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Your metabolism is not broken.

You are carefully putting things inside your body that should make you progress. You are following well thought-out training programming. You are controlling most variables and still can’t see any measurable results. Or you have been making progress and now, you can’t make any. Why?

“My metabolism sucks, right?”

No. There are just a bunch of things that play a role in your progress that you might be over looking. Here they are:

Metabolism 101

At its core, your metabolism follows the first Law of thermodynamics.

Energy in = Energy out. Your energy comes in the form of calories.

Players of “Energy in”

-Appetite: hormones that regulate appetite.

-Food consumed: knowledge, taste, stress levels, etc.

-Psychological factors: mindset, sleep, mood, etc.

Calories absorbed: Trackers, Gut flora, Processed foods etc

-Trackers. The way companies come up with caloric estimates is very complex and imprecise. Food labels can be off by 20-25%.

-Processed foods. We store more energy from processed foods because they are easier to digest. For example: You would absorb almost all the fat coming from peanut butter VS absorbing around 65% fat coming from whole peanuts

-Cooking your foods VS eating eat raw. Cooked food increases bioavailability of calories because this process helps cell breakdown.

-Gut flora. Some bacteria species are better at extracting calories than others. There has been tests where people might absorb more calories than others while eating the same stuff. This is because their gut biome might be different.

Having a system like a weekly data tracker or journals allow you to track variables that play a role in “energy-in” that might help you se the big picture and maximize your ability to see whats working and whats not working. After all, you would store energy-in surpluses somewhere, right?

Players of Energy-out.

-Resting Metabolic rate. Energy burned while resting. Just breathing. Just thinking.

-Thermic effect of eating. Eating, digesting and absorbing food takes energy. Generally, protein is the one that takes more energy, carbs are second and fats are third.

-Physical activity. Training.

-Non-exercise activity. All physical activities except training.


Your metabolism is a complex system, and it adapts to whatever changes you create to keep you alive and breathing.

If you increase “energy-in”, “energy-out” increases too.

If you decrease “energy-in”, “energy-out” decreases too.

So, whenever you are in a caloric deficit, all the players from “energy-out” are going to down-regulate. Your RMR will decrease, you won’t burn as many calories from training, you will absorb less calories, etc.

Your metabolism is not broken, is just that you have adapted in the past to fat loss and your body is resistant to going there again, meaning, energy out will be lower for those who lost weight in the past and they expend less energy that those who haven’t adapted to that process.Someone who hasn’t experienced that change will need more calories than someone who has been in deficits before.


Keeping everything else equal, someone who has never been in deficits and overweight at 220lbs might need to be at a deficit at around 2600 calories. If that same individual has been in extreme deficits before, and is currently at that same weight, maybe 2200 would be the correct deficit because its body expends less energy.

This might suggest why is so hard for people to lose weight if they have been in extreme deficits before. Their metabolism works, is just it has adapted so well to lower deficits and has regulated energy expenditure.

So of course, we should stop trying. Right?

No. Never. We just reassess and develop another game plan.

A couple of steps I would follow:

-Eat more protein and fiber, it will elevate calories burned, increase satiety and help with your gut biome.

-Mindset. Think of food as fuel and as the base of your biology. Pick foods that are going to serve your lifestyle, think nutrient density over emotional eating.

-Be active. If you have a desk-job, set daily step goals. If you are already active, have a blend of high/low intensity sessions, recovery sessions and strength sessions.

-Sleep. 8 hours is the bare minimum.

Keep track of the new changes you implement into your lifestyle and do more of what starts working. Share this with anyone that might think negatively of their metabolism. Good luck. Kill.

Rosenbaum M, Leibel RL. Adaptive thermogenesis in humans. Int J Obes (Lond). 2010;34 Suppl 1(0 1):S47–S55. doi:10.1038/ijo.2010.184

Ravussin E, et al. Determinants of 24-hour energy expenditure in man. Methods and results using a respiratory chamber. J Clin Invest. 1986 Dec;78(6):1568-78.

Smith CF, et al. Flexible vs. Rigid dieting strategies: relationship with adverse behavioral outcomes. Appetite. 1999 Jun;32(3):295-305.

Speakman JR, Westerterp KR. A mathematical model of weight loss under total starvation: evidence against the thrifty-gene hypothesis. Disease Models and Mechanisms. 2013 Jan 1;6(1):236-51.

Stewart TM, et al. Rigid vs. flexible dieting: association with eating disorder symptoms in nonobese women. Appetite. 2002 Feb;38(1):39-44.

Traoret, CJ, et al. Peanut digestion and energy balance. International Journal of Obesity. 2008;32(2):322-328.

Trexler ET, et al. Metabolic adaptation to weight loss: implications for the athlete. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014 Feb 27;11(1):7.

The material on this blog is for informational purposes only. As each individual situation is unique, you should use proper discretion, in consultation with a health care practitioner, before undertaking the protocols, diet, exercises, techniques, training methods, or otherwise described herein. The author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any adverse effects that may result from the use or application of the information contained herein.




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