Critical Threshold (CT) Part 2 of 3

PART 2 of 3

As I said, hormonally and enzymatically, you have trained your body from past weight loss efforts to respond when it senses starvation or you have crossed the body fat threshold (that point where YOUR body senses body fat is too low even if your body fat is still way too high). The CT isn’t fair or equitable in any way.

For some women the CT point could be when she’s 30 pounds overweight according to every height and weight chart known to man and has just under 30 percent body fat. Is she at goal? In her mind? No way. Her body has a different goal however. A guy may hit his CT at 18% body fat and 30 pounds overweight. Other women may not hit their CT until they are 9 percent body fat and damn near UNDERweight. These are the ladies who will look at you in almost amazement and “deer in the headlights” with why it’s SO HARD for you and they just don’t see it. There are guys who don’t hit their CT until 6-7% body fat comes and their reaction to guys who hit their CT at 12, 15 or 18% is one of shock, dismay and disbelief. And yes, the ones who hit their CT way early DO HATE the ones who hit their CT way late. It’s the natural order of things. And to be honest, those who hit their CT way early are allowed to hate the ones who hit their CT way late. 😉

With the help of my nutrition tool called the “Nutrition Analyzer” and my calorie-balancing checkbook called “Lean Account” you can more accurately determine if you have hit your CT. Things will just NOT make sense (assuming you have sense and are sensible about your expectations). Those who have hit their CT will be heard uttering things like “Gee, I haven’t eaten a processed food in weeks, I live on veggies and lean meats, I’m eating 1200 cals a day and exercising 500 mins a week and I haven’t lost any weight in three weeks. Gee, that doesn’t sound right.” See what I mean? It just won’t make sense.

Remember, everyone has a CT. It just varies as to when it’s gonna kick in. When it does you have a few choices:

1. Eat even less
2. Eat Cleaner
3. Exercise even more
4. Some of everything

Before you opt for #1 you should first determine if you are on planet earth with what you are really eating, drinking, splurging with. What you eat, as in the quality of what you eat, can have an impact on total food allowed. Next, look at your macronutrient balance. Are carbs and/or fat still too high? Where are those carbs and fats coming from?

Before you opt for #3 you should determine if you are at a level where overtraining has already occurred or is about to occur if you go higher. For women this activity-overtraining threshold is usually in the 600-800 minutes a week (if sustained for longer than a month or so) range and for guys it’s about one-half to two-thirds that of women. I’m not talking about your newly crowned Gold-medal wearing marathoner next door neighbor. I’m talking about average men and women without the genetics of a freak.

What is usually best to break through the dreaded CT is to maximize time exercising and burn more calories while doing it. If that is already in order then bring activity up 30 minutes a week until that over-training level is about to be reached. Do this without lowering calories. So, ladies, if you are doing 300 minutes a week and have TRULY hit your CT then do 330 next week, 360 the week after and so on. Continue to increase minutes until you are noticing signs of near overtraining (sleep disturbance, strong achiness, immune system compromised, poor recovery, every one and every thing around you sucks and you pretty much think that everyone but you is an idiot etc.) At that point it’s probably time to hold steady and be careful with your training. Guys, you do the same except move your activity from 150 minutes a week up 30 minutes a week until you are in the 300-400 range, maybe more, with the same near over-training guidelines I have given here and elsewhere.

Once you have truly done the preceding three paragraphs and at least two full weeks have gone by with no weight loss you get to begin reducing calories. “Well by how much Mr. Smarty Pants?” I can already here you asking. Once CT has truly hit it can get silly. Most women will do well in the 1000-1200 calorie range. Most guys in the 1300-1500 calorie range. The big lie kept secret in the magazines and “diet” books though is it is NOT uncommon once the CT has been reached for women to have to dip well under 1000 cals a day. Many need to live in the 700-800 range until their weight goal is reached–some even a bit less. For guys? Contrary to what the hucksters elsewhere will tell you it’s NOT uncommon for guys to have to dip below 1500 calories, with many living in the 1100-1300 calorie range until their goal is reached. Some will have to dip just under 1000 calories to achieve their goal.

Keep something in mind here. When I say “goal” I’m referring to whatever the ultimate, low-body fat you is. That may be 12 percent for some women. It may be seven percent for other women. It’ll vary. For guys it may be ten percent or five percent. The massive variance on WHEN the CT will hit is matched by the massive variance on what your ultimate, realistic low body fat is.

In the last part (part 3) I’ll discuss some cautions about any VLC (very-low-calorie) eating plans. I’ll also conclude with the good news.