Blake – Metabolic Compensation: The Killer of Diet Resolutions

I have just completed Week 3 of the Viva Fresh Clean Eating Challenge and have not dropped much weight at all even though I have made major healthy changes. Most would consider me a failure right now and I can almost hear the whispers, “I knew he wouldn’t last.” But we know a secret they do not, The Power of the Compound Effect and WHY the scale isn’t moving much. 

This is the most difficult and discouraging week for most people who aren’t teenagers or in their 20’s when they are dieting and making daily sacrifices. More often than not, we aren’t seeing the changes on the scale or the changes are so insignificant in comparison to the sacrifices being made. We rationalize the situation, “What’s the point?” or worse, “Something is wrong with me.” This phase is where the temporary dieters get weeded out from the permanent “lifestylers.” 

Week 3 is a test. This is the week where if we hold strong, our adjustments will begin to become habitual. Our body is fighting us tooth and nail to keep that from happening. This phenomenon is called Metabolic Compensation and it is the killer of diet resolutions and for good reason. Our bodies have been designed for survival. When we cut back calories our body thinks we’re in trouble and begins storing more and more fat so we will have the reserves needed in case of emergency. Our bodies are designed to maintain weight, it takes a radical shift to make it go up OR down.

The way our bodies compensate for weight loss:

  • Changes in key hormones that regulate metabolism and appetite, in particular, leptin. Leptin is the hormone that tells your body not to store fat and cut back appetite. When calorie intake is cut back, leptin levels drop, metabolism slows and appetite increases. 
  • Thyroid hormones like T3 and T4 will slow down your resting metabolism rate to compensate for calorie restrictions. Resting metabolism is the number of calories you burn throughout the day at rest. The higher the resting rate is, the more fat you will burn. The best way to increase the resting rate is to add muscle and do your exercise in a fasted state, like first thing in the morning after not eating for 8 hours or so.

So, What’s the Good News???

  1. Resistance training to build muscle while losing weight will bring up your metabolism, metabolic rate and lower blood sugars.
  2. Your body mainly only uses two sources for fuel: Fat and Sugar. Eliminate the sugar/carbs and your body will have no choice but to burn the fat for energy. Use more energy, burn more fat.
  3. Boost your Protein. Protein helps you with cravings by making you feel full. Protein also maintains your muscle mass.
  4. Cycle your calories. Cycling your calories keeps your body confused and not thinking that you are in trouble like it does with steady restrictions. For example, restricting calories for 3 or 4 days then going back to your baseline calories on day 5 and then back down will keep your body thinking everything is fine without panicking and dropping your metabolism to compensate. This one “cheat day” will get your leptin levels back up. Note: Cheat day does NOT mean eat a bunch of cupcakes and triple your normal calorie intake.
  5. I personally love Intermittent Fasting for cycling or even going vegan for a few days but that’s a personal choice and I’m not suggesting, diagnosing or whatever else lawyers don’t like me saying. 

We have been taught that calories in / calories out is the key to weight loss. Unfortunately, there is a tremendous amount of research showing that is not the case. You can have the same number of calories in a piece of wood as you can in a Twinkie, but the wood is not going to make you gain weight. Weight loss has more to do with hormones and when we learn to get our bodies functioning the way God intended, our hormones will do what they are supposed to do and keep us in homeostasis. If you want more detailed information on this subject, the expert who is an actual doctor has completely blown me away. Sad that a lot of the information we’ve been given by doctors is just flat out bogus. This doctor’s name is Dr. Jason Fung

Stick to your plan, it’s permanent. Trust the process and keep doing a little better than you did yesterday. Results will come. 

