Transitioning out of a strict fat-loss diet is a very serious and sometimes detrimental time period.
It’s usually the novices and inexperienced individuals who get hit with the harsh reality of post-dieting weight gain, (namely fat & water). Depression, lack of self-control, and lethargy overtake you for the most part. After you mess this up a few times, most people learn to approach this fragile time period with caution and better planning.
Let’s delve a little deeper into the actual phenomenon that takes place once most people cease a stringent diet where they have lost a substantial amount of body fat.
When you attempt to reach abnormally low levels of body fat, it is a form of planned starvation. Your endocrine system is firing off all sorts of mixed signals during this plight to ultimate leanness. Brain hunger signals are constantly elevated, and if you diet haphazardly and abruptly you will most likely lose muscle (LBM) along with body fat.
Keep in mind -- if you happen to catabolize muscle tissue to a decent extent (via DXA, Hydrostatic, mirror), you will cause a more dramatic rebound effect as your body’s first priority is to replenish valuable lost muscle tissue before fat tissue. However -- the food choices MOST people choose will replete fat tissue firstly due to sugars and oils being craved and consumed.
The state of hyperphagia (immense hunger) remains elevated until fat free mass (FFM) finally gets caught up to baseline or beginning levels.
When you salvage, maintain, or rarely gain lean mass while shedding body fat, your hunger actually won’t be as immense and self-control will actually be easier to harness.
I want to drill home with everyone reading this that bypassing discipline and self control exiting out of your extreme diet phase can cause some very serious ramifications if not regulated. This depleted state replicates a certain group of genetically defected people with something called Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS). Which is described as a perpetual feeling of hunger that can cause impulse-control problems, life-threatening obesity, and, in extreme cases, binge eating to the point of bursting the lining of the stomach. I know this sounds extreme, which it is, but I have been to the point of not being able to lay down after binging immediately after ending a contest diet. My brain would not shut off its hunger signaling, yet my stomach lining was being stretched to the point of being near incapacitated with extreme stomach pain.
Luckily I had enough common sense and instincts to take this as a sign of a negative feedback loop, and attempted to rekindle homeostasis quickly as I could. Most individuals aren’t as mentally unyielding as I am when it comes to flipping their mental switch. Therefore, this state of hyperphagia of uncontrolled eating can lead some people into the hospital facing serious health issues.
I witnessed a person at my local gym years back gain something like 60 lbs in a mere 2-3 days post contest. He was admitted to the hospital and was infused with an IV of lasix (loop diuretic) to rid himself of systemic edema. This scenario of gaining rapid water weight right after a harsh dieting period is all too common and taken lightly by most. The kidney stress, and overall cardiovascular stress this puts on you is terrible. Younger folks bodies are much more resilient to regulating imbalances and coping with internal stress. But older athletes or anyone coming out of a stringent diet is asking for trouble if uncontrolled binging is being practiced.
If you do fall victim to overeating post dieting you may go through a mild to severe depression. You must understand that after months of rigorous dieting to look out of this world good -- you can literally ruin your look in a matter of days! Yes, days if you go overboard and water collects in the subcutaneous tissues and interstitial spaces, which causes a smooth, puffy appearance. You can get so tight and uncomfortable that you lose the desire to exercise. You then spiral out of control and instead of rectifying the situation, you mentally turmoil and continue to eat freely unhealthy food choices causing fat tissue to compile onto the added water bloat. Your pants are too tight, your face is swollen, and like I mentioned, depression overwhelms you.
In summation, make sure to understand the circumstances that could arise after ceasing a diet, and plan to continue dieting and exercising after your diet is finished. Allow yourself a few free meals and stay strong and disciplined knowing you are doing the absolute best approach for staying in good health.