Metabolic damage is something that gets mentioned lot when people come to visit me. They've either come to a realisation that food isn't evil. Often they're freaked out a little when they realise they need to eat to repair, to re-feed their metabolism and indeed their whole body. They're even more freaked out (good job I like freaking people out) when I tell them this slowed metabolism is fantastic and an important bodily function! However,"we all make mistakes, and we all pay a price." So, the comes a time when we have to undo all the mistakes and that means re-feeding and then doing it properly.
In response to the calorie restriction and mountains of cardio, the body slows down. Your body recognises that you're treating it like a working animal on a farm and so down regulates all the hormones necessary to make you more efficient (some people call this fitter). Yep that's it folks, your limited intake or your exercise output is doing the opposite of what you wanted. I don't care if you meet the RDA for calorie intake, if you show symptoms of decreased metabolism then you're either moving too much or eating too little. I tend not to even ask people what they eat at first "I've found that when you want to know the truth about someone that someone is probably the last person you should ask," so I just test them and show them the data.
So, we've established that with calorie restriction (doesn't matter which way you do it, via exercise, diet or both) your metabolism begins to slow down using metabolic adaptation. The more you increase the milage or cut the calories the more the body will lower hormones to maintain your ability to continue living. Usually people view this life saving metabolic adaption as a plateau, a blip in their weight loss. So, they either up the exercise, drop the calories, limit the carbs or any number of these mind boggling choices. Again they continue headlong into oblivion and then it happens again!! Weight loss stalls, creeps back up or they are unable to beat the desire to binge and curse themselves for being so weak.
Now if you're an elite level athlete, or a celebrity maybe you can push the boundaries of metabolic adaption a little because this is what you do for a living. Do they have the same calorie requirements as you? Does Victoria Beckham really look after all those kids, hold down a day job and come home to the cleaning? Maybe, but I doubt it. What do you do in a day? Cook, clean, work, look after children, get stressed about all the above, curse yourself for not being skinny? Then what do you do next? You limit your diet, start pounding out the exercise.
"The treatments don't always work. Symptoms never lie."
Their can be no doubt that dieting and exercise can have an effect, for most though they ignore the symptoms that it is all going badly wrong. Do it at a level appropriate to your environment and don't even think of beginning if you show signs of a decreased metabolism. Above all though, remember that decreased metabolism is there because you put it there. It isn't a bad thing, it's just a reaction to the environment you created for yourself.
10 Bonus points to anyone who names the origin of the quotes :-)