The Difference Between Calorie Restriction and Building an Efficient Metabolism

In the health and wellness world we’ve come to expect quick fixes.  Unfortunately, certain popular reality TV shows have perpetuated this and I’m here to set the record straight. There is no magic pill. Fat loss will not happen over night. There is no quick fix!

Of course we want to support you in achieving your fat loss goals but in the meantime let’s shift our perspective from one that’s limiting, to one that opens you up to appreciating all the benefits of JERF.  In reality, it could take up to 6 weeks for a true change in weight to show on the scales. So, rather than weighing yourself daily (and sending your cortisol levels skyward in the meantime) why not log and monitor your energy, digestion, craving control, hormonal control and mood. I guarantee you’ll instantly appreciate the weight loss journey a whole lot more.

Why 6 weeks? Let’s explore the top 3 factors which will absolutely influence the number on the scales.

Water Weight

Our body stores the excess sugar and carbohydrate we consume in the form of muscle and liver glycogen. Each gram of glycogen is bound to 2-3 grams of water so naturally when glycogen stores become depleted the water molecules attached also flush away, in turn resulting in weight loss.  We can store anywhere between 1600 – 2000 calories of glycogen at a time so when beginning a lower carbohydrate protocol, thus depleting your glycogen stores, those first 1 – 2 kilos are due to a drop in what we call ‘water weight’.

This often sets people up to think the weight will continue to come off at that rate. Please don’t set yourself up for disappointment by believing it will.

The Scales Lie!

Despite what the vast majority of health industry experts would have us believe, achieving sustainable weight loss is not a simple matter of ‘energy in v’s energy out’ (see our article on The Calorie Fallacy for more on this). Fat loss actually requires a metabolism that efficiently uses fat for fuel. Once you’ve done that (for guidance see How to Become a Fat Adapted Athlete), it’s a process of drawing on this new found metabolism to work your way through the tens of thousands of calories worth of energy stored as body fat.

The problem is, we’re addicted to the scales and we rely on the numbers for motivation. This has been perpetuated by a diet industry which for so long has encouraged the use of unsustainable, very low calorie diets that promote muscle wastage. Muscle is far denser than fat tissue, so of course any loss in muscle tissue is going to be more visible on the scale. Again, great if you’re addicted to the number on the scales, but not if you have a fat loss goal in mind. Your goal is to develop a metabolism that’ll effectively burn fat for a lifetime to come.

It takes time to lay the foundations for fat loss

To shed body fat, you must firstly create the ideal fat burning environment. Please consider the below factors:

Gut health

The tendency in the Western world, due to diet and stress, is to have a high proportion of Firmicutes versus Bacteroidetes (the two dominant bacterial phyla). The research is now showing that this balance (or rather imbalance) is highly correlated with greater body fat percentage. The re-orchestration of our microbiome is something we can achieve through diet (as you learned in Gut Health 101) and the use of probiotic strains, but it’ll take time. Make sure you work with a good practitioner and consider the relevant testing to get your microbiome in the ideal state.

Managing inflammation

When there’s inflammation, either due to bacterial infections/overgrowth, excess fat, consumption of trigger foods, hormonal imbalances or all of the above, your body is going to be challenged to transition from a sugar burning state.  This means if you’re embarking on LCHF for the first time and overcoming decades of poor lifestyle and food choices, you need to allow time for change.

Please understand the signs of improved health and a more efficient metabolism so that you can use these as your markers of progress. If you’re hitting those marks, then I guarantee you’re on the path to reduced body fat. If not, then I recommend working with a practitioner to understand what else could be standing in your way.  Factors not explored in this article, like hormones and other health conditions must be considered at that point.

If you suspect something is inhibiting fat loss or better health, we’d love to work with you. Please book your complimentary 15 minute consultation (under ‘Consultations: Skype’ or ‘Consultations: Face-to-Face’).

If you’ve recently been on your own fat loss journey, then I’m sure the TNN community would love to hear from you. Share your story of success and leave a comment below.


Fernández-Elías VE et al., 2015. Relationship between muscle water and glycogen recovery after prolonged exercise in the heat in humans. European Journal Applied Physiology, 115, 9, 1919-26.

Mike Mutzel, 2014. Belly Fat Effect: The Real Secret About How Your Diet, Intestinal Health, and Gut Bacteria Help You Burn Fat.

Eleanor Whitney et al., 2017. Understanding Nutrition: Australian and New Zealand Edition: 3rd Edition.

Dr Phil Maffetone, 2015. The Weight Loss Game: A Spectacular Failure. Accessed February 16, 2017.


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