Metabolic Adaptation and Weight Loss

What is metabolic adaption as it relates to weight loss? 

Metabolic adaptation is your body’s way of adapting to a low energy supply due to a calorie deficiency. A calorie deficiency can come from either increasing exercise or decreasing food intake. From the stand point of weight loss it can best be explained by this scenario, metabolic adaptation is when someone can maintain a caloric deficit for a few weeks or months and successfully lose weight but then weight loss suddenly stops while eating the same number of calories.

Your hormones are effected by metabolic adaptations. Here are a changes occurring when you are in a calorie deficiency.

  • Changes in appetite: increases in hunger and reduction in satiety
  • Lower Sex Drive
  • Impacts to Lean Muscle Retention
  • Reduced Metabolic Rate
  • Water Retention
  • Impacts on Bone Health

Metabolic adaptions are completely normal. Your metabolism is very adaptive. Just like it can decrease through calorie restriction or exercise. It will increase with eating more food and reducing exercise. Reversing metabolic adaptions due to dieting can be done a couple different ways.

  • Periodic diet breaks during weight loss phase
  • Reversing diet when you reach your weight loss goal
  • Recover diet when you reach your weight loss goal

Some Myths About Metabolic Adaption:

  • Metabolic adaptions can make weight loss impossible and make you gain weight. Basic laws of thermodynamics will tell you this false.
  • Metabolic adaptions are permanent. Your metabolism is not broken. It is adaptive and adjusts.
  • You can avoid metabolic adaptions. Metabolic adaptation is your body’s protective mechanism to maintain homeostasis.

While it it your body ingrained nature to adapt based on energy availability there are some ways to minimize adaptations.

4 Ways to Minimizing Metabolic Adaptions:

  • Maintain adequate protein intake to take advantage of its thermic effect. About 20-30% of protein calories are burned while the body is digesting and metabolizing the protein.
  • Resistance training support building muscle and therefore results in a slightly higher metabolism.
  • Implement the smallest possible deficit that yields appreciable weight loss. This allows you to minimize muscle mass losses and keeps energy higher than a deeper deficiency.
  • Do not add excessive amounts of cardio. Use cardio as a tool to increase calorie deficiency when calories get low.

If you are interested in practical strategies for weight loss. I recommend this paper by Helms, Aragon & Fitschen:…/10.1186/1550-2783-11-20 . While the paper is written for natural bodybuilders for contest prep I think you find the information very informative.

Low Calorie No Bake Protein Pumpkin Pie

Did you know I am a Fitness and Nutrition Coach, Pro Bodybuilder and a Baker to boot? The months between October and January are when you typically put on the most weight between yummy extra treats and less movement. Your holiday body comes with a few extra pounds. As a fitness and nutrition coach, I know what a challenge the holidays can be and that means I head to the kitchen and find ways to reduce the extra calories in your favorite holiday dishes.

I am so excited to share this recipe with you this Low Calorie No Bake Protein Pumpkin Pie.

This recipe begins with a Low Calorie Graham Cracker Crust

  • 10 Graham cracker sheets
  • 3 Tbsp. Unsweetened Almond Milk

In a food processor*, process crackers into fine crumbles. Add the milk and process again to combine. Pour the now-sticky crumbs into a pie pan, and smash down very firmly with your hands or a sheet of wax paper. (Be sure to smash down as the lack of fat will make this crust crumbly if you don’t.) There’s no need to bake; just pour desired pie filling on top.

*If you do not have a food processor, you can put the graham crackers in a ziplock bag and crush with heavy tool like a tenderizing mallet until fine.

Next comes a two layer pie filling.

  • 1 Tbsp Sugar
  • 4 oz Fat Free Cool Whip
  • 1.5 tsp Cinnamon
  • 4 oz Fat Free Cream Cheese
  • 28 g Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
  • 1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 122 g Canned Pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup 2% Milk
  • 1 Scoop: Syntha-6 Vanilla Milkshake Protein Powder

In a medium size bowl, mix cream cheese, sugar, and cool whip and blend well with a hand mixer. Pour into prepared crust and spread evenly.

In a medium size bowl, mix pudding and milk and stir until thick. Add pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir until blended. Pour on top of the cream cheese layer and spread evenly.

