A cold and long winter is ahead of us. Tons of holiday carbs, skipping gym etc. When the holidays come to an end, we all wanna get back in shape and look good for the summer. So we start hitting the gym every day, keeping up with our diet, but…
It was all going well, and then we stopped seeing progress?! What’s happening?
Ok, so we did everything we could regarding training and diet: We were eating clean, we’ve been carefully picking our groceries, we cut down our sources of sugar to a minimum. Everything was good and then “Plato”.
What happens with our metabolism during this complicated process?
Let’s start with the fact that every diet that’s “Guaranteed To Work” is nothing but “Controlled Starving”. All metabolism changes that happen to us are the result of of our body going into a “Starvation mode”.
Who can explain it better than a professional bodybuilder, right?
You know what i mean, the famous “Plato” that you hear them talking about in their YouTube videos. Their diet restrictions were so drastic that they stopped fat intake, not to mention the “Zero Carb Diet”. Some of them did cardio every day for 2h which was a complete waste of time and never showed any significant results regarding fat loss. There was also mentioning of various studies that show that longterm fasting dieting slows down our metabolism. Which significantly makes fat loss process harder. The longer we are on a diet, our body is less able to lose weight with regular and even extreme training or food restriction.
The less we weight, the less calories we burn?!
Of course heavier people burn more energy in everyday activities than the lighter ones, e.g. walking down 3 miles(5km) weighting 220lbs(100kg) and 180lbs(80kg) isn’t the same, is it?
Hmm, try walking with a 45lbs(20kg) bag on your back, you’ll see what’s up. And if you get rid off that same bag, of course you’ll be able to move faster – burn less calories.
Does “Starvation Mode” has an effect on our nerves system, primarily our brain?
Yes. Our brain adapts to starvation or “Energy Saving”, meaning that it uses less resources in order to survive. Yes, our body fights to survive with less calorie intake to find the “Balance”, slowing down all activities in order to preserve as much energy as possible. Brain, as a main processor of our body is unconsciously in charge of choosing the means of saving energy. Signs and symptoms can include: Having no motivation, Barely finishing our workout, lack of strength, everything we do is exhausting, sometimes we’re even bored of talking…
What about the muscle mass?
The extreme diets have a negative effect on our muscles. I’m sure all of you are familiar with this:
More Muscle = Faster Metabolism
On the other hand, less muscle = slower metabolism.
If we draw a line here, all of the above changes mentioned are happening under the influence of our testosterone:
- Our free testosterone level is dropping
- Cortisol level is increasing (the biggest enemy of muscle mass, in charge of muscle breakdown and weight gain).
- There’s also a problem in hormone activity of The Thyroid Gland. (lowered conversion of T4 in T3 + lowered sensitivity of the tissue for T3).
- Negative effect on the production of IGF-1, which next to the testosterone represents one of the most important factors of muscle tissues, recovery and maintaining muscle mass.
- Change in relationship between Leptin (Regulates fat storage in the body) and Ghrelin (The Hunger Hormone), in favour of Ghrelin.
You can’t be dieting forever.
You can clearly see it for yourself that these are pretty much all hormonal implications gained from “Starvation Mode”. Maybe this is the reason why some “professionals” risk their health by getting their hands on illegal substances in order to ease up the “Starvation Mode” and reduce it’s side effects as much as possible.
The point of this article is not to scare you off of dieting and promote the “Fat & Happy” lifestyle. This is only to show you the possible restrictive dieting consequences that lasts for too long (More than 12 weeks). If you combine them with extreme training, they can be even more problematic.
If you ask for advice, if you’re a beginner – First things first, make sure you are training on a regular basis. Clear your menu of junk food, and after a 2-3 months of following this regime, you decide which road will you take. Give your body time to adapt to hard training and clean eating.