What You Need To Know About Metabolic Adaptations For Fat Loss

Have you heard the buzz around metabolic adaptations lately?

Ask yourself something: Have you ever felt information OVERLOAD when it comes to everything you see and hear about nutrition in the internet these days?

Well, you aren’t alone!

We are bombarded with messaging and marketing every day when it comes to nutrition. 

You may have heard the buzz around “metabolic adaptations” lately and you’re probably unsure what it means for YOU and YOUR goals.

Well, let’s cut through the clutter:

What are metabolic adaptations?

Metabolic adaptations are the changes your metabolism and body goes through during the process of fat loss.

Some of these main changes are:

1.) A decrease in sex hormone production such as testosterone and a decrease in leptin (a hormone helps you burn fat and regulates hunger.)

2.) Reduction in circulating thyroid hormones which are mainly responsible for regulating your metabolism and helping with fat loss.

3.) Decreased NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis) which is the calories you burn walking, chewing, thinking, etc.

4.) An increase in catabolic and acute (short term) inflammatory stress hormones such as cortisol.

These metabolic adaptations not only occur while you are attempting to lose body fat, they can also remain after your diet or fat loss program ends.

So far, I’ve painted a pretty gruesome picture when it comes to metabolic adaptations right?

Well, the truth is, these metabolic adaptations are actually a good thing from a physiological perspective. How so?

Your body hates change, and will resist it all all cost by attempting to maintain homeostasis (a constant internal environment.) This is how your body fights off infection with a fever. Your body detects foreign substances (a virus) and as a response, it will raise it’s own internal temperature beyond baseline (98.7 degrees) in an attempt to remove the foreign substance, and keep you healthy and happy. 🙂

Whether it’s implementing metabolic adaptations to slow down fat loss, or fighting an infection, you body is just doing its job. #blamebiology

The good news is, there are some things you can do to mitigate or reduce the impact of these metabolic adaptations:

Go slow with fat loss – Slow fat loss over time, and gradual reductions to your overall calories has been proven to create less negative side effects in your body (see above) and also create results that are easier to sustain in the long run. The whole goal isn’t about achieving the fastest results with fat loss, it’s about achieving lasting results, right?

Often times a small caloric adjustment is enough to re-start fat loss and this also allows the individual to have more calories to work with metabolically in the future if/when the next plateau occurs.

Refeed day – A refeed day is a day where calorie intake is increased closer to maintenance (usually by carbs) may have some positive impact on metabolism (not strong research right now supporting this) but it definitely improves adherence by giving you a mental break from the rigors of a calorie deficit.

Diet breaks- Taking 1-2 weeks where calories are brought up to maintenance.  The research shows us that a diet break can help to normalize hormone levels and improve metabolic rate making future fat loss easier. This also provides a psychological break from being in a calorie deficit.

Reverse diet – Similar to a diet break, a reverse diet is an increase in calories, but for a more extended period of time where you continue to increase carbohydrates and fats, thus increasing metabolic rate and improving the bodies ability to burn fat.

It’s important to remember that plateaus are a normal part of the weight loss protocol and metabolic adaptations are a healthy part of your bodies physiology.

Metabolic adaptations can’t be avoided, but by utilizing the above mentioned variables, you can still be very successful with achieving your fat loss and aesthetic goals without decreasing performance in the gym.

If you have been stuck at a fat loss plateau for awhile, and are frustrated from not seeing results, check out my Online Nutrition Coaching Program where we can create a custom nutrition protocol built just for you, to help you break through that plateau.

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