How to Avoid Metabolic Slowdown

Here is a Tom Venuto Q and A on how to avoid metabolic slowdown. As you probably know, if you diet to hard or do not exercise while dieting your metabolism will slow down and make it much more difficult to lose weight.

Here is Tom from Burn the Fat Feed the Muscles response to this problem of metabolic slowdown that many dieters have.

QUESTION: Tom, Is it possible to not lose body fat because you’re eating too little?

ANSWER: Yes and no. This gets a little complicated so let me explain both sides.

Part one of my answer: I say NO, because if you are in a calorie deficit you WILL lose weight.

Most people have heard anecdotes of the dieter who claims to be eating 800 calories a day or some starvation diet level of intake that is clearly in a deficit and yet is not losing fat. Like the mythical unicorn, such an animal does not exist.

Fat-loss-before-and-afterEvery time you take a person like that and put them in a hospital research center or metabolic ward where their food can be counted, weighed, measured and almost literally “spoon fed” to them, a calorie deficit always producesweight loss.

There are no exceptions, except possibly in rare diseases or mutations. Even then metabolic or hormonal defects or diseases merely lead to energy imbalance via increases in appetite, decreases in energy expenditure or changes in energy partitioning. So at the end of the day it’s STILL calories in versus calories out.

In other words, NO – it’s NOT your thyroid (unless you’ve got a confirmed diagnosis as such…and then guess what… it’s STILL calories in vs calories out, you’re just not burning as many as someone should at your height and ).

One famous study that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine years ago proved this point rather dramatically. After studying obese people – selected specifically because they swore they were eating less than 1200 calories but could not lose – Steven Lichtman and his colleages at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital in New York came to the following conclusion:

“The failure of some obese subjects to lose while eating a diet they report as low in calories is due to an energy intake substantially higher than reported and an overestimation of physical activity, not to an abnormality in thermogenesis.”

That’s right – the so-called “diet-resistant” subjects were eating more than they thought and moving less than they thought. This was probably the single best study ever published that debunks the “I’m in a calorie deficit but I can’t lose ” myth:

Part two of my answer, YES, because:

1) Energy intake increases.

Eating too little causes major increases in appetite. With hunger raging out of control, you lose your deficit by overeating. This happens in many ways, such as giving in to cravings, binge eating, eating more on weekends or simply being inconsistent, so some days you’re on your prescribed 1600 calories a day or whatever is your target amount, but on others you’re taking in 2200, 2500, 3000 etc and you don’t realize it or remember it. The overeating days wipe out the deficit days.

2) Metabolism decreases due to smaller body mass.

Any time at all when you’re losing weight, your metabolism is slowly decreasing due to your reduced body mass. The smaller and lighter you get, especially if there’s a large drop in skeletal muscle mass, the fewer calories you need. So your calorie deficit slowly shrinks over time as your diet progresses. As a result, your progress slows down even though you haven’t changed how much you eat.

With starvation, you always lose weight, but eventually you lose so much /body mass that you can reach energy balance at the same caloric intake you used to lose on. You might translate that as “I went into starvation mode” which wouldn’t be incorrect, but it would be more accurate to say that your calorie needs decreased.

3) Metabolism decreases due to adaptive thermogenesis.

Eating too little also causes a starvation response (adaptive thermogenesis) where metabolic rate can decrease above and beyond what can be accounted for from the change in body mass (#2 above). This is “starvation response” in the truest sense. It does exist and it is well documented. However, the latest research says that the vast majority of the decrease in metabolism comes from reduced body mass. The adaptive component of the reduced metabolic rate is fairly small, perhaps 10% (ie, 220 calories for an average female with a 2200 TDEE). The result is when you don’t eat enough, your actual loss is less than predicted on paper, but loss doesn’t stop completely.

There is a BIG myth about starvation mode (adaptive thermogenesis) that implies that if you don’t eat enough, your metabolism will slow down so much that you stop losing weight. That can’t happen, it only appears that way because loss stops for other reasons. What happens is the math equation changes!

