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Are you not eating enough for weight loss?

Big title, I know.

To the unknowing eye, it’s a contradiction, right?

You’ve always been taught that it’s about calories in vs calories out that creates weight change.

So how can eating more create more weight loss?

Well, allow me to explain.

Firstly, yes, your body does require that you consume less calories than you expend in order for you to lose weight.

And, yes, when you increase the deficit (the gap between calories in & calories out) your body therefore loses more weight.

So what on earth am I on about?

Two chemicals, that have a big affect on the way your body digests, metabolises and stores energy (a.k.a calories).

The first under the spotlight is the chemical called Cortisol (Ziggy gave a tip on lowering cortisol the other day)


You have probably heard of cortisol before as the chemical that encourages the retention of fat. This is due to its cross-reactivity with aldosterone, which is the primary hormone for water retention.

I can go further in depth, but I’ll just be reaffirming the point that, when it comes to fat loss, cortisol is something you want to keep in check.

What causes the increase in cortisol?

In order to be consciously reducing your cortisol levels, you have to know what causes it to rise; then you can just reduce whatever it is.

Diet – Well, the obvious one is consumption. If you consume drugs like cortisone in high doses, you’re clearly going to be increasing cortisol in your system. So there’s diet.

Cardio – Continuous, low intensity, physically stressing forms of training have also been proven to raise cortisol.

Stress – referring specifically to mental stress, your body’s direct reaction to it is to produce/release cortisol, to help manage the stress.

The Problem

When trying to lose fat, most people choose low intensity cardio, get incredibly stressed about how they look and start a massive caloric restriction – so what do you think happens to their cortisol levels? And this cortisol level causes even more water retention, adding weight and hiding the fat loss that may have been occuring when they’re desperately trying to lose weight.

So, what do they do? They get completely stressed out about it, consume even less calories (further stressing their body), do even more cardio and just drive their cortisol levels sky-rocketing!

The Solution

When in this viscious cycle of bodily destruction, there needs to be some sort of intervention to save you from what could really be classed as self harm. So what do you do?

Start by calming down! Throwing away the scales is never a bad thing, and doing some simple relaxation techniques like what Ziggy showed us the other day.

On top of that, like I’ve recommended to so many people before (with only excellent results when they trust the process), increase your calories, especially with carbs to increase insulin (which regulates cortisol); give yourself a couple of days rest from that heavy cardio routine; and ‘re-feed’ your body back into a relaxed state.

This is where people see enormous changes in weight – their body is just restoring its water levels back to ‘normal’.

I’ll come back to this later on, but for now let’s move onto the second chemical involved.


A rather uncommonly spoken about chemical that basically tells your brain how much energy you have in your stores and how much food you’re eating, is Leptin.

The Problem

When it drops too low, it triggers the response that you might have heard of as ‘metabolic damage’. But it’s not the chemical causing the ‘damage’, it’s you when you under-eat; the lack of Leptin tells your body to slow down your metabolism, become hungry, become lethargic, drop your thyroid, drop your testosterone, and various other things. It does all this so you don’t deplete you’re energy stores and starve!

The majority of the time, if something bad is happening in your diet, leptin will be involved.

The Solution

To better discuss the solution, I’ll first refer back to Cortisol.

[Cortisol enters the room] As badly as you may think of Cortisol right now, there’s still more of a role he has to play. See, Cortisol induces leptin resistance in the brain, meaning that any Leptin you have left after this drop from the calorie restriction, cardio and mental stress, is now unable to trigger any responses in your brain; this means that all that cortisol that you’ve built up is being sent directly to your brain… not good.

So, really the solution for this is to address the cortisol first, and let the leptin regulate itself once you develop more of a sensitivity to it.

Turning Writing into Action

It’s all well and good me telling you all this stuff, but unless you know how to restore balance in your cortisol levels, I’ve just wasted your time getting you to read this.

So, once you think about it strategically, it actually becomes really simple and you can make simple adaptations to get back on track with what we call ‘healthy fat loss’.

1. Sort out your calories.

If you’re majorly undereating then the obvious step would be to get this back to a healthy state. To do so, discover your required intake and match this, ignoring your weight loss goal to start with. Once you’ve replenished and have regulated your cortisol (about 2 weeks), proceed to reduce your calories by a sensible amount (3-500 kilocalories), depending on how much weight you wish to lose monthly (if it’s just fat loss that you want, then keep to a smaller deficit and play the more composed, conservative game)

2. Transform your training routine.

Obviously, like with diet, I can’t give you any specific guidance because I’m not actually talking to you specifically. But try include some core strengthening exercises (fyi. that doesn’t mean ‘AB’ exercises), compound resistance exercises (squats, deadlifts, pull ups, press ups, etc) and throw in a conditioning session once a week (my personal favourites are Tabata and High-Intensity Volume Training).

3. Chill out.

Most people have conditioned themselves to sleep less, work more, sit more and mask our problems with painkillers, caffeine, nicotine and energy drinks. Everything I just mentioned is going to cause more stress on your body.. so reverse as many as possible, and regulate the rest. A great starting place is to increase water intake and don’t spend your down time in front of a screen.

Get these all under control and your body might just not hate you so much.

Obviously, the reason why I know about all this stuff and can write these blogs in an understandable way, is because I am trained in how to treat them. So if you seriously want to take educated action on these issues and start reshaping your body healthily then click here to let me know you’re ready.

Please realise that this blog only covers the biggest of problems you have with losing weight, I can’t fit everything into one blog and keep it short enough for you to keep engaged so I’m sending another 3 blogs out over the coming weeks, based on metabolism. If you’d like to be sent an email whenever something awesome happens and when I release a new blog, click here

I know it was a bit science-y this time but I hope you learnt something here and are now going to be a little less drastic with your calorie deficit.

If you feel like this blog was helpful and gave you information that will improve your health, then let it do the same for others and share on your media streams!

Next week, I’ll be writing another article for the Vegan Walkthrough so make sure you check that out!

See Ya!

Sam Ely

Fitness Coach, Advanced Nutrition Coach, Running Technique Coach, Strength & Conditioning Coach, and Head Coach at RAW Results Aimed Workouts

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