Collapse is What Happens when You Rush Your Progress

Trying to change your diet and exercise at the same time is complicated. Read how this can lead to burnout here.

When you start out a new diet, it can be tempting to want to lose as much weight as you can, quickly.

Things can start out very well, you could lose more weight than you even expected. I’ve had new clients start out losing 5-7 lbs per week and even more in the first couple of weeks of training.

All this quick progress isn't bad but, it's a slippery slope. You don't want to fall into a temptation. This rate of "weight loss" isn't the norm.

Cutting even more calories must be better, more is more right? Well, not exactly.

If you try to lose weight too fast, you'll more than likely end up hurting yourself and gaining more back.

What Happens When You Run Out of Juice?

Weight loss is a math problem. You should aim to use more energy in a day than you take in, in the form of food.

How much energy you burn is determined by 4 things:

  1. The Thermic Effect of Feeding (TEF)
  2. Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT)
  3. Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)
  4. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

The thermic effect of feeding is the amount of energy it takes to digest your food. It's estimated to be anywhere from 8-15% of the energy your body needs in a day.

Exercise activity thermogenesis is formal exercise. It can obviously vary but, typically accounts for 15-30% of the calories you burn in a day.

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis is non-formal movement you perform throughout the day. Things like fidgeting, the amount of moving you do at work and in your free time fall into this category. Again, this varies but, is typically 15-30% of energy needs in a day.

Basal metabolic rate is the amount of energy needed to keep you alive at rest. It's the largest piece of the pie ranging anywhere from 60-70% of daily energy needs.

For more on energy needs, you can check out this position stand on diets and body composition.

When you try to reduce the number of calories that you take in, you also change the thermic effect of feeding.

What if you tried to increase the amount of activity you do at the same time?

Well now you’re making this a more complicated math problem. You're changing two parts of the equation at once.

Some of the changes you're making can be big on their own;

  • Your new routine will take time out of your schedule.
  • You’re placing higher physical demands on your body.
  • Dieting is stressful, increasing the difficulty of your diet increases that stress.

Let's start with the schedule.

You might go from lifting weights 2 times a week to 3 or 4 times per week. That means you might be spending 1.5 to 2 times as much time at gym as you do now.

If you add cardio to that, it could be even more time.You’re also placing higher physical demands on your body.

When you start exercising more, you're sending your body a message. You're telling it that you want to increase your work capacity.

Work capacity is the amount of productive training that you can do at any given time interval. It might be per session, per day or per week.

Sharp increases in the total amount of training you do per week isn't smart. Exceeding your work capacity for extended periods can lead to burnout and injury.

Being in a caloric deficit or dieting, also lowers your work capacity.

Planning reductions in the amount of work that you do from time will get you better results. If you respond positively to these new, higher amounts of training, you can keep going.

Triathletes and crossfit athletes are examples of people with really high work capacities.

There's More You Need to Know

There is another problem that slashing all your calories at once runs into that I haven’t mentioned.

Fitness and weight loss plateaus are a real thing.

They aren’t bad like most people think. They’re periods of weight and fitness maintenance which is ultimately the goal right?

You don’t want to lose all your weight and gain it back. You want to maintain it.

If you’ve slashed all your calories and jam packed your schedule;

  • Are you still having fun and continuing to enjoy this process?
  • What do you do now that you’ve hit a plateau?

You have no calories left to cut.

You’re likely burned out.

Hopefully you’re not injured and can still train.

Likely you need a break from it all. The last thing you want is the pendulum to swing the other way.

A little weight loss now goes a long way. This isn’t to say that you should prolong a diet any longer than it needs to be.

The key is, if you’re already making great progress-Why change anything until you have to?

Your training program works.

You're losing 1-2lbs per week on average with your diet.

Those are phenomenal places to be. Enjoy them. The more progress you make, the harder things become.

Do You Need Help Staying on Track?

Phone: 1-573-443-1495