I posted this info in my locker room, as well as some other things:
This is from Scott Abel (top Canadian bodybuilding trainer), it's a long read but you might find it useful:
"With the seemingly ever increasing popularity in the last few years of Figure Competitions, there has been a troubling corresponding scenario developing: Metabolic damage. Yes, folks dieting and training can actually make you FAT long term if done improperly and to extremes. I used to see this somewhat in female bodybuilders, but now with the Figure boom it?s becoming almost an epidemic. It?s time someone pointed this out, and also time to search for solutions. What is happening is that for several years after a contest prep that was ill-advised, the body responds in ways to prevent the situation from happening again. While it programs itself for this, there is also immediate and resultant metabolic damage from undertaking poor diet and training strategies. The result is that within one to two years post contest the metabolism pretty much shuts down, or shuts off completely. This sets off a cascade of negative hormonal events, as well as various potential metabolic dysfunctions, one of which I will discuss below. The result is that the individual gets fat or fatter even on controlled calories and carbs. Should they desire to compete again, this usually leads to mis-guided advice of ?more cardio? and more calories restriction.
Those of you who have heard me speak before on the Cycle Diet know about the dangers of absolute calories deprivation. (Those who have not can soon download one of my last Seminars at SWIS on the topic). Combined with more exercise this leads to eventual metabolic stress and dysfunction. The result is that within a few years, girls are out of the sport and getting fat and fatter each year even though they stay on consistent diet and training protocols. Recent discussions with colleagues and their own observations and feedback from other colleagues reveal I am not the only one noticing this pattern. The saddest part of it is that the girls who usually must endure the most to get contest ready are the girls who will suffer more from metabolic damage in the near future. One of the problems has been till now that it goes relatively undiagnosed when taken to a physician. Blood tests reveal ? everything to be normal? yet as a practicing professional I know for these clients everything is anything BUT normal. Staying on a PROPERLY controlled diet, and a training protocol and still gaining weight, fat, bloating, or cellulite is not normal and is indicative of a problem. The contestable issue there is no observable proof. So Drs who know little about training adaptations and effects send these girls away telling them all is normal and nothing is wrong, yet all other evidence points to the contrary. One of the existing manifestations of this is now illustrated in Wilson?s Low Temperature Syndrome. This will not explain all of the Metabolic Damage cases that I see but at least it is a start that this is a real phenomenon.
Now a little science before the explanation: Under normal hormonal conditions the body?s endocrine system is controlled by one of the master glands, the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus exerts its effect on many other glands, and of particular concern here is the pituitary gland and the thyroid. The hypothalamus stimulates the pituitary which then stimulates TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). TSH makes in the body T4, a form of traveling thyroid which the body then converts to T3, the active form of thyroid which exerts its influence on cells and tissues, to be metabolically active and responsive. Here is one of the problems. (I?m sorry this requires such intimate scientific analysis, but I want girls to understand the dangers of getting ?contest ripped? at all costs). What we now know is many things can screw up or otherwise distort this process even though it would not show up on blood tests. The first thing is just general hypothalamic burnout. Too much stress on this gland for too long and it just does not function as efficiently. Next is what we now call Wilson?s Low Temperature Syndrome. You see the whole T4 to T3 conversion can and is affected by many variables; the top ones being stress, diet or fasting, illness, and increased cortisol levels. Well right away that peaks interest in the people I see with metabolic damage who have both, OVER-stressed their systems physically and usually mentally, while dieting; as well as being on ?absolute calories deprivation? for way way too long. This is where it gets interesting. Remember also that cortisol is a stress hormone and will increase and exacerbate these effects of stress. One of the ways the body converts T4 to T3 is via an enzyme called 5 Deiodinase. This enzyme we now know is inhibited by the above factors of stress, extreme dieting, cortisol and other contributing factors. Under stress and fasting (extreme Figure type diets) the body both, converts less T4 to T3, and converts more T4 to RT3. The problem with this is that the RT3 is an INACTIVE form of thyroid. It exerts too little to no influence on the cells and tissues. Because the actual activity of T3 takes place in the cells and tissues, there is no proper way to measure it or see if it is actually doing its job. Blood tests only determine that hormones are doing their job by there being such and such an amount in the blood stream. But since most of the activity is in the cells and tissues, not the blood, a blood test would reveal normal levels of TSH, T4, and T3, yet none may be acting appropriately on their target tissues, especially the T3. Girls can suffer all the symptoms of low thyroid function, but still show normal thyroid on a blood test. This means gaining weight easily even though dieting, fatigue, irritability, etc etc just to name a few effects. And Wilson?s Low Body Temperature Syndrome would not be possible to screen for on a blood test. This is just one way metabolic damage can manifest itself after a disastrous contest approach and too long of a diet, with too much macro and micro nutrient deprivation for far too long. Seems that sometimes those who really do ?try the hardest? suffer the most. The reason I keep referring to this being about girls is that is what I see the most, and of those who actually do have Wilson?s Syndrome, 80 % are female. This phenomenon can also develop in other situations, like for instance, ladies who diet for their weddings, for far too long and end up with the same bad metabolic response over time. It?s not sometimes just that ?eating habits changed? with being married, but metabolic damage ensued as a post-diet, stress response to the wedding itself. (And tons of girls find their weddings mentally and emotionally stressful: just like girls preparing for Figure shows)
Ok, this is just one such sample of metabolic damage.
Another factor I have little proof of right now but that I am sure exists is some kind of permanent or resultant damage to the aldosterone hormone and it?s feedback mechanisms, given that aldosterone is also a stress response hormone in general.
The good thing about Wilson? Syndrome is that it ?may? be reversible. If you are concerned you may have metabolic damage do a search and check out the symptoms for Wilson?s Syndrome and see if you fit the bill. This is NOT the only measure of how metabolisms get damaged in this over-train, over-diet, yo yo syndrome of the Fitness Industry. Unfortunately the Fitness Industry and Figure events are now leading down the road to the Fatness Industry! I have seen and have several clients who formerly got bad advice and prepared for their contests with a ?win at all costs? mentality that is now hurting them long term.
Ladies, (and gentlemen), you need to start choosing your coaches and trainers more wisely. Going to extremes of 2-3 hours cardio per day, plus training, plus over-dieting, may get you to the Winner?s Circle at level 1 or 2, but at what costs to you?????
One of the reasons I got into the whole Metabolic Power/ Metabolic Endurance Training was to try to find ways around these ?other? potentially damaging pre- contest protocols. And the ?Cycle Diet? also explains how to prevent the effects of Absolute Calories Deprivation, from destroying your metabolism long term. I hope anyone reading this is paying close attention and will forward this to any other girls they know who are ?die?ting for a show and may be doing damage to themselves. If your nails are brittle, and hair is falling out, etc, these are warning signs. Please abide them. I feel sorry when I see a cattle call of women at Figure events, with some 80 girls in them. Some are born to do it, and others struggled like hell to get up there, and unknowingly (and usually by actually being coached!) have set themselves up a one way ticket to Fatsville, long term. They just don't know it yet. The reason I explained about Wilson?s Syndrome is because it?s one way at least that we know of that is treatable and a way back to normal metabolic function and normal fat loss, with normal dieting. "