Here’s something most people don’t understand about “dieting:” Eating less and exercising more can be stressful to the metabolism. 

And stress is precisely what you don’t want when it comes to a healthy, high-functioning metabolism.

The metabolism is nothing more than a sensing and responding apparatus. It picks up signals from the outside environment (light, temperature, danger, safety, food quantity, food quality), and it integrates that with signals from the inside cells. From there, it plots a response back to balance or homeostasis.

In other words, the metabolism is not a calculator or a hormonal chemistry set. It’s best thought of a stress barometer and a thermostat. It measures the pressure (i.e., stress) and then adjusts its energy intake and output in response, like a thermostat.

When the gap between calorie intake and the output gets too big, the stress alarms start going off. There was one evolutionary stress above all others that the metabolism reacts to: starvation. In fact, it can be argued that any type of metabolic stress ultimately triggers the starvation response. This is why stress often causes changes in sleep, hunger, mood/motivation, energy, and cravings.

So then how do we “diet” correctly? By controlling the timing and intensity of calorie intake and output and minding the calorie gap.

A large gap in intake and output can’t be done for long. 

Research hints that one to two weeks max is optimal. So if you are going to eat less and exercise more, your best approach is to only do that for a few days or weeks. Then take a break. When done this way, the metabolism won’t have time to compensate as much.

All other times you should be either eating less and exercising less (best for attaining weight loss) or eating more and exercising more (best for maintaining weight loss).

This simple understanding is usually all that is needed to free yourself from the diet trap and begin to effortlessly regulate your weight.