If losing weight seems to be more difficult than it used to, you might want to blame your metabolism.
You might want to, but should you?
Your eating habits can affect your metabolism so that you don’t burn as many calories; there’s no doubt about that. But did you actually cause irreparable damage, dooming you to a life of excess weight gain every time you even breathe near a cookie?
I’ll answer that question by starting with my personal experience on the subject.
This Was Me
Raise your hand if you’ve attempted to lose weight by ramping up the cardio and eating a whole lot less. 🙋🏽♀️ <—(That’s me.)
Raise your hand if, after having a treat or slipping up on your diet, you’ve done extra exercise to make up for it. 🙋🏽♀️ (Still me.)
Raise your hand if you’ve started a diet, saw great results at first, then nothing. 🙋🏽♀️ (I think you get how this is working.)
Raise your hand if you’ve done all this more than once in your life. 🙋🏽♀️ (Yep.)
Now raise your hand if you’re back where you started or even have more weight to lose. (Thankful that’s not me anymore.)
Insert: “My metabolism is broken. I can’t lose weight.”
If you relate to this, the first thing you should know is that your struggles might not have anything to do with your metabolism. You might just be eating more calories than you think (this is often the real problem). For the sake of this article, we’ll assume that’s not the case.
If your metabolism actually has slowed down, that doesn’t mean it’s broken. Your body has simply adapted. It works hard to maintain its current levels, so whenever anything changes — especially if it happens quickly — your body will actively resist it.
It’s not a death sentence to your metabolism, but it can turn losing weight into a real bummer. So what should you do about it?
Your Next Steps
The key to getting back on track and losing weight for good is to find the sweet spot with your calorie deficit and exercise.
First, chill out with the cardio.
The excessive bouts of cardio many people do (like I used to) when trying to lose weight can break down lean-mass (like muscle and bone) and exacerbate the conditions that cause your metabolism to slow. You’re better off prioritizing strength training, which has the opposite effect.
If you don’t like cardio (🙋🏽♀️ hello again), this is good news. If you do enjoy it, you don’t have to give it up, but you might consider scaling it back temporarily while trying to lose weight.
Second, stop dieting.
If you’ve been trying to lose weight for a long time, taking a break from your diet might be exactly what you need to signal to your body that everything is fine and it can relax.
You can even build breaks into your diet to help limit how much your metabolism slows in the first place.
Take a break every couple months, or every few weeks, or even every weekend.
However frequently you do it, don’t go on a free-for-all. Eat at a maintenance level for your current body weight, and do it for at least a couple days, or even weeks if you’ve been dieting awhile. (Don’t freak if the scale goes up. Trust the process.)
Third, start dieting again.
But not like you have before.
Remember, the more quickly change takes place in your body, the more extreme its response will be. If you want to keep your metabolism running as normally as possible, don’t jump to an extreme calorie deficit.
In fact, don’t make cutting a bunch of foods the focus of your diet at all.
Not only will your metabolism be more cooperative with a slower rate of weight loss, it also responds better to an adequate amount of nutrients. Rather than cutting out “bad” foods, aim to get enough protein and veggies, and then an appropriate amount of carbs and fats. (We use the hand guide for this with our clients.)
Your metabolism will be better served, and you’ll have more success with weight loss.
Now that you know your metabolism isn’t broken, and you have some ideas on how to keep it functioning optimally, I’m going to say this other part one more time:
If you have trouble losing weight, there’s a high chance it has less to do with your metabolism, and more to do with a variety of other factors. With almost all of those other factors, the bottom line is that you’re eating too many calories.
This can be frustrating, or downright infuriating, especially if you feel you’ve been eating well.
We’d like to help remove that frustration.
It would be impossible to list every possible scenario that could be keeping you from your goals, but our 1-on-1 online coaching is designed to help you troubleshoot through any and all of it, so you don’t have to wonder if there’s something you’re doing wrong, or if your metabolism is to blame.
If you’re ready to lose that frustration, check out our coaching programs here and apply today.