We all know that when dieting, the number one factor of success is the calorie defecit.
That makes sticking to that deficit is the second most important factor. I, and every other person giving diet advice, will tell you to make the diet as easy to stick to as possible. After all, a ccalorie deficit is only effective if you are consistent.
Further, making the diet as easy as possible is important to engrain habits that helped you lose your weight into your lifestyle. This will make maintaining leanness effortless!
No more weight rebound! It will help you be part of the 2% of dieters that maintain their new bodies. You will also use those skills to do a lean bulk (aka bulking with minimal fat gain) if you so choose.
Unfortunately, most people want to do too much when they embark on their weight loss journey. Because of the hectic dogma-pushing nature of the fitness industry, people may get sucked in to low-carb, paleo, gluten-free, HIIT, 6 lifts per week, crossfit, steady state cardio for hours on end, and super low calories, all while snacking every 2 hours on bland rabbit food and boiled chicken. If you do this, your life will revolve around fitness. Paradoxically, there is a high probability you will end up in the 98% of dieters that gain all their weight back.
Unsustainable plans and burnout are the leading causes of failure in all ventures, not just fitness.
One HUGE factor for dietary adherence, for myself and many others, is the use of eating strategies that make a calorie deficit seem easy.
These eating strategies include meal setup, frequency, and “cheat days” aka refeeds. Today I want to share how I eat to make sticking to a diet and maintaining my success easy!
(Note: I’m not a fan of the notion associated with cheat days. Throwing caution to the wind and eating whatever you want shouldn’t be a glorified aspect of dieting. In addition, the concept of cheating brings about a negative connotation that you may ascribe to the delicious food you eat that day. You should feel free to eat whatever you want on your regular dieting days as long as you understand three things:
“cheat” food may not satisfy you as well as “healthy” food,
“cheat” food may be physiologically harmful, and
“cheat” food may not offer a solid compliment of micronutrients.
That said, I do promote refeeds, which can be basically the same as cheat days, but with more accountability and no negative connotation of cheating.)
Main Factor: Intermittent Fasting
Practice intermittent fasting
Practice interment fasting
Practice intermittent fasting
At least try it. Give it an honest shot. I promise it will be worth it. If you give it a respectable try and after a month and a half you still don’t feel like it’s for you, then of course don’t do it. Just don’t be one of those folks that does if for three days and says, “Oh, I’m too hungry when I fast so this isn’t for me!”
Give yourself time to adapt and get rid of the psychological need to eat every few hours. If you need the myths about intermittent fasting shaken from your head, click here (shaken out with love! Sorry for coming on strong here but I strongly dislike the perpetuation of these myths).
There are many benefits to intermittent fasting that I, and many others reap. Those things are important for health in general, but when it comes to weight loss or maintenance, intermittent fasting is mainly a tool to push all your calories into the later part of the day. You get to eat bigger meals that leave you completely satisfied!
Never again will you have to eat a 500 calorie meal every three hours and try to convince yourself you’re full! The concept of eating 5-6 meals to ‘stoke the metabolic flame’ is a ton of bs anyway. In addition, 5-6 small meals has been shown to have no greater effect on appetite than normal or infrequent eating.
So, drink some black coffee or tea in the fast and eat big ass meals in the feast. You will have an easier time sticking to your calories because of it.
Secondary Factor: Macro/Meal Split
The way I distribute my macros within my meals is important, yet how exactly I do it is flexible. If that didn’t make sense, bear with me!
When I have a long day ahead of me and I’ve fasted as long as I can/should, I aim to break my fast with a lot of fiber and protein, minimal carbs, and only enough fat for the meal to not taste like crap. I aim to eat half to 75% of protein in the first meal, depending on what I predict dinner to have in store for me. I try to eat all my fibrous veggies in this meal too, but sometimes I’m compelled to have more in my later meals.
There are three reasons I do this. The first is that protein is the most satiating macro. When paired with fiber, it can keep you full for hours. This way, you can wait a long time for your second meal.
