Vegan Protein – How much for fat loss?

Vegan Protein – How much for fat loss?

Vegan protein almost sounds like an oxymoron. Protein mainly comes from animals or dairy, two of the largest eliminations from a vegan diet. So it almost seems impossible to get the suggested 30% of protein in a day in order to maximize fat loss. Many EM2WL vegans may think that this exempts them from the protein recommendations, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

Vegan protein vs. vegetarian proteinVegan protein levels can be hard to accomplish. But it is not impossible, nor should it be excusable.

It's no secret that vegans and vegetarians can have a harder time hitting their protein macro. But it is not impossible, nor should it be excusable. Vegetarians have a slightly easier job because they can still eat dairy and eggs. Vegans however have to get a bit more creative when it comes to protein.

Nuts, seeds tofu and legumes often become the main focus for a vegan lifestyle. These items can certainly help fill in some of the vegan protein gap, but they also tend to have higher levels of fat and carbs attached to them. This means that the ratio can be harder to balance out for those striving to hit physique-specific goals.

For example, beans have a high level of protein, but the carb level also increases by 4x. This could mean that the beans carry 10g of protein, but the carbs could be 50 or 60g. This makes it very hard to hit macros such as 40/30/30. Vegans would need to pay closer attention to their vegan protein source, and it's carb/protein/fat ratios to ensure that balance and still maximize their ability to lose fat.

Vegan protein levels can be hard to accomplish. But it is not impossible, nor should it be excusable.

Awareness is key. Simply knowing to pay attention in these areas will begin to open your eyes to items that may have been right under your nose all along. For example: many EM2WL vegans have found ways to increase their protein intake with simple swaps of plant based bread products. These give a much higher level of protein than regular bread. These can be a little hard to find locally, but if you are an international shopper you could try ordering from Here.

When it comes to balancing your macros, the only thing to keep in mind is that, for fat loss, protein should still hit that 30-35% mark. Vegans actually need to eat slightly more than a carnivore when it comes to getting in protein, simply because of the kinds of proteins they eat. They don't process the same as meat and dairy do.

Allow carbs and fat to fall where they may, based on personal preference, so long as the protein hovers above that 30% mark. For a vegan this may take some time, (ok a LOT of time) to work your way up to that percentage, but the higher that level can get, the better off a muscle-keeping, fat-loss-seeking vegan will be.

 

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Why using a food tracker can help with fat loss

Why using a food tracker can help with fat loss

Why using a food tracker for fat loss can help you acheive your goalsA food tracker can be a powerful weight loss tool. When used correctly, it can give you a ton of data about your eating patterns and caloric intakes. For many, tracking food can mean the difference between eating enough calories and eating the right kinds of calories. However, the ultimate goal for the majority of #crushers is to be able to live and eat without the aid of a food tracker.

Intuitive eating vs. Food tracker

The goal to stop tracking comes with an important caveat. You have to actually track your food for a period of time in order to stop tracking later. So for many, this means understanding that if your goal is to stop using a food tracker, then you must be able to perfect intuitive eating, by knowing how your food choices line up each day.

By tracking, this allows you to see each day where your calorie intake actually hits, and where your macros fall in. This allows you to make notes of what you need to eat daily, and how your choices affect your macros for each meal. Paying attention to your daily food habits will set you up for success when the time comes to stop tracking. Your understanding of how to hit that protein goal becomes apparent after you track consistently.

Why using a food tracker for fat loss can help you acheive your goalsAnother good reason for using a food tracker is seeing if there are patterns in your moods and hunger cues. By tracking your moods daily using the notes section of your diary, you will be able to see if there are patterns to certain issues. Things like skipping breakfast causes you to binge eat later in the day. Or a pattern in eating a certain food brings on the bloat or gives you headaches/migraines. These cues can tell you a lot about your eating habits and how to troubleshoot them long after you stop tracking.

Finally, tracking your food allows you to be self aware. It keeps you accountable to your daily required calories, and hitting those macros. Both are necessary for fat loss. It also gives you the stepping stones to make these changes in your food a habit. Habits which need to be solid before you begin intuitive eating.

The goal for everyone is to eventually stop tracking food. But take the steps now to track so your foundation is solid in the future.

THE METABOLISM RESET GUIDE

THE METABOLISM RESET GUIDE

Do I Need A Metabolic Reset?

If you are new to this concept of “eating more” and fueling your body properly, you undoubtedly have a lot of questions. You know you should eat Metabolism Reset Graphicmore, but how much? What is a metabolic reset? (And, do I need it?) How long will a reset take? Will this work for me, or am I that “special snowflake” that won’t have success with this? And then thoughts like “I got fat eating more. Why would I want to do that to lose weight?” start running through your mind. It’s enough to make you want to run for the hills!

