loaf of bread illustrating glyogen
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How glycogen impacts your first week on a diet

The role that glycogen plays in weight loss, and why it’s crucial to control healthy intake of carbohydrate while exercising on your plan.

Depending on your starting point, you can expect to lose upwards of 20 pounds in your first month at our weight loss camp. This is a variety of stored fat, sodium and muscle glycogen loss.

Your body weight can fluctuate by a great degree on a day to day basis — in some cases up to a few pounds. This is often caused by a change in your body’s level of stored carbohydrate, known as glycogen. 

Mike Samuels

Excess starch creates excess glycogen

Usually those who have a history of eating higher starch based carbohydrates lose more when following a weight loss meal plan that is lower in carbohydrates that they’re used to. Similarly you might see on NBC’s The Biggest Loser, fat camp programs and TV shows for weight loss transformation significant weight loss in the first few days.

This is not ‘water weight’ as most assume – it’s glycogen and sodium loss. There is very high sodium in all processed foods, even cereal. What that means is that if you haven’t been cooking your meals from scratch, including using spices instead of sauces, your sodium intake will be higher. When you jump on a weight loss meal plan, glycogen levels drop.

Muscle fatigue and going ‘low carb’

Glycogen depletion is the enemy. Not only does it decrease your power and strength, it also alters your perception of how hard you are working. You might think that your regular workouts are much harder than normal. This happens when you don’t have enough carbohydrate in your diet to support your exercise intensity. Low carb weight loss meal plans produce more glycogen depletion than water loss, for this reason. Another danger (of not having enough carbohydrate in your system to replenish your muscle glycogen after training) is reduced recovery.

Every day at my fitness boot camp (as coach and sports nutritionist) my role is to ensure that nobody hits this catabolic stage. If a boot camper is losing too much weight in the first week especially, we don’t celebrate it, necessarily. First it’s important to review and monitor whether glycogen depletion is at a healthy level. We want you to feel positive mentally and emotionally about the change you’re making! This will motivate you to continue 🙂

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