“I’ve got a damaged metabolism”

“I’ve got a damaged metabolism”


No, you haven’t.


“But I’m doing more steps and eating clean”




“It’s got to be all the FAD diets I’ve done over the years”


No, it’s not.


“But my PT said…”


They were talking shit.


I’ve written about what adaptive thermogenesis is and thermodynamics briefly, but in this blog post I’ll be going into more about metabolic regulation… honestly if you get your head around the basics of these you’ll be able to formulate your own opinion on dieting.




– If you eat less than you expend, you should lose weight

– If you eat more than you expend, you should increase weight


The biggest take-home point I’d like to make is that numbers don’t add up, you can’t calculate everything to gram/calorie of food or calorie expended.


You’ve just got to head in the right direction with a big enough gap to cause physiological change, i.e. create a calorie deficit that’s worth the body response. The same as if you want to increase weight, give it enough to store or in most cases to be used as increased training stimulus.


Although the energy balance equations are the most reliable source we can work from, it doesn’t take into account the unexpected interlinking factors.


So let’s break down the energy equation itself starting with ‘energy in’


Right so you get my fitness pal out, scan the barcode and it gives you a bunch of numbers that you already don’t understand. Then let’s take into consideration that these numbers can be inaccurate up to 30% sometimes.


A calorie is a calorie, we can’t argue with that! But a calorie isn’t just a calorie when it’s inside our bodies, your digestive system is unique to you and you alone. That single calorie needs to be processed, absorbed, stored and then used a energy… that amount of energy will be different for each person.


Then take into account different forms of macronutrients…


Processed carbohydrates and fats are easier to digest than minimally processed carbohydrates and fats, it kind of gives you the answer… half the jobs are already done for you.


Not forgetting cooking! When we eat foods that are pre-cooked, the plant or animal cells are broken down and this increases their bioavailability.


I.e. we absorb X3 as many carbohydrates from cooked sweet potatoes against raw, not that I’d ever recommended eating a raw sweet potato.


Then if you want to be getting really in-depth, gut bacteria players a huge role in too.


I’ve spoken about how resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the number of calories you burn each day just to stay alive.


The heavier you are, the large your RMR will be…


So if you’re that person who claims the skinny guy/ girl has a faster metabolic rate than you… they haven’t and that’s science so deal with it.


They’re probably just better at controlling the other variables affecting a metabolism.


Thermic effect of food (TEF) – high protein.


Physical Activity (PA) – move more.


Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) – general movement not classed as PA through the day


So while the claim is calorie in vs calorie out…


Its more like:


(Actual calories eaten vs calories not absorbed) – (RMR + TEF + PA + NEAT)


This is where I’ve spoken about adaptive thermogenesis previously comes into play when you play around with these variables.


Quick recap:


– less food means less PA/ NEAT and TEF but then obviously too much food will override the energy equation with positive = weight gain! You’ve got to monitor current energy intake against current PA and see what the data says (images/ weight/measurements).


So now we’ve recapped a few bits around a metabolism…


Losing weight does not damage your metabolism in anyway shape or form.


So when you’ve lost X amount of weight, your body will respond with the adaptations above… then you simply need to manipulate them by increasing expenditure, decreasing intake of energy, ensure high protein for TEF but never be too severe that it isn’t sustainable.


The tips are simple, and most people already know them but choose the look in the other direction:


1.) Eat a high protein diet


2.) Fill up on plenty of fruits, vegetables and always be mindful of the unexpected fat content in foods, especially processed sources


3.) If you’re training regularly, ensure good quality carbohydrates are your main energy source


4.) Focus on resistance training, low/ moderate intensity cardio and active recovery, don’t just do nothing


5.) Always find a way to increase NEAT even if it’s going for a walk at lunch


6.) Quality of sleep and stress management, without going into the psychology of eating behaviours and stress, it’s huge you take this into consideration


7.) Understand that this takes time and never punish yourself if you do go off plan


About The Author

Ben Hawksworth

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