Just the idea of increasing calories is a terrifying thought for most people, especially when you have had the “eat less/move more” mentality drilled into your head for your whole life. We get it! We were all there once. Brainwashed by commercials with promises to get you into that skimpy bikini (or Speedo) by summer… The truth of the matter is that these diets will work for a little while, but then the end result is that your weight loss will stall as your metabolism gradually slows down to match the intake. This is the point when most of us start doing some research and realize we have been under-feeding our bodies and need to reverse the tides…

After deciding to take the plunge into the world of Eat More 2 Weigh Less, one of the first questions many people have is: “Do I need to do a metabolic reset?” Well, the answer to this question is as individual as the person asking it.

metabolism reset○ Those with a recent history of eating consistently over their TDEE should be able to calculate their TDEE, jump right in at a 15% cut, set their macros at 40/30/30 (40% Carbs, 30% Protein, 30% Fat), and begin the process fairly quickly.   These people have been over-eating and have most likely not compromised or slowed their metabolisms in any way, so their bodies should respond quite well to a small deficit. This is the easiest case scenario… No metabolic reset necessary, as they have essentially already done it by previously over-eating!

○ However… Those who come from long term low calorie dieting, binge/restrict cycles, eating disorders…etc. will have a very different process to go through as their bodies and brains adapt and finally accept the increased caloric intake.  Often, years of severe caloric restriction will have resulted in a suppressed metabolism … one which has slowed down to match the decreased intake. When we consistently eat at a caloric deficit, the body will naturally assume that this deficit is now maintenance and downshift the metabolism to meet this demand. If this is your case, a reset is highly recommended.

Potentially, you could go right to that 15% cut in hopes that you would see results, but most likely, you will just be prolonging the process. You see, as you slowly increase your calories to that 15% cut, your body will simply adapt and reset at this 15% cut level, seeing that as the new “normal”. You will have, in fact, reset to your cut value, and therefore, the body will not see it as a cut. From that point, the only real option is to do a true reset, where you eat at TDEE or Maintenance calorie levels for a prolonged period of time (more about this later…) And THEN, once the body has accepted your intake at TDEE as normal, when you introduce that small 15% deficit, the body should react positively by shedding some fat.

SO, if you have been dieting for a prolonged period of time, suffered from an eating disorder or even cycles of binging followed by severe caloric restriction, do yourself a favor and work your intake slowly up to TDEE and take the time to do a metabolic reset. This process will give your body a break from the stress of dieting and allow it to become accustomed to eating proper amounts of food again. If you don’t do it at the onset, most likely you will be doubling back and doing it somewhere further down the road when you don’t see the results you were hoping to see. Skip this vital step, and you will most likely be prolonging the length of your journey rather than speeding it up.

 

How to Find Your “True” TDEE

So… you have decided that you need to do a metabolic reset in order to get your metabolism back up and running where it should be.  Now what?

The first thing that you need to in order to start this process is to determine your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure).  Your TDEE is the amount of calories that your body requires to maintain your weight.  That (TDEE) figure includes your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) as well as your normal day-to-day activities plus any formal exercise.  In theory — based on this definition — if we eat at our TDEE, we will maintain our weight.  The problem is that this theory does not always hold true.  When we have been under-eating and over-exercising, our body will adapt to this stress.  In an attempt to maintain homeostasis, it will down-regulate the metabolism to match the decreased intake.  The result will often be a suppressed metabolism.  This explains why suddenly you may find yourself gaining weight while doing hours of cardio and eating 1,200 calories or less a day … your body has adapted!  You have decreased your intake and increased your exercise for a long enough period of time that the body has finally slowed down your metabolism to match the intake.  Your body is doing what it is supposed to do = maintain homeostasis.

To get your metabolism back up and running where it should be, you’ll need to increase your caloric intake back up to TDEE, or do a Metabolic Reset.  To begin this process, the first thing you will want to do is enter your stats into the EM2WL weight loss calculator to get your TDEE (maintenance) calories.  This will give you an idea of what your ultimate goal will be.  But remember that these calculators just give you estimates.  They are subject to error based on how much exercise you input into the calculator and how active you truly are.  Many newbies to EM2WL lead very active lives, and may actually burn a lot more through their day-to-day activities.  If they simply enter in the 4 hours of formal exercise that they do each week, their final TDEE estimate may actually be too low.

Alternatively, you can use an on-body device such as a FitBit, or BodyMedia band to get an idea of how much you burn each day.  These are likely BodyMedia App Readingmore accurate than the calculators, just because they’re monitoring how much activity you actually do each and every day.  However, these devices are also not 100% accurate because they don’t accurately calculate calories burned from your strength training workouts.

