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Metabolic Damage or Misunderstanding?

Ever heard this one before? "I can't lose weight because i'm not eating enough." I've heard it plenty of times and although many believe this is the case it's simply not true and gives people permission to continue to overeat and stops them from achieving their goals. In this blog we'll take a look at what is actually happening when people say this.

1. You Did Too Much, Too Quickly and Made Too Many Sacrifices

When someone starts a weight loss program, they often start with a ton of motivation and probably make a lot of sacrifices in their personal and professional lives to achieve the goal (12 week challenges are notorious for this). But once that time is over they find they're no longer able to stick to the plan they sacrificed so much for and so what happens? 6 days of training turns into 3 or sometimes 0 and they may no longer be able to stick to the diet they used to cut all the kilos simply because they're mentally burnt out and their cravings are through the roof. With no plan in place to keep their results, they return to their original state or worse.

Some might say their weight loss caused the rapid weight gain or that they "damaged their metabolism" and so they gained more weight and wont be able to lose it due to the irreversible damage the weight loss caused, which is completely wrong. What's actually happened is the result of a dynamic shift in their activity levels and eating habits from changing too much, too quickly before and after the weight loss program.

2. You're Just Over It or Burnt Out

If you've been trying to lose weight for a long time and have lost a significant amount of weight then you're probably just over the process. Over time our motivation takes a hit and we start to rely more on our determination and willpower to achieve a goal. But at some point we just need to take a break just like all things in life that require a lot of effort. On top of that, our training quality may be dropping off, were not putting in as much as effort, our strength takes a hit causing weight loss to eventually slow down. Some people will continue to ignore these signs for a break and wont be prepared for it. They'll eventually stop training, overeat and gain all the weight back. Nothing is damaged metabolically, they were simply unprepared for something they didn't know was going to happen and forced themselves into a break.

Interestingly enough, the people that do take a break will find they lose more weight during the break or soon after the break. This is because they're reversing all of those burn out symptoms. It's just like taking a holiday after working hard in the office for 8 months straight, it feels good and is psychologically regenerating.

3. Not Losing Weight Because You're Not Eating Enough

If your situation doesn't match point 2. You're Just Over It or Burnt Out, then chances are you're eating too much, just enough or not exercising enough ie. you're not in a calorie deficit. There's a lot of calorie deficit hesitancy nowadays because of "Metabolic Damage" or "Starvation Mode" which are terms created by social media. The truth is, they're not even recognised terms in the nutrition science world. Some dude or chick just made it up to explain something they didn't understand.

Sports dietitians and nutritionists recognise Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S), but it has nothing to do and is nothing like "metabolic damage." And guess what one of the primary symptoms are? yup, weight loss. Click here for more info on RED-S

In reality, very low calorie diets (500-800 calories/day) work incredibly well for sedentary obese individuals and essentially saves lives. Most people reading this blog probably train pretty hard and so would need more calories than this but this example is just to give you some perspective. If very low calorie diets didn't work or made people gain weight then they wouldn't exist. Here's a little factsheet on VLEDs if you're interested in some further reading and reassurance.

For individualised advice, DM me on instragram @walidhouli or send me an email @

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