Metabolic grave: what it is and why you should avoid falling into it
If you have been following a hypocaloric diet for a long time, you have increased physical exercise considerably, but you cannot lose weight or lose body fat, perhaps you will find a logical explanation for all this in the concept of metabolic tomb.
The metabolic tomb It is the great one forgotten by athletes, physical trainers and nutritionists who subject their athletes to high training loads and excessively restrictive diets.
A concept often related to the world of fitness but that also unknowingly affects cyclists, runners and triathletes.
What is the metabolic tomb?
Metabolic grave. What a nice name, right? The truth is that it sounds horrendous and offensive, but it is that the terminology on this occasion does not differ at all from the real meaning.
The metabolic grave is something that you should avoid at all costs since, as we will see below, it presents complicated symptoms and a slow and cumbersome recovery process.
It is a organic involvement that slows metabolism. A process in which the body activates "save mode" and significantly reduces its energy levels. In addition, the recovery capacity is affected and the burning of calories by activities not associated with exercise (NEAT) suffers a significant decrease.
The metabolic grave is responsible for the inability of many athletes to lose weight and reduce body fat.
"We are not what we train or what we eat, we are what we assimilate"
Symptoms of the metabolic grave
The symptomatology of the metabolic grave is much more complex than is believed and is that, although we have scientific tools that can be of great help in detection, it is often difficult to diagnose this condition that slows down metabolism.
Many are the people who, faced with the obsession to see weight, the only interesting value of body composition, end up frustrated and attributing to a matter of genetic misfortune what is happening to them. "I do sports, maintain a healthy diet and even with this I don't lose weight"
If you want to lose weight and reduce your body fat percentage, it is evident that you will have to generate a caloric deficit. In other words, having a calorie intake less than the global cost. This is where the big mistake comes in.
Taking this calorie deficit to the extreme is what leads many people to enter the catastrophic metabolic grave. The extremes are not good and every process requires time. Remember that in the field of sports and health "how fast is built, fast is destroyed."
Caloric deficit processes must always be moderate and controlled. Eating 1000 calories in one day will get you nowhere. What's more, if you are an athlete you will be digging your own well. And getting out of a well is never easy….
In short, the metabolic tomb is in many cases the logical and scientific explanation for what many insist on cataloging as a genetic question.
The metabolic grave can be presented in different ways, but the symptoms The most common are the following:
-Fatigue: the metabolic grave generates practically permanent physical and mental fatigue. Recovering from intense effort will take much longer than usual.
-Mood: it is very likely that if you have spent time in the metabolic grave you have noticed important changes in your mood. Lack of ambition, carefreeness or sadness can easily appear.
-Lack or excess appetite: eating disorders also appear among the symptoms. Some people lose their appetite, while others feel a significant increase in the feeling of hunger. Uncontrolled binge eating can also be common.
-Libido: your sexual desire is likely to decrease. In men, testosterone is reduced to fairly low levels and even impotence problems can occur.
-Slow metabolism: Your body is smarter than you think and when it detects important deficiencies it goes into "saving mode". The organism prioritizes vital functions and slows down metabolism. Your daily NEAT will be involuntarily significantly reduced.
-Concentration problems: the metabolic grave also has an impact at the level of the cognitive system. Reflexes decrease, in some cases tremors or muscle spasms appear and the ability to concentrate decreases.
-High levels of cortisol: When the level of physical and mental stress is high, cortisol increases and the water retention of the cell results in weight gain.
-Insomnia / Hypersomnia: the metabolic grave generally has a direct effect on the quality of sleep. Some people have insomnia and find it difficult to rest properly, while others enter a vicious cycle of tiredness and laziness that affects them when facing day-to-day tasks. Washing the dishes or taking the garbage down becomes an odyssey.
-Anemia: if the situation becomes too long and you continue to maintain a very strict diet, it is likely that you will end up with anemia. It is important to brake in time and detect other dysfunctions before reaching this extreme.
"Washing the dishes or taking down the garbage becomes an odyssey"
How to get out of the metabolic grave
If all of the above reaches past bull and you are already fully involved in the happy metabolic tomb let me advise you several things.
First of all, I recommend that you take it easy, that you realize that this will require a rebuilding process and that therefore patience will play a crucial role in recover from the metabolic grave.
Each organism is a world and the affectation can be of different degree. Fortunately, some people notice the situation when they begin to see that their sports performance has stagnated and that daily recovery is like a fish that bites its tail. However, other athletes, usually cyclists and runners, (I speak empirically) are the most vulnerable groups.
There is cyclists who have spent months in a permanent metabolic grave And worst of all, they are still unaware of the situation.
Cyclists who, in order to comply with the coach's training or want to wrongly prioritize quantity over quality, continue to pound themselves daily without knowing that they are signing their own death warrant.
Whatever the situation, if after a blood test or simply after seeing how you crawl in training you are seeing the ears of the wolf, you should start taking action on the matter.
The first and most important thing is that you significantly reduce the training load. This implies that you decrease both the volume and the intensity.
If you do not drop revs it is impossible for you to recover and Your body will go into a negative spiral that can affect your appetite, mood, or cognitive ability.
Also, if you have been dragging yourself for a while it may be the right time to make a good stop. Rest is essential for improvement in physical condition so a 10 or 15 day vacation will surely do you no harm. You will return with the batteries charged both physically and mentally and you will have enjoyed a well-deserved rest.
Second, to get out of the metabolic grave it is also very important that take care of the food. Obviously this should be done throughout the year, but in this vulnerable situation it is important that you pay special attention to your meals.
As I have mentioned, the metabolic tomb also usually appears in people who have been in a caloric deficit for a long time, something that in no case should be sustainable over time. Increase your calorie intake and nourish your body with fuel to start the rebuilding process.
I'm not telling you to bloat to eat industrial pastries. Simply increase your calorie intake by trying to maintain a correct ratio of macronutrients. Why not try a refeed or a diet break?
Finally, I can only recommend a couple of things. On the one hand, that you try to get a good rest and that you sleep about 8 hours a day and on the other hand that if things do not improve, ask for a blood test. Maybe you have some affection beyond the metabolic tomb.
The importance of knowing and learning to listen to the body
Given the great difficulty of detecting the start of the metabolic grave and the physical, hormonal and nutritional problems that this entails, it goes without saying that it is essential to have a good level of self-knowledge. This implies getting to know yourself not only physically but also organically.
Years of experience will be your best guarantee and that is that for much scientific theory that exists there is nothing like the capacity of oneself to learn to listen to the body. This is not achieved overnight and is that each organism and each metabolism acts differently when stimulated.
Regulating the intensity and volume of training is extremely complicated (much more than most think) and if we add nutritional management to all this, finding the perfect combination can become an unattainable task.
There is no doubt that professionals and properly trained people are the best placed to help you chart the way to your goals. Not in vain, I recommend that you flee from physical trainers who carry an indecent number of athletes and from all those nutritionists who simply “personalize” scheduled diets with a simple Copy paste" Highly prioritize and value those professionals who offer a weekly review. The board is very nice but there is nothing like good feedback to keep progressing.
This feedback will be the one that will prevent you from falling into a metabolic grave or overtraining, and as I like to say, we are not what we train or what we eat, we are what we assimilate.