Energy balance is dynamic, so your loss slows down and eventually stops over time if you fail to adjust your calories and activity levels in real time each week.

I teach a system for how to adjust calories and activity weekly using a feedback loop method in my Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle program (more info from

So what can be done to stop this metabolic slowdown caused by low calorie dieting and the dreaded fat loss plateau that follows? I recommend the following 5 tips:

1) Lose the pounds slowly.

Slow and steady wins in long term fat loss and maintenance every time. Rapid loss correlates strongly with relapse and loss of lean body mass. Aim for one to two pounds per week, or no more than 1% of total body (ie, 3 lbs per week if you weigh 300 lbs).

2) Use a higher energy flux program.

If you are physically capable of exercise, then use training AND cardio to increase your calorie expenditure, so you can still have a calorie deficit, but at a higher food intake (also known as a “high energy flux” program, or as we like to say in Burn The Fat, “eat more, burn more.”)

3) Use a conservative calorie deficit.

You must have a calorie deficit to lose fat, but your best bet is to keep the deficit small. This helps you avoid triggering the starvation response, which includes the increased appetite and potential to binge that comes along with starvation diets. I recommend a 20% deficit below your maintenance calories (TDEE), a 30% deficit at most for those with high body fat.

4) Refeed.

Increase your calories (re-feed) for a full day periodically (once a week or so if you are heavy, twice a week if you are already lean), to restimulate metabolism. On the higher calorie day, take your calories to maintenance or even 10, 15, 20% above maintenance and add the extra calories in the form of carbs (carb cycling). The leaner you get, and the longer you’ve been on reduced calories, the more important the re-feeds will be. (You can learn more about this method in chapter 12 of Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle at

5) Take periodic diet breaks.

Take 1 week off your calorie restricted diet approximately every 12 weeks or so. During this period, take your calories back up to maintenance, but continue to eat healthy, “clean” foods. Alternately, go into a muscle building phase if increasing lean mass is one of your goals. This will bring metabolism and regulatory hormones back up to normal and keep lean body mass stable.

There is much confusion about how your metabolism, hormones and appetite mechanisms are affected when you’re dieting, so this was really one of the most important questions anyone could have asked. You need to be concerned about metabolic slowdown if you want to lose especially fat.

If this didn’t REALLY click – then you may want to save this and read it again because misunderstanding this stuff  leads more people to remain frustrated and stuck at plateaus than anything else I can think of.

If you’d like to learn exactly how you should be eating to lose 2 lbs of fat per week, while trying to avoid metabolic slowdown then visit

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Concerta for Adult ADD

concertaLast month I knew nothing about Concerta. I was at the doctors office a few weeks ago talking to him about some tendon issues in my arm when my wife and I talked to him about how scattered and how funny it is that I bounce from thing to thing all the time. The doctor started asking some questions and thought I may have adult ADD. Here are the types of questions that the doctor asked:

  • Do I have trouble finishing larger tasks?
  • Do I lose concentration easily?
  • Am I forgetful?
  • Do my moods bounce around a lot

Well I seemed to qualify on all the points and on the way home my wife and I talked a bit and as much as I like being clueless, distracted, and happy go lucky I really could do a lot better things in life if I could just complete a lot more tasks efficiently instead of having a lot of open loops of unfinished stuff (you should see all the unfinished posts I could publish on this blog).

Anyway last week I went back to the doctor and started with Concerta, which is an adult ADD drug that is taken once a day in the morning. The way I started was with an 18 mg tablet in the morning and then after a week (three days ago) went up to two tablets. The change has been striking to say the least.

What is Concerta?

Concerta is just one of a whole bunch of ADD medications that include methylphenidate such as Ritalin. The advantage with Concerta is that is is time released so there is no ups and downs and the morning dose really helps me starting about 30 minutes after I take it and goes for about 12 hours. Many of these types of drugs get confused in peoples minds as antidepressants but it will take several weeks for an antidepressant to really help where with the Concerta I found that it helped me right away on the first day with what it was supposed to do.