Put in refrigerator for 30 minutes to set up.
Print Recipe

This recipe serves 8 with sweet macros per serving: Protein 7g, Carbs 27g, Fat 3g = 168 Calories. Compared to traditional pumpkin pie, this pie is 5 times less fat and 1/2 the carbs with a boost of protein.

This is a perfect addition to your holiday table this year.

Nutritional Strategies for Social Situations

You have been invited to your best friend’s house for a barbeque. You are super excited because you have just the right outfit to accentuate your new body that you worked hard to achieve.  BUT wait…you think how am I going to be able to go and enjoy myself without undoing all my hard work.  Fear creeps in, you start thinking you can’t go because it is going to be too difficult to explain how you are eating to others and why you are choosing not drink until you pass out.

It is true that social gatherings and celebrations can cause some anxiety for someone who is dieting. But with the right mindset and tools you can navigate any situation comes your way and come out of it unscathed.

The best way to prepare for a social gathering where you do not know what food is going to be available is to have a plan you have control over.

Let’s talk strategies!!!

Strategy One: Bring Your Own Food

This strategy allows you the most control over your nutrition.  Bringing your own food to the party can result in some conversations you might feel uncomfortable having where you have to explain your choices.  It is very weird how you choose to eat is of concern to anyone else but yet people can be judgmental of your choices either because they wish they were in your position or they don’t understand and have their own misunderstandings about nutrition, While this is a great opportunity to educate others it might not be the best time and might cause unnecessary stress for a party you came to enjoy.   Beyond bring your own food for you to eat, you could  bring a dish to share with others that you know will fit in your diet like a veggie tray, a salad, something not high calories that you can load up on your plate to provide volume for you.  You could also create some healthy option that can introduce your friends to a new recipe that show dieting does not have to be boring. Depending on your personality this might be a good choice for you.

Strategy Two: Creating Guidelines

This strategy allows you some flexibility without tracking.  You decide before you go to the party where you will indulge and where you will set boundaries. One protocol is the one plate rule.  You allow yourself one plate of food. You get to eat as much as you want but it must fit on one plate, no seconds. You only put on your plate the things you most want to eat and skip the less desirable foods.  Next, you might allow yourself dessert. BUT you choose one dessert not multiple desserts. You can have as much of that one dessert as you want but it can only be one. And lastly, giving yourself a cap on how many alcoholic beverages you will drink.   This strategy really focuses on moderation even though you might be allowing yourself to eat as much of something as you want it really creates moderation. Let me give you an example regarding eating one type of dessert, you are probably not going to eat the entire tray of cookies because that might be frowned upon. But people might not look twice at you if you had a cookie, a piece of cake, some ice cream, etc and this is far more calories than choosing one dessert.

Strategy Three: Pre-Plan/Post Clean Up  

This strategy is banking or borrowing calories from other days in the 7-day period to allow you bank extra calories for the party or clean up the next few days after the party.  This is a great protocol to implement when you have a special celebration coming up you want to indulge in but you want to keep on track with your progress.  If you know in advance you will want to have a few extra calories for the event you can start banking within the 6 days leading up to the event. You do not want to pull from your protein macros.  The extra calories are going to come from carbs and fats. You can reduce by 10-20 grams of carbs and 5 grams of fat per day.  This will create a nice surplus for your event. You want to avoid banking too much that it results in you getting hungry and then you overconsume your calories and negate your efforts to bank calories for your event.   If you go over your available budget of calories, you can borrow calories from the next 6 days and reduce calories based on how much you went over.  This strategy really focus on keep your deficiency in tacked to allow you to keep making progress.  One note about this strategy is that varying your intake from day to day will typically result in more scale fluctuations.

Strategy Four: Focused Tracking

There are times you just want a little more flexibility with your nutrition choices and hitting macros can be daunting when you just want to enjoy yourself.  This strategy focuses on two different protocols, tracking calories only or tracking calories and protein.  We know that protein is KING in the macro kingdom so leaning towards tracking calories and protein is ideal BUT one day of not being 100% on protein intake will not hurt your progress.  When you have no idea what will be available to eat then thee options are great.   You will most likely be estimating your nutrition for the day as well. Error on the side of the higher calorie choices in your food tracking application to give you cushion incase the food was higher in calories that you would generally estimate.

