The Playbook For The Modern Man

Nutrition Coach Reveals The Real Reason You’re Not Shredded

“Under appreciation of calories consumed can lead one to believe they are in a caloric deficit, when simply, they are not.”

Getting shredded is an eternal struggle. One weekend slip and your abs won’t be covered in glory so much as Doritos. But we digress: in this influencer saturated era, the problem isn’t that there isn’t enough information, it’s that there’s a tidal wave, and everyone cherry-picks studies to support their own viewpoint.

Keto dieters say carbs are the devil; vegans would have you subsist off them. UFC fighters love elk meat; Yogis love spelt. Bodybuilders skull protein smoothies; Instagram fitness gurus say a healthy combination of air and water is the way to go. Oh, and don’t even get us started on skipping breakfast intermittent fasting.


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As Joe Rogan’s ‘Game Changer’ (semi) backflip this morning showed us, it can be damn hard to know what’s right when everyone has their own reading of the facts (see the debate here).

Anyway: as people realise it’s easier to stick to a habit if it comes with a cultural identity, it’s important to keep the facts in mind. While going low carb, for instance, might give you a reference point that keeps you honest, there are a number of common mistakes you should watch out for that could inhibit your shred.

Enter: ‘starvation mode’ one of the most misunderstood phenomenons of the low carb movement, which nutrition coach Graeme Tomlinson says is “one of the most frequently asked questions regarding stagnation/reversal of weight loss.”

Taking to Instagram last week, Graeme debunked the myths around ‘starvation mode,’ in doing so helping us understand why our belly fat remains as gelatinous as ever. But first: a little context. What exactly is ‘starvation mode’?

According to Graeme, “The term (and those who coined it) claim that if one’s caloric intake is very low, that our metabolism defies the simple equation of energy balance to halt fat reduction and to protect our anatomy from literal starvation.” In other words: the theory that eating less triggers your body to retain more fat.

“The theory goes as far to claim this state may also create a state of protective increased fat storage. But the explanation is a little different and requires greater clarity.”

“Instead,” Graeme adds, “there are many reasons why weight loss unexpectedly slows down or reverses – and they all rather poetically result in one simply not being in a state of caloric deficit. Under appreciation of calories consumed can lead one to believe they are in a caloric deficit, when simply, they are not.”


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“Perceived movement and exercise,” the nutrition coach continues, “can lead one to believe they are burning more calories than they actually are. Whilst there is adherence to regular exercise, less energy as a result of caloric deficiency may result in less calories being burned.⁣”


“Additionally, miscalculation of one’s calorie amount or failing to adjust calorie intake/energy expenditure as weight decreases may result in one no longer being in a state of caloric deficit.”

Why is this? As Graeme explains, “If the caloric deficit has been particularly aggressive, metabolic adaptation may occur to affect resting energy expenditure. Therefore, energy expenditure predicted by online calculators may be different from what is required [and] as a result, weight may increase or weight loss may be slower than expected.”

So, how do you get the perfect six-pack? Start by understanding this: “there is no metabolic ‘starvation mode’ magic. Only actual starvation and non-starvation,” something Max says is supported by studies like the Minnesota starvation experiment.

“Body fat does not reduce if one is simply not in a state of caloric deficit, the reason for this is likely to be one of the above.”

In other words: if you’re looking to uncover that Michelangelo six pack you know to be sculped somewhere within you, get back to basics, do some smart workouts on the regular and eat a wide and varied diet (or if you’re looking to take it to the next level, get offline and consult a qualified nutritionists to discuss your personal aims).

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