In Weight loss plateaus and metabolic adaptation, I covered how diets are failing us and how they set us up for long term failure when it comes to successful fat loss.
Here I’m going to go over ways that are used by coaches to minimise metabolic adaptation and avoid post-starvation obesity, better known and post-diet weight gain.
Before I go into that, I’m going to mention that you should always find maintenance calories before starting a fat loss phase. Establishing your exact maintenance calories will give you a good idea of where to go next when trying to achieve fat loss.
A simple way to find your maintenance calories is to use the Revised
harris-benedict equation (see below).
Females = 447.599 + (9.247 x body weight in kgs) + )3.098 x
height in cm) – (4.330 x age) = BMR
Males = 88.362 + (13.397 X weight) + (4.799 X height) – (5.677 x
age) = BMR
Once you have found your maintenance, you should sit at maintenance calories for 2 – 4 weeks before making any adjustments. If you gain weight, then drop your calories slightly, if you lose weight then increase your calories somewhat until your weight maintains for two weeks and if your weight stays the same then you have found your maintenance.
I also want to add when going into a fat loss phase you should always aim to keep your calories as high as possible and your deficit as reasonable as possible. Make adjustments every two weeks and based off how you are progressing. Slow weight loss takes time and patience, but it’s worth it.
How to resist metabolic adaptation.
- Smallest calorie deficit as possible – Dieting on the highest amount of calories with a small deficit from maintenance allows room for movement when metabolic adaptation to occur without having to go too low with your calories in the first place. For example, if you have maintenance calories of 2200, you may want to start with 2000 calories. Putting you into a small deficit but allows for ample room to move.
- Refeeds / High & low days – Have refeed days where you bring your calories up to near your maintenance calories.
- Diet breaks – Having regular diet breaks can regulate your hormones and metabolism when a plateau occurs. Diet breaks would go for 1 – 3 weeks where you would eat at maintenance calories. Once the diet break is over, and you go back into a fat loss phase, you should see your weight begin to drop again.
- Small calorie adjustments – Making minor calorie adjustments when a plateau occurs is usually all that is need to keep weight loss continuing. It also gives you more room for movement to make more small drop down the track if and when another plateau occurs.
- Mini reverse diet – A mini reverse diet can help with weight loss plateaus building your metabolism back up slowly before going back into a fat loss phase.
How to prevent post-diet weight gain.
Most people when dieting have a goal of weight loss, so when they reach that goal, they think now what? Usually, this lack of direction and having a more significant goal leads to post-diet weight gain.
As a result of dieting and weight loss, metabolic adaptation occurs. In the hope of reducing this, the techniques mentioned above will help to minimise metabolic adaptation.
Metabolic rate slows down for some time post dieting, which leaves us more susceptible to post-diet weight gain. And our hormone levels are lower post dieting too. A method that coaches use to nurture this and avoid minimal weight gain post diet is known as reverse dieting.
Reverse dieting is where you slowly reverse your calories up each week or two to a new maintenance point. However, this doesn’t work for everyone as it can prolong the dieting phase and set people up for over-consuming foods as their hunger sensations have increased. And their motivation to stick to a diet has decreased. They are fatigued both physically and mentally from dieting.
Therefore, another way of doing this is to increase your calories by 20-30% from your dieting calories. If you are someone who mentally struggles with the thought of eating so many calories straight away and maybe worried about weight gain, then increase your calories by 10-20% from your dieting calories. From then each week add in 100 calories until you have established your new weight maintenance.
Sticking to your reverse diet is just as essential as dieting its self. To maintain your results, it would be best if you were consistent with it. Meaning you must apply the same effort you did with your fat loss phase. Otherwise, you run the risk of gaining more weight than necessary post-diet.
Your goal should now shift from weight loss to focusing on maintaining your results and performance-based goals. Getting stronger and or fitter. Transformations and progress have no end dates. Applying these techniques should become an overall lifestyle change.