The Metabolic Savings Account: Why Losing Weight Gets Harder Every Time

INTRODUCTION

Losing fat is undoubtedly one of the most difficult tasks an individual will endure in their life. It takes discipline, sacrifice, focus, and most importantly time and patience. After a person loses weight, one of two things will happen. The person will either keep the weight off, which rarely happens, or the person will rebound and gain it all back (most times even more than before the diet). Then, weeks or months later, the individual decides to make that weight loss journey again. However, they come to find it isn’t quite as easy this time around. They use the same diet/training methods, and work twice as hard. Eventually, the weight comes off. Then, here comes Thanksgiving, and then Christmas. What do you know? They gained all the weight back, again. New Year’s soon follows and as a resolution they decide to lose the weight once and for all. It shouldn’t be in issue, I mean they have lost those 20lbs twice before, so why can’t they do it again? Weeks go by, and only small weight loss occurs. A month goes by, and nothing- not even a pound is lost. No matter how hard or long you work out, nothing happens. On top of that, you find you are basically starving yourself. So you ask yourself, “Why does it keep getting harder?”. The answer is simple, metabolic damage.

SAVINGS ACCOUNT ANALOGY

To explain this phenomenon, it helps to visualize it as a bank account. The calories burned by cutting calories, weight training, and cardio will be represented as the money in your account. You will use the money in this account to purchase fat loss. This example is further illustrated with tables later in the post, I really think it ties everything together. If you are a competitor, just think of each weight loss attempt as another prep.

At the start of the first diet you have $2,500 in your bank account. To get things started you could pay $500* to lose about a pound a week, but you don’t. You want things quicker, so you make a $1,000 deposit (aka fad diets), leaving you with $1,500 in your account. This purchase allows you to lose 20lbs in a month! Money well spent, right? Well, not exactly, and here’s why. First off, the maximum amount of body fat the average person can lose in a week is around 2lbs, but you lost 5lbs a week.Which means there was a lot of water, and possibly even some muscle lost as well. You don’t care though, the scale says you lost 20lbs, and that’s all that matters to you.

*500 calories is the suggested amount to deduct in order to lose 1 pound a week.

You quit the weight-loss attempt, and return to your previous habits. A month goes by, and you have gained all your weight back. In fact, you weigh 5lbs more than last time. So, based on past experience, you decide to purchase some more fat loss. You check your bank account and it says $1,700, because it has only been 4 weeks, and you couldn’t save much (you saved up only $200). You hesitate a little, but then you remember you have beach trip in a month, so you fork over $1,000 just like last time. However, you find things went different this time, they were harder. You found your money didn’t go as far, and you were hungrier, suffering more. Not to mention that you only have $700 left in your savings account at this point.

You just returned from your beach trip, and boy was it fun! All the drinking, eating, and lounging was great. The best part is, you have a trip to the lake house in only two weeks! However, the scale at the gym says you regained that 15lbs on your trip. You check your bank account, and see that you still only have $700. At this point you do one of two things. You either pay that last $700, which results in starving yourself and working out way too much, or you accept your fate.

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO

When you want to go on a vacation or buy a car, you don’t start saving money the week before the trip or car purchase, so WHY do you think dieting is any different? If you are trying to make a fat loss change, a real change; then do it the right way. Start with the minimum $500-dollar deposit, and allow yourself enough time to make slow and sustainable payments. Then, when you finally hit your goal, don’t just gain the weight back without refilling your savings account.

TABLE REPRESENTATION

Weight Loss Attempt 1

This is the starting point. Your metabolism is healthy, making it the ideal time for weight loss. The correct approach would be to make small deficits, causing moderate, but healthy weight loss. However, you don’t do that, you make a big one; you want results fast.

table 1
click to enlarge the tables

 

Weight Regain Phase 1

This is the point where you lost the weight, and immediately went back to your old dietary habits and sedentary lifestyle. Not to mention the diet-induced hunger influences that persuade you to binge.  This is detrimental, because your metabolic rate is now lower, so you store fat easier than before.

table 1

Weight Loss Attempt 2

This is what happens when you decide to start another over aggressive weight loss trial, without allowing your body the time to re-set your metabolic rate. You had to reduce calories even more than before, and add even more cardio.

table 3.PNG

Weight Gain Phase 2

This is what happened on your beach trip. You over ate, causing rapid weight gain. The weight gain was faster than ever, because your metabolism was damaged from the excessive dieting over the past couple of months. The lower your metabolic rate, the easier you pack on the pounds. At this point, you’re 5lb heavier than before your first diet, and 2-3% higher in body fat.

table 4.PNG

REFILLING YOUR BANK ACCOUNT

Refilling your bank account is a discussion all in its own. It’s done by training your metabolism through reverse dieting, and the tapering of excess physical activity (usually cardio). This process requires a lot of explaining, therefore, I will be writing another article in the future to cover it. Keep a lookout for it sometime next month.

 

Kyle Blair

Email: kblair_fitness@aol.com

#kblairfitness

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CITATIONS

  1. Crujeiras AB, Goyenechea E, Abete I, Lage M, Carreira MC, Martínez JA, Casanueva FF. Weight regain after a diet-induced loss is predicted by higher baseline leptin and lower ghrelin plasma levels. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Nov;95(11):5037-44. Epub 2010 Aug 18.
  2. Fukagawa NK, Bandini LG, Young JB. Effect of age on body composition and resting metabolic rate. Am J Physiol 1990; 259: E233–8.
  3. Soares MJ, Shetty PS. Basal metabolic rates and metabolic economy in chronic undernutrition. Eur J Clin Nutr 1991; 45: 363–73. Medline
  4. Wing RR, Hill JO. Successful weight loss maintenance. Annu Rev Nutr 2001;21:323–41.
  5. Weinsier, Roland, Et. Al.- Do adaptive changes in metabolic rate favor weight regain in weight-reduced individuals? An examination of the set-point theory1,2,3. Am J Clin Nutr November 2000 72 no. 5 1088-1094
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