Though this might be a bit of a tough topic for my first post, I’m going to try to tackle metabolism head-on, because it’s something about which I am quite passionate. Unfortunately, there are a lot of fads, fasts, diets, and cleanses that saturate the fitness market- unfortunate because to successfully utilize these tools, we must really know how they affect our bodies. Put simply and excluding units, weight loss is a matter of an easy equation:
(Intake Calories) – (Output Calories) = Net Weight Gain or Loss
If we apply this formula to our diets every day (with a lot of self-control), we can achieve our goals! In actuality, this process of weight loss isn’t as easy as that (even if you have unbelievable self-control). As animals, our bodies are fine-tuned, miraculous machines that are able to make adjustments to how they function based on their environment (that includes our diets and activity levels). We might think that having a daily 500 calorie deficit is the best way to approach weight-loss: that’s something like 25% of our average daily calorie allowance, so in a month, we could finally get rid of that pesky 10 lbs. In actuality, having such a large deficit would allow us to lose weight, but depending on our activity levels and macronutrient intake (protein, carbohydrates, and fats- I’ll touch on these in a later post), we could be doing some major damage to our metabolism and to our muscles! After a week of such a big caloric deficit, our metabolism will start to slow down. Our bodies will burn off some fat, but protein is much easier for our bodies to convert into energy, so the areas we really want to minimize: stomach, love handles, thighs, etc. aren’t changing as much as we would like. As our bodies burn muscle for energy, and our metabolism slows due to the decreased muscle mass. We burn calories by using our muscles, and when there is less muscle to work, we burn fewer calories. So we have this horrible feedback loop of reducing our resting metabolic rate when we have a huge calorie deficit. Ultimately, my point is that, creating large caloric deficits like those popular in cleanses, fasts, or extreme diets is not good for you, and in the long run, will create road blocks to achieving fitness goals. At the same time, if a cleanse or a fast helps to jump start your getting into fitness, then go for it! Just make sure that you do these, just like everything else, in moderation. Getting fit, being healthy, and improving our lives involves overcoming bad habits and creating new ones- a huge part of it exists in our minds. Most importantly, be mindful of your body. If something hurts don’t do it. Most importantly, examine exercise routines and diets with a critical eye, and ask QUALIFIED friends (CPT’s, licensed nutritionists, etc.) for advice if you aren’t sure. Don’t just take marketing or the opinions of spokespeople as science. There are a lot of companies out there that know just how desperate for instant gratification humans are!