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HOW LONG SHOULD I BE DIETING FOR?

Greg Connolly

Often times when we start a new diet we cut a lot of calories quickly, leading to dramatic weight losses very early. We get excited by the weight loss and quick results and go off of our diet. Only to instantly gain back the weight. Not only do we gain back the weight but then we notice that our body can't metabolize the food we were eating prior to the weight loss.  We find ourselves struggling to keep our weight at what it was prior to the diet. Affirming the position that we have to diet forever if we want to lose weight and keep it off.

This is where nutrition periodization comes in. Nutrition periodization refers to periods of caloric "deficit" followed by periods of caloric "maintenance" and/or periods of caloric "excess" depending upon your specific goals. This keeps your metabolism high and able to adjust and maintain to your new weight.


The Basics Behind Dieting

We probably all know that calories in versus calories out is the basic foundation needed for any diet. If you burn more than you consume, you will lose weight eventually. Often times though, we become impatient with the process. We put ourselves onto harsh diets expecting immediate results.

"Our capacity for patience is being eroded every day by our ‘Get it now, Pay later‘ culture. Let me be very clear: If you take this attitude towards your diet then sooner or later you are destined to fail." (Andy Morgan, author of Rippedbody.com)

When we put ourselves into diets like these, we feel a severe lack of energy. We notice our cravings hitting heights like we have never seen before. And we cave, going all in on a cheat meal. Turning the cheat meal into a cheat day. Into a cheat week. Into the food we were eating before the diet. We think "well I hit my goal so I can go back to what I was eating before." 

Unfortunately with dieting you cannot just "go back" if you want to keep the results. You have to continuously be changing your diet, revolving around your current goals. Setting unrealistic goals too quickly in any diet are a quick path to failure. So here is how you should be approaching this new lifestyle change. 

Don't Deprive Yourself

Probably one of the best tips anyone can have going into a diet is to make sure you aren't feeling deprived. Do not cut so many calories so quickly that you feel like you are starving yourself just to get by. If you feel a lack of energy or severly unhappy, you probably won't be too motivated to continue

You can also really damage your metabolism with this type of severe dieting. Drastically making changes to your diet too quickly can hurt it. If you were eating 3,000 calories a day consistently for the past three years, your body is expecting to get that source of energy. It has adapted to maintain your current weight at that caloric intake. If you sliced that intake out of the blue, eating only 1,200 calories a day. You would probably see some instantaneous results.

However, as time goes on, your body will adjust accordingly. It will start to conserve energy by using less energy in your down time. Because your body is not getting those extra calories, it thinks it must adapt to the new energy intake it is getting so that it does not starve. Meaning you burn a lot less calories throughout the day. 

Burning less calories throughout the day will lead to less noticable results, even before you have hit your goal. Making you think you have to cut your calories down even further or add in extra cardio to see results. This puts you at a very heavy deficit throughout the day. Which is not realistic long term. 

Putting your body into a constant state of deprivation for more than 3-4 months can really damage your metabolism. Making it pretty much impossible to keep off weight at any calorie intake higher than what you were eating. This why it is absolutely essential to be changing your diet periodically. 

How to Utilize Diet Periodization

If you've ever dreamed of a diet where you can lose all of the weight you've wanted to lose and actually keep it off over time while NOT depriving yourself, this is it. The foundation of diet periodization is that every 2-3 months, you are changing your daily intake. Renaissance Periodization has created a diet template individualized around each person and their lifestyle. An example of this template is seen below.

light training trifecta diet template.jpg

When starting on any diet utilizing periodization you will typically start you from a base point. This allows you to set a starting point based on your current caloric intake and the new diet you are approaching. This gives you a chance to set a very reasonable beginning which can still yield similar results over a period of time versus expecting instantaneous results from a crash diet. 

Dr. Melissa Davis, a health consultant for Renaissance Periodization, says "Sometimes the longer road is the road to sustainable results. Breaks are needed between bouts of hard work and change in almost every instance of life and diet is no exception."

