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