More Nutritional Tools For Success

Before I move on to my final points, with all the strategies above consider implementing some additional tools for the day to allow for more flexibility. You can use intermittent fasting in the morning and skip breakfast to allow more calories later in the day. But be careful not to allow yourself to get too hungry that results in being famished and eating too much. If your event is in the evening you could eat higher protein, high volume/low carbs for the day…examples grilled chicken salad or egg white omelet with lots of veggies. You could eat a small meal of high protein before going to your event. If you are not hungry at the event then that will limit your intake. There might be a case where you do not know what food is available and you find there is nothing you like to eat. Bringing a protein bar with you to eat in a pinch and this might save you from hitting the drive through on your way home.

Food Environment

The last note is about food environment. While you can not control the food environment what you can do is be mindful of your place in that environment.  Do not hang out in the kitchen or sit by dishes of food. While you have good intentions to have a couple chips, history shows you can not just have a couple and can easily consume many calories just by mindful snacking.  One way to manage your intake of alcohol besides setting guidelines is to drink a glass of water in between each drink you have.

The Scale Goes Up But Should Come Down

Even with all these strategies you may have some higher scale readings for a couple days.  Understanding the WHY behind the scale readings help.  First, you might have had more carbs than usual, sodium may be higher, water intake lower, new foods introduced, and less fiber.   These can result in higher scale weights.   What you do the days following will determine if your success with your weight loss. 

The best next step will be to follow your prescribe macros/calories to allow you get right back on task. If you drank less what then increase your water intake to help flush out extra sodium.  Get in a good workout. You probably ate a little more so those extra calories make for good workouts for the next few days.  

While you might gain weight for a few days you could also maintain or lose weight.   Losing weight after an off-plan day perplexes people.  How can you eat more and still lose weight?  There are a couple factors to consider. If you have been dieting, have a lot of stress, etc. this can result in higher cortisol levels.  Height cortisol levels result in more water retention. The break from your stressful life, a training break and a break from the diet can be the perfect combination to reduce cortisol.  The rest and relaxation from the party might also allow you to have a better night sleep and maybe an additional rest day that your body really needed.

These strategies will help you conquer the day and because you planned for how you would manage the day you feel proud and confident that you can be successful, enjoy social gathers and still make progress towards your goals. This creates that positive mindset of success.

You Didn’t Mess Up….Keep Going

A final thought, even if you choose not to plan for how to manage your nutrition for the party, even if you over consume or drink more than you expected to and you gain weight that now has to be relost that does not mean you messed anything up or that you failed.   Deciding that you will refocus on your nutrition and exercise program will get you right back on track.  Your weight loss journey is not determined by one or two days. It is about consistency over time.  You should expect that there will be good days and days that have opportunities. Take those opportunity days and learn from them and create change in your life for long term success.

There are many ways to manage your nutrition as you work towards your weight loss goals. Check out my other article “A Tiered Approach to Nutrition” to read about creating a flexible nutrition plan that works for you and your lifestyle.

Diet Breaks 101

Diet breaks

One dieting protocol that has recently started to show promising results is the implementation of diet breaks for individuals who diet for a long time due to longer competition prep programs or larger amounts of weight to lose.  If you have ever dieted for extended amount of time you may find that you see affects in performance in your training, consistency in tracking nutrition suffers, and mentally and physically you feel fatigued. These are just a few things you could experience on your journey to lose weight.


A diet break is a planned and purposeful break from your fat loss diet where you eat at maintenance calories.


  • Diet breaks can be beneficial for individuals who have been dieting for many months. These individuals may be showing signs of losing motivation with dieting. Their consistency may have dropped off.
  • Individuals who are prepping for a body building competition for an extended period of time. If prep lasts for more than 12 weeks a diet can help break up the diet to make it more bearable.
  • Individuals who are going on a trip for at least 1 week and intend not to track during the trip but plan to be mindful of their nutrition and be active on their trip.

How to implement?

Typically adding an additional 300-600 calories and reducing cardio by 50% is the protocol for diet breaks. The increase in calories is going to depend on the individual and how their body responds to an increase in calories.