The Renaissance Periodization diet revolves around the concept of diet periodization. It is structured in a way that helps each person achieve long term results utilizing periods of lower caloric intake as well as periods of maintenance. They recommend that you stay in each period of deficit for no more than 9-12 weeks. They recommend that even if you still have a few more pounds to lose till your goal weight by the end of the 12 weeks, you move into a maintenance period before pursuing to shed those last few pounds. 

By going into a period of maintenance you are allowing your metabolism the chance to rejuvinate before you go into another period of deficit. In doing so, you are reminding your body that you are in fact not starving so it will not shift to preserve additional calories you don't want it to preserve. In this maintenance period your body will typically not gain weight as you are not in a surplus to your normal caloric intake. This period is all about stabalizing your new weight. Making sure your body can adjust to an adiquate amount of calories and that your metabolism isn't slowing down from the deficit. 

"For the majority of individuals, maintaining an extremely low-calorie diet is not sustainable for long-term health, happiness, and function." (Breaking Muscle.com)

While you may seem hesitant to increase your daily intake during a maintenance period, it really is one of the most important and underutilized periods of the process. If you always are at a significant deficit, you will probably feel a large lack of energy. You are also damanging your metabolism in the process. And, obviously if you are always at a surplus, you will always see some sort of weight spike. That is why the maintenance period is so important. It gives your body the chance to recover. It gives your mind the chance to feel relaxed and not stress about every single macronutrient. 

How Do I Find a Structure That Works for Me?

Finding the right diet for yourself is all about experience. There are hundreds upon thousands of diets out there promising you the same thing to "look better and feel better". While these diets may work for some, they just don't always have the right foundation for everyone. They focus a lot of the time around very short term results. Or, they get you hooked on a specific food line where your choices are to either eat their food and lose weight or be unhappy forever. 

The best thing to look for when searching for the right diet is to find something that allows you freedom while still helping you achieve results. There should not be an ultimatum to these things. Diets should teach you how to apply healthier practices in your day to day life and give you the right tools to succeed! 

Here at Trifecta we work closely with Renaissance Periodization to give you a tailored program for your specific goals. We do not believe in getting people  "hooked" on a system where they simply cannot succeed without us. We want  everyone to have the tools to succeed and the freedom to do it on their own terms.  Each RP template caters to different periods of the process, dependent upon your  body and your goals. Here, we have the ability to match your template to your  food preferences and make it as easy and convenient as possible for you to hit  your goals. 

The picture below is of a client losing 18 pounds over the course of a year and making drastic body composition changes in the process!

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Renaissance Periodization has yielded massive results for its clients. The structure of the diet has created a much healthier culture around diets. Not just in the sense that people are "eating better" or "look better" but that people actually feel so much better. Many clients have noted that they have never eaten this much food while "dieting" ever before. It's because diet periodization has mastered the art of making sure you aren't depriving yourself of what your body needs to survive! Most importantly, it has created a culture around dieting that makes you want to engage in it. One where you feel like you aren't alone in the process or that you can't possibly manage your diet with your life. 

And most importantly, just be patient! Every great thing takes time. Rushing the process will never benefit you. Do not only keep the end in sight, enjoy the process and you will succeed. 

 References

1. Ala, Andy Morgan, Landerval, Jeff, Josh, Federico Jara, John, Rodrigo, Tegan Marie, Maciej, Royi, Chris Sanders, Sam Hughes, Jonathan, Nick, and Mac. "Do You Need To Take a Diet Break?" RippedBody.com. N.p., 03 Jan. 2017. Web. 02 Mar. 2017.

2. "Reverse Dieting: What It Is and Why You Should Try It." Breaking Muscle. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2017.

3. 2016, Admin On Nov 28. "Chronic Dieting." Renaissance Periodization. N.p., 29 Nov. 2016. Web. 02 Mar. 2017. 

 

 

 

 

 

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