How to get out of my metabolic slump - is weight gain unavoidable?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 09, 2012 at 3:05 AM

The past few months, I have been severely limiting my calories and subsequently losing a little (not a lot) of weight. I'm 5'7", and six months ago, before my weight loss, I was about 145. Now I usually stick around 130, and I achieved it by first doing low carb, then converting to moderate carb with calorie counting. I think I achieved some form of orthorexia - I became completely obsessive about my intake, would only eat foods that I felt were completely healthy, and spiraled into a method of self-hate whenever I binged. A few days ago, I realized this wasn't working - I was causing myself much undo stress and going so far as to lose sleep. I deleted my calorie counting app and realized I should just eat healthy, which is why I stumbled upon being "paleo". Getting to the point, I now know that my severe calorie restriction probably completely shot my metabolism. I have been eating very healthy, but probably significantly more than I was when I restricted calories. I want to lose five more pounds, but the past few days I have gained weight. Is this just a side effect of restarting my metabolism? Also, I'm a two-sport varsity athlete (doing both swimming and tennis right now), if that factors in. I wouldn't be devastated if I maintained this weight, but I DO NOT want to gain any weight back - I feel like I would fall back into a pit of self hatred and feel like a failure.

My meals today: B:Egg and spinach omellete for breakfast w/ grapefruit S: Almonds (portion controlled - about a half a serving) L: About 1/3 of blueberry Larabar, green apple, almond butter, celery, and a few more almonds. S: 3 egg whites and two slices turkey bacon, as well as about a half a serving of walnuts. D: Grilled chicken, celery, some blueberries and walnuts after dinner. One serving of almond milk.

Is this wrong? Do I need to make improvements? Any help is much appreciated!

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6 Answers


on November 09, 2012
at 04:34 AM

Everything depends on what goals are and where you're coming from (ie, context). Many on this board will likely recommend you try eating more fats from animals if you can source quality specimens, and going easy on the nuts (particularly nut butters, which seem to have an interesting relation with satiety/palatbility etc issues). I tend to agree with this. Also- egg whites? You are throwing away all the nutriion that is found in the fat!

In saying this, where you perceive there is restriction within reason I would try not to 'restrict' or undereat (although don't reach for the HFCS lol). There is plenty of time for you to 'get where you want to get' and perceptions regarding restriction or undereating likely wouldn't be a good thing for you...

I daresay you might get some mileage out of reading this: http://www.cheeseslave.com/matt-stones-diet-recovery-my-experience/

Ultimately, you will likely be more 'well' if you seek good health, not a 'good' weight. Go easy on yourself :)



on December 07, 2012
at 08:20 PM

This is exactly where I am!! Thank you so much for posting this.

I have a history of severe restriction.
I thought I'd been doing better recently, but I started logging my calories to see why I've been so tired, and lo and behold, I've been eating about 800 calories a day. (I'm only 5'1, and I weigh about 109 lbs, but that's still way too low, no?)

I'm half-heartedly trying to add more, but it's finals week over here in college-land and I think this restriction is rooted in the stress. Hopefully when I go home I'll be able to focus on adding more calories and not freaking out about it! How have you managed to keep your fears of weight gain at bay enough to add more calories?

Speaking of which, I'm trying to find more caloric foods to add to my diet- what have you found that works for you? I'm allergic to dairy (and gluten), so butter and cream are definitely out.

Good luck with everything!!


on November 09, 2012
at 04:19 PM

No weight loss advice from me sorry. But I think you are a healthy and fit young lady. It would be a shame if you wasted your energy on this scale watching. Enjoy your vitality.

I notice that you are an athlete but your carb intake seems a bit low for your activity level. Many believe that it is crucial to eat carbs to match your activity level and yours seems high. You might find that keeping and equal amount of starch/fruit to protein (eyeball it) at each meal lends more balance. Also if you want to replace the starches and more fruit for something you are eating now, I'd trade the nuts in.


on November 09, 2012
at 01:32 PM

Thanks guys! This is a huge help.



on November 09, 2012
at 10:49 AM

My weight loss a couple years ago is similar to what you have recently done. I was 5'8 145 and am currently 128, which I have maintained within a few lbs since I got there about a year and half ago.

I kind of did what you did, but wasn't paleo then. I ate 1100ish calories a day until I got to 126. When I started eating normally again, I gained a couple pounds and then started maintaining. I find that whenever I start eating normally again after dieting, there is a couple pound gain. That may be what you are experiencing. Since going paleo, I have found that I can eat much much more food without gaining weight.

One thing that has helped my metabolism is that when I started eating normally again, I increased my excercise. This helps get my metabolism going again. I try to do weight training and cardio, focussing on cardio though (I'm a runner). It sounds like you already workout a lot though so I don't know that this is possible. Good luck... Keep a healthy diet and workout and your body should find a healthy set point.


on November 09, 2012
at 08:15 AM

You're not doing much wrong, don't beat yourself up if you slip a bit here and there. But remember even if calories in/calories out is not accurate it's still a rough approximation - you can't just eat massive amounts of calories (compared to before) and not put on weight. Your current diet doesn't look bad, but some things you could try introducing gradually to see if they help:

  • no snacks, give your body a chance to use it's own resources
  • less nuts, they're high calorie and high PUFA
  • more meat, try adding some meat to that breakfast omelette, it's relatively low calorie and 1/3 of the calories are metabolized as heat so it might help kick-start your metabolism

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