Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Metabolic Damage

Have you stopped losing weight even though you are exercising for hours per day?  Your weight won't budge no matter how many times you slash your calories?  You could be suffering from metabolic damage.  Metabolic damage runs rampant among Figure, Bikini, and other physique competitors.  However, I've noticed lately that it's affecting daily gym-goers as well.

 Basically, this is what happens:  You start working out and lower your calories a bit and you lose some weight for awhile.  Eventually, you hit a plateau.  In order to bust through the plateau, you add more cardio and lower your calories again.  This works for awhile got it - another plateau.  By now, you are doing 2 hours of cardio a day, and eating 1,100 calories and now your weight won't budge.  You still aren't lean, you've fried your metabolism, and you can't possibly lower your calories anymore and still function.  Now what? Well, keep reading...

I read Facebook status updates daily that say things like, "Yay!  I ate a salad for lunch and 1 cup blueberries. Only 125 calories!"  

Um, what?  If your meal is only total 125-200 calories, simple math tells me that even at 6 meals a day, you aren't clearing 1,200 calories.  It's these same people that do 3 hour workouts.  Yikes!

I've received 6 emails over the last two months from women that are suffering from metabolic damage.  No matter how clean they eat and how much they workout, they can not lose weight, and in some cases, they are gaining weight.  I welcome these emails with an open mind and heart because I've dealt with metabolic damage myself and it's awful!  Not only does it just plain suck for your body, but it's very difficult mentally.  It took me almost an entire year to reset my metabolic set point.  It was hell and I can sympathize.
But I have bad news:  Until you rectify this problem, you will not get one step closer to your physique goals.  Matter of fact, it's highly likely you will get further away from them.

Erik Ledin of Lean Bodies Consulting does a fantastic job at delving into the cause and solution for people that suffer from metabolic damage.  Rather than try to reword his work, I will simply insert the links for you to check out.  There are two links describing metabolic damage, and one link that talks about what to do in order to fix it.

To read "Metabolic Slowdown part 1" click HERE 

To read "Metabolic Slowdown part 2" click HERE

For how to repair slow metabolism, click HERE

This is a fantastic video by Scott Abel and Kevin Weiss on metabolic slowdown.  It's very thorough and explains exactly why, how, and what to do to correct it.  As they say in this video, hours and hours of cardio on a low calorie diet is a setup for disaster!

If I can be of any help to you overcoming metabolic damage, please feel free to email me anytime at  Like I said above, I've been there, done that!


  1. Ha ha. I was scrolling down thinking, "oh man, she's gotta see that Scott Abel video. And there it was...

  2. This is definitely me! I was overweight my entire life and at my heaviest I weight 240 at 5'7". I lost 85 lbs in about a year and a half through diet and exercise. I now (and have for about 4 years) weigh between 154-157 on average, and carry quite a bit of muscle weight. I eat very clean but know that I am probably not eating enough. Being overweight previously causes me to have this mentality against eating too much. It scares the crap out of me. HELP!

    1. Hi Jen!
      First off, congratulations on your weight loss thus far!
      Unfortunately dieting is a very tricky thing and when one eats in a caloric deficit for months on end (like it sounds like you have) it can really slow your metabolism down. Without knowing all of your details, it's hard for me to know exactly what to suggest to you. I'd recommend working with a very solid nutrition coach (I offer services, along with my husband), or you can also check out Precision Nutrition's Lean Eating program.
      One thing I can most definitely recommend is that you schedule in periods of boosting your calories back up for a bit before you resume dieting again. Other things to take into consideration are high quality foods - plenty of organic veggies and meats, and plenty of healthy fats.

  3. Hi Jen! You are a rock star and I am so happy to have found you and all the GSS crew on FB! I've been lifting with Nia's beginner strength program she put up on her site a while back and have seen some gains thus far, which makes me happy happy. I've also adopted a Paleo/Weston A. Price type lifestyle about six months ago and feel great, but have dropped weight...which is NO BUENO. I don't feel hungry or deprived, for the most part, so I don't know how to bump my kcals up to sufficiently ADD WEIGHT back. I have done lots of research via Breaking Muscle, Beast Blog, Lean Gains, Rog Law, YOU, freaking everyone it seems on how to get my macros/kcals right so I can train hard (lifting and a half marathon in October) and put on the muscle/little body fat I desire. I used to be a cardio queen too, and I know I have some hormone imbalances currently from that, but not so much an issue holding onto body fat. I read your piece on Nutrition and did some math based on your recommendations, but am still finding the kcals low (I want to be a solid lean 120lb, so I'm using that number for my macros. I train hard lifting pretty heavy and doing metabolic work 3-4x a week, plus two days running moderate and maybe some bikram). I'm thinking I need about 2500kcals at least to build muscle and add a bit of fat to maintain leaness and get my hormones in check. Any suggestions? Was that the longest comment EVER?!
    Again, you ladies have inspired me to get out of the rat race and into the fitness industry, finally. xo Jenn

  4. Hey Jenn, kudos for the Scott Abel video, but are you aware of the current conflict between The Abel camp and Eric. It is so Ironic you put them on the same page so I assume you don't know or better yet don't care.