Now you Never Have to Blow Your Diet Again
Dieting is a tough thing to get right. A lot of people start with good intentions, but then lose focus and find themselves back at square one.
In this article, we will discuss how not to do that! We'll cover everything from what you should eat, when you should eat it, and the best times to exercise so your diet doesn't fall apart.
With each year that goes by, studies have shown that the conventional dieting method does not work.
Following a typical weight-reduction plan, around one-third of the weight lost is regained after one year. In most situations, all of the weight lost—as well as some extra—is recovered within three to five years .
While it may appear to be true that traditional dieting—limiting your calorie intake for a long length of time—does not work because people "just don't adhere to it," it is not so simple.
Many people live in a calorie deficit for months at a time without losing fat.
Our bodies adapt to any continued stimulus, including dieting and bulking, just as we adapt to the repeated stress in the weight room.
Consider this: Performing ten reps on the bench press at 200 pounds for 20 weeks isn't ideal, so why would dieting on the identical number of calories for 20 weeks be?
Your body is designed to survive and adapt to any stimulus, and if you do not provide it with a different form of stress—like an increase in calories or weight lifted—it won't elicit any change.
We aren't saying that calorie counting is useless; we are simply saying that the traditional approach to dieting is ineffective when your goal is long-term fat loss.
So what's the best way? It may be simpler than you think: Remove all limitations on food types and amounts eaten while also increasing activity levels (exercise).
If nothing else, this concept will allow for more flexibility in your life! We like to call it "flexible dieting," but many people refer to it as IIFYM [In It For Your Macros].
No matter what you call it, this sort of approach will allow for the greatest adherence and success over time.
IIFYM is a nutritional philosophy that revolves around allowing yourself to eat any food as long as it fits within your macronutrient targets [the amount of protein, carbohydrates, fat, etc. in a specific meal].
Carbs are not essential to life or training performance—your body can run without them—but carbs have been shown to be beneficial when consumed pre-workout and post-workout, so we recommend eating some form of carbohydrate before/during exercise if muscle gain is your goal.
Consequences Of Adapting To Your Diet
If you want to overcome the negative effects of traditional dieting, you must first determine what is causing them.
Several adverse changes occur in the body when you diet for a long time, according to research.
Firstly, the length of time spent in a calorie deficit—the state where you are burning more calories than you eat—will eventually cause your metabolic rate to decrease.
This is simply because there's not enough food for energy so the body adapts by lowering its requirements; it isn't efficient to run on fewer resources if they're available [note: this study refers only to weight loss diets lasting over 12 weeks].
Secondly, when carbohydrates or fats drop below 20% of daily intake (for many people), testosterone levels decline and cortisol secretion increases (cortisol is responsible for breaking down muscle tissue). Cortisol also acts as an appetite stimulant.
Finally, consistent training while dieting has been shown to increase cortisol response to training.
All of these changes are temporary and will be alleviated once your diet ends, but they can't all happen at the same time—it's one or another.
For example: If you lower carbs too much while also restricting calories for an extended period of time, testosterone levels won't drop as low because cortisol will remain high (cortisol increases when carbohydrates decrease).
However, it is possible to mitigate the effects by adding more carbohydrates back into your diet so that both hormones return to normal ranges [this study refers specifically to weight loss diets lasting 12 weeks].
This means if you want less fat gain during periods where food quality doesn't matter as much (e.g., bulking), then increase carbohydrate intake accordingly.
If you want less fat loss during periods where food quality matters more (e.g., cutting), then decrease carbohydrate intake accordingly to allow cortisol levels to return to normal ranges.
The same can be achieved with fats, but carbs are the most effective macronutrient for shifting hormones due to their effect on insulin release—the body's primary anabolic hormone.
Calorie Cycling Vs. Traditional Dieting
Although the topic is still relatively young, there is evidence that "cycling" between caloric levels may help you stay full, hunger- hormone levels, resting metabolic rate, and muscle-building hormones such as testosterone.
