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The Missing Link To Making Your Diet Work

Let me describe a situation that I see and hear about from clients quite frequently. You make the decision to lose weight and come right out of the gate with some pretty significant changes.

You’ve pulled out the junk foods, sweets, and diet sodas for the most part and transitioned to a diet of “healthy” foods. You’ve also started exercising and doing cardio several times a week.

This should equal almost certain weight loss, right? Well as you may have learned through the school of hard knocks this isn’t always the case.

It can be very frustrating to say the least. Especially when you see someone else doing what you’re doing and they’re losing weight.

Alright, step back and take a deep breath….let’s start with the reality that everyone is going to be a little bit different with what works for their body. And second let’s just except the fact that not everything is “fair” in life.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, have you ever stopped for a second to ponder whether or not everything you thought you knew about weight loss was true?

Seriously, take a good look at your belief systems and assess whether or not you can consistently confirm in the real world.

For example, who said that just because you started to eat “healthy” you’d automatically lose weight? What’s the reason for this? If you can’t answer it, question it.

There’s a couple of BIG misconceptions with weight loss and dieting. Let’s address the most common one.

Restricting calories (aka going on a diet) either works or doesn’t work!

Depending on who you ask you’ll get a different answer. The reality is the answer is both. You must have a restriction or deficit in calories at some point or there will be no reason for your body to tap into stored fat.

However, if you restrict calories too much, for too long, you’ll cause your metabolism to down-regulate and trigger your body to store fat. It’s not that “diets” don’t work….it’s that they don’t work the way most people try and use them, for long periods of time.

Caloric restriction is necessary and is a very valuable component in a weight loss program, but so is the opposite with “re-feeding” or creating a short term positive caloric balance. This is the piece most dieters leave out and it’s a BIG mistake.

You can’t restrict calories for long periods of time and expect your body to not adjust to it. You can be eating nothing but “healthy” foods and be dialed in with your exercise, but if you’re consistently fueling your body with under 1000 calories a day your weight loss is going to come to a halt.

Go ahead and try to add more cardio…..this is the typical first response to a weight loss plateau. If you’re in a caloric restrictive state this is only going to make things worse! You’ll continue to increase cortisol production and sacrifice lean muscle tissue. This is a certain recipe for thyroid down-regulation.

What you need to do is take a diet “BREAK!”

There I said it….this is the missing link to making your diet work.

Sound to simple to be true? I can assure you it’s not.

I explain the reasons why on the video that accompanies this post if you’re interested. But the bottom line is you just have to break from the restriction and EAT.

No, this doesn’t mean a junk food binge or a “free-for-all” with ice cream and sweets. Don’t buy into the hype from people who try and sell you on this idea. Sure it may work for the fortunate 5-10% of the population with high insulin sensitivity and a super fast metabolism, but for the average individual this a recipe for crashing.

What I’m talking about is “re-feeding” for 1-2 days by adding back in an additional 500-1000 calories from starch carbohydrates, preferably starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, or whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, etc. Just avoid the processed and refined garbage for the most part like always.

The re-feeding helps to surge back up hormones that have plummeted due to the restrictive diet. In short, you’re giving your metabolism a booster shot and helping to kick-start fat loss again.

This is how the human body has evolved and is designed to work. It doesn’t give up fat stores very easily. As you know it’s much easier to gain weight than lose it. This is your self preservation and survival mechanisms at play.

However, if you apply the same general idea of “eat, stop, eat” with your diet that we’ve evolved with, you can become very efficient at burning excess body fat.

The idea is everything must happen in short windows of time.

Don’t look to restrict for longer than 5-7 days before re-feeding. You’ll have to experiment with this. For a lot of people they’ll do better with 2-3 days of restriction before a re-feed day.

Like I mentioned before the re-feed day is simply a break from your diet. You’ll be adding some healthy carbs to your meals for that day. I’d recommend you start with one re-feed day in-between the diet phases.

Some individuals like bodybuilders will do better with a longer re-feed (48-60 hours) but I’ve found the typical individual with low to moderate insulin sensitivity will do best with a shorter “break.”

Bottom line when you’re stuck change things up. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Now granted there are foundational elements that stay the same regardless.

Yes, you want to eat mostly whole, natural foods in your diet. Yes, you want to be exercising 5 x week for at least 30 minutes at a time. Yes, you need adequate sleep, plenty of water, stress management, etc.

But when you’re eating less than 1000 calories a day, you’re going to have to take a break. No matter how much you push and look to increase caloric expenditure with exercise, your body will only push back that much harder. Self preservation mechanisms that are triggered from negative caloric balances are very, very real.

Keep pressing hard with the resistance training and cardio. Don’t let up there unless you feel over-trained, extremely sore, and fatigued. Just look to switch up your diet by adding some fuel and resetting your metabolism.

I’ve literally seen people lose 3-5 pounds after breaking from their diet for a couple of days and increasing 500-1000 calories. They think I’m crazy when I tell them to eat MORE but the rationale is 100% in-line with how the human body works.

Remember keep everything in short windows of time.

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston fitness trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts. With a staff of over 10 certified fitness professionals, Shaping Concepts provides personal fitness programs with a specialty on weight loss and body transformation. You can receive a no-obligations personal training trial and consultation to experience the difference for yourself.

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