First of all I want to dispel one myth. There is an attitude out there that ADD drugs make  people lethargic and quiet and kinda dopey but I have found that this has not been the case at all. I guess if I had ADHD (the hyperactive version) this may be the case but I am always very creative and very talkative and live a life where I tend to be very excited and this has not changed.

My Concerta for ADD Experience

So what has Concerta done for me? Well I get up and go to work. I will surf around a bit catching up with news and tech and fitness stuff and then will dive into one of ten projects on the go. I now can keep my concentration on one subject for hours if needed where before I would just lose interest and move onto something else pretty quickly, this is classic ADD behavior apparently.

Also as far as posting to blogs is concerned I have a few blogs with this Fitness blog being my main one and have probably 100 or so ideas in various states of completion. What I have been able to do is start to knock off a few posts a day and not have much trouble completing things.

My wife is really happy as well with the effect of the concerta on me. I have things that I always talk about wanting to get done and on the weekend I am just running through them and still have lots of time to hang out with the kids.

Downsides of Concerta?

So far no downsides. This newly diagnosed ADD and the Concerta that I have been taking for it have been fine with no side effects. Some people report having trouble sleeping but I find that I sleep great although I should probably be going to bed earlier with the damn dog getting me up so early in the morning for his walk. If you do have any of those symptoms above or can relate to what I have been writing about here in this post let me know. Also talk to your doctor. I find that this for me has been a bit of a lucky break from an offhand comment at the doctors office and a prescription for Concerta and has really turned my life around so if the story helps anyone else I would be glad to hear it.

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12 Ways To Raise Serotonin Levels

Serotonin is a very important brain chemical. One of the ways that we see serotonin in use is in our moods and especially in the way that we think. Depression is often caused by low levels of this hormone so to raise serotonin levels is a very critical thing for many.

Think of serotonin in your brain as a funnel that just slowly drains goodness, if you have stress, don’t get our enough, get sick, then your serotonin production in your body will drop until that funnel has nothing to give your brain. This is bad. This is what causes depression in many people and there are ways to stop depression causing low serotonin levels.

The important thing to remember is that stress in our life, although sometimes important and good, increases the output of cortisol. Cortisol is the anti-happy hormone if there ever was one.

So it is important to keep your life free of extra stresses and especially when you are feeling down take all stresses possible out of your life

How to Raise Serotonin Levels

raise serotonin levelsBasically what you need to increase the creation of serotonin in your body is diet change, exercise, exposure to bright sunlight and if all else fails then SSRI antidepressent drugs.

1. The dietary supplement 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan (5-HTP) is promoted as a treatment for insomnia, depression, migraine, obesity and attention deficit disorder in children. It is a derivative of the amino acid tryptophan and, in fact, the body makes it from the tryptophan present in foods such as beef, chicken, fish, dairy products and other high protein foods.

I have found a lot of evidence that people swear by supplementing their diet with 5-HTP so this is something that you can try.

2. Exercise increases serotonin. We all know how important exercise is for improving our physical health and concentration as well as mood and it is the endorphin creation that fuels higher serotonin levels. Get exercise everyday.

3. Bright light increases serotonin and in winter a lack of serotonin may be one of the reasons behind Seasonal Affective disorder. Getting out in bright sunlight, especially in Winter when it is much tougher often to find is important.

4. Taking a walk on a cold sunny day in the Winter is great but even in Summer some people just do not get out enough to help raise those levels of serotonin.

A few more tips from Chatelaine Magazine

5. Take B Complex Vitamins. High total intakes of vitamins B6 and B12 are associated with a lower risk of depressive symptoms over time in community-residing older adults, according to the results of a cohort study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Vitamin B6 in particular supports the production and function of serotonin, melatonin and dopamine in the brain.

6. St. John’s Wort. This herb has been proven effective for easing mild to moderate depression. It appears to work as a natural SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor) by preventing the breakdown of serotonin in the brain.

7. Add inositol to your smoothies. Naturally present in many foods, inositol improves the activity of serotonin in the brain. As a supplement, it’s an excellent choice for alleviating anxiety and depression and supporting nervous system health.

