Is My Metabolism Damaged?

If you’re having trouble losing weight — or maybe you lost some but then it just stopped — you might want to blame your metabolism.

After all, your eating habits CAN affect your body so you don’t burn as many calories (more on that in a bit).

But is it possible you’ve somehow caused irreparable damage to your metabolism, dooming you to a life of excess weight gain, adding pound after pound every time you even breathe near a cookie?

Let’s see…

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 damaged. 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 — this is important, so pay attention:

You’re probably just eating more calories than you think.

99 times out of 100, that’s what’s actually going on. BUT, for the sake of the rest of this blog, we’ll assume that’s not the case.

If your metabolism actually has slowed down, the good news is that doesn’t mean it’s broken. Your body has simply adapted.

What Is Metabolic Adaptation?

Your body works hard to maintain the “norm,” so whenever anything changes — especially if it happens quickly — your body will actively resist it.

When the change that’s taking place is weight loss, it responds through something called “metabolic adaptation.”

There are two major things that happen with this:

1. Your metabolism literally slows down.

The amount of change that happens to your actual metabolism as a direct response to a weight loss diet is small.

If it were the only aspect of metabolic adaptation, it would be pretty easy to work around. It wouldn’t even “stop” weight loss as much as it would just marginally slow it down. You might not even notice it.

2. Your body slows YOU down.

In other words, you burn less calories not because of your metabolism (making the term metabolic adaptation somewhat misleading), but because you aren’t moving around as much during the day.

The tricky part is that this happens subconsciously.

You won’t be aware you’re doing anything different from normal, and yet it can cause you to burn several hundred less calories every day, definitely making weight loss more difficult.

You can’t stop this completely, but you CAN limit how much it affects your weight loss goals.

Your Next Steps

The key to getting back on track and losing weight for good is to find the sweet spot with diet 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 muscle and bone, exacerbating the conditions that cause your metabolism to literally slow down.

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 let your body recover and get your head in a better space.

We have almost all our clients do this at some point.

Some people need regular breaks (like every weekend), while others can go a few months and make steady progress the entire time before needing a break.

You’ll still experience metabolic adaptation when you get back on your diet, but you have a better chance of dealing with it effectively when it’s not a constant battle day after day for months and months.

However frequently you do it, don’t go on a free-for-all.

Eat at a maintenance level for your current body weight and continue to work on the same healthy eating habits you’re building (or should be) when losing weight. Just eat more food while doing it.

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 start cutting every food out of your diet that could potentially be labeled “unhealthy” just to speed up the process.

You’re better off making slower changes, even one step at a time.

(Our free guide, “5 Myths You Have to Stop Believing to Lose Weight” gives specific steps on what to do instead.)

It may mean a slower rate of weight loss, but it will also lead to a more cooperative metabolism with less adaptation and, ultimately, more success with weight loss in the long-term. (Meaning you’ll be losing weight as quickly as you possibly can for if you want to actually keep it off — which isn’t really “slower,” if you think about it.)

Final Thoughts

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 nothing to do with your metabolism.

There are a variety of other factors that come into play (in case you’re wondering if age is one of those factors, read “Does Your Metabolism Slow as You Age”), but with all of them the bottom line is that you’re eating too many calories.

This can be frustrating to hear, especially if you feel you’ve been eating well.

We’d like to help remove that frustration.

It would be impossible to list every scenario that could be keeping you from your goals, but our private, online coaching is designed to take the guesswork out of it. That way 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 how our coaching works and apply today.

P.S. For anyone who has a thyroid issue that they know affects their metabolism:

The good news is that the principles I’ve laid out here still apply. It may be more difficult for you to lose weight — let’s acknowledge that — but the process will be the same. Just wanted to show you some love and let you know there’s hope for you, too!

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