How Energy Balance Helps You Lose Weight By Coach Danielle
“I’m eating less and working out more, but I’m not losing weight. What gives?!”
Is this you? Have you said this before?
Stuck at the same body weight, unable to get it to budge and don’t know why?
Unfortunately the equation is a little more complicated than just calories in vs calories out. The case study above is just one of many examples of how fewer calories is not always the right approach to weight loss.
In order to lose weight your body has to feel safe. Chances are, if you have tried losing weight, you cut back calories (and maybe increased exercise.) You were probably hungry at first, and then after some time your body adapted and rediscovered it’s new homeostasis. It adjusted to the lack of food you were eating. It started pulling energy away from “less” important things (performance in the gym, cognitive brain function, positive moods, etc.) and went into survival mode. Your metabolism came to a screeching halt because it wanted to persevere the stored energy (fat) it had left.
How do you know if this is you?
~Do you struggle with feeling hungry OR never hungry?
~Are you aways tired?
~ Feel like you’re in a fog?
~ Always sick or fighting something?
~Low to no sex drive?
~Can’t function without significant amounts of caffeine?
~Feel horrible in the gym?
~Unable to lose fat?
The list goes on and on…
So what do you have to do to fix this?
EAT MORE. Sounds crazy, right?!
You have to earn the right to diet. Think about it like caffeine, if you drink 4 cups of coffee just to feel normal in the morning your body has acclimated to that dependency. If you take that away for a few weeks and then reintroduce it, the effect the caffeine has on you will be way more significant than it was beforehand and therefore you will need less coffee to function at your optimal level.
The same thing goes for diet and exercise. If your body is used to performing at a suboptimal calorie intake (chronically in a deficit) or used to doing 3-4 hours of workouts a day, those things aren’t going to effect you as much as they possibly could or did in the beginning. To see any progress you’ll have to take away MORE food or add in MORE exercise. Neither sound that fun, and both can have long term negative effects on your metabolism and thyroid function.
How do we restore this?
Start increasing your calories right away. I know that sounds kind of scary, but also really exciting. So trust me when I say it. You have to find your maintenance calories. Making small calorie increases weekly or biweekly is all it takes, but you can only manage what you measure, so keeping a food log is highly recommended!
Often times, with these increases in calories I see body weight go down or stay the same, but see major differences in body composition, performance and cognitive brain function. Your metabolism is stimulated and begins to speed up as your body starts to feel “safe.” After some time at maintenance calories (which is estimated by a number of factors) you have then earned the right to diet. Now you can lose weight eating more than before!! Win/Win situation.
How long should you be at maintenance before you being a fat loss phase?
This varies person to person, 3 months is a good rule of thumb, but if you have been underrating for years, it may take your metabolism a little longer to speed back up and recover. Pay attention to the feedback from your body, look for signs of increased moods, better sleep, better performance, and more energy throughout the day – and if you need help figuring the next step in your journey, get yourself a coach!
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