Do you ever feel like you’ve hit a plateau in your fitness journey?
You’re doing all the right things: working out regularly, following your diet plan, etc., but you’re still not losing the weight. I was doing all this very well. I was working out 5 days a week, eating a calorie deficient diet of 1200-1400 calories a day, yet still my weight remained unchanged. What if I told you, the only way to break through these fat loss plateaus is to do the exact opposite of what you’ve always been told? The answer is simple: EAT MORE.
Now before you go eating everything in sight, let me elaborate a little more on why you need to eat more and what you need to eat.
As you probably know, a calorie deficit diet is the ideal way to lose fat, because you’re burning more energy than you’re consuming; however, being on a calorie deficit diet for too long will cause your body to adapt to it’s new diet, and this is where plateaus start to set in. When you restrict your calorie intake, your body enters what is commonly referred to as “starvation mode” and responds by looking at ways to adapt to these changes.
One of the ways your body responds is by slowing down your metabolism. When your body is in a calorie deficient state, a hormonal adaptation occurs which slows down the rate of production of certain hormones. One of these hormones is named Leptin. It’s primary job is to help regulate your body weight. When Leptin levels are low, your hunger level will rise, but your metabolism will slow.
Another side affect of being on a prolonged calorie deficit diet is that your body will burn less energy. Not only will you burn less energy while working out, but you will also burn less energy during non-exercise activities.
If you’re reading this and beginning to think this sounds like you, don’t worry. The good news is that your metabolism isn’t damaged, it’s only adapted and it’s not too hard to reverse. In fact, you might have heard of the solution. It’s called “reverse dieting”
Reverse dieting involves a controlled, gradual increase in total daily calorie intake with the purpose of increasing metabolic rate and health. Over the past six weeks I have been on a journey to move from eating around 1,300 calories to over 2,000 calories a day. But first let me tell you about my journey and how I got to where I am today.
I started tracking my food my freshman year of college using a popular app called My Fitness Pal. While I think tracking your food is an important part of eating clean and healthy for me now, at the time it wasn’t. I was eating 1,200 calories a day, not caring if it was healthy or not. I focused purely on calories, not the quality of the food I was consuming. I didn’t look at the nutrients page or care about how much protein I was getting, it was all about that number. Sure I lost weight and looked great, but slowly over time that calorie deficit took a toll on my metabolism. Around the time of my wedding I was nervous and wanted to look my best, so I ate even less. Some days barely hitting my 1,200 calorie goal. I felt great on my wedding day, but soon after the newlywed 10 pounds came (really 15 pounds from my wedding) and I have had a hard time getting it off ever since. Now I believe a lot of things contributed to my slower metabolism but the #1 thing was that in over 7 years, I was always in a deficient calorie diet.
The end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 have been all about experimenting with different things and really getting to the bottom of my obviously slow metabolism. After reading Michael Matthew’s book Thinner Leaner Stronger I decided to embark on the journey of a reverse diet. Six weeks ago I started at 1,200 calories and each week I have added in 100 calories putting me at 1,800 calories currently with the goal of getting to my maintenance of 2,000 calories in the next two weeks. Once I reach 2,000 calories I will eat that for 2 weeks before going on a deficient again for no more than two weeks. After 6 weeks of increasing my calories to 1,800 per day, I still have yet to gain 1 pound from when I was eating 1,200 calories. But don’t be mistaken, these calories have not been made up of junk food. You still have to hit your daily macros and the portion control containers from the Hammer and Chisel Program I offer help me stay on track.
If you are interested in joining my journey through one of my challenge groups, click here for more information! You can also follow my journey on instagram @ffhgsisters.
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