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Metabolic Damage/Adaptation

In the health fitness world, there is a lot of chatter about myths and misconceptions. People will try to apply pseudoscience to support their claim on either a truth or myth. Or slap a scientist or doctor tag in front of a name, then you got a little more clout.


One of the topics that has been argued over being fact or fiction is the phenomenon that is metabolic damage. Metabolic damage is also known as “starvation mode” by some. To explain in simple terms, metabolic damage is when the body has been deprived of calories for an extended amount of time and the deficit between energy in (calories) is extensive between energy out (calories burned) is great. Follow that up with then over consuming calories, this has shown to have a negative effect on one’s metabolism.


(Metabolism is the process in which the body breaks down calories to use for eergy)


When the body is deprived of calories and then calories are over consumed, this is referred to as “yo-yo dieting”, which has been recognized as one of the main culprits of metabolic damage. So how does metabolic damage work? Well, when a person restricts calories for so long, the body’s metabolism slows down to conserve energy. Therefore, it is also dubbed “”. The body’s physiological response to starving is slowing down the process of utilizing calories for energy. It is adapting to the restricted calories. This is where an interesting argument is presented by a lot of health and fitness professionals when it comes to the name “metabolic damage”.


Physiologically, metabolic damage is actually metabolic adaptation because the body is merely adapting to the variables that is introduced to it through restricted calories. When looking at the long-term effects of metabolic damage/adaptation, one can experience:


  • an inability to lose weight
  • lack of muscle response to training
  • motivation
  • lack of sleep
  • imbalance in sugar levels


Even with these symptoms, it is still tough to say one’s metabolism is damaged as much as it is altered. This is like bringing your truck into the worst garage in town to get the engine upgraded and have 4-wheel drive put on to deal with the snow. When it is done, instead the engine has been downgraded and smaller tires put on with no 4-wheel drive. Even though the truck is not what you want it to be by any means, it technically is not damaged.

Your metabolism is the same way.


So, call it what you want, damaged or altered. The best way to prevent your metabolism from being altered in a way you might not like is to be careful on how much you restrict your calories in comparison to the number of calories you are burning. And always avoid yo-yo dieting as well.


Consistency and balance is very important when it comes to nutrition.


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