Avoid post-diet fat gain by gradually increasing the calories you consume to stoke your metabolism to higher levels, says Layne Norton
Dr Layne Norton is a physique coach and natural pro bodybuilder and powerlifter, who holds a PhD in Nutritional Sciences. He is based in Tampa, Florida.
I don’t like the term metabolic damage because it suggests irreparable harm has been caused, but this isn’t the case at all.
When you reduce the number of calories you eat, such as when you go on a diet, your metabolic rate slows down. This is nothing new. It’s an evolutionary survival response.
The problem arises when you come off the diet and resume a more relaxed nutritional protocol. You’re now consuming more calories but your metabolism is still suppressed, so more of what you eat is stored as body fat, because your body doesn’t need as many calories as it did before your diet to keep you functioning.
That’s why so many people put back on all the weight they’ve lost over the course of the diet in just a few weeks of coming off it.
A typical rule of thumb is that it takes your metabolic rate as many weeks to return to pre-diet levels as you dieted for. So if you were on a 16-week restricted-calorie plan then it is likely to take about four months to recover.
Gradually increasing calorie intake over time post-diet, instead of returning to pre-diet eating habits overnight, not only reduces the amount of body fat you’ll add, but in some cases can actually help you continue to stay lean.
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