The concept of metabolic adaption is scary to me. Not because it’s right or wrong, but because it’s often prescribed to dieters without any examination.
People are told that if they have been dieting for a long period of time and are now having problems losing weight, then their hormone levels have been compromised by all the dieting and therefore they must ‘eat up’ for a length of time to restore their hormone levels.
And this *MAY* be true, but it also may not be true.
The problem with telling a person that their hormones levels are up or down is that you typically do not have any kind of baseline measurements.
It’s rare to hear that a person has a record of their blood profiles that were recorded when they were at their healthiest or at their ideal (ie. not overweight and not dieting).
Even if blood samples were taken right before a diet started, these numbers would be confounded by the fact the person most likely has extra fat to lose (so the levels may not be a true ideal, but instead depressed or elevated by the extra fat).
Most of the time, ‘metabolic adaptation’ is being diagnosed, and changes in hormone levels are being blamed, without a baseline measurement to compare to. And without a baseline, you’re just guessing.
Yes, we do have population averages – but typically these are wide ranges, sometimes very wide. And while coming in high or low of a population average is reason for further check up, it does not automatically indicate that this is the cause of your weight loss problems.
This is my problem with prescribing metabolic adaptation – you’re guessing when you should be measuring.
To be clear, there is NOTHING wrong with ‘eating up’. Generally I like people on Eat Stop Eat to be on no more than a 15% calorie deficit on the days they are not fasting, and I’d even like them closer to ‘maintenance’ the leaner they get. I don’t mind large caloric deficits for short periods of time (in people who can afford to be in a large deficit), but in general I like people to eat and then occasionally take a break from eating. People often hear the last part of that statement, but seem to want to ignore the first part
S0 my problem with ‘eating up’ isn’t the application or idea (which I like), but the reasoning (which concerns me).
This happens to a lot of good ideas in health and nutrition – We figure out that something helps, then we guess at why it helps, then when those guesses are questioned or proven wrong we throw the whole thing out, ignoring the fact that even if the ‘why’ was wrong, whatever you were doing WAS somehow helping.
The danger in guessing is that self-diagnosing could actually cause you to become a crazy fanatic worrier (because you’re worrying without facts), or worse, it could cause to you miss the diagnoses of a larger, potentially more dangerous problem.
If you think something is wrong, get it checked, compare it to some kind of baseline then move forward.
When it comes to dieting either go by feel (You feel tired and lethargic so you’re going to up calories a bit), go by measurements (Your Testosterone or Thryoid or Cortisol measurements are drastically lower then they were when you had them measured before you started this new diet, it’s time to change something), but don’t go by guessing (I’m feeling tired, therefore my adrenals are fatigued).