By: Angelo Poli, Founder of MetPro
For 20 years, my team and I have accompanied thousands of people through their weight loss journey. Everyone knows a friend or coworker who has lost weight, but most people know even more who’ve tried and failed. What’s the difference? Why does weight loss work for some while others have to struggle?
Our experienced coaches weigh in on this topic and focus on two of the most influential factors. They might surprise you.
1. Past Diet History
The most predictive factor in how your body will respond to a weight loss attempt is “what you’re currently eating” and “how you’ve dieted in the past”. Believe it or not, this is even more influential than age, gender, and size. These traditional factors are without debate influential, but your metabolism’s adaptive nature and biological wiring to seek out “homeostasis” makes your diet history the biggest influencer for weight loss – by a mile.
In layman’s terms, you adapt to what you eat over time. This means if you a eat high fat, high calorie, or high sugar diet, your body is probably accustomed to that style of eating. You’re used to it. You might be carrying a few extra pounds, but your metabolism is probably running fast because it’s been working to create equilibrium, a stable body weight. This means over time, your metabolism has been getting faster to try to compensate for the extra calories. Because of this, weight loss will be easier from a strictly biological standpoint. Lifestyle changes may be hard, but from a raw metabolic standpoint, your odds of successful weight loss are high once you begin.
On the other hand, if you’ve been restricting calories, acclimating yourself to very low carbohydrates, or training your body to function through extended periods of fasting, your body is likely adjusted to that as well. For survival, your body must maintain some level of homeostasis or equilibrium. Simply put, you can’t survive in a state of perpetual mass loss, so your metabolism adjusts – in this case by slowing down to compensate.
When it comes to weight loss there’s more going on than meets the eye. You may wrongly conclude that your friend or co-worker who’s struggled to lose weight has a flawed diet strategy. Or that someone who’s been successful picked a superior diet. The truth is their metabolic state going into their attempt is just as (if not more) influential than the diet method they chose. Understanding this can help you with the second factor our experts have identified as critical for weight loss.
Building on the theme of metabolic adaption, understanding where you’re starting from can provide a reference point for selecting a weight loss approach that’s right for you personally. If you know where you’re starting at, it’s clearer to see where you have the leverage to nudge your body towards change. Here are three examples of leverage you should consider:
Lifestyle & Habits
It’s really very straightforward. Are you overweight because of your lifestyle and habits? If so, you’re not alone. The most common reason cited for poor dietary habits is being too busy or having an unpredictable schedule. If this describes you, then leveraging a strategy focused around time management, preparation, and balanced food choices can be very effective. But if you are already balanced most of the time, or seldom overeat, you probably need to leverage something else.
Is there room in your diet to eliminate some excess calories? If so, leveraging foods that are more filling, limiting extra fats, and increasing vegetable consumption can have a huge impact. But what if you’re already watching calories and your intake isn’t very high? You’ll have to look for leverage elsewhere.
What’s the “make up” or “macronutrient breakdown” of your diet? How much of your daily calories come from carbs, proteins, and fat? Are a high amount of calories coming from carbohydrates? You may be able to create leverage by swapping some of your carbs for more protein and fat, or exchanging fast digesting “processed carbs” for more wholesome higher fiber, “slow-burning” carbs.
Does this mean if you’re already applying these levers you’re doomed? No, but your next steps shouldn’t be searching for a gimmick or crash diet either. Instead, consider how the experts recondition someone’s metabolic rate to run faster. Their “secret trick” is that they gradually introduce extra food and focus (for a time) on turning that extra fuel into lean muscle through exercise. The combination of eating more in step with increased exercise can be a powerful method of leverage itself when done right.
So, next time you or someone you know is in the market for a new weight loss plan, take a pass on the time-honored tradition of asking your friends “what they did”… instead do like the experts – make an honest evaluation of your past diet history, then look for the area where you PERSONALLY have the most leverage.