You did it. You finally competed in your contest, but now you are wondering if you are suffering from a damaged metabolism from competition dieting. The weight is creeping up on you week after week, you are feeling soft and pudgy, and you are becoming depressed.
You step on the scale and see you are a good 10-20 pounds more than you were on stage just weeks ago. How could this have happened? I mean, you were the bomb just a month ago. You have the trophy and the before and after pics to prove it. What went wrong, when did happen, and where did it take the turn for the worse?
Contrary to the general buzz, a damaged metabolism IS a REAL thing. It can happen to anyone if they abuse their body long enough. Some like to say it’s not “damage” but it’s your body “adapting”. Of course, your body can adapt to anything when it’s in survival mode. Just because your body adapted to unhealthy changes doesn’t mean your metabolism isn’t impaired.
Metabolic Damage Occurs In Those:
- Who have eating disorders (restricting calories and nutrients for a extended amount of time)
- Who have Type II diabetes (constant elevated insulin levels over many years)
- Figure competitors and bodybuilders (going to extremes with diet and cardio chasing a dream)
Tom Venuto, author of Burn The Fat, Feed the Muscle clearly states, “Research dating back to the 1980’s and 1990’s found that diet-induced decreases in metabolism can extend to the period AFTER the diet is over. This gives us yet another reason why keeping the weight off is so hard.” Metabolic damage occurs oh so slightly over the course of time. But, just because your metabolism is impaired doesn’t mean that it can’t be reversed.
A Damaged Metabolism Is The SHOCKING Phase That Can Sneak Up On You After Your Contest…
Welcome to the post competition phase. It’s the dark side of the limelight. Most actors and actress have drugs, we have post-comp weight gain accompanied with depression.
Let’s exam what you have been doing to get contest ready, and what happened post-comp to bring you to your current condition of the nasty rebound and a possible damaged metabolism.
Figure Prep (Diet And Cardio And Their Effects)
The general prep diet is low calories and carbs. Some athletes go as low as 1,000 calories or less the final weeks! While this drastic measure will get the weight off quickly, it leaves a breeding ground for some awful occurrences to lash out later.
Some cardio programs can involve engaging in cardio every day for up to an hour and some extend this to 2 hours a day, (split sessions)! This can leave an open door for prompt weight gain if certain measures aren’t taken post-comp.
Prolonged low calories coupled with extreme cardio taxes the thyroid gland. Your thyroid gland is your body’s metabolic thermostat. It controls your body’s temperature and the energy used. When you under-diet and overtrain your thyroid takes a hit and doesn’t function optimally. As a survival means it sends out less hormones, resulting in metabolic downgrade. The results are weight gain, fatigue, depression, etc.
A Birds-Eye-View (The Big Picture)
A birds-eye-view is the competitor burns the candle at both ends, in a very fast and extreme manner with extreme dieting and cardio. While it produces desirable results for the figure stage, it can have costly effects on your metabolism if you don’t play your cards right. But not all is lost. You CAN reset a damaged metabolism and even repair it with the proper tactics.
Metabolism (It’s MORE Than Just Weight Control)
Your metabolism is the total of all the biochemical and bioelectrical responses that occur in your body repeatedly on a cellular level to maintain life. Your metabolism is more than just your body’s ability to control weight. A well functioning metabolism actually keeps you healthy and alive via structural, functional, and energy biochemicals.
- Structural Biochemical’s are responsible for your muscles, organs, connective tissue, bones, cells, cell membranes, glands, teeth, hair, skin, and nails.
- Functional Biochemical’s are responsible for your hormones, enzymes, cell mediators, neurotransmitters, and antibodies.
- Energy Biochemical’s are responsible for you ketones, sugar, glycogen, and triglycerides
Your body needs ALL of these in balance and in working order to for your metabolism to function correctly. Everything you do relies on these biochemical functions, including walking, talking, thinking, eating, digesting, eliminating, and hormone production. Add exercise to the equation and you use up MORE of these biochemical’s. That’s fine, but your body must replace what’s used and this replenishment is done via nutrition.
If you have a healthy functioning metabolism, then your body will use and replenish the biochemical’s as necessary, like a well-oiled machine. However, if you have a damaged metabolism via hardcore low calorie dieting and extreme cardio, then your body has used up its resources and it couldn’t replenish them.
