CRASH DIETING – HOW TO DO IT RIGHT!
PART 1 of 3 | METABOLIC DAMAGE
Everyone wants to lose weight, and lose it fast, but we all know crash dieting is never the best approach…
…BUT IT’S NOT AS BAD AS “THEY” MAKE IT OUT TO BE.
“They all say slow and steady wins the race, and, to be honest, IT MOST CERTAINLY WINS when it comes to weight loss AND maintaining weight loss…but “ain’t nobody got time for that!”
All joking aside though, it’s not so much about time than about motivation, patience, and persistence…and over time people seem to lose all three.
So, yeah, it’s true what “They” say, “slow and steady wins the race”, BUT “They” also say a lot of b-s associated with crash dieting.
A FEW TERMS BEFORE WE BEGIN
FYI – it is universally recommended that one should not go lower than a net daily caloric intake of 1,200 calories per day…but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it some days or that some people can’t function without a net caloric intake well below the recommended 1,200 per day.
Now, before we continue with this post, I’d like to cover a few quick items.
In the health and fitness world, “crash dieting” is typically considered any diet that drastically reduces ones’ daily caloric intake. Typically, a crash diet reduces ones daily net caloric intake to around 1,000 calories and sometimes even as low as 500 calories per day. For the purpose of this post, we’ll define “crash dieting” as consuming a net caloric intake of less than the recommended 1,200 calories per day.
TOTAL DAILY ENERGY EXPENDITURE (TDEE)
If my body’s daily total energy need for normal everyday activity (i.e., to stay alive and awake) is 2,000 calories per day and my workouts burn an extra 500 calories than my TDEE would be 2,500 calories (my body’s normal everyday caloric need, 2,000, + the extra calories my workouts burn, 500).
So, if my TDEE is 2,500 calories then I will need to consume at least 1,700 calories a day to stay in the recommended 1,200 net calories per day.
Assuming the goal to be the recommended daily 1,200 calorie minimum, I calculated 1,700 calories a day by simply adding the extra 500 calories from my daily exercise to the recommended 1,200 calorie daily minimum.
So, if my net daily caloric intake goal is 1,200 calories, on the days I workout I would eat however many calories more my workouts burned on top of the base 1,200 calories (i.e., if a workout burns 200 calories I’d eat 200 more calories on that day for a total of 1,400 calories…1,200 + 200 calories). NOTE that if, in this example, I didn’t workout then I would just eat 1,200 calories.
And, there you have it, a very simplified example of how many calories I would eat if trying to stay at, or above, the recommended daily minimum net caloric intake one should consume.
CRASH DIET = CRASHED METABOLISM
Over three years ago I found myself 80 pounds over my “regular” weight. I went from around 160 to 240 pounds (from a medium shirt to XL pushing XXL and from a 29” waist to nearly a 38” waist). I was as big as I had ever been and literally weeks away from starting medication for hypertension and high cholesterol.
The day I decided to take control was the day I left the doctor’s office with a few pamphlets I was told to “discuss with (my) wife because these things are very serious…life threatening to be honest.”
So, I went home, discussed my cholesterol and hypertension conditions with my wife, and decided to change my lifestyle right then and there. Overnight I was 110% committed to working out daily with extra cardio sessions 5 days a week and 120% committed to going on a diet.
My new diet plan, or, as I prefer to call it, eating plan, consisted of, and stop me if you’ve heard this one, a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, and a sensible dinner.
No, it wasn’t Slim Fast, but instead my own take on it.
Over the next 3 months I lost 40 pounds!
Sounds awesome right?
It was…until I plateaued for the next year – absolutely no weight loss after the initial 40 pounds which I lost in the first 3 months.
I went from eating about 2,800 calories a day to about 700 – 1,000 calories a day, and, though I never “crashed” off the diet, my metabolism did “crash” on the diet.
Before I knew it, my metabolism had adjusted to the new lower amount of calories I was taking in and, in doing so, pretty much learned how to put a halt to my weight loss.
OUR METABOLISM IS NOT A CLOSED SYSTEM
We have been told since Kindergarten that weight loss is simple – you have to eat less than what you use.
For the most part this is still 100% true…but it’s implications have been proven 100% false.