Diet Break Length

Each person is going to be different but a diet break of 1 week to 1 month could provide benefit for the individual. This is unique to the individual.

Goals of Diet Break

  • Reduce cortisol from dieting deficiency
  • Minimum to no weight gain
  • Increase NEAT
  • Improve sleep
  • Improve bowel movements
  • Improve motivation
  • Improve strength and endurance in workouts

Strategies for Implementing

  • Continue to track all macros: this allows you to increase macros if your body responds well. You can also assess how increases in certain macros affect body composition
  • Only track calories and protein: this allows flexible food choices that may be restricted due to set macros
  • Only tracking on non control days.

What could happen

  • Weight Gain: (increase in cellular water & glycogen, weight of volume of food). Typically this weight will come off when diet break ends as it is temporary.
  • Maintain Weight: Physically and mentally feel better, train harder, improved motivation to start diet again
  • Lose Weight: Lower cortisol which reduce water retention

Here is a video breakdown diet breaks –

Don’t Fear Carbohydrates! They can actually be beneficial to your health and weight loss.

In the weight loss space, there is no other feared macronutrient like carbohydrates. Many of the crash and fad diets on the innerwebs today promote healthy living by eliminating or cutting carbs out of your diet.

But science will give you a better story of the importance of carbohydrates for health and weight loss. Carbohydrates are your bodies preferred source of energy. Your body can easily breakdown carbs into glucose. Glucose is what many of your important body systems use to function optimally. The two main body systems that use glucose is your brain and your nervous system.

Carbohydrates supply valuable vitamins and minerals to your body.

Carbohydrates Role in Disease Prevention:
Diets that are rich in whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits may protect against:

● Heart attack and stroke by lowering blood pressure, improving blood lipids and reducing inflammation. One of best-known foods that help reduce cholesterol and reduce heart disease is oatmeal.

● Type-2 diabetes management and prevention

● Supports healthy GI Tract functions

● Research suggests high fiber diets may protect against colon cancer

How do they help with weight loss?

● Higher carb diets promote a higher metabolism
● Carbohydrates are protein sparing because they protect your muscle tissue from breakdown
● Improve your ability to perform athletically
● Maintain hormone levels

Tiered Approach to Nutrition

Research has shown rigid diets have

• Lower Adherence
• Lower Amounts of Weight Lost
• Lower Sustainability

What is the best approach for managing your diet? It depends on the circumstance. Instead of looking at your diet as black and white a better way might be to say I am flexible with nutrition based on the situation. Here are 3 different tiers and when you might implement them.

Tier 1: Best

Scenario: My life is status quote I don’t have any social events and I can plan and make my own meals.

Best Option: Counting Macros within +/- 5 grams per macro

Tier 2: Better – Tracking Protein and Calories

Scenario: This week I have a couple different times I intended on going out to eat. These days I will make sure I hit my protein and then the remain calories can be used for either carbs or fats. This is a good option when you might want to incorporate alcohol for a special occasion.

Better Option: Counting Protein and staying within calories

Tier 3: Good -Tracking Calories

Scenario: I have a social gather I am going to and I am unsure what they will be serving or I am going on vacation.

Good Option: Tracking Calories

If you are implementing this tier you might have a good understanding of an estimation of macros in the foods you eat.

Methodologies within the Tiers

Within each of the tiers you can also implement other methodologies like banking or borrowing calories.

An example might be, you know you have an event coming up for the week that you know you expect to eat a bit more than a typical day,  you can reduce your calories leading up to the event so you have a bit more wiggle room.  For the week you might be using Tier 1 and counting macros because you are making your meals and then the day of your event you might utilize Tier 3.

Utilizing each tier and incorporating other methodologies in the tiers will help provide flexible nutritional strategies to help you stay on track and reach your goals

This post was written based on work by Eric Helms

Protein Apple Fritter

Do you miss apple fritters as part of your diet?  This recipe takes the classic apple fritter and puts a healthy spin on it.


