Post-Diet Rebounds… Or Possible Metabolic Burnout?

Let’s face it, when it comes to losing weight and getting in shape YOUR DIET WILL ALWAYS BE KEY!! But how does one choose a diet that is right for them with all the FAD diets floating around?  Some of the more popular diets are the Competition diet, Atkins diet, South Beach diet, Mediteranean diet, HCG diet, Negative Calorie diet & Acai Berry diet, even the Juicing diet… Each one of these diets requires an absence or deficit of at least one important component in what is considered a balanced, healthy diet. Most ‘diets’ consist of a 6-12 week timeframe.  So what happens when you have completed your 6-12 weeks and start to incorporate those missing components back in?  Nothing good.  As an example, I’ll use the HCG diet.

This particular diet requires daily doses of HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) a hormone produced during pregnancy. Along with the HCG doses, this diet limits daily caloric intake to a drastically low 500 calories per day over the course of 21- 40 days. The goal of this diet is to ensure that you loose 1- 3 lbs per day. I don’t care who you are, anyone will loose weight on a daily 500 calorie diet… You are starving your body, and the 1-3 lb daily weight loss most likely is the loss of total body mass. So it is not just body fat you are loosing, you are sacrificing vital lean muscle as well. Be mindful that when you go back to your “Normal” 1200+ calorie diet there could be some major increases on that scale!  The rebounds from this kind of low calorie diet can be astronomical.

I’ve witnessed the same process with Competition diets as well. As a Figure competitor myself, I have been through the 12 week Competition diet and have experienced the weight rebounds 1st hand. Don’t get me wrong, it’s motivating watching your body get leaner and leaner each week… but soon after it’s tough to see the weight pile back on in such a short amount of time. Although, I have to consider myself one of the lucky ones, as my body doesn’t have massive rebounds post-show and it naturally tends to stay lean in the off-season. My off-season weight is usually within 10lbs of my stage weight.  But keep in mind, I eat clean year-round.  So for me, off-season doesn’t mean pizza, beer and chocolate every night.  Other people aren’t so fortunate, and their post-show rebounds could be 15-20+ lbs!

When it comes to timing and starting your diet, the farther you get away from a good off-season weight, the farther out you have to start another show diet. 12 weeks is usually standard, but if you have more to lose, then 16-21 weeks puts you between 4-6 MONTHS of dieting.  The key is to allow enough time for your body to loose the weight at a healthy pace (1/2 lb-1lb per wk). Your body may be stubborn, so just remember to listen to it and trust the process! Everyone’s body and metabolism are different, so you have to have patience and at the end of the day if you are burning more calories than you consume the results will be there.

Post-“diet” it is only natural for your body to somewhat rebound and then go back to its “Normal” weight. But what if the rebound is so extreme that you end up heavier than when you started the initial diet process? Do you go back on another diet, increase your cardio, decrease or increase your food intake? What if you are being proactive in making some adjustments, but realize the weight isn’t coming off and the scale actually keeps going up?! This could be a more problematic issue.  I find myself hearing more and more about this when it comes to very low calorie/carb diets with high amounts of cardio over an extended period of time. Metabolic damage or “Metabolic Burnout” is rare but has been know to occur in diets consisting of less than 1100 calorie diet when combined with weight workouts AND extremely high cardio (2-4 hours cardio) 5-6 days a week for a prolonged period of time. People will notice their body responds less and less to the diet process and regardless of being back to a normal off-season diet, they still experience weight gain! Should any of these red flags occur, acknowledge them and seek out proper action to keep from possible problems with your health in the future.

Other signs of Metabolic Damage of “Metabolic Burnout” include:

  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain on an already low calorie diet
  • Bloating / Digestive issues
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Lack of interest
  • Use of sleep aids
  • Inability to maintain a healthy weight

Metabolic Burnout after a diet is a serious concern.  But as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  To make sure you’ve staying on a healthy track, my biggest piece of advice is to find a reputable Nutritionist or Diet Coach to guide you every step of the way.  When considering different coaches, do your research.  Be sure to obtain feedback or testimonials of their current and former clients. A good Nutritionist and Diet Coach knows how to look at your current situation and get you from where you are today to where you need to be.  And if your body doesn’t respond, they also know how to properly tweak your diet and training to get you back on track.

There is a lot of preparation that goes into dieting, but anticipating what your body will do following the conclusion of any sort of diet is also important to consider.  Know what you’re going to experience post-diet, what your new nutrition goals are, and your plan of action following whatever specific diet you are on.  And most importantly… when in doubt, listen to your body!