WHAT WE HEAR:
To Maintain Weight, calories in = calories out
To Lose Weight, calories in < calories out
To Gain Weight, calories in > calories out
WHAT WE ASSUME:
Well, we assume…exactly what is noted above…we assume what we are told. We are pretty much taught to believe that our metabolisms are closed systems…what we put in and what we put out should equal or we will lose or gain weight.
BUT OUR METABOLISMS ARE NOT CLOSED SYSTEMS!
You see, if our metabolisms were a closed system, with no other outside forces, then the math would be simple, to lose weight we’d simply eat less calories than we the calories we use…
…So why the hell did I hit a three year plateau while I was working out like crazy and only eating about 1,000 calories a day?
Well, the answer is simple really, because, for some reason or another, weight loss, weight maintenance, or weight gain is not simply about calories in vs. calories out.
LOSING WEIGHT BY EATING MORE
So, there I was, sticking to my “crash diet” like a pro even though I hadn’t lost a single pound for over a year.
Yeah, I lost an impressive 40 pounds in just 3 months BUT I then hit a brick wall…nothing else came off for over a year…that is until I got off my crash diet and started eating more.
As many of you may already know, my year-long-weight-loss plateau ended the day I started P90X.
When I started P90X, I decided to devote the next 90 days to following Mr. Horton’s workout and eating plan to a “T”…and the rest is history…a history I am going to elaborate a bit more on now.
700 MORE CALORIES A DAY
The first thing I noticed when starting P90X was that the eating plan called for me eating an extra 700 calories!
Sounds awesome right?
Well, it sounded awesome until I realized how hard it was going to be to eat the extra 700 calories a day after eating so little for almost 2 years.
The first day of the program was a bit of a shock, not in terms of the workout but certainly in terms of the eating plan. I found myself eating not because I was hungry but because I had to…and by the end of week one I had gained about 3 pounds!
Needless to say I was a bit worried. As a matter of fact, I was a bit depressed, stressed, and in a bit of a panic but I had decided to go all in with the program and that’s exactly what I did. I stuck to the P90X workouts and eating plan and within 3 weeks had lost 11 pounds – the initial 3 I had gained and an extra 8 pounds off that…8 pounds I hadn’t been able to lose in over a year.
EAT MORE, GROW MORE, LIFT MORE, LOSE MORE…SAY WHAT?!
It was crazy – after a year of absolutely no weight loss, I had lost nearly 15 pounds in 8 weeks time…all while eating 700 more calories a day!
At first I couldn’t believe it. As noted above, it made absolutely no sense to me because losing weight while eating more calories went against everything I had been taught…it went against everything “They” said.…but luckily, science doesn’t let mysteries stay mysteries for long…so don’t always listen to what “They” say!
When I started looking into the mystery that was my caloric surplus weight loss phenomenon, I learned that “crash diets” could actually “crash” our metabolism.
This means, as noted above, my metabolism adjusted to its daily 1,000-calorie diet and learned how to reach equilibrium (calories in equaling to calories out) with the calorie deficiency I was providing it for so long.
You see, for reasons we’ll discuss later, it is now known that our metabolism knows how to self-regulate a bit better than we’ve given it credit for!
Okay, cool, metabolic damage may have explained my weight loss plateau BUT it did nothing towards explaining my weight loss achievements when I started eating 700 more calories a day.
METABOLIC CRASHES CAN BE UNCRASHED…REPAIRING METABOLIC DAMAGE
As noted above, but, more importantly, as I personally experienced, crash diets can cause crashed metabolisms….but there is hope!
Over the last couple of years studies have started coming out showing that metabolic damage is actually real and that, more importantly, metabolic damaged can be reversed (i.e., we can “un-crash” our crashed metabolism)…
…and this, my friends, is why I broke a year-long weight-loss plateau eating 700 more calories a day.
Sounds too good to be true no?
Well, stay tuned because the story only gets better…especially once Intermittent Fasting enters the picture!
In this episode we learned that we can indeed “crash” our metabolism via “crash diets” BUT next time we’ll learn how “crash diets” done right, can help repair our “crashed” metabolisms while helping us bust through weight-loss plateaus!