Hacking Your Metabolism

Have you heard the phrase, “Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle”? Well, that’s what we are going to learn about today!


Many people intuitively know that when we consistently Eat More, and Exercise Less (EMEL), weight gain tends to be the outcome. This is why many of us switch to the opposite extreme when trying to lose weight and begin Eating Less, and Exercising More (ELEM)! 

Trying to lose weight this way causes our body to push back by slowing down our metabolism, making it easier to regain the weight once a diet no longer becomes sustainable. When you add lots of exercise on top of eating less, the body becomes even more stressed. When the body is stressed, it will create hormones which signal to your body to retain its fat. This is why when you ELEM, the body will lose muscle faster than fat. In other words, you may lose weight according to the scale but end up with a higher body fat percentage. Adding insult to injury, once you stop dieting the body tends to gain fat faster than muscle. This is how the body tries to recover from the stress of an ELEM regimen. 

Do you remember the expression, "Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle"? That is exactly what toggling between Eat Less Exercise Less (ELEL) and Eat More Exercise More (EMEM) does! 

To simplify things, on days when you exercise or move more intensely, you should be eating more than on your non-gym days. Note that, as always, the quality of those calories matters. Ordering a pizza every day you workout will probably do more harm than good! However, if you know that you have a big meal planned (Thanksgiving, anyone?) then you can use this knowledge to plan to do a big workout beforehand. At least then your muscles will be primed to absorb those extra calories as fuel, and be less likely to store them as fat! 

On the other side of the chart, we have Eat Less, More Less. For those of us who spend the majority of the day sitting at a desk, this is the category in which we should spend most of our time. On days when you do not do an intense workout, be mindful of how much food you are eating. Focus on foods that are high in volume, but low in calories (hello, vegetables!) and includes appropriate amounts of protein and healthy fats to promote satiety. 

One trap I see many people who are looking to build muscle fall into at the gym, is increasing their calories on training days (EMEM), but then eating the same number of calories on the days they are not training. When we think of people "bulking", this is usually what is happening. To avoid gaining fat while trying to build muscle, make sure that you eat less on days when you exercise less. 

Another trap that I see many gym-goers fall into is spending their weekdays in ELEM, and their weekends in EMEL. This means that they are toggling back and forth between muscle loss, and fat gain! 

Planning your workouts and your meals so that you are only toggling between ELEL and EMEM will help to reverse the metabolic damage and weight loss resistance that comes from too many years of YO-YO dieting (ELEM). and living the average American lifestyle (EMEL). 

CLICK HERE to learn more about the 4 metabolic toggles. 

Roxy Turner 
BHC Nutrition Coach