound man and maintained at 135 lbs & around 20% bf without even trying. I simply fueled my body with nutritious food, some pizza, some ice cream (ok lots I used to own an Ice cream shop!) & trained like an animal. And I never dieted! At 45 yrs old was the first time I ever purposefully tried to lose weight – contest prep #1.

However, when dieting, there is a point of diminishing returns. Sure, you can keep dropping calories & adding more & more cardio & you will continue to lose BUT the body is smart & will fight you every step of the way because it is protecting you & doing its job of surviving. It will simply slow down all of its functions. You will be lethargic and stop actively moving throughout the day. Breathing & heart rate will slow & you will stop expending energy at the same rate you previously were which is why you will have to keep doing more. You will be cold all the time because you are conserving energy. When you eat, you will get even colder as the energy involved in chewing your food will be quite rigorous. Your body is smarter than you are, which is why as a race we have survived so long. You will be fighting a losing battle & doing *possible* major long term harm to your hormones in the long run. Why? To reach your goal weight, fit in those skinny jeans, bikini, get on stage, only to never go on vacation, out to dinner, hit the buffet table, ice cream bar?

The less you weigh & the less muscle you have, the less calories you can consume. So keep that in mind. Better to concentrate on eating more, lifting heavy weight, building muscle & kicking ass in the gym. Then when a vacation is coming up you can drop some calories, throw in some cardio or HIIT & drop some fat. That’s the way to do it & live a happy healthy life. Your BODY will thank you!

I am linking this very well written article that spells out everything I’ve talked about here in more detail.

Reverse Dieting: The Diet after the Diet

While I do not agree with the concept of a slow drawn out reverse dieting approach (only because I do not believe in prolonging the deficit any longer than necessary) it does come down to preference for some who are deathly afraid of fat gain. Her thinking here otherwise is good. There are some major flaws with the idea of not being able to lose on low calories (starve mode is not a thing) & that dieting under 1200 calories is a recipe for disaster – untrue without context.

You cannot increase metabolic capacity but increased calories will reverse those metabolic adaptations that occur when energy is scarce making it seem like that may be happening. It isn’t, you’re just doing more, with more intensity, A LOT MORE.

If you want to know more about the proper way to reverse diet go to YouTube and look up 3dmj’s Recovery diet video. Brilliant. https://youtu.be/vDKhDjuPfbU

Please join us in the group to discuss (Ladies only please)

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