I recently heard an analogy that kind of blew my mind. Have you ever seen a super skinny hobo that looked like they were about to drop dead from starvation? And, I’m not talking the East Hastings meth addict kinda hobo; I’m talking about your run of the mill, grocery cart toting, bottle collecting, homeless person. (Also, please don’t mistake my analogy as insensitive or intolerant, I’m neither of those things and I understand the gravity of homelessness.)
But seriously…these people are extremely malnourished and yet they don’t look emaciated or even on the verge or starving to death? How is that so?
Let me tell you how! It’s because chronic under-eating, especially for a prolonged duration, will NOT yield the perfectly lean physique you’ve been chasing.
I know this from a solid 16 years of rocking what is known as the hobo chic physique. (Ok, it’s not actually known as this, I just made it up…but it’s on point right?).
This is one of the most paradoxical symptoms of someone who is under-eating, and it often goes hand-in-hand with overtraining. You workout 5-7 days a week spending countless hours crushing yourself with Crossfit workouts or epic cardio sessions while snacking on veggies and six almonds and yet, the scale doesn’t budge and you feel like a big old bag-o-dicks.
While a slight caloric deficit can lead to sustainable weight loss (think 300-500 calories per day), much larger deficits induce changes in your body’s metabolism in order to keep it in homeostasis.
Think about it like this–essentially you are turning your body into a human Toyota Prius. You become so effecient at burning fuel that you end up harldy needing any fuel at all to make the engine run. You just become a shitty ol’ hybrid that has no power and can barely make it up a hill (or through a workout).
Our bodies are smart as fuck and will make modifications to our thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormones in order to reduce our overall caloric output.This includes reducing active thyroid hormone, shutting down hormone production, and raising cortisol. Chronically elevated cortisol leads to both leptin and insulin resistance, a disastrous hormonal state that can keep body weight high, leading to stalled weight loss, body fat retentionn, and the dreaded skinny-fat hobo physique. Not to mention a myriad of other negative health effects that go beyond weight loss resistance.
So if you’ve been eating very little and exercising excessively in a futile attempt to lose weight, consider whether this strategy has been working for you.
So now what? You have turned yourself into a used 2004 Prius, is it possible to become an Audi? If we start eating more, won’t we just gain weight?
Maybe. Maybe not. But the reality of the situation is that you have put your body into this scenario and now you have to get yourself out of it. That means an increase in calories to get that metabolism fired up and those hormones back on track.
For some, it will mean the possibility of putting on a few pounds in the process and for others it will ignite a metabolic fire that will have you feeling’ and looking bomb in little to no time.
I’m gonna be honest here, if you’re as fucked up as me mentally, increasing caloric intake won’t be easy and it will take some time to adjust to the premise. It’s something I still battle with on the daily, despite being fully aware that I don’t want to be a Prius.
HOWEVER at the end of the day, trying to survive on lettuce leafs and hours of cardio while maintaining the bod of a starving homeless person is just no way to live.
Lets get the fuck away from starvation diets and poverty macros and take those underfed, low energy hobo bodies from street to chic.