We have all seen it before. Most of us have been there before.
We need to lose weight. We go on a diet. We lose weight. We go off of our diet. We gain the weight back (and then some). So we diet again. We lose weight. We go off of our diet. We gain the weight back. And on and on the cycle goes.
This is called Yo-Yo dieting. Yo-Yo dieting is the process of continually decreasing and increasing calorie intake resulting in gaining and losing weight. While our bodies can recover from this happening a few times, there are some dangers to these periods of rapid weight fluctuation.
The human body is so freaking unbelievable. It can adapt to damn near anything. So when we decide to go on an extreme diet plan in which calories are dramatically decreased, the body will adapt.
When calories are decreased, one of the ways the body adapts is to use some of the stored energy it is currently holding onto to keep us alive. This energy is what we know to be body fat. Sweet!
However, this is not all good forever. When eating too few calories, our body knows it will run out of stored energy (body fat) eventually. It goes into total storage mode and metabolism will slow down.
Herein lies the problem. When we go off of our diet and dramatically increase our calorie intake, our body wants to hold on to every last bit of that energy. After all, the body needs to be prepared for being stuck in the desert with no food or water. Since the energy hasn’t been consistently coming in, it needs to hold onto whatever it can get.
If you thought you might lose your job, would you be spending all of your money on luxuries or putting it away for a rainy day?
So now, even if we are eating a reasonable amount of calories, our body is storing more of it than it would if we were not coming off of a massive caloric deficit.
Our body perceives low-calorie as the new normal.
If low-calorie is normal. Than normal calorie is high. High-calorie = body fat storage.
So how do we avoid this?
Just like we never want to take in too many calories, it is just as important that we avoid taking in too few calories.
If we want to lose body fat, we must reduce total calorie intake. The key is to not reduce it too much. Our goal is to lose body fat on as many calories as possible to avoid damaging our metabolism. How do we know what the right amount of calories are?
We have to experiment, and this takes patience. Cut 100 calories. Are you losing on average 1lb per week? Good. Stay there. Not losing? Cut 100 more. Losing more than 2lbs per week? Add calories back. Rinse, repeat.
You did not gain those extra 20lbs in 3 weeks, therefore we cannot lose it that quickly either. if we do, we are setting ourselves up for trouble ahead. Every time we yo-yo, it becomes harder and harder to take the pounds off next time around.
Be patient. Trust the process. Get in for the long haul.
It will be worth it.