The Yo-Yo Conundrum

Meet Mr. Joe. Joe is 42, six feet tall, 200 pounds, 24% body fat, and eats about 3,000 calories per day through a small breakfast, big lunch and a big dinner.

He’s nervous about his high school reunion coming up in 10 weeks because he’s 30 pounds heavier than he was when he graduated. He would love to get back down to 170 before he sees all of his old classmates, so he goes to his local gym.

“Hello sir, what can we do for you?”

“I want to lose thirty pounds in ten weeks.”

“We can definitely help you do that. How many calories are you eating per day?”

“About 3,000.”

“Great, you need to cut that down to 2,000 calories. That will starve the fat and help you lose weight.”

Since Joe really wants to lose weight he does exactly what they tell him to and only eats 2,000 calories per day. Two weeks later he’s a bit sluggish and pretty hungry, but what do you know, he’s lost 10 pounds! He’s excited about the results so he keeps on going. However, three weeks later he’s still at 190, so he goes back to the gym.

“Hey guys, the diet you put me on worked and I lost ten pounds! But I’m stuck now, what do I do?”

“Don’t worry Joe; we have this plateau buster program that will get you where you need to be. You’re eating too much; you have to eat 1,500 calories per day now.”

So Joe goes home and for the last five weeks before his reunion eats 1,500 calories per day. What happened? Well, he reached his goal and got down to 170, but he had to pay a price. His body fat percentage dropped only 2%, meaning he lost just 10 pounds of fat and 20 pounds of muscle. He’s also craving sugars and fats, has headaches, and feels sluggish and tired. There’s no way Joe can keep this diet up forever so after the reunion he goes back to eating 2,000 calories (still 1,000 less than the 3,000 he was originally eating).

A year later Joe’s body has changed again. He’s now 203 pounds (3 pounds heavier), 32% body fat (even farther out of the healthy range which is 10-20%), but still eats just 2,000 calories. How did this happen?

For one, you exactly can’t starve fat. Fat is stored energy so when Joe started eating less (giving his body less energy), why would it get rid of the stored energy? His body went in to starvation mode and wanted to keep as much fat as possible in case there was even less food available in the future. This is an evolutionary adaptation from the caveman days where McDonalds wasn’t always down the street. His body also started burning muscle because he needed more energy, and also muscle requires a lot of calories to maintain. Then, when he went from eating 1,500 calories to 2,000 calories, his metabolism was so low (since he had lost 20 pounds of calorie burning muscle) that he easily gained more weight, mostly in the form of fat.

So how do you keep this from happening to you?

  1. Don’t go on crash diets. They may work for a little, but in the end you will set yourself up for failure in the future.
  2. Strength train. Building muscle will keep your metabolism high and turn your body into an efficient calorie burning machine.
  3. Eat the right amounts of calories. Eating too little will cause your body to store fat and burn muscle; eating too much will cause you body to store fat. Remember, your body is an efficient fat storing machine because in the caveman days it was advantageous to store as much energy (fat) as possible.

Do you want to figure out how many calories you need? Do you need a little extra motivation and accountability? Sign up for Accelerated Fat Loss 101! This is our 12 week course where we will teach you exactly what you need to know to lose fat, and then help motivate you and hold you accountable as we all take those steps together. The deadline to sign up is Monday, November 9 and seating is limited so sign up today! Give us a call at 727-2800-1800 to reserve your spot.


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