I’ve been doing some research lately on a phenomenon known as Metabolic Adaptation. Basically, it’s what happens over time when your body catches up to a lower calorie intake or increase in calorie burn due to increased activity. In a nutshell, your metabolism adapts to the new level and you may no longer lose weight as easily or even begin to gain weight although you are still eating less and exercising more.
I experienced this personally a little over a year ago and my initial reaction, like that of many people, was to eat less and train harder. The key to resetting the metabolism however, is a little more counter-intuitive than that.
A basic principle of biology is at work here. Known as homeostasis, it’s the concept that all organisms (including us) strive to maintain internal conditions. An area of the brain known as the hypothalamus regulates everything from body temperature to appetite control and resting energy expenditure. In order to override this survival mechanism and continue progressing, you must do the one thing every athlete fears, eat more and train less…
You will definitely want to increase calories slowly to stimulate the metabolism, especially if you’ve been in a caloric deficit for a long time. Here are some rut busting techniques you can use:
Carb-cycling- Alternating days of lower and higher carbohydrate intake dictated by your training schedule can effectively reset production of hormones, such as grehlin and leptin, that play a major role in appetite and thermogenesis.
Cheat to Win – The classic “cheat day” can play a major role in convincing your body that starvation is not imminent and that it’s ok to release stored body fat for energy.
Train Slow and Low – Reducing overall training volume (especially cardiovascular intensity) can be helpful during periods of metabolic rest. The technical term for this is periodization.
For a more scholarly look at this topic I invite you to read this article from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. As always, I welcome your questions or comments below.
I created an outline of the exact meal plan I used to maintain a weight loss of over 60 lbs. If you would like to check it out, just visit the free downloads page and click on the Nutrition, Training and Supplementation Guide.
To order a free customized body composition analysis and nutrition report that will show you how many calories you burn each day and exactly how to eat and train to maximize your metabolism, contact me here!