And a couple more from a great article on the Bodyecology website

8. Include fermented foods and drinks in your diet – Fermented foods and drinks greatly assist in digestion and assimilation of all the important nutrients you need for serotonin. Additionally, they boost the nutrients in your food by at least a hundred fold. As mentioned above they manufacture those essential B vitamins that help with boosting your mood.

Microflora rich Dong Quai is an excellent fermented drink that supports your energy and mood AND decreases cravings for sugar.

9. Get massages and other forms of body work – We’ve heard about the healing power of touch, but now research backs it up! A study conducted by the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine shows that massage increases serotonin by 28% and decreases cortisol (the stress hormone) by 31%.

10. Consider purchasing a BioMat. This is a wonderful pad that you lie on — ideally with headphones and beautiful relaxing music that increases brain cells. The BioMat combines far infrared negative ions and amethyst crystals and produces negative ions that increase the flow of oxygen to your brain having a positive effect on how serotonin is oxidized in your blood stream.

Like a large, chamber-size and more expensive sauna the Bio Mat also helps with removal of toxins that interfere with brain health. I recommend the smaller size because it is more affordable and yet you can still do a “sauna-level” sweat on it.

11. Eat foods that are high in Serotonin or raise serotonin levels. There are a few foods like Turkey or bananas with their Tryptophan, buckwheat and Flax which are high in B Vitamins and Omegas. And when speaking of Omega vitamins don’t forget Wild Salmon or eggs.

Nuts like walnuts are especially beneficial for serotonin production. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts, almonds and cashews can increase serotonin in the body

12. If all of these things fail then it is a good idea to talk to your doctor. Antidepressant drugs like Lexapro, Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil work to raise serotonin levels in the brain by stopping one part of your brain synapses from absorbing all serotonin and instead making it available for the parts that do need it. This will help you to be able to pop out of that depression in as little as a few days to a couple of weeks.

The key to using these drugs to raise serotonin levels to me though is that you need to do all of the right things. Do not rely on the drugs when you can instead rely on outdoor exercise and a better diet.

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Home Gym Equipment: The Multigym

If you hate gyms but want a toned and strong body, then considering an investment in some home gym equipment may be your answer. Also known as multigyms, home gyms let you consistently workout and help you build muscle, tone up and keep a healthy heart.

Home gyms are for those who want to change their body shape and become more toned and fit. Make sure to get a stack of hand heldweights with a range of so you can build up. Using light weights every day leads to athletic toned arms and legs.

Why Would You Want a Home Gym

multigymYour home gym can help you become stronger by toning your core muscles,  the smaller, more internal muscles attached to your bones. You do not need to have massive muscles to be stronger. If however you do want to build muscle and gain an eye catching six pack, then your home gym will do this for you too if you increase your weights gradually each week.

So, what features do you look for in home gym equipment? It largely depends on what you want to gain from your gym. The more areas of your body that you want to focus on, the more features your home gym equipment should have.

To make it clearer, here are some different parts of the gym defined.

  • The lat pulldown or lat bar is a long handlebar above your head with a cable attached to it. It is connected to a stack of weights. You can either stand, kneel or sit and pull it down towards you and ease it back up again to exercise your shoulders and upper arms.
  • The press arms are when you push or pull with your hands to tone your upper body and arms. If you want to broaden your shoulders or chest, this machine will help.
  • A pec deck is two levers below the press arms. This machine will condition the arms and chest in a different way and gives you great pectoral muscle definition.
  • A leg extension is orientated at your feet where you will see a T-shape padded roll. You pull this up and then away from you to exercise your legs. It’s great for training up for running and powering up hills!
  • The stack is the center of your home gym. It is a stack of weights giving resistance during your workout. An adjustable metal pin lets you choose the amount of resistance you want by connecting or disconnecting the weights from your machine. This also saves you physically moving them.
  • The station is where you can stand, lie or sit to exercise. A home gym can have one or more of these as space allows.

