A damaged metabolism is usually caused from starving yourself (i.e eating super low calorie – anything less than 1200 calories), or can also be caused by losing weight too quickly. This can also lead to you losing your period or having irregular menstrual cycles.
Starving yourself can actually backfire in terms of weight loss. If you have starved yourself, this type of diet is not maintainable, and eventually you will need to eat more food again. When you do, you are more likely to gain weight quicker and it actually makes it more difficult for you to lose any weight in the future.
If you are trying to lose weight, but are struggling due to a damaged metabolism, the main goal should be to try and increase your food intake without gaining weight.
If you are trying to gain some weight and fix a damaged metabolism, it’s a little easier, as you should just focus on eating more!
So here is what I suggest on how to fix a damaged metabolism.
HOW MUCH TO EAT
Most women who have gone down the starvation path still want to lose weight, but are struggling because their damaged metabolism is causing the body to store fat.
How much you should be eating depends on how much you’re currently eating. Jumping straight up to say 1500 calories after eating 800 calories for a long period of time may see you gain weight. You need to increase your calorie intake slowly. By slowly I mean 100 calories every couple of weeks. Keep adding calories until you reach 1200 calories per day – this is the absolute minimum for a female.
After you have reached 1200 calories, calculate how many calories your body needs – I have a blog post which will help you calculate your daily calorie intake. If you need say 1500 calories, keep adding calories slowly until you reach your ideal calorie intake.
Please be aware though that fixing a damaged metabolism will take a significant amount of time, and the longer you have been eating at a severe calorie restriction, the longer it will take.
WHEN TO EAT
You should be trying to eat smaller meals, every 3 hours. Your most important meal should be breakfast – you MUST eat it!
Overnight when you haven’t eaten any food for a longer period of time, your body goes into a mini starvation mode, so it is best to try and eat within 1 hour of waking up.
You should also make sure your post workout meal is substantial.
WHAT TO EAT
The main focus of your diet should be healthy, whole foods and lots of vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and protein.
If you have had a severe starvation diet and completely avoided carbs in the past, it is best to re-introduce carbs into your diet slowly. I don’t recommend counting calories or macros as this can lead to further issues with food, but just be mindful of how many carbs you’re eating.
The best type of exercise to help boost your metabolism is resistance training and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Both of these exercises will keep your metabolism boosted for several hours post workout. They will build muscle, but this is a good thing if you are trying to increase your metabolism.
You can check out some of my resistance training and HIIT routines here.
If you are trying to lose weight with a damaged metabolism, I would focus more on HIIT and add in a small amount of cardio that gets your heart rate up – running, cycling, swimming, etc. But just be careful not to overdo it with cardio, as this can make things worse.
If you are trying to gain weight, I would focus more on resistance training and HIIT and avoid cardio.
If you have already tried all of these things and are still having issues, it might be worthwhile having a workout and nutrition program written exactly for YOU, and seeing a dietician or nutritionist.
I wish you all the best! xx
Hi, I need help I’m 18 years old. I eat very little approx.800 cal (diagnosed hypothalamic amenorrhea) but yet when I eat more I gain weight. Since I’m so short 5 pounds looks like 10. My weight constantly goes up and down. How do I fix this? I lift weights and do hiit 5 days a weak to help build lean muscle but how do I know I’m building muscle instead of burning it. Also any suggestions on how quickly to increase my calorie intake
Hi lovely! Eating less than 1200 calories per day is not enough for a woman’s body to function properly. Consuming an insufficient amount of calories will cause your metabolism to slow down, your body will go into starvation mode (it will store any calorie it can get because it thinks there isn’t enough food) and you will have a much harder time losing weight. In the long run, you might even damage your metabolism and mess up your hormones. I suggest that you get a consultation with a nutritionist so he/she can evaluate and customize a proper meal plan for you hun. <3
okay thank you Sanja i appreciate your advice. i’m trying out reverse dieting to get my calories up without gaining back my weight hopefully it works.
Having in mind your age, it would definitely be best to share this with your parents and talk to a nutritionist, as my colleague suggested in order to make sure you grow into a confident, happy and healthy woman <3
Hi Ms Rachael, i’ve been on 1200 calories for a 8 months and i’ve lost about 40 pounds but now i my weight doesn’t seem to budge. i really want abs and lean legs and i’ve done a ton of walking and HIIT but nothing has happened. i’m not sure if i’ve slowed my metabolism or what. but i really wanna lose my belly and inner thigh fat, and nothing seems to work. sorry to bother you.
since you’re only 14 years old, it’s best to speak with your parents. unfortunately we cannot advise you on workouts or nutrition because you are in a developmental stage right now.
It’s not that we don’t want to help you, it’s just that it is not wise to play with exercises and nutrition plans during your age since it can have long lasting consequences on your metabolism and your overall body health. Metabolism damage that you can cause by improper diet in this stage can lead to you not being able to lose weight later in life, and to have major issues with your hormone balance. This is the reason why we recommend you to go to a nutritionist and have him/her advise you on how you can reach your goal without doing anything damaging. The doctor will take all of the changes (physical and hormonal) your body is going through right now into consideration and give you advice according to that.
We would really be happy if you take our advice, and ask your parents to take you to a nutritionist for now.
Wishing you the best <3
Hello, I’m sorry for bothering you, but I wanted to ask you something… I’m 14, my height is 154cm and I’m a mesomorph. I have never had problems with my weight and metabolism but now I suddenly started to gain weight and I just don’t really know how to get rid of it, I actually gained Bout 4kg. Before, I had beautiful, lean legs, but now they’re bigger and when I walk they touch themselves… I did some exercises but I guess they added muscles I don’t like. In a day I generally eat about 1200 calories, I tried to eat less, to eat more, to eat healthier, to not have a real diet but actually nothing worked, I am also doing cardio and HIIT, I just don’t really understand where’s the problem, maybe is the metabolism or the diet or I don’t know what… ?
Please know that gaining weight at your age is perfectly normal :)
Your body is growing and changing so I wouldn’t really recommend that you follow any diets or anything like that. Also, eating 1200 calories per day is super low for someone your age, you should definitely eat more. If you are worried, you can always talk to your doctor.
Wishing you all the best! xx
Hi Rachael! I love how you’ve done so much work for us women who have been trying so hard to lose weight without being bulky, especially with your blogs and your Lean Legs Program! Please keep up the hard work! ♡
I have heard that for breakfast, it is better to have more protein so that it keeps you more full in the day so you are less likely to eat more. Is this true, and if so does it have any down sides on your body?
Also, what would happen if you do not eat within 1hr (let’s say 1.5hrs) after waking up and your body being in the mini starvation period?
Thanks so much for everything!! xx
Thanks a lot for your support! :) Yes, having a high protein and high (healthy) fat breakfast will help you stay full longer.
There are no downsides to it. Not eating for 2h after waking up won’t make a big difference, but intermittent fasting would (not eating for longer periods of time) and it helps with fat loss in most cases. You can find out more about it here.
Hey if someone purchases your package program di they need a gym membership?
Hi Dara, no you don’t :) All workouts are designed to be done from home xx