Understanding your metabolism is the key to improving it. Trying to lose fat without knowing your Metabolic Profile is really hard. Yet most people make their weight loss attempts without first putting a “pin on the map”. This is one reason why diets fail. Without identifying a starting point, it’s hard to get the strategy right.
To avoid wasted time or energy on a myriad of dieting strategies, the best first step is to gain a good understanding of your individual metabolism and the theories behind popular dieting methods.
Where do we begin?
First, let's determine in broad strokes which strategy is going to match your metabolism. Are you someone who needs a strategic approach or a metabolic approach?
Your challenge is sticking with a plan. Weight loss is difficult because social activities, work schedules, and responsibilities get in the way of staying committed.
You go from diet to diet with little to no effect. The challenge is that your metabolic rate must be sped up before weight loss is possible or permanent.
Did you decide which category you’re in? Picking the right diet strategy will be easier once you have. Here’s a hint: Most people fall under the strategic category. However, when someone has been dieting for a long time, it’s quite possible to be metabolic.
Next, let’s understand the diets out there and which works best for your metabolic profile.
The principle is simple: consume fewer calories and lose weight. The trimming may come from reducing calorie dense (high fat) foods in your diet or avoiding unnecessary snacking. Many popular diets are simple variations of this theme using points (i.e Weight Watchers), gamification, special foods (i.e Paleo), or time specific eating to limit the total calories consumed.
Whatever the approach, the principle is the same: consume fewer calories. This may be the simplest starting point if you’re willing to “watch what you eat” but not commit to following a pre-determined meal plan.
Strategic or Metabolic?
This may be an effective starting point if you’re in the strategic category. Calorie restriction might not be as effective if you’re in the metabolic category since it’s likely you’re already restricting calories and your body is used to running on little fuel. Restricting calories for too long is not sustainable and will slow your metabolic rate.
The principle is simple: consume fewer carbohydrates over the course of the day. There are countless variations of this popular theme.
There are two things to know about carb restriction. First, it’s a weight loss path that may not require as much calorie restriction. Second, it will place your body into a carb sensitive state.
Strategic or Metabolic?
Carb restriction may be an option for people in the metabolic category especially if they have not been restricting carbohydrates previously. Most people in the metabolic category are aware of their slow metabolism and already watch what they eat. If you’re already restricting carbohydrates, continuing to restrict them is unlikely going to yield a different response from what you’ve already observed.
Carb restriction is a poor choice for most people in the strategic category. The mechanism that triggers fat loss is muted significantly with inconsistency on the plan. For people without the ability to plan ahead for meals, the benefits of consistent portion control and calorie management may outweigh the benefits of on-again, off-again carb restriction.
Performance Meal Planning
Eating for optimal energy and athletics is its own strategy and can depart significantly from traditional dieting. Performance meal plans are usually balanced and include frequent snacking.
This diet approach has three important characteristics to note:
- It typically won’t produce rapid weight loss since the restriction isn’t the principal focus.
- It does promote improved body shape and composition at any size when combined with exercise.
- Time spent following a performance meal plan tends to make future attempts at weight loss more fruitful. This makes it a good choice if you’re in the metabolic category and need to speed up your metabolism. Just remember exercise is crucial to getting the most out of this.
The time-honored technique of asking a friend what diet they’re on has reigned supreme for too long as the prevailing method of weight management. We can do better, but it means we need to have a clear understanding of where our personal metabolism is and what effect popular diets could have on us.