  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 small green apple
  • 1 tsp sweetened coconut
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 c Kodiak Cakes mix
  • 1/2 c Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1/2 oz chopped Pecan
  • 1 Tbsp Caramel Sauce



  1. Peel and dice apple into 1/4 in pieces
  2. In a small pan add coconut oil, apple, coconut and cinnamon. Cook until apples are soft.
  3. Mix Kodiak Cake mix with almond milk. Add chopped pecans.
  4. Mix cook apple into Kodiak Cake mixture.
  5. Spray 12″ skillet with coconut spray and pour in Kodiak Cake mixture in pan.
  6. Cook until done on both sides. Drizzle with Caramel sauce.
    Healthy Protein Apple Fritter

Calories 512 – Macros P 17, C 70 , F 19 , Fiber 12


Carbs – how important are they?

I was in the Costco the other day and asked the cashier who I have become antiquated with how his diet was going as he recently made a lifestyle change and started eating healthier. While he has had some set backs he said he was doing well. One of the topics that came up was reintroducing carbs into his diet because he was a diabetic and had taken carbs out and found that his body sugars dropped really low and he had no energy all the time.  So today I thought I would post some information on carbs.

  • Carbohydrates are your bodies preferred source of energy.
  • All of the tissues and cells in our body can use glucose for energy.
  • Carbohydrates are needed for the central nervous system, the kidneys, the brain, the muscles (including the heart) to function properly.
  • Carbohydrates can be stored in the muscles and liver and later used for energy.
  • Carbohydrates are important in intestinal health and waste elimination.

Carbohydrates are broken into 3 classifications – sugars (simple), starches(complex) and fiber.  It is important to understand how different carb sources are broken down by the body and how food can be used for quick or longer rates of energy.  Simple carbs such as those found in fruit or honey, are digested easily and provide a quick boost of energy. Complex carbs that are found in whole grains take longer to digest making them a good source for pre-workout fuel for your body. And finally one of the most important aspects of carbohydrates is fiber.  Carbs with fiber helps with weight loss, moderating blood glucose levels and lowering cholesterol.

What foods are carbs?
Carbohydrates are mainly found in starchy foods (like grain and potatoes), fruits, milk, and yogurt. Other foods like vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and cottage cheese contain carbohydrates, but in lesser amounts.


No/Low Carb Diets

When you first start reducing carbs in your diet you start to lose weight. This is an exciting time for people because they think they have lost body fat weight.  However, the truth of the matter is the first amount of weight lost when cutting carbs is water weight.   When carbs are reintroduced into the diet the water weight will come back.   If the person continues on this type of diet they will start to see a body fat weight loss, however the weight loss in general is not because they are on a no/low carb diet it is because they have drastically cut their calorie intake.  The basic principal of weight loss is if you are in a calorie deficiency you will lose body weight. The exception to this principal are people in too much of a deficiency and their metabolism is no longer functioning properly to allow them to lose weight and people with thyroid issues.

So how do you feel on a no/low carb diet?

  • Run down & lacking energy
  • Easily irritated. Hangry (Hungry and Angry)
  • Foggy – unable to think clearly
  • Headaches

Overall no/low carb diets are not a good long term solution it losing weight and often result in gaining all if not more of the weight lost.

Creating a balance 

Its important to create a healthy balance in your diet that includes lean proteins, carbs and healthy fats.  One of the easiest was to do that is to build your meals to include all 3 macronutrients.  My recommendation is for your three big meals of the day choose a lean protein between 4-8 oz,  1 cup of green vegetables and 1 cup of a complex carb.

Sample Meals for the Day:


  • 3 to 5 Egg Whites, 1 -2 whole Eggs
  • 1 Serving of Oatmeal with Cinnamon


  • 2 Brown Rice Cakes
  • 2 Tbs All Natural Peanut Butter


  • 4-8 oz of Grilled Chicken
  • 1 Cup Steam Green Beans
  • 1 Cup Sweet Potatoes


  • Protein Shake
  • Apple


  • 4-8 oz of Grilled Tilapia
  • 1 Cup Steam Broccoli
  • 1 Cup Rice

While there is much more detailed information regarding carbohydrates this is just a basic overview to provide a bit of information when deciding how important carbs are in your daily diet.

For a more indepth discussion about macronutrients or for nutritional guidance please contact us today to become a client.