So make a note of which particular area of your body you want to focus on: your arms, shoulders, chest, back, legs, or abs to determine which type of home gym equipment you go for. Decide on your fitness goals such as, what kind of exercise routine you want, whether the equipment will fit in your home and what the costs are. With these considerations in mind, you will choose the perfect home gym equipment for you.

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Lose Belly Fat Naturally: 7 Useful Tips

In some people, fat accumulates in the hips, thighs, and buttocks. Others find fat accumulating in their midsection or stomach.

While excess fat in any area is bad, visceral fat or fat that accumulates in the abdomen is more dangerous. It increases the risk of developing heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

If you are wary of medical treatments and weight-loss pills, you may want to know how to lose belly fat naturally.

Exercise and diet changes are the best ways to lose belly fat naturally. There are also other steps you can take to reduce belly fat safely.

How to Lose Belly Fat Naturally

10 ways to lose belly fat naturally1. Get a good night’s sleep. You need 6-8 hours of sound sleep to maintain a healthy body. When you are sleep deprived, your metabolism drops by 10-15%.

Sleep deprivation also causes glucose intolerance and increases the production of cortisol, causing you to feel hungry. Getting enough sleep helps reduce fat storage in the body.

2. Don’t skip breakfast. Mom was right. A good breakfast jumpstarts your metabolism and gives it a boost. Eat more proteins for breakfast.

You’ll feel full longer and prevent food cravings that will have you eating more. Eating breakfast will help you lose body and belly fat naturally.

3. Consume low-calorie, nutrient-dense food. Eat more fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds and legumes. Choose lean cuts of meat and low-fat or fat-free dairy products.

Avoid highly processed foods that contain high amounts of sodium, fats and sugar. Healthy foods will help you lose belly fat naturally.

4. Perform cardiovascular exercises. Cardio workout should be done for at least 30 minutes to encourage fat burning. Brisk walking, jogging, biking, swimming, and kickboxing are excellent forms of aerobic or cardio exercise.

5. Develop your abdominal muscles. Targeting your abs will help tone and flatten your belly.

Some of the best abs exercises that will help you lose belly fat naturally include crunches, sit-ups, leg raises, and pelvic tilts.

6. Get stronger. Lift weights to develop your muscles and increase muscle mass. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat does, even while at rest.

When your muscle mass increases, your metabolic rate will also increase. Your body will burn more calories and you will lose belly fat naturally.

7. Eat less but eat more often. Have a light snack once every two to three hours between meals to increase the rate of your metabolism. Snack on fruits, vegetables, healthy nuts, and other natural foods. Include whole-grain cereals in all your meals.

Whole grain cereals are high in fiber, low in calories, and will keep you feeling full longer. Try some fat-burning foods that will help you lose belly fat naturally.

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Gym Motivation Killers – How To Break Them

We are just over a couple of months into 2017 and I am seeing the gym motivation starting to quiet down. As veteran members all know the wait for gym equipment usually peters out by the beginning of February as most of the new members stop going to the gym or at least stop coming very often.

I always think of new years as being a very trendy time for gym memberships as the prices drop to get new members and there is a lot of excitement as many people show up for the first time and then get bored, sore and disillusioned and move on to the next exciting thing in their lives.

A few people we will see get the bug and do not stop and will become lifelong lifters but I always used to wonder what makes the difference between those that stay at the gym and those that leave.

Here is my list of the things that stop people from hitting the gym and how to get around them.

Gym Motivation Killers – How To Break Them

Losing the will to keep working out1. No pain, no gain – The problem here is that most people push themselves far to hard and have no time to recover between workouts and after being sore for a month it is impossible to go on. This looks to newbies as a ridiculous lifestyle.

To get away from this problem why not just slow down. If you want to look hot for the summer why not take it a little easier. The beach will still be empty next week so dont kill yourself trying to look like a greek god now.

2. No results – When getting started in a gym you may not get fast results in losing weight. Your workouts are going to lose you fat as well as gain you muscle so you are going to not be losing as fast as you hope.

