Getting lean is the goal of many people when it comes to fitness for many reasons. Getting lean not only feels great, but is healthy as well. Being lean gives us more muscle definition, makes us feel more attractive and gives us more confidence as a result too.
The problem with losing all of this fat is that a lot of our hormones are stored within fat, and losing too much of it in such a short period of time can through off our hormonal balance.
One of these hormones is called leptin which controls our satiation. This means how many calories, what carbohydrates we eat and our current body fat all influence the production of this hormones.
If our body doesn’t have high enough levels of leptin, it will do what it can to correct itself. The maintence of this homeostasis, or balance can cause side effects as a result.
Problems like being hungry all the time, low sex drive, fatigue, lower strength, endurance, lower metabolism etc are all associated with lower levels of leptin.
You don’t want to lose too much fat too fast to where your leptin levels drop too low, otherwise your body is going to slow down metabolically. This means when you do finally eat to satisfy your hunger, your body is going to pack on more pounds, which is exactly what we don’t want.
You are going to have to cut some calories if you’re looking to lose weight and may have to cut some carbohydrates to do so. That is completely reasonable, however you shouldn’t cut them out of your diet completely.
If you’re cutting calories from your diet, you shouldn’t be cutting more than 25% of what you are usually getting. If you do its going to send your body in to conservation mode where it looks to pack on extra fat.
Carbs are especially important because studies show that when participants reduced their carbs too low, the most dramatic dip in leptin levels were seen as a result.
If you are still feeling fatigued, have low libido and other symptomes associated with reduced leptin levels, you should try doing refeeds. Refeeds are where you take a day or two where you significantly increase your carbohydrate intake in an effort to restore the depleted stores of glycogen.
Our liver and muscles can hold up to 500 grams of glycogen so eating an excess of carbohydrates for a day or two isn’t going to do damage to your diet, if anything it will help.
Keep in mind that the further you progress, meaning the lower your body fat becomes the more important this concept about replenishing your glycogen becomes.
If you start to feel depressed, have low energy, low libido or any other sexual side effects you may have low testosterone. Testosterone is not only important for men, it is important for women as well because it is responsible for muscle growth, maintenance and repair.
Testosterone levels are something we want to keep an eye on when eating a low fat diet because of where it is made from; cholesterols which come from dietary fat is the primary building block of testosterone.
The key here is to maintain balance, don’t completely cut out fats from your diet either as you know that they are important when it comes to maintaining testosterone levels.
Not getting enough sleep and doing too much cardio is going to do two major things:
First it is going to deplete your energy levels over time as we need adequate rest to recover from exercise including cardio. This means less energy during the day and the persistent feeling of low energy and fatigue.
Second, it is going to increase your levels of stress. Not getting enough sleep causes stress as many of us know, but doing too much cardio can cause stress as well. The longer you go on the treadmill the more stressed your body becomes, and the more cortisol it releases.
This stress hormone not only does the obvious in stressing you out, but also encourages the accumulation of fat as well. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and not overdoing it on the cardio to get the best results.