The second reason is to save my fats and carbs for later so that I may indulge in an unplanned treat. Most desserts are made up of fats and carbs, so save space in your macros for later! If you decide not to have dessert, you could always have more potatoes and butter!
The third reason is that carbs can act as sedatives. Even when you eat simple carbs, you have an energy crash not long after. Why eat carbs early in the day, when you might have more work to do? Save them for later when it’s time to relax! Eat most of your carbs a few hours before bed. This way you can give yourself the itis, which will help you sleep like a freakin rock.
Eating carbs later will also mean that you are doing something called carb-back training. There have been suggestion that eating all of your carbs after training has some performance and recovery benefits. Honestly I’ve never really looked into it because I’d inadvertently be doing carb-back training whether it worked or not. When thinking with the logic I’ve already presented it would make sense, right? If a carb can be a sedative, then don’t eat a lot before working out; if a carb promotes recovery, you probably want to eat it when you are actually recovering.
Don’t @ me with pitchforks just yet. I admit to not knowing that much about it. Lemme read up on it and make edits here later.
It’s worth noting that I don’t always follow this eating plan. I do this on days where I wake up early, work for a long time, and go to sleep rather late (aka college). When I get to sleep in, have an unregulated schedule, or have a special occasion that involves food, I may not follow this. Further, when I am in a solid workflow or I actually have to cook my meal, I may opt for a more flexible strategy.
For instance, I may have two meals of equal macro proportions when I cook for myself over the weekend. I may eat my carbs earlier to save my protein and fat for a trip to a Brazilian steakhouse for dinner (now accepting donations for my next BSH dinner).
The point is to follow a macro/meal splitup you enjoy and can stick to. If that means having a rigid macro split regardless of the day, then maybe that’s best for you. I prefer to have two plans for two types of days: one structured and one flexible.
I strongly encourage you to try my strategies out and experiment with your own.
Tertiary factor: Refeeds
Lastly, it is important to have regular refeeds. A refeed is a day where you purposefully overeat. Aim to take in more carbs, as carbs influence the hormone leptin, which in turn triggers fullness and increases metabolism.
In a calorie deficit, leptin levels will drop, but refeeds placed in proper intervals can greatly minimize this affect. If you are above 15% body fat, stick to one refeed a week. If you are between 10% and 15%, have two. If you are below 10%, have three.
One to three planned refers per week can have an insane effect on appetite for the following days. It can mean the difference between adherence and quitting a cut. If you have one refeed, put it on Friday or Saturday, depending on which day you lift. It’ll give you yet another reason to look forward to the weekend.
When you have two refeeds, put the other on Monday or Tuesday (again, whichever one you lift on).
When you have three refeeds, put one on each lift day. Having your refeeds on lift days will aid in recovery as well as keep you metabolism moving along. When doing three refeeds a week, you may even find yourself doing a recomp!
Well, there you have it! The most important factor is pushing your calories until later in the day with intermittent fasting. This will allow for large and satisfying meals and the freedom to eat at resturants and social gatherings.
Secondly, eating most of your protein (50-75%) and fiber with moderate amounts of fat and minimal carbs earlier in your feasting window will fill you up well enough to push your next meal later, free up your carbs and fat for potential treats later, and get your fiber done and over with (unless you want to eat more later to fill you up).
Eating carbs acts as a sedative. Even if you eat simple carbs, you will experience the energy crash that is associated with it. The sedative effect is best saved for the end of the day when all your work is done and it’s time to relax with friends, family, and/or Netflix. It can also help you get to sleep. Eating carbs later is also great for carb-back training, a technique to elicit some extra recovery from your workouts.
Include refeeds weekly to increase the satiety hormone leptin, aid in recovery from workouts, and ease the psychological and physiological burden of calorie deficit. Focus on eating carbs, as this macrontrient has the greatest effect on leptin. Position these refeeds as I described earlier.
Hopefully this helped you by giving you another tool to help you get and keep your new body! Even if you choose not to adopt this eating strategy, I hope it at least got you thinking about one that you will enjoy. At the very least, I hope this underscored the importance of having a strategy that is easy to stick to.
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