Give it time.

As you gain muscle it takes your body more calories to keep that muscle, as well as increasing your metabolism, which in turn will help you lose fat.

3. Tiredness – This relates to number one. You will be tired as your body adjusts and as you gain strength, lose fat and get healthier. After you adjust to the new workouts you will get more energy and not be nearly as tired as you were before you started this healthier lifestyle.

4. No time except for the gym – This is a doozy. When you get started the only thing that matters is going to the gym and then suddenly you have lost touch with the rest of the world and you miss that.

Why not just start reducing the time you workout. You do not need to work out two hours a day. 45 minutes to an hour is all you should be spending in the gym as you get started.

5. Boredom – Boredom can definitely creep into your attitude at the gym. This is usually caused, I believe, from not having a plan, goals and a way to make sure that you are going to achieve them.

Gym Motivation Killers - How To Break Them

If you just go in and lift weights randomly or do a cardio workout when you cant think of any muscle groups that you feel like doing then you are quickly going to get bored and not know why you are spending time in the gym.

Get together with a trainer at the gym that you join and get a plan together for what you are going to do each day in the gym and set some realistic goals and you should be set.

Other than these issues the biggest issue is that the first gym you saw was the one you joined and you just might not enjoy working out there. Try going through my list of how to choose a gym, and my other gym staff articles to make sure that you pick the right place to workout and keep your gym motivation up.

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Lifestyle Tips To Always Remember

I love all these 12 tips. So often in life we are trying to make sure that we please everyone else as well as trying to make sure that we control everything around us.

I can tell you from personal experience that you have to let go sometimes and just let things happen.

I was watching a video today that featured Robert Greene, the author of 48 Rules of Power and in the video Robert says that most of the time life and circumstances control of something like 95% of our decisions, time, and control. So we need to take advantage of that last 5% that we control and try to push it up to 7%, 8% or even more.

Every day we are given challenges to overcome. We have control over many of these.

Also everyday we have many many decisions to make. Some of these decisions are conscious, like what are we going to eat for breakfast. Other decisions are unconscious – like how to avoid responsibility, hardship or pain. We tend to take the easy way out in these decisions but sometimes we have to face that fear head on.

So tomorrow, remember, anytime you encounter anyone else remember to smile, to put yourself in their shoes, to laugh, to help, and most of all to be kind. We all know that what comes around will be based on how we treat others.

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Magic Number of Seconds For Weight Set Length

I just watched this great video from Jeff Cavaliere from Athlean-X. This video shows a sample set for incline bench and give a lot of tips that the fellow, Jesse, is doing wrong.

When you look at the video you will see that the actual motion of the exercise is great and that there are other things at play here, like weight set length.

There are a few things to concentrate on but Jeff is saying that most important things to think about is weight set length, most people have sets that are to short taking only around 30 seconds or so. Getting at least 45 seconds of stress in each set and more closer to 60 seconds, this is more important than the number of reps – so slow down your reps.

Another thing that was very interesting that I learned in this video was something I have always been very conscious of, and that is form and completeness of reps.

Jeff says that what he find people doing is cheating be not doing a full range of motion so that they can get their full number of reps in. This is bad.

Form – Weight Set Length – Sets To Failure

I love this all being pointed out. I tend to find at the gym that I see a lot of people cheating to get the weight that they want, and swinging things to get the reps that they want. If you just remember that you want to lift as hard as you can for 45-60 seconds per set than you will find that by the end of your workout you will be tired, sore, and satisfied that you gave it your all.

Importance of Weight Set Length

I find that I run into the same thing as I go through my workout. I start full of energy but by half way through my workout I am spent. I work every set to failure and then I have no energy left. This leads many people to just lengthen their workout with longer and longer rest times between sets.

There are a few things that you can do to increase your weight set length.

Instead of trying to do these long workouts it is far better to just make sure that you are working each set to failure and if you are worried that you will not be able to finish your workout then go with lighter weights later in your workout. Remember as well to try and get up to around 60 seconds for your weight set length.

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