Weight Loss
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How long does it take to reset metabolism?


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Hi:

I am upping my calories this week to reset my sluggish metabolism that occurred by eating at a caloric deficit of 1200 calories (thinking this was the way to do it).  I now know that is not so but I am curious to know if anyone knows how long (roughly) it takes for a body to re-adjust to the higher metabolism.  I am going to up it to 1400-1500 calories (although I have been told 1800 is more what I should be).  I work out 5 days a week, 60 minutes, moderate to intense along with 3 days of weight lifting.  I am also starting to cross-train and use interval training in my exercise to help my body.  Any help on how long it might take before I see my plateau break would be awesome...thanks...

Edited Oct 26 2013 12:37 by coach_k
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39 Replies (last)

I'm actually in the process of doing that right now. I'm terrified to gain weight by eating more, but I've convinced myself that this is the best option for my wellbeing as well as weight loss. 

You can message me in a bit to see my progress, and I'll be completely honest with what I eat, how much I exercise, and my results.

I've hid the scale as to not freak out, but am judging my weight gain/loss by the size of my hips (that's what changes dramatically for me..the upper hips, facing the back...love handles?)

You work out a lot. Did you work out like this before? For some reason, it seems logical to me to increase food intake, but also increase intense workout to improve our metabolisms. So maybe more interval training + weight lifting than before, whatever the "before" might have been.

Initially, it seemed like I grew in size, and then after a week, the weight seemed to start inching off. But we'll see what happens...

While upping calories, doing some weight resistance will build muscle in the process of weight gain.....a good thing.....which is the result you want. When the weight gain stops that is your new maintenance level, which also would have increased your metabolism. This can be done multiple times of course.

Original Post by neanderthin:

While upping calories, doing some weight resistance will build muscle in the process of weight gain.....a good thing.....which is the result you want. When the weight gain stops that is your new maintenance level, which also would have increased your metabolism. This can be done multiple times of course.

Is she trying to gain weight though? It seemed like she was trying to break a plateau...I assumed it meant while trying to lose weight..

Definitely shoot for closer to 1800 than 1200.

I have found that I can both slow down my metabolism and jump-start it. The reason I sometimes slow it down, unintentionally, is that I decrease my calorie intake too much, obstinately thinking that I will lose a couple of pounds quicker.  I am avoiding that thinking now, as I have around 4-6 pounds to lose (4-6 pounds past the high end of my maintenance weight window.) I am not trying to lose it in a week or so, which is what I would have done a few months ago.

I have found that I can jump-start my metabolism, by:

  1. eating a healthy, high protein breakfast
  2. get a good morning exercise work out in
  3. eat 6 meals/snacks spaced throughout the day
  4. do some weight lifting (30-40 minutes) at least 4 times a week
  5. do cardio 4-6 times a week

Even though I have cut back on my calorie consumption (to around 2100-2400 from my maintenance average of 3200), I feel energetic and am on target to lose about 2 pounds a week.  When I first lost most of my 45 pounds, I was restricting myself to around 1800 calories.  I have since learned that 2100 is just as effective in the long run and healthier.

Best of luck.  In my opinion, you will get off any plateau once your metabolism gets and stays revved up.

#5  
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Hi Elisa --

No, I have never done this much exercise in the past.  I started slow in January, 3 days a week with cardio (30-45 minutes) and did the weight resistance 3 days with light weights and only 1 rep.  I upped my exercise when I was not happy with the weight loss...unfortunately I have come to learn that by not upping the calories...I actually slowed my metabolism down and may have burn through more muscle and actually sabotaging all my hard efforts. 

I have been reading everything I can about metabolism because I know that mine is sluggish.  I even had my doctor test my for hypothryoidism, thinking it was that but all my lab work was fine.   The only explanation that makes sense to me (now) is that I never ate enough when I did want to lose weight.  I have yo-yo dieting throughout my life and never was a "big" person.  I use to think that I had to lose 10 pounds when I weighed 110 at my 5'1" frame...it wasn't the weight I needed to lose, I needed to exercise and tone my body...If I could go back armed with the knowledge I have now...I would do things so differently..

I upped my calories the last few days and toned down the exercise a bit...I actually was down 1 pound today.  I'm still going to slowing increase the calories and once I start seeing consistent results, I will bring the exercise back up but not without making sure I compensate for the burn calories with my eating...

