Layne Norton’s Metabolic Damage: I don’t believe in it. There is absolutely zero logic behind the metabolic damage theory.

What is “metabolic damage” according to Dr. Layne Norton?

As far as I understood from the video log of Dr. Layne Norton he believes extremely low calorie dieting can take your metabolism “capacity” down to very low levels, even to the point where you are actually gaining weight on diets under 1000 calories.

Cool, but in what universe?

Nature says it’s not possible.

There are natural laws which appear to be 100% unchangeable by us, the mortals. Can you stop the Sun from rising? Can you stop the rain? Can you live without eating? No. It’s impossible. There is a system of interconnected natural laws that could very well qualify as cold and ruthless Gods on Earth.

One of those laws says that nothing in nature can be lost. Material things may change their state, but they don’t just disappear into the nothingness. This is one of the few things I remember from balancing chemical equations in my high school chemical classes.

The most popular example of how matter changes its state without actually disappearing would be something “simple” like water circulation.

Why am I saying this? Because in the video above Dr. Layne Norton said that fat loss is not a mathematical equation. In my experience, however, it’s exactly that – a mathematical equation. You have to be consuming less calories than what you burn so that your body is forced to use stored body fat as fuel.

Regardless of who you are, the only way to lose fat is to somehow create a caloric deficit. This can happen through different ways – dieting, tons of exercising, drugs…etc. In this case it does not matter. What’s certain is that caloric deficit must be present. You can’t cheat nature.

In the video Layne Norton talks about people who have damaged metabolisms because of overly restricted diets. I can see extreme dieting being unhealthy, but concluding that the metabolism of the individual shuts down to the point where 800-900 calories cause weight gain, sometimes even with additional cardio, seems a little insulting to the population over 10 years of age. There’s no way not to lose fat on similar training and nutrition regimen.

Even if you wanted to, you can’t be gaining weight in the form of fat when you are only eating 800-900 calories a day unless you are a very, very, very small person with very, very, very, very low physical activity. For the majority of the population this is not the case at all. Even small women will lose weight on 800 calories. Lots of it.

There’s enough evidence showing that people on low calories lose tons of weight. I don’t think I need to put horror pics in your head, but there has been sufficient amount of examples throughout the history of the human race which reveal exactly that. Unfortunately, this trend continues until this very day.

For example, prisoners of war would shrink down to 95 lbs as a result of extreme calorie deprivation. If we were to accept that Norton’s theory was right, those guys should at one point be gaining weight due to having their metabolisms damaged so bad that even water and apples makes them fat. Seriously, you can’t cheat nature and convince it that there’s something when there’s actually nothing. The energy responsible for the weight gain MUST come from somewhere. When you are eating 800 calories or even 1000+ in some cases, you will always be in a caloric deficit until you become very, very light.

Lyle McDonald says it’s water weight.

Lyle McDonald has opposed to the metabolic damage idea and explained the gained weight on a super low calorie diet with the need of the body to compensate by retaining water. I am not a scientist, but this certainly makes much more sense than gaining fat when you are barely eating and doing tons of cardio. There are reports showing that people who have been on starvation diets tend to lose weight overnight after consumption of a high calorie meal. The lost weight is, of course, water.

My experience with low calorie diets.

I have followed my fair share of low calorie diets. Actually, I spent the last 8 weeks dieting, which is what shifted my attention to Layne Norton’s video. I lost about 9 kilos or 19 lbs in those 8 weeks, but some of the weight must be water. Anyway, the mathematical equation worked for me. I simply reduced my meals to 1-2 and started dropping weight week by week. My calorie intake was pretty low – less than 1500 calories most of the time. In those 8 weeks, I never experienced impossible phenomenons such as “gaining fat” in a caloric deficit.

I’ve done this kind of dieting on two other occasions. The most I ever lost was 35 lbs and dropping the calories worked every time. I don’t believe in reverse dieting or metabolic damage or repair. The hardest part after a diet is understanding that you now have lower caloric needs because you are lighter, not because your metabolism is “damaged”.

It’s just no practical…

Dr. Layne Norton suggests that one could repair a damaged metabolism by slowly adding as little as a few carbs to one’s regular diet every week. I am sorry, but that’s just insane. Can you explain to me why would anybody monitor every single bite to the point where a few weekly carbs can be tracked ? Oh, wait. Don’t explain anything. Save it for your doctors in the mad house.

In conclusion

I don’t see how the metabolic damage theory can be true. I don’t think there are naturals laws that would allow the extreme form described by Dr. Layne Norton.

P.S. Think for a second…can you increase your bank account while actually spending more money than you earn.

How is that even possible? Where’s the money coming from?


  1. Sa92

    You mentioned in your post that you’re not a scientist. Leave science to scientists. There are plenty of processes that your body carries out on a daily basis which can and will become less calorie consumptive in times of need. To keep it very basic for you, we’ll use heart rates as an example. In cases of severe calorie restriction (what the body perceives as starvation) the heart rate drops (bradycardia is the science term for you), as this happens less calories are expended in pumping the heart. This can happen with most body processes, calories are in short apply so the metabolism adjusts so that you can survive. You may continue to lose or maintain weight whilst on low calories, but as soon as you bump them up to a slightly sub-normal level, you will put on weight because your body continues to think it’s in a deficit. Increasing your calories slowly will allow the body to adapt to the increase and those metabolic processes will increase over time. Please don’t feel the need to write any more blog posts, ignorant people shouldn’t attempt to inspire the blind.

    1. garry

      Yeah calorie restriction does cause a decrease in BMR. But it can’t get that low that you gain weight on 1000 calorie diet. I have followed low calorie diets myself with fasting 16 – 18 hours and my metabolism never slowed down. You don’t need to be a scientist to understand basic science.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *