Shifting Metabolism

If you have ever been on a diet plan, you have probably experienced this at some point. Especially, the diet plans that foretell magical outcomes in short cycles. Promises are made that water will turn to wine and the seas will part. At times, you even succeed; only to rapidly return to filling your old clothes. Your body missed the extra space. It is not your fault. Your body is designed so. Were it not, you may not survive a famine or a long period without food. It is called metabolic adaptation. Let me explain.

Imagine your body is used to eating 2200 calories regularly. Your nutritionist asked you to cut back to 1400 calories. He also changed the composition of your food to include the right source for nutrition. The fat melted much like taking a blowtorch to a slab of butter. Good news but before you knew it, not only was the fat back, you ended up looking a mite more prosperous. Your body just went through metabolic adaptation.

Metabolic adaptation occurs when your body starts producing similar levels of energy by consuming lower amount of calories (energy). It is to ensure your survival as your body has no way of knowing that you decided to eat less. The mistake we make is to immediately increase the calories as soon as the goals are achieved; almost to celebrate. With a metabolic adapted body, the extra calories go into storage making you regain weight. You fight this by trying to cut back on food, but you are dealing with a body that has already adapted. You would need to go below 1400 calories to lose weight which is suicidal. Your weight yo-yo’s and you quickly give up the fight. Diets acquire a bad name as they have not created permanent outcomes. The solution? Ask your nutritionist how you can add food back once you have lost weight.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.