by Kris Pitcher
The truth is your metabolism is a delicate thing. It's touchy. It's the rate at which you burn calories. Simply put, you can turn it up, turn it down, or turn it off. It's all in how you manage it.
If we look at the typical "diet" it's a great example of what not to do to your metabolism. Very restricted calories and no exercise make up the silver bullet in most magical diet plans. We're highly restricting calories to create a deficit to lose weight. Great!
Except we're losing all kinds of weight. We're losing lean body weight, we're losing some fat weight, and we're losing some water weight too. Who cares as long as the scale is going down? Well, that muscle mass is metabolically active...it burns calories all the time.
Decreasing that means we've lowered how many calories we're burning. Hm? Turning DOWN our metabolism. Now we've got a skinny fat person. But this skinny fat person decides they can't stay on their 500 calorie diet, so they go back to how they used to eat.
Only now their metabolism is damaged, it's lowered. They are eating more, but burning less, and gaining lots. Yo-yo is born. Each time we do this it puts a strain on our system and damages our metabolism.
Our bodies want homeostasis. They would prefer we make very minor adjustments to get a response. A little change in our eating plan along with some added activity and we've got a winning combination. We're losing fat, likely building lean body mass and our metabolism is in tact.
What about the competitor? Someone who's dieting and doing show after show is putting a tremendous amount of stress on their system over an extended period. You're down-regulating your metabolism. You need a break.
Someone who is super low on calories AND doing massive amounts of cardio (because they gained 30 pounds off season) is putting a huge stress on their metabolic systems. I hear a lot about it, I read a lot about it and I wish people would be smarter about it.
Dieting down for a show isn't just about calories in, calories out, cardio, and lifting...you have chemistry going on in your body. You are effecting your endocrine system, your thyroid, your metabolism. Everything you do has lasting long-term effects.
In my sixth season of competing, after a successful - the most successful - off season of keeping things tight, I finally get it. Two successful off seasons in a row and my body looks completely different. My metabolism is also different, and in tact, safe...and I'm not doing 2 hours of cardio.
Are you? Metabolism is yours to make or break. There are only so many factors to manipulate to get a body to respond, and keep responding. We take them slow, one by one, safely...for a reason. Your health.