When you cut your calories far below your BMR and do excessive cardio, your body attempts to keep every last drop of energy for mere survival! When you get to this level your body senses it’s starving due to the depleted glycogen levels and the overall environment you’ve created, so the body will try to keep you going by using up protein for energy; one of your body’s survival responses. (Not a good thing.)
Repairing A Damaged Metabolism (Can It Be Done?)
Really, you can fix a screwed up metabolism? You bet! First you will need an open mind and accept some of the things I’m going to tell you. One thing you will need to do is eat enough calories to support your BMR. I’m not saying you need to eat 2500 calories, but you need at least your BMR to start off with, just to create a baseline diet.
Once you find your calories you need to ensure you have balance in your macronutrients. You need to eat complete protein, that’s a given, but you also need carbs. *GASP* Yes, you are swollen like an Oompa Loompa but you still need carbs because they contain vitamins, minerals, give energy and provide balance. You also need essential fat. These three macros, in their correct amounts, will provide your body the calories and nutrients it needs to start the metabolic rebuilding process. Pretty cool, right?
Be Aware (CAUTION)
Keep in mind that metabolic restoration is not going to happen overnight. You spent several months taking the weight off in an extreme fashion and at the last stretch you really went hardcore, so be patient.
Now, another word of caution; when you start your metabolic rebuilding process, know that you may stay the same weight for a period of time OR you might gain some weight. OMG, did I lose you? Yes, I’m sorry to tell you that some weight gain may occur. You see, you have given your body quite the task. First you put it overdrive and killed your metabolism, now you have to allow it to repair and part of restoration is temporary weight gain. Your body, organs, muscles, hormones, glands, everything that you are comprised of has to repair. Generally this weight gain is fat staying the same for a while because your body is still under the impression it’s starving. Another factor is that some of the weight is muscle glycogen from the carbs (which are NEEDED) and water. Water is a healer, so your body will hang on to the water for a while until it can help nourish, heal, and repair.
Water’s Healing Role (More Than Just Bloat)
Here’s a quick example of water weight. My dad went into the hospital in April. I took an unexpected 12-hour drive back to my roots in good ole’ Louisiana (AAAIIIEEE…) to be with him while he underwent a quadruple bypass. No, he can’t have one bypass he has to me a MAN and have the 4-way done. So, he comes out of surgery and we got to see him that evening. He was puffed up like a human water balloon. I mean this dude was swollen! Why? His body detected trauma and the body’s form of survival while in distress is to retain water for healing. That’s just how your body works. It’s built for survival.
So understand any weight not moving down on the scale or weight gained during the metabolic restoration process post-comp is temporary. You have to address the problem before you can move pass it.
Once your metabolism is healed, healing your body from the inside out, then it will begin to release the excess water and be able to mobilized body fat at a better rate. Keep in mind that the metabolic healing process takes time, and recovery will vary from person to person.
Below Are Some Additional Factors You Can Implement For Metabolic Restoration:
- Avoid processed food
- Take a high-quality multi-vitamin twice a day
- Drink a gallon of water a day
- Salt your food; do not restrict salt
- Lower stress as much as possible
- Try some herbal detoxifications
- Do cardio moderately
- Weight train at a moderate intensity
Okay, so you have the key to unlock the metabolic mystery and get yourself on track. Just don’t get discouraged in the process. Be very patient and give it time to prove itself. A damaged metabolism is something you definitely Do Not need so it’s important you are careful with your figure diet and training throughout the entire process.
Now, I DO have a Figure Competition Post-Competition Guide in my Gold Package. It’s not your run-of-the-mill every day garbage you get online. No, this is the Real Deal and it will prevent the damaged metabolism so many figure competitors run into. I go over the how’s and why’s, and what you can do about them. In fact it includes the diet and workout program you need to do starting 1-2 days after your competition so you don’t swell-up with post-comp weight gain.
Have a show in another week or two? No problem, it will guide you on the format of how to approach another show a week or two away. Follow this guide and you will manage your body and weight post-comp and not screw-up your metabolism.
Karen Sessions – Your Figure Coach
Thanks for reading over my article! I hope you found the information helpful. If you have any questions you can contact me directly using the “Contact Link” at the top of the page. I answer all emails.
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