Both research and everyday observations indicate that while weight loosing your metabolism slows down. This is an adaptive response of the body to a situation in which calorie consumption does not cover daily requirements. The result is slowing down of the progress and sometimes blocking any completely, which of course is frustrating and kills your motivation. In such a situation, many people try to go drastic and deepen caloric restriction which does not always produce the desired effect. A much better way is to use the tricks that allow to outwit your body and accelerate metabolism.
Is metabolism slowdown imminent?
Theoretically, metabolism slowdown is a natural consequence of the introduction of a diet with negative caloric balance. In practice, however, it may happen that appropriate qualitative and quantitative selection of food does not reduce the rate of metabolism, but actually results in its acceleration. This happens especially in obese people whose significant excess of fat tissue led to a specific metabolic downfall, impairing the functioning of mechanisms controlling collection and expenditure of energy. In such situations, there is a very intriguing phenomenon in which with every lost kilogramme the metabolism speeds up, energy demand is growing and you need to systematically add more calories to your diet.
However, such cases must be regarded rare, or at least should not be treated as a rule. And even in situations when these phenomena occur, they are limited in time and after some period there comes a point where the rate of fat loss is slowed down markedly. And on this occasion, I would like to draw attention to ways of overcoming this deadlock, accelerating metabolism and increasing fat burning.
To understand leptin
In order to understand the mechanisms responsible for slowing down your progress during weight loss you should pay attention to the unique properties of leptin. Leptin is a peptide hormone secreted mainly by adipose tissue, its concentration in blood is clearly correlated with the level of body fat. This adipokine has extremely broad spectrum of activity. it influences different tissues, organs and systems, has both direct influence on the organism and through the sympathetic nervous system. Leptin also participates in the regulation of many body functions, including functioning of the immune, circulatory and reproductive systems. But we are particularly interested in the impact it has on the functioning of the energy management.
You should know that leptin has the ability to influence the mechanisms responsible for the control of appetite. Thanks to the circulation system it reaches the brain where it binds to its receptors in the hypothalamus and regulates the activity of hormones such as neuropeptide Y (NPY), Proopiomelanocortin (POMC) and a corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) which is not going to be described more broadly here. It is worth to note that the result of this relationship is reduction of appetite which leads to smaller food intake. Most important in the context of the interesting aspects is that leptin regulates not only energy consumption but also its spending, and this way affects the metabolic rate, which is related in large part to leptin's impact on the functioning of the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis.
The mechanism described above is not completely understood; it is believed that it is bidirectional, ie. leptin affects thyroid function whereas hormones produced by this gland affect leptinemia. It makes no sense, however, to delve into the complex physiological mechanisms, it is important that leptin increases the metabolic rate, which influences the activity of the thyroid gland as well as some peripheral tissues. It has been shown, among others features, that this hormone in adipose tissue causes lesser expression of genes encoding enzymes in fatty acid synthesis (and increased expression of genes encoding enzymes responsible for the hydrolysis (breakdown) of triacylglycerols, and stimulate thermogenesis.
All the above data clearly demonstrate that maintaining a high level of leptin helps to maintain a high metabolic rate, thus facilitating reduction of body fat. The problem lies in the fact that, as already mentioned, the level of leptin correlated with the level of body fat. So when we begin to lose weight, the activity of this hormone is reduced. The basic biological role of leptin is to signal the energy deficit (which is related to the decrease in its concentration in the bloodstream). The consequence is increased appetite, decreased thermogenesis, as well as slowdown of many other power related processes connected with the work of the immune system and reproductive function. Simply put: weight loss leads to a progressive decrease in leptin level, resulting in a slowdown of metabolism and a reduction in weight loss progress. Fortunately, there are ways to increase the activity of this hormone and speed up the metabolism.
Raise your leptin level: you will boost your metabolism
As we already know leptin level correlated with the amount of body fat. That's not all. The activity of this hormone may also be associated with diet both in terms of total daily energy supply and consumption of certain macronutrients. The deeper caloric deficit combined with little carbohydrates in your diet, the more rapid is the drop of leptin level. The more calorie supply and the greater part of them come from carbohydrates (especially highly-glycemic), the faster is the growth of leptin level. This occurs regardless of the level of body fat. Now consider what you can do with this knowledge to facilitate reduction in practice?
Recognising the problem
If you have already been through at least a dozen or so weeks of solidly carried out reduction and you have lost a few kilos, you may think about the introduction of nutritional treatments aimed at speeding up the metabolism. It is particularly justified if the symptoms listed below are more severe:
- a clear slowdown of progress despite the deepening caloric restriction / increasing exercise loads,
- reduction of thermogenesis / more susceptible to hypothermia,
- increased appetite / wolf's hunger,
- decreased libido,
- decrease in mental performance,
- decrease in spontaneous physical activity.
