Believe it or not it is possible to avoid the diet rebound effect when coming off a strict diet and workout program but you will have to exercise some serious discipline, something that usually goes out the window with the diet and workout program once you have reached your goal. In fact, if you are not careful you can go from being ripped beyond to a swollen balloon within a few days of coming off a strict diet – that’s some serious rebounding!
The first part of a diet rebound effect is actually water retention. This is usually the result of reaching for foods that are salty or high in carbohydrates. The first solution, keep your water intake high and limit your intake of salty foods to flush out salt. Carbohydrates help to drive water into the muscle, and as a result can also lead to water retention; however the effect of carbohydrates on the body, especially simple or refined carbohydrates is far greater than just water retention.
Slowly Re-Introduce Carbs and Calories…
Elimination of simple carbohydrates or sugar from the diet can have an amazing effect on looking great, unfortunately re-entrance into the diet, can have a serious effect on hormones and neurotransmitters that regulate our appetite. If not careful, the first cheat meal after an extended dieting period can result in a disastrous cascade effect of overeating of sugar laden foods that help to stimulate the release of the feel good endorphin, serotonin and the transport hormone insulin. Serotonin conveys the positive sensations of satiety, satisfaction and relaxation and helps to regulate appetite and when converted to melatonin helps us sleep. However, the feel good rush that you will get from this surge of sugar will be short-lived!
What Happens During A Low Carb Diet….
During a low carb, high protein diet, the absorption of tryptophan, the precursor or building block of serotonin, can be reduced since it competes with the absorption of other amino acids in the digestive process. The result can be low brain serotonin levels causing depressed mood, upsets in the appetite mechanism and possibly reduced sleep, not to mention extreme sugar cravings! When coming off a strict diet, a person who has low serotonin is inclined to consume greater amounts of sugar in an attempt to increase serotonin production. Once you have stimulated this pathway, it becomes very difficult to stop overeating. In fact, research suggests that sugar can have addictive properties similar to recreational drugs and therefore when coming off a strict diet precaution must be taken to avoid overeating.
In addition to stimulating serotonin, sugar consumption also stimulates the body to produce insulin, a hormone which transports glucose, fatty acids and amino acids (except tryptophan) into body cells. Insulin speeds up the absorption of amino acids other than tryptophan. This leaves tryptophan available for absorption and conversion to serotonin in the presence of vitamin B6 and magnesium, and as a result we feel happy. Once insulin has cleared sugar from the blood, energy levels tend to fall, particularly if the food you ate was high in refined simple sugar that is released fast into the blood stream. When blood sugar levels fall, serotonin levels also begin to fall, resulting in another hunger craving for sugary food; which in most cases means another binge or cheat meal, causing yet again another high release of insulin and serotonin. High levels of insulin can actually block the utilization of fat cells (adipocytes) as a source of energy, thus leading to fat gain. Not to mention that over-eating or binge eating is very stressful to your body and makes your body produce cortisol. The result, within a short period of time, all that hard work can be reversed!
How to Avoid the Diet Rebound Effect…
Well, for starters if you are serious about your workouts and nutrition, then you should be living a healthy lifestyle everyday, that being said you should always follow a diet that is based on five to six small meals per day that are high in protein and moderate in complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. This will help to maintain not only your physique and keep your weight under control but will also keep energy and hormone levels balanced and reduce hunger between meals.
Additionally, maintain not only a weight lifting program, but also a cardio program and limit your cheat meals or re-feeds to once a week. Above all else avoid over eating and maintain consistency with your workout, cardio and diet program.
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Until next time…
Be Fierce and Rule the World!