Weight Loss Sabotage – Adaptive Thermogenesis


3-bean-saladAs discussed previously in this blog, weight loss plateaus can be frustrating and detrimental to your fat loss if not dealt with swiftly and properly. Another way to look at weight loss plateaus is that they are actually your body settling in at a new body weight set point.

The set point theory is basically the idea that your body likes to be at a certain body weight and it will work to keep you there. Chances are you have experienced this in your own life. I’m talking about situations where you will gain or lose weight but inevitably after a couple weeks or months of trying to change you end up around the same body weight (I know for me 175lbs was a set point, in my own system for quite some time).

In order to break these body weight set points, it is important to understand the forces that you are working against (know thy enemy, right?). I’m talking about adaptive thermogenesis.  Adaptive thermogenesis is the seemingly automatic reduction in energy expenditure that occurs when you diet. Many think that this is the driving force behind people’s body weight set point.

This is important so I want to make sure I’m explaining it clear enough so here’s an oversimplified example.

You are currently eating 2000 kcal per day. Your body is currently burning 2000 kcal per day. You decided that you need to lose weight so you cut 500 kcal from your diet. So in theory your body should now have to dig up another 500 kcal from body fat to fuel the calorie difference.

It doesn’t work that way. Studies show that your body adjusts its energy output so that it can now function on only 1500 kcal per day. This is adaptive thermogenesis. It has been demonstrated that adaptive thermogenesis occurs with both severe and modest calorie cutting.

What is the driving force behind this? Here are some candidates are:

  • Changes in body weight
  • Changes in Leptin
  • Changes in Insulin
  • Changes in Thyroid Hormones
  • Depletion of Fat Stores

Fortunately you can beat all of these, prevent adaptive thermogenesis, and keep the weight loss coming.

The answer?

Exercise combined with diet.

This seems to help – but not in all cases. We know from research and anecdotal evidence that not  all exercise prescriptions work. What does work is intense metabolic resistance training (insert shameless plug for Warp Speed Fat Loss as Alwyn Cosgrove is the master at making the adaptive thermogenic response essential zero).

If you are currently stuck at a weight loss plateau, you need to break your body’s set point. To do this it is necessary to undergo a rigorous change in diet and training so that you can in essence shock your system (this is technique #2 in the How to Break a Weight Loss Plateau article).

This is exactly what Angela Webb from Ontario did when she decided to use Warp Speed Fat Loss. Here’s the email she sent me:female-abs

“I just wanted to let you know that I lost 11 lbs. with your program in 28 days. I was really impressed to see that my body was letting go of some of the stubborn weight I haven’t been able to get off for about 1.5 years now. Even having a cold for the last week of the program, I still pushed through.”

That’s cool stuff.

Here’s what to do next. Once you break though your sticking weight using Warp Speed Fat Loss (or which ever method you choose), maintenance is very important. Get 5-15lbs below your old body weight set point and maintain that weight. Many people lose their fire and drive after they have lost the weight but you need to stay focused so that you can reset your body’s set point.

Maintain your new weight for 4 weeks (this is ideal – if you can’t go that long at least do 2 weeks) before you start losing weight again. This step wise approach will help reset your system to your new body weight and help fight its urge to return to the old set point. The key is keeping your body weight long enough so that your body ‘thinks’ that is the new normal.

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