These symptoms may indicate a decrease in the level of leptin, which clearly affects the metabolic rate. In such cases, the following scenarios are possible: either you stop the reduction, or you carry on but using different rules. Definitely safer is the first option. Only after you are done with this one, can you consider introduction of other possibilities.
Basic assumptions of a metabolism restarting diet
The most effective way to speed up your metabolism is to increase the consumption of energy, preferably to the level similar or only slightly lower (approx. 5 - 10%) than your daily requirements. It is safer to spread the calorie intake so that their larger share fell on training days. Increased consumption of energy will signal to your body that the famine is already finished and that you can turn off the saving mode, or at least loosen the metabolic reins. It really works. It is worth remembering that an important part of your metabolism restarting diet are carbohydrates and you simply cannot miss them. The best time for carbs consumption is the post-workout period and - surprisingly - evening hours (and not morning as many people think).
By affecting insulin carbohydrates may: on the one hand, make metabolism of thyroid hormones more efficient, on the other, reduce the activity of the protein which binds sex steroids, this way leading to increased level of free testosterone, and in addition will also help to raise the level of leptin and serotonin levels and reduce catabolic cortisol. All these aspects have a substantial impact on the metabolic rate. Sometimes after only two days of such a diet you can notice mood improvement, increase in energy during trainings, increased libido and also you can experience the already forgotten feeling of warmth after a meal (which is associated with postprandial thermogenesis, weakened in the course of dieting).
It is important that the basis of your diet was made of low-processed products, but you should also make some room for more recreational extras such as a some dark chocolate, a portion of ice cream or even a piece of pizza. Not only it would provide an appropriate dose of energy and important nutrients, but also it will slightly "loosen" your approach and relieve the accumulated stress. In this case, you can use the "non-physiological functions of eating" and improve your mood. But keep in mind that the boundary between the "unlocking metabolism" and sabotaging hard-earned effects is quite thin. If you sail too far on the wave of relaxing your regime, you can wake up in a roadside bistro with the awareness that your vision of a dream shape has just been exchanged for a few servings of French fries.
How much time is needed to speed up the metabolism?
It is difficult to say how much time is needed to speed up the metabolism slowed down by long-term slimming. Certainly one weekend is not enough. Most optimal range is one or two weeks. Shorter restarts are unproductive, longer - make you lazy and may lead to loosing sight of the goal. Some people, however, need more time to recover, but it's difficult to predict it without performing specialized tests (cortisol, TSH, morphology, sex hormones). In brief, it can be assumed that for each week of body fat reduction one day of rest is required, so if you have kept the fast for two months, you require at least a week to restart on higher calories consumption.
After a period of metabolic restart you can go back to dieting, trying to start the reduction of moderate caloric deficit (which is higher than the pre-break) and observing your organism's response at the same time. Progress should be satisfactory from the outset. But you should remember that the momentum achieved thanks to a couple or several days of rest, will not last forever. Therefore, it's good to consider having cheat meals or single cheat days with high calories intake from time to time. They will serve as a buffer that would inhibit leptin decreases. More about this type of solutions will be written when discussing diet solutions used during mastering your shape in people with moderate or low level of body fat.
The reduction of body fat, nutrition actions and training that accompany your weight loss at a certain point may lead to reduction in metabolic rate. In such a case, instead of tightening restrictions you should introduce several, even a dozen days rest from an uncompromising diet. With this solution metabolism has a chance to "catch a breath," and work again to your advantage.
· *Cancello R., Tounian A., Poitou Ch., Clement K.: Adiposity signals, genetic andbody weight regulation in humans. Diab Metab 2004; 30: 215-227 · *Kershaw EE., Flier JS.: Adipose tissue as an endocrine organ. J Clin EndocrinolMetab 2004; 89: 2548-2556 · *Klein S., Coppack SW., Vidya Mohamed-Ali., Landt M.: Adipose tissue leptinproduction and plasma leptin kinetics in humans. Diabetes 1996; 45: 984-987 · *Sinha MK., Opentanova I., Ohannesian JP., Kolaczynski JW., Heiman ML., HaleJ., Becker GW., Bowsher RR., Stephens TW., Caro JF.: Evidence of free and boundleptin in human circulation: studies in lean and obese subjects and during short termfasting. J Clin Invest 1996; 98: 1277-1282 · *Kim MS., Small CJ., Stanley SA.: The central melanocortin system affects thehypothalamo-pituitary thyroid axis and may mediate theeffect of leptin. J Clin Ivest2000; 105: 1005-1011 · *Fliers J.S., Harris M., Hollenberg A.N.: Leptin, nutrition, and the thyroid: thewhy, the wherefore, and the wiring. J Clin Invest 2000; 105: 859 · *http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/
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