16 Signs You’ve Been Dieting Too Long (Ways to Increase Metabolism)

What to do when you cant lose weight

The recommended amount of weight to lose in a week is .5 to 2 pounds per week. 

But what do you do when you have over 20 pounds to lose? Can you lose
more than 2 pounds per week? And how long will you have to diet to
reach your goals?


Seeing the scale drop every day and week can be encouraging, but
after dieting for too long, your body can start to experience a plateau
and leave you wondering why you can’t lose weight.

You’ve been dieting too long if your calories have been in a deficit for longer than 12 weeks.

A healthy diet should last up to 12 weeks before taking a
diet break to reset your metabolism and reverse some of the effects of
dieting too long.

An example of those side effects include:

1. Lose muscle mass 

The goal of losing weight is to lose weight and maintain as much muscle as possible. 

Holding on to your muscle will not only help you maintain your
strength for as long as possible, but it will also help give your body
shape instead of losing a ton of weight and looking skinny. 

To avoid losing muscle mass while dieting, keep your protein high,
track how much you lift in the gym, and take a deload week on your 12th
week of dieting.

2. lose strength

Just as we mentioned earlier, after dieting too long, you’ll start to notice yourself losing strength in the gym.

This is because you’re no longer fueling your body with enough energy
to get by on a day-to-day basis, let alone have extra strength to lift
in the gym.

Keep your protein high, avoid eliminating all carbs as carbs are your
best energy source, and avoid lifting heavier in the gym. Instead,
focus on maintaining as much strength as possible during your weight

3. You’ll Always get hungry and be worried about food

After dieting for too long, your mind and thoughts will most likely
revolve around when your next meal is; maybe you’ll find yourself
daydreaming of all the “bad foods” you want but can’t have, and you’ll
continuously feel like snacking.

These can all build a bad relationship with food.

Consider starting a reverse diet or taking a diet break after 12 weeks of dieting.

4. Increase sleepless nights

The thought of not being able to sleep comfortably because you’re hungry is no fun at all. 

And can be caused by going to sleep hungry or waking up hungry.

If you’re in the beginning stages of dieting:

  • swap out more calorie-dense foods for foods that have more volume
  • don’t avoid eating late at night as long as you get your calories in
  • try eating your first meal later in the day so you won’t go to sleep hungry

If you’re not in the beginning stages of dieting and have been eating
in a caloric deficit for longer than 12 weeks, I recommend taking a
diet break or starting a reverse diet.

5. Irritable attitude and you’ll feel like crap

After dieting for such a long time, you’ll start to feel like almost anything can get on your nerves. 

From my experience, this can come from not seeing results, annoyed
that someone else’s fitness journey seems so much easier, and the lack
of energy or desire to do anything.

Start your weight loss journey by simply changing up a couple of habits, not drastically cutting calories or over-exercising.

6. Slowed metabolism

There is such a thing as a slow metabolism. But this isn’t because
you’re made like this instead; it’s most likely due to your dieting

The longer you diet, the more your body eventually starts to say,
“Hey, I better store this food for energy later since I know I won’t
have much to work with later.”

After dieting for too long, your body will begin to adapt and slow
down the process in which your body digests and burns calories.

Take a diet break or start a reverse diet by working your way up to maintenance calories. 

7. Your body’s TDEE is reduced, and you burn fewer calories.

Like a metabolism slowing down, the amount of calories your body burns ina day also begins to slow down.

Your body becomes aware of it having to function on lesser calories,
so instead of burning 200 calories in the gym like you used to, your
body now only burns 100.

Same work, but fewer calories burned.

8. Stop losing weight

Piggybacking off the last point since you’re burning fewer calories
doing the same exercises as before, you’ll start to realize you’re no
longer dropping weight.

Does this mean you need to double up on how many calories you burn or
how many calories you eat in a day if you’re already eating 1200 calories a day?

Absolutely not.

Taka a diet break or start a reverse diet

9. High levels of fatigue and low levels of energy

In the beginning stages of dieting, your body isn’t used to the
changes that are happening, so implementing small changes is better than
implementing drastic changes. 

The best tips to avoid feeling fatigue are to 

  • stay hydrated
  • dont’ over train
  • eat smaller meals throughout the day
  • slowly lower calories

10. You’ll feel cold

Your body runs off having enough calories to produce heat.

So when you’re cutting your calories for an extended time, your body
begins to adapt and can struggle to produce heat, leaving you feeling

But this can also be because you have less body fat on you to act as an insulator.

If you’ve been dieting longer than 12 weeks, hit the reset button and increase your calories back up to maintenance.

11. Digestive problems

Since you’re getting rid of eating junk food and eating healthier
options, you’d think you wouldn’t have these problems, but you can.

Losing weight too fast and eating too many vegetables can play a role here.

Focus on the long term benefits of losing weight and avoid losing weight extremely fast.

And keep vegetable servings anywhere from 2- 3 a day; too much fiber
can leave your tummy feeling bloated and even leave you struggling to
use the bathroom.

12. Weight gain

Bodyweight can fluctuate during weight loss. Not every day will be
the same, and if the scale goes up, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re
gaining fat.

  • It could be that you’re gaining muscle.
  • it’s your time of the month
  • your hormones are thrown off from dieting 

I recommend having a second method of tracking your progress and looking at your average weight for the week instead of daily. 

13. Loss of Period

Speaking of gaining weight and looking at your period as a reason
behind you gaining weight. What happens when you haven’t had your period
ina while?

PCOS is common, and I experienced if after being in a calorie deficit for months.

while I can’t speak for everyone, losing your period is common when
women diet for too long of having very little body fat on them

To avoid this, implement a diet break, start a reverse diet, and
ensure you are eating above the recommended healthy fat intake for your

14. High levels of stress

It can be frustrating dieting for so long and not seeing results.

A great way to reduce stress is to make sure you’re getting enough
sleep, creating a list of the three big things that must get done today,
planning meals ahead of time, creating a routine, and just going for a
walk phoneless.

15. Micronutrients deficiencies

Because you’re dieting, you’re more likely to reduce the number of micronutrients your body takes in.

Yes, you can supplement with a daily multivitamin and B12, but
another great way to make sure you’re not lacking and vitamins and
minerals are to include 2 – 3 servings of veggies while dieting.

I love tossing spinach in a smoothie or adding a scoop of spirulina into my oatmeal.

16. Lowered sex drive

Just like a good diet can increase sex drive, a bad diet can lower sex drive.

This piggybacks off having low energy.

te help reduce these effects, you can:

  • increase calories
  • stress less
  • dont’ overtrain

Final thoughts on how long you can be in a calorie deficit

Be cautious of your weight loss goals, meaning how much you want to lose and how fast you want to lose weight.

In the end, dieting for too long can pose negative effects that’ll leave you like a hamster spinning on wheels. 

Taking a break is part of your weight loss journey.

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