So, where does this leave you?  How do you figure out your “true” TDEE?    You have your TDEE estimate and/or your “on-body device” average, but ideally you will also test out these numbers and make sure they are truly accurate for you.

The normal process for doing a Metabolic Reset involves increasing your caloric intake up to your calculated TDEE and staying at that level for a minimum of 8 – 12 weeks (much longer if you come from a history of severe dieting or caloric restriction).  We generally recommend that you make this increase slowly, adding approximately 50-100 calories to your daily intake each week.  Of course, you can certainly jump right up to TDEE quickly (“rip the band-aid”) or make those increases more substantial, but you may find the increases on the scale to be discouraging.  By making the increases more gradually, you can often avoid some of the gains seen during the “rip the bandaid” approach.  We leave this to the individual as a personal decision.

Now, back to the original question … “How Do I Find My True TDEE?”  In order to do this, you will most likely need to go through a trial and error process.  You have your calculated TDEE, but how do you figure out if that is “true” or not?  As you are going through the process, gradually increasing your daily caloric intake 100 calories a week, keep an eye on the scale.  Generally, as you make these increases, you may see the scale jump up a pound or two, and then during the course of the week, it will generally trend back downwards, often ending up right back where you started, pre-increase.  As you get closer and closer to your calculated TDEE, you may find that it takes a bit longer for your weight to stabilize and drop back down.  At this point, if you find that happening, you may want to take it a bit slower.  Then if your weight has not stabilized and dropped back down by the end of the week, wait until it does before making any further increases.

Once you are at or near your calculated TDEE, watch for slow and steady increases on the scale which do not stabilize over time.  If you do start seeing gains like this, you have most likely surpassed your TDEE, and which point you can back down on your intake by 100 calories or so and you should be right there — at your true TDEE.

What many people find is that their actual TDEE may be higher than what they get with the calculators.  Often their day-to-day activities (chasing kids, doing laundry…etc.) makes them more active than the activity level that they chose when inputting their data into a calculator.  We often tend to underestimate how active we are.  Many people find that they are actually able to eat 100 or 200 calories more than the calculators give them, simply by “testing the waters” and not blindly accepting those numbers as accurate.

So, give it a try!  Surely by now, you have resigned yourself to the fact that this is not a fast process, so take the time to make sure you know your “true TDEE.”  Don’t blindly trust the calculators, test it out and see how much you can really eat before you start seeing true gains.  Ignore those monthly fluctuations and the jumps that occur after increasing your intake.  Keep pushing your intake higher and higher until you start to see slow, steady gains that do not stabilize over time.  As hard as it may be, don’t worry about gaining.  You can always just drop your intake down and those gains will stop.  Remember:  nothing that you are doing during this process is irreversible.  Take the time to do it right … right from the beginning.  You won’t regret it!

 

When Does My Reset Start?

You have finally gotten brave and decided to do a metabolic reset. You have diligently upped your intake slowly to your calculated TDEE level.

You added 100 calories on each week, and faithfully continued this process until you got your intake from rock bottom all the way up to your maintenance calories, maybe taking months to get to this point. Yay! Now you have reached TDEE, and you are ready to cut, right? NO.   Now, this is the point where your metabolic reset actually begins. This is the point where the healing of body and mind starts to take place as your body begins to trust that this new, increased intake will be consistent, and not just another fluctuation, like so many times in the past. Yes, you have just spent what is possibly a few months getting your intake up to maintenance levels, but technically, your reset has not yet begun until now.

Now, you will need to stay eating consistently at TDEE levels for a minimum of 8 – 12 weeks, possibly longer if you come from a long history of severe caloric restriction. Some people have found it takes as long as a year to become fully healed and ready to move on. This part of the journey is as individual as the person taking it. Everybody is different and one size certainly does not fit all. Use this time to introduce strength training into your life, if you haven’t already done so, and enjoy the benefits of building some muscle (which really is possible now that you are finally eating at TDEE). Sit back and truly learn to love eating more.

 

When Is My Reset Over?

Okay, so you didn’t rush the metabolism reset. You have eaten diligently at maintenance levels for two, three, eight, maybe even twelve months.   Congratulations!   Now, how do you know when it is over? How do you know when it is the right time to cut?

There are a few key things to look at when making that decision:

○ One thing to consider is the mental aspect of the journey. For many, it is just as important as the physical part. Hopefully, during your reset you have changed the way you view your food. Food is no longer the enemy, and you have begun to see and appreciate it as a much-needed source of fuel. You have learned to no longer fear carbs or fats, and instead fit them in to your daily life (yes, even chocolate!). We feature a lot of Success Stories from EM2WL followers on our website, and hopefully when you read them you have noticed the mental transitions that had to take place both before and during the reset process. This is