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  1. #1
    Registered User Mar86's Avatar
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    Permanent metabolic damage?

    So I've been lurking here a week or so and heard of Lyle McDonald, so I've been reading up on his articles for most of the evening and I've had a scary thought.

    Firstly I was reading his "Setting the Deficit" article where he detailed the pros and cons of a small, medium and large deficit and on the large, one of the cons was:

    "Of course, metabolically, large deficit dieting can have the biggest impact on metabolic parameters. But that’s the price to pay for faster rates of fat loss."
    That led me to look around the site for permanent metabolic changes and any info relating to it and I came across a Q&A where the guy asked:

    "I suppose a follow-up question to this answer is just how rare it would be to cross a true “point of no return” where you may have fouled up your internal physiology to where it may never be able to rebound. Or is it usually a case of time and reversing some of the actions that cause it in the first place? i.e. the longer and more extreme the descent, the longer it will take to recover, but recovery is entirely possible."
    Unfortunately Lyle McDonald admitted to having no expertise in eating disorders, but gave this answer anyway:

    "First let me say that I am not and do not claim to be any sort of expert on the topic of eating disorders. It’s simply not been a major area of interest of mine. I think it’s worth considering that what is going on in something like anorexia or bulimia is quite different than what is going on with the topic I was primarily addressing in the original Q&A, to wit contest diets in bodybuilders/physique athletes.
    For example, if nothing else we can see massive differences in the nutritional intake of a dieting bodybuilder/physique competitor (typically based around high protein intakes and ‘healthy’ foods) as opposed to the near complete absence of food in the anorexic or the alternation of binging and purging in the bulimic.

    With that said, what little literature I have looked at in terms of recovery from eating disorders doesn’t lead me to believe that there is any sort of permanent damage. So long as a ‘normal’ weight is regained (here we’re typically looking at the anorexic), things come more or less back to normal. Even in the seminal Minnesota study, metabolic rate eventually rebounded to normal; of course the subjects had regained all of the fat they had lost as well for that to occur.

    But again, this is really outside of my major sphere of interest; if anyone reading this has expertise that can contribute to this question, I think we’d all love to see it."

    So I'm wondering if anyone can clear this up.

    I'll add the reason for my fears:

    Back when I was 14, I decided one day that I was sick of being the fat kid (and I mean really fat) and ate just a bowl of Special K and a small meal (mostly around 600 cals, some days just a sandwich though) each day and lost like 40lbs in 4 months. At 18, I ballooned back to my old weight and did the same approach at 22, lost all the weight again and guess what? At 23 I put the weight back on again and now at 24 I fear I have a mangled metabolism.

    Anyone on the forum possess this area of expertise to confirm or deny my fears?
    Last edited by Mar86; 08-26-2011 at 07:29 PM.
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  2. #2
    Registered User Size16's Avatar
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    I have no educational specialty to back this up.

    That being said. In your case, 4 months. 4 months in a lifetime of eating and you think you did something EXTREME enough to mess up a your metabolism permanently? I'm apprehensive to spout the eating habits of IF'ers as proof but you think we got to where we are eating maintenance calories all the time? No. **** no. Humans, as a species, have adapated and evolved into this. If not eating enough, temporarily, made us permanently damaged we would be so ****ed it would be a Michael Bay movie.
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  3. #3
    Registered User Mar86's Avatar
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    Very good points. Thank you for replying. Still, I hope to hear some more views on this, but yours does make a lot of sense.
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  4. #4
    Registered User Mike7899's Avatar
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    the human body is incredibly resilient, people use drugs, eat horribly and survive real starvation(like in the holocaust) and bounce back pretty well for the most part if they were basically healthy..Barring any underlying medical conditions i would say this shouldnt be a worry. Im newbie here and have no knowledge, but just seems like common sense =D
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  5. #5
    Registered User Mar86's Avatar
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    Yeah it does make a lot of common sense, but Mr. McDonald's words are ringing in my ears:

    "Of course, metabolically, large deficit dieting can have the biggest impact on metabolic parameters. But that’s the price to pay for faster rates of fat loss."
    I just can't work out the meaning of that. Does he mean you'll need less calories to maintain rather than the higher number you would have had, if you'd dieted with a slower deficit? Very confusing.
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  6. #6
    Registered User ScSc0rP's Avatar
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    Doesn't sound like he is talking about permanent damage. Your body tries to stay in homeostasis, so when you have a large deficit for a long period of time its going to think that you want to retain the fat, like a bear hibernates. Make sure that you have regular refeeds to normalize leptin levels and non-retarded deficit will be tempered.
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  7. #7
    Ditched the hooker heels! elainedeluca's Avatar
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    I'll share...almost 20 years ago, I suffered from anorexia for close to 3 years, where I was maintaining a body weight between 85-90 lbs, through a combination of eating very little and "exercise anorexia", where if I felt I ate just a little too much, I would get my butt on a step mill until I felt I had burned it off.

    Fast forward to my late 20's, I put all of my weight back on, probably hit close to 200 lbs at one point. And try as I might, I could never seem to diet down to see any real significant changes.

    Fast forward to mid 30's (like 34)...I got my badonk in shape. It took longer than I would have liked...strict training and healthy diet (for the most part) got me down to size 28 jeans with visible abs. I was actually prepping for figure until I injured myself deadlifting. I was 36 when I got injured.

    Fast forward to late 30's, I did put some weight back on between 2010 and the beginning 2011, mostly lack of exercise due to work demands. I still kept the diet pretty clean, but I my caloric intake was definitely higher than it should have been.

    Fast forward to right now...I decided to get my badonk back in shape in the beginning of April of this year. I got sick of my "fat jeans" being too tight (muffin-topping in size 32's). As of today, I am 11 weeks out from competing and I am ahead of schedule. All of my clothes are too big on me (even all of the clothes I saved the first time I decided to compete).

    So, based upon my personal experience, I think that initially, your metabolism does need time to "fix" itself. 3 years at such a low bodyweight was definitely detrimental to my metabolism and I think it's partly the reason it took so long for me to cut down the first time. This time is an entirely different story...it only took 5 months to where I am today and I am 4 years older, and at an age where the metabolism is supposed to be slowing down. Now of course, I am on a competition diet and I train like a beast, but I really never thought it would only take 5 months to get to where I am now. When I first met with my trainer on 4/15 I brought up the idea of competing, he said "Maybe, if you work really hard" and he said it with a little skepticism.

    So bottom line is, I guess I'm "fixed". Lol.
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  8. #8
    Registered User Electricheadd's Avatar
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    Perhaps I missed something in the original post but I do not see any place where Lyle endorses permanent metabolic damage. He does elude to set point theory but if you dig deeper into that much of it can be explained away by NEAT differences in people who have dieted vs naturally lean people.
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  9. #9
    Registered User mpipes's Avatar
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    There's no permanent damage, the metabolism will regulate in response to current conditions. Now some folks' metabolisms may take longer to respond to calorie increases, just like some folks' metabolisms respond faster when trying to diet down, but with consistency and enough time, it will happen. if you would track the weight re-gain you would probably notice that it levels off at some point and you stop gaining even without changing the diet that caused the re-gain. That's the metabolism responding to the increased calorie intake, it just takes time.
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