Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Can Dieting Damage your Metabolism?

What is metabolism? 

At a basic level, “metabolism” refers to the multiple chemical reactions that occur within the body, especially the ability to convert food into energy in the form of calories, according to Dr. Nancy Rahnama, a bariatric physician and internist in Beverly Hills, California.

“When the metabolism is high, the body will need more energy in the form of calories to sustain itself, allowing for a greater caloric intake and also making it easier to lose weight,” she says. “When your metabolism is low, you’d need to make a greater deficit in calorie intake in order to have weight loss.”

There are many factors that determine the amount of energy your body needs to complete essential functions such as digestion, breather and heart pumping. If you did no physical activity in a day, the energy it would take to complete these processes would give you your resting metabolic rate (RMR).

Your rate is greatly influenced by your age, muscle mass and total weight. Lesser factors, but still important, that affect the metabolic rate are genetics, hormone levels and vitamin levels, as well as increases in physical activity.

So how do I increase my metabolism? 

Building lean body mass (lifting heavy a** weights and eating food to support this) may help to boost the metabolism and keep it there even if at a caloric deficit. Weight loss isn’t only about metabolism, but can also be affected by hormonal changes, genetics, environment and even gut bacteria. Just because your metabolism may have slowed,  you shouldn’t ditch healthier eating and give up.

Yo-yo dieting

When you fall off a diet and start eating more (sometimes quite a lot more) your metabolism doesn’t just bounce back to where it was before, according to Candice Seti, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist, certified personal trainer and certified nutrition coach.

Yo-yo dieting can also cause hormonal changes that exacerbate the problem, she adds. The hormones that manage stress and hunger can get out of whack from frequent dieting. This can heighten your appetite and also convince your body to hold on to fat in case of another round of “starvation mode.” More hunger and less fat loss blends with slow metabolic function, making it likely that each new diet attempt feels harder than the one before (nope, it’s not just you!).

Can you actually cause damage? 

To some degree, the answer is yes, because you may be keeping it down slowed with under-eating. Although research has yet to produce the magic secret for speeding up the metabolism, there are a few things you can do to begin reversing the damage.

Healthy fixes

-Get plenty of sleep: Sleep deprivation or irregular sleep patterns have been linked to weight gain risk, including more snacking, increased craving, less willpower, increased stress, lower insulin sensitivity.

-Cool it down at night: Studies have suggested that sleeping in a colder room (about 66ºF or lower) can boost metabolism by increasing “brown fat.” This is the kind of fat you want, says Seti, since it’s the type that attacks the visceral fat that’s often in the midsection.

-Eat more protein: Containing the amino acids that support muscle mass, protein can be highly effective for keeping the metabolism going strong, says Dr. Rahnama.

-Go spicy: Eating zesty foods can have a big impact on metabolism and its fat-burning effect. Spicy foods can boost metabolism for hours.

-Do HIIT workouts: High-intensity interval training stimulates human growth hormone production, which burns more calories, Seti says. Also, these workouts create an oxygen shortage in the body known as excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). This creates a substantial metabolic boost for your body 24–48 hours post-exercise. EPOC is one of the main reasons HIIT helps you burn so much more fat than simple steady-state cardio.

Fiesta Taco Bowls

I have made these bowls before, but the seasonings and salsa I used this time made them so much more delicious! The macros don't include it, but I also included 1/2 an avocado in mine!

Macros (per serving): 253 cals, protein-18g, carbs-41g, fat-3g


-2 lbs ground turkey
-1.5c uncooked brown rice
-3/4c tomatillo taco simmer sauce (or some other tomatillo sauce)
-3 bell peppers (cut into strips)
-2 poblano peppers (chopped)
-1 medium white onion (chopped)
-2 bunches green onions (chopped)
-2 bunches fresh cilantro (chopped)
-Salsa of choice
-Avocado (optional)


-Brown ground turkey (drain)
-Add in tomatillo sauce and set aside
-Cook brown rice according to instructions and add in 1/2 of the cilantro once cooked
-Sauté bell peppers for 3 minutes on medium heat, then add in poblano peppers and cook for 3 more minutes before adding in green peppers. Cook until veggies are softened.
-Mix all together and top with salsa, pinch of cilantro, and avocado if you choose! 


-3.5 oz ground turkey + sauce medley
-1/2 brown rice
-1c veggie medley

Thai Red Curry Chicken

Do you ever go to the grocery store hungry? It's almost always a bad idea, but this time I was inspired. While perusing the marinades, I came upon this red curry paste and decided to make something fancy for this week's meal prep! And by fancy, it seems difficult but is actually super simple! If you are wanting the meal to be low carb & higher protein, sub the noodles for spaghetti squash or spiraled veggie "noodles" and increase the chicken from 3oz to 4oz. And since you will be cooking the zucchini, sauce and chicken together, I always assume the mixture accounts for 1.5oz and the chicken is the rest.

Macros (per serving): 287 cal, protein-26g, carbs-27g, fat-10g

Ingredients (makes 8-10 servings):

-2lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (cubed)
-2 medium zucchinis (sliced and halved)
-1/4c oil of choice
-1/2c red curry paste
-3c dry whole wheat pasta (or veggie alternative)
-2 14oz cans light coconut milk


-Cook noodles as instructed
-Heat oil in wok or frying pan
-Add red curry paste
-Cook together for 3 minutes
-Add cubed chicken and stir fry until cooked
-Add coconut milk and zucchini
-Bring to a boil
-Simmer over low-medium heat for 15-20 minutes until sauce starts to thicken
-Enjoy over noodles!


-3oz chicken (4.5oz sauce, chicken, zucchini mixture)
-1/2c cooked noodles

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Post-Show Feels

I know a lot of competitors have post-show depression, or a longing to immediately return to show prep, but they all must be nuts. Those last few weeks leading up to my show were so demoralizing and agonizing. I could barely muster the motivation to get out of bed knowing fasted cardio was the first thing on my to-do list for the day. I originally decided to do the Albuquerque show because I wanted to document the disciplined journey it takes to get on stage. I didn't go in-depth in many of my posts about how restrictive the lifestyle really was, because it honestly would have been too intimidating for the bulk of the clients I work with.

I also wouldn't want current or future clients to think that "all or nothing approach" is what I would expect out of them as a client of MJ Fit. My mission as a personal trainer who works exclusively with women and children is to "inspire women and children to be strong," so I came to realize bodybuilding really doesn't support this message.

I have gone back to eating real food and lifting real weights, and I LOVE it! With my clients, I try to integrate types of exercise and foods they enjoy, so it's not a total lifestyle overhaul right out of the gate, and that's what I do for myself too.  I am proud of myself for stepping outside of my comfort zone, and I appreciate being strong and confident even more after the experience!

My workouts are shorter since cutting my weekly cardio wayyyy back! I can usually get it all in in a little over an hour, with stretching included. I am eating for weight maintenance, but with integrating carbs, I am retaining a lot of water after eating so clean for 6 months!

My split: 

Day 1: Legs (glute emphasis) & abs
Day 2: Chest & bi's
Day 3: Back & tri's
Day 4: Legs (hamstring emphasis) & conditioning
Day 5: Shoulders & abs
Day 6: Cardio & abs

My diet (per day): 

Protein: 165g
Carb: 249g
Sugar: 54g (natural and added)
Fat: 84g