Why it’s so hard to keep weight off after a rapid weight loss….
Rapid weight loss and crash diets are very attractive because they can be a quick fix. However, there are hidden side effects that make it more difficult to keep weight off long term. In fact, the human body is hardwired with “survival” mechanisms that work against the shocking effects of crash diets.
Reduced Resting Metabolic Rate
Resting Metabolic Rate, or RMR, is the amount of calories burned in a 24 hour period if you did nothing besides lay in bed and breathe. RMR makes up the largest percentage of your total calories burned in a day; way more than daily activities and even high intensity exercise. So naturally, one of the most important mechanisms for losing body fat and keeping it off is having a high RMR.
When you crash diet or lose weight too quickly, your body views this is a period of starvation. Its reaction to a potentially life threatening food scarcity is to reduce RMR so that you aren’t wasting any calories.
Once your RMR has dropped (there are hormones in the thyroid that are responsible for RMR regulation which change during sever calorie restriction) it becomes impossible to return to a “normal” diet after crash dieting, without regaining weight. In order to avoid another perceived period of near starvation, the body is programmed to accumulate more body fat and more quickly than before.
How to avoid this??
It’s true that you have to create a calorie deficit in order to lose weight. The size of the calorie deficit is what matters. Too large of a calorie deficit will cause reduced RMR to avoid running out of stored energy, while a slight calorie deficit will allow the body to burn stored fat while maintaining muscle mass and most importantly keeping RMR high. Using a slight caloric deficit will allow the body to burn its fat without long term side effects of reducing RMR.
Where does nutrition coaching fit in?
We work with our nutrition clients to identify each person’s specific RMR and total daily calorie expenditure so we can help them reduce body fat without their body eventually going into starvation mode.
We also adjust dietary intake to balance carb, fat, and protein consumption to aid in fat loss and maintaining RMR. These are the critical steps in losing body fat and keeping it off long term.
If you are interested in Nutrition coaching check out our 6 Week Challenge here