Calorie cycling may result in even greater fat reduction than a normal diet.
A study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine compared the effects of calorie cycling with daily caloric deficits to determine which group lost more weight.
The calorie-cycling group—which cycled their calories every three days between high and low levels (about +/- 20% around maintenance) — lost significantly more fat than the traditional dieting group that only consumed a reduced number of calories each day.
This study's outcome makes sense in light of what we know about metabolism:
When you reduce your food intake, the metabolic rate goes down, but it doesn't go back up even when normal eating resumes until after some time has passed [this paper refers to significant decreases in energy expenditure achieved via sustained or intermittent fasting].
What this means is if you're looking for rapid fat loss while minimizing muscle loss, then you should be more aggressive with your calorie cuts on some days of the week while being less restrictive other days.
Make Monday, Wednesday, Friday lower-calorie days where you restrict intake by 20% below maintenance levels. Make Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday higher-caloric "refeed" days where calorie consumption returns to normal or slightly above normal levels.
This will keep hunger hormones stable throughout the week without quitting cold turkey because it's too difficult.
Deficit Vs. Maintenance: How Long?
Calorie cycling, for individuals who compete or go through months-long "cutting" and "bulking" phases, maybe a wonderful method to lose weight.
According to some research, some of the negative consequences of conventional dieting take years to overcome or might be irreversible.
This means that your 12-week training plan could result in decades of difficulty with sluggish metabolism and cravings.
Based on what research suggests, it appears that a 2-4 week calorie deficit is enough to set off the chain of events that lead to AT.
As a result, if you want to cycle calories and limit adaptation from a deficit, target an eating plan that lasts four weeks or fewer.
Five Ways To Cycle Calories
There are five ways to cycle calories:
- The Weekend Cycle: 5-day calorie deficit of around 500 calories,
- Davoodi's Cycle: 11-day calorie deficit of around 500 calories,
- The 3 On, 1 Off: This cycle (300-500 calorie deficit,) is a great way to get more out of your bulking phase. Instead of eating at maintenance for weeks or months and gaining fat along with muscle, you can alternate between periods where caloric intake is increased (bulking) and decreased (cutting). The science suggests that people following this plan will gain less body fat during their bulk than those who eat the same number of total daily calories every day without cycling them over time.
- Monthly Cycle: This cycle (300-500 calorie deficit,) is typically for people who are already lean and looking to get extremely ripped. This plan works best if you have a lot of fat to lose during your bulk or don't mind getting relatively small while bulking so long as it takes place over the course of multiple months. For this style, caloric intake should be increased above maintenance levels every two weeks with no decrease in calories between refeeds.
- The Four Day Diet: The 4-Day Diet encourages weight reduction by eating foods that are low in salt, fat, and carbohydrates. This type of diet aids in the maintenance of heart health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels. The two most important steps toward preventing diabetes are weight loss and exercise.
Key Points For Calorie Cycling
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when using calorie cycling to lose fat:
Choose a cycle that is appropriate for your fitness goals and current training status.
It is unlikely that you will be able to keep up these diets forever. Start with one or two days per week, and build up to more.
Consult your doctor before you begin any diet plan.
Do not try calorie cycling if you are on the same diet for four weeks straight (no breaks).
Stick to eating maintenance calories on your higher-calorie days, and don't overcompensate by eating massive amounts of food.
A deficit of 500-800 calories for one week is enough to induce noticeable weight reduction in most people. However, the length of time during which you are consuming less than maintenance may vary considerably from person to person and depends on many factors (i.e., intensity, duration, the volume of exercise).
Schedule training for your weak muscle groups, and schedule the body parts that you want to prioritise for your calorie-deficit days.
- Anderson, J. W., Konz, E. C., Frederich, R. C., & Wood, C. L. (2001). Long-term weight-loss maintenance: a meta-analysis of US studies. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 74(5), 579-584.