My Self Coaching Challenges this week are:

  • Trust “the process” and the power of the compound effect. 
  • Food is Medicine. It can also be a harmful drug. Choose wisely.
  • Focus on my victories and not my failures. Scale showed jack squat this week, but my pants are baggy, my shirts are baggy and I’ve dropped two notches on my belt plus I already feel much better and energy levels are up.
  • No Rationalizations. When my body says “you’ve been doing great all week, that one candy bar isn’t going to mess you up, you used to eat a candy bar a day,” my mind is saying, “I don’t eat candy bars, sugar is my bad cells’ favorite food, why feed the dis-ease and inflammation?” 
  • This is a lifestyle, a healthy one. A lifestyle is permanent. I am not happy with where I’ve been or where I am so why in the world would I want to keep doing the same thing day after day? Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 
  • Study the healthy people you admire, you will find that their habits are not temporary, that’s just their lifestyle. They don’t think about it anymore, that’s just how they live. That’s where I need to get to. 

Here are some fun, “Did you Knows?” for This Week:

Veg of the week: All cruciferous vegetables: Common cruciferous vegetables are Kale, Broccoli, Mustard, Collard, Turnip Greens, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Bok Choi, Daikon, Arugula, Kohlrabi and Turnip Root. These are amongst the main ones in the group.

Sulforaphane: Sulforaphane Is a powerful phytochemical found mostly in cruciferous vegetables. Sulforaphane is one of the highest known antioxidants you can consume.

In an article released by MD Anderson Cancer Center, April 2020 : Sulforaphane benefits: How leafy veggies like broccoli and Brussels sprouts may help reduce your cancer risk, they list the many benefits of Sulforaphane and say that the best way to access this nutrient is to eat it in its plant form. 

Main Benefits of Sulforaphane:

  • It Neutralizes Toxins: Phytochemicals like sulforaphane are antioxidants that cancel out free radicals.
  • It Reduces Inflammation. Because sulforaphane neutralizes toxins, it also calms inflammation in your body.
  • It May Protect Your DNA. Some studies have shown that sulforaphane blocks mutations in DNA that lead to cancer.
  • It May Slow Tumor Growth. Sulforaphane has been shown to reduce the ability of cancerous cells to multiply.
  • It Is Readily Available. You don’t have to do anything complicated to access the sulforaphane in cruciferous vegetables. All you have to do is steam the veggies or eat them raw. Roasting them also retains most of the nutrients.

Exercise Tip of the Week: Many folks avoid exercise due to pain or fear of injury. Others just hit it way too hard in the beginning and risk injuring themselves or get so sore they quit before they ever get started. With our athletes, we have a few hacks that help max you out without the risk of injury while helping you recover faster than ever with minimal soreness or joint pain:

  • Isometrics: The most boring way to exercise in the world but the most effective at creating adaptations in the body. When you push or pull as hard as you can against an immoveable object for as long as you can your muscles go through a 100% activation phase that is higher than your typical eccentric / concentric exercises. A muscle has three main contractions: concentric, eccentric and isometric. Concentric is the execution or the positive, extending in bench press, straightening up in squats, curling towards chest in curls. Eccentric is the opposite of Concentric so that would be the (negative, lowering of weight during bench press or squats, lowering the bar in curls, etc.) Then there is the mighty Isometric, meaning that you hold the weight still at max effort for as many seconds as possible. Research shows that athletes get as good of speed results with isometrics as they do with plyometrics and are much safer than high-impact plyometric jumping. 
  • Occlusion Training: This is where we place blood flow restrictive bands on the upper arms or upper legs of the athletes when they are going through their burnout sets after a lifting session. BFR bands should only restrict the venous blood supply (pumps towards the heart) and not your arterial blood flow (pumps away from the heart.) You want your band to be tight but not tourniquet tight. BFR training allows you to train at 20% your max weight but get the same “pump” from that lower weight. Your brain senses the pump and floods your muscle with healing, fresh oxygenated blood and a huge number of hormones and endorphins helping you to recover faster and for maximum growth.

I hope you have a blessed week and keep grinding. It’s your new life, your pathway to the new you, no matter what that lying scale has to say about it. 😊

Blake La Grange

Val Verde Vegetable Co. 

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