So simple but I all my life I refused to buy into this theory that you have to eat to be thin....now that I see the results...I'm a believer for sure.... I will keep you posted too and let me know about your successes as well...

thanks everyone for the good feedback...

I don't know if there's any hard and fast guidelines for how long you have to do maintenance before your metabolism recovers. I did it for 11 days and that seemed to work, but I hadn't been plateaued for long and I wasn't eating too few calories.  I had a 800 calorie deficit, which is pretty big, but I was still eating well above my BMR every day.

I can think of two ways to determine whether you've been eating maintenance long enough:

One way would be to eat your maintenance calories until gains in your weight trend begin leveling off.  You can't expect it to flat-line completely, errors in calorie calculations for food and exercise (even just round-off errors) might still have you slowly gaining.  All you'd be after is that any gains in the trend are getting pretty small, like under 1lb/month.  If your errors are off the other way and you start losing weight slowly, in that lucky event you know for sure you're done.

Another way would be to eat maintenance for a given period of time, say one week if you haven't been plateaued for long or two weeks if you have, and then see if your body will let you run a calorie deficit again and lose weight.  If after a couple weeks of trying to lose you find you're still plateaued, go back to eating maintenance but this time do it for one week longer than before.  Repeat as needed, until you find you can lose weight again. 

It does seem scary.  But if you remain in control and stick to your maintenance calorie limit there's no way you're going to gain all the weight back, not unless that was only a couple pounds anyway.  And remember to be prepared for some frightening but unreal weight spikes at first, from the extra food and water weight coming from your eating more.

Original Post by elisa90:

Original Post by neanderthin:

While upping calories, doing some weight resistance will build muscle in the process of weight gain.....a good thing.....which is the result you want. When the weight gain stops that is your new maintenance level, which also would have increased your metabolism. This can be done multiple times of course.

Is she trying to gain weight though? It seemed like she was trying to break a plateau...I assumed it meant while trying to lose weight..

 elisa I'm sure the OP doesn't want to gain weight......plateau's are a stall obviously, and a real one would be the fact that their metabolism has been reduced to meet their calories consumed, basically a new maintenance level.........but for most, it's just a case of miscalculation of the energy balance equation...........this has been clinically proved over and over again.

If someone actually wants to improve their metabolism, more mass must be added and considering muscle burns more calories than fat we would want that increase to be muscle. So a real plateau would need to be broken with either reducing calories further or increasing muscle mass, which is eating above maitenance. If the alternative reason of plateuaing is true (miscalculation of the energy balance equation) then they need to monitor their food intake properly and their calories burned and go from there.

Repairing or increasing our metabolism will always be about improving/increasing our bodies composition with proper diet and exercise.........Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle by Tom Venuto is a good read for exactly this. imo

Original Post by kellieeb:

So simple but I all my life I refused to buy into this theory that you have to eat to be thin....now that I see the results...I'm a believer for sure.... I will keep you posted too and let me know about your successes as well...

Ahh, that sounds like me! It's still difficult to believe, but I have one and a half years of starvation to prove it! And now we both have a sluggish metabolism. We need to rev it up! (: Let's see what happens...

I gained 7lbs in a week. Then quickly lost them about a week later. So the whole process takes about 2 weeks on average I guess? I wouldn't worry about it much, if you do see a sudden gain it's more than likely to be water weight. =)    

If you do have the option though, put scale away and don't weigh yourself until you're done upping your calories!

Original Post by dereno:

I gained 7lbs in a week. Then quickly lost them about a week later. So the whole process takes about 2 weeks on average I guess? I wouldn't worry about it much, if you do see a sudden gain it's more than likely to be water weight. =)    

If you do have the option though, put scale away and don't weigh yourself until you're done upping your calories!

Oooh! I had the same results! And did the same thing! (=

Original Post by elisa90:

Original Post by kellieeb:

So simple but I all my life I refused to buy into this theory that you have to eat to be thin....now that I see the results...I'm a believer for sure.... I will keep you posted too and let me know about your successes as well...

Ahh, that sounds like me! It's still difficult to believe, but I have one and a half years of starvation to prove it! And now we both have a sluggish metabolism. We need to rev it up! (: Let's see what happens...

Me too!  I starved myself for about a year without realising it too!  I'm now at the beginning of my journey of eating more and I'm soooooo scared - it still doesn't make sense in my head but I AM going to do it!  By this point I have nothing to lose (so to speak) as cutting calories and exercising a heck of a lot sure ain't working!! Good luck to you both, I'll keep an eye out for your posts to see how you're doing!

