Is it possible to actually slow down your metabolism by long-term dieting?
Can you make your body burn less calories?
Is starvation mode something which really happens?
Lets answer the starvation mode question straight away – no. It does not really happen. Your body does not get fatter because you are eating too little. Good. Let’s move on.
As for whether you can truly ruin your metabolism and make your body burn less calories, the answer is also no, you cannot truly ruin your metabolism. But, you can make it slower (or just appear slower) – and you can make your metabolism work for you too.
Here are the ways to slow your metabolism:
Losing weight by just cutting calories as low as possible and only tracking your progress on the scales. Without paying attention to eating the right amounts of the right food, your body is likely to start to break down your muscles in order to feed itself. Muscle is the biggest consumer of energy – so if you have less of it, you will need less calories to maintain your weight. Ergo, your metabolism appears slower.
Cutting your calories just too low for too long. Your body will have to slow down its processes in order to survive. This is *sometimes* the cause of thyroid disorders. You can cut calories very low, if you enjoy feeling rubbish, but certainly not for the long term.
Going too low on fat for too long. Again, this will force your body to minimise its production of various hormones, also having an effect on the thyroid.
Losing weight the right way. Its true to say that purely by being smaller your body will need less energy to maintain itself. Its not exactly that you can’t get away with eating as much as you used to without re-gaining weight, its simply that you do not need as much food to maintain your weight any more.
Here’s how to make your metabolism your friend:
Lift weights! Remind your body that it needs to preserve (and even build) its muscle mass. Ladies you will not get bulky!
Keep active. Its not just the workout which is important, the calories you can burn day to day by just walking the dog, going round the shops, walking rather than driving, cleaning the house etc is uber effective for boosting your metabolism.
Eat less calories than you need, but do it the right way. Make sure you eat enough protein – it keeps you more satiated than anything else we eat, it takes more energy to digest, and it minimises the loss of muscle. Make sure you eat plenty of veggies too, they’re a great way to keep your body topped up with nutrients, and the low-calorie ‘bulk’ will help keep hunger away too.
Cycle your calories. People who eat at a deficit for, say, a month, then eat at either a maintenance level or even very slightly above for a week before going back to a deficit seem to achieve more weight loss, less loss of muscle mass and are able to stick with a nutritional program for the longer term. Its a strategy well worth employing, but (sadly) it does not mean its ok to stuff yourself with whatever you fancy just because its the weekend, it needs to be a strategic, planned, approach for the best results.
Make sure your sleep quality is as good as can be. This is a great shortcut!
Do you need some help in turning your diet around and making a true change in your relationship with food? Get in touch to arrange a free consultation with me to discuss the first steps.