Original Post by gracie24:

I'm now at the beginning of my journey of eating more and I'm soooooo scared - it still doesn't make sense in my head but I AM going to do it!  By this point I have nothing to lose (so to speak) as cutting calories and exercising a heck of a lot sure ain't working!!

Precisely! Exactly! I have nothing to lose. I couldn't have survived on less calories and more exercise than I did then, so now a new, healthy (scary) approach: eating more to lose weight (but not too much, just the right amount ~!!) And we have to figure out what the right amount is, with the chance that we'll gain, but we must, must understand that we won't suddenly blow up in a day. That's the hardest for me.

Ugh, it's just so frustrating. But we can do it! There must be a way to lose that bit fat, even if it hasn't budged for us yet!

We should all update each other on how eating more to lose is working out. It doesn't seem like there's too many of us on here. It seems like most people who are struggling to eat more also have the goal of gaining. And it's not that I don't have an appetite - oh no, my appetite would eat the whole world if it could; it's just a fear that all calories will go to my hips! Grr love handles...(go away!)

How has this body reset gone for you all? I am struggling to figure out what to do -- I eat low calorie clean/healthy foods for about 4 days in a row then binge up to 5000 calories in an evening then freak out then start the whole process over & over all the while I am lifting/weight training 5x/week & 40-55mins of cardio 6x/week -- and am 12lbs heavier than I was 18mo when I was eating 1500 calories. So either my binges have been my reason for weight gain or I have pushed my body to store fat to survive if I have created to long of a calorie defiect based on my diet & heavy daily excercise. I think this has become an eating disorder because of the binge cyle & the fact that I think of this constantly. I track all my food & always think about this whole diet/excercise/weight thing to the point it effects & distracts me a lot! Any input on any of this would be great! Thanks!  :) 

Original Post by aginkc:

How has this body reset gone for you all? I am struggling to figure out what to do -- I eat low calorie clean/healthy foods for about 4 days in a row then binge up to 5000 calories in an evening then freak out then start the whole process over & over all the while I am lifting/weight training 5x/week & 40-55mins of cardio 6x/week -- and am 12lbs heavier than I was 18mo when I was eating 1500 calories. So either my binges have been my reason for weight gain or I have pushed my body to store fat to survive if I have created to long of a calorie defiect based on my diet & heavy daily excercise. I think this has become an eating disorder because of the binge cyle & the fact that I think of this constantly. I track all my food & always think about this whole diet/excercise/weight thing to the point it effects & distracts me a lot! Any input on any of this would be great! Thanks!  :) 

When you say "eat low calorie" how many calories is that, and what calorie deficit does it give you with all that exercise you're doing?

#15  
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Hi -- I thought I would up-date since you asked.  I have continued to lose weight (slowly) but I  am not afraid to eat the proper amount of calories.  I started P90X in the beginning of April and so I had basically no weight loss for about 1-1/2 months but the inches and toning were very apparent to me.

Now into my last month of doing P90X (and the program has you eat properly), I am starting to drop weight again.  I also noticed when I was unable to do the exercising because of severe allergies -- I would miss 3 workouts in a row and although I continued to eat like I normally would, I lost weight still (thinking I would either gain or go up). 

I believe my metabolism has been reset to a more healthy one due to my weight training and adding lean muscle.  I gave into the idea of eating more so that I could build healthy muscle to sustain a higher metabolic rate and it seems to have worked.  That is not to say I can gorge 3000 calories and not gain weight.  I still have to carefully watch what I eat and count calories to avoid sabotage but it is sustainable.

Being 5'1" and 47-years-old, I have to realize I don't and will not have the metabolism I once had in my 20's or even early 30's but I definitely have made strides.  Honestly, I think zig-zagging your calories day to day is good but I would never want to eat basically nothing for 3 days and then find myself binging...I am sold on the idea that slow weight loss is good weight loss and knowing how to eat properly certainly helps so that you are not so hungry you are starving.  

In March when I wrote my post I was 150 pounds with 39% body fat.  Today I am 139 pounds and 29% body fat.  I ate anywhere from 1400 calories a day up to 1800 calories a day while working out and I felt great doing it.  I hope this helps.  I am the last person in the world who would have believed eating more would get me to where I am today, but I have never been healthier and I am still trying to lose another 20 but willing to let my body lose it at the rate it is willing to.

#16  
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aginkc -- I went back and read your post and it sounds like you are working out a lot (which in most cases is good).  I too was doing cardio 6 days a week and sometimes for 1-1/2 hours on an ellipitical, burning 800 calories.  I tried folding in some weight training and I was only eating about 1000-1200 calories a day. 

I got some really good advice here which (as you can tell from my post) was to eat more because I was not eating properly to feed by body after requiring it to burn all those calories.  Once I upped my calories, I did start to see weight loss at a more consistent rate.

I started the P90X because I really wanted to build muscle/tone muscle.  I dropped my cardio down to 2 days a week (seperate from P90X) and upped the calories more...like I mentioned.  Personally, the binging you mentioned has to be sabotaging you.  Do you eat that many calories because you are hungry or is it because you feel deprived? 

I think your body is telling you something.  When you exercise you have to eat.  It makes you hungrier for a reason and a lot of people think that they are eating what they have burned off and so it is a "wash" but trust me...you can lose weight by eating more. 

Your gain could be both from your binges and depending on how much weight training you are doing, building of muscle.  Are you dropping inches or body fat percentages?  I noticed I was not losing weight for 1-1/2 months but by body fat percentage was going down as well as my pants were getting loser and my arms were thinning out.   Are you noticing anything physically?  If not, then perhaps your eating 5000 calories in one night is most definitely being counter-productive and you will have to absolutely stop it regardless if you want to lose weight. 

Concentrate on going back to eating your 1500 calories a day and cutting your cardio to 3-4 days a week.  You may be overdoing the weight training as well...not sure what you are doing but probably 2 days a week should be suffice with 2 days between the cycles.  Losing weight and having your body make the changes we require of it takes time and patience.  It takes being consistent.  You can do this.  I'm sure the people who gave me great advice will post here too to help you.  I'm just pulling from my own experience and how things worked out for me.  Keep me posted...

#17  
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resetting your metabolism certainly sounds like a good option.  I never had a problem with wait until after age 40 when I was on bed rest for most of my pregnancy.  I barely ate while I was pregnant and couldn't understand how I put on weight afterwards.  After trying to loose I tryed sureslim which is a diet where you wait 5 hours before you eat the next meal.  I did loose but then I started eating "normally" and put on the 30 pounds I'd lost plus an addition 20 pounds.  I am 54 years old 5'6" and 184 pounds.  I've tryed just about everything to loose.  I don't eat much probably 1300 - 1400 calories a day plus I work out.  Its so depressing.  I've been tested for thyroid, insulin resistance, cortisol and everything comes out just fine. Does anyone have any suggestions on howmany calories I should eat in a day and if I start something different am I going to put on more weight?  Any advice would really be appreciated.  Summer is coming and I feel like a whale!

My standard advice:

There's no way not to gain some amount of weight if your metabolism is cratered and needs to be rebooted.  But you can minimize that. 

First figure out about how many calories somebody with your stats and activity level burns every day, the Burn Meter tool here can do that.  Then count calories for a week, see what you're actually eating daily on average now.  Once you've got your average daily intake figured out, the week after that eat 50 calories a day more than that.  Then 50 more than that every day the next week, etc, until you work your way up to what somebody with your stats/activity theoretically should be eating.  This may take awhile, depending on how badly you've been undereating.

If you get very very lucky you may start to lose weight before you get up to your estimated daily burn number, but probably you'll have to get up to eating at your burn level.  Eat at that for a week or two (or a month would be better), then you can try losing again with a reasonable daily calorie deficit like 250-500. 

 

#19  
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Thanks, that is certainly worth a try.  What is the scale starts moving up?

 

Keep in mind that you'll see some bump-up just from food and water weight due to eating more, that's not fat weight but just the extra weight of more stuff passing through your innards.

But if the scale starts moving up you pretty much have two choices - keep on with it until the end, or stop and keep your metabolism broken.

There's no way to convince your body it's okay to ramp your metabolism back up unless it sees a steady intake of sufficient food to keep it running with a ramped-up metabolism, after long enough of that THEN it'll be willing to tap the fat stores and let you slowly lose weight.  And unfortunately that means accepting that the first thing it's gonna do with new calories is hoard them.  That's the cost of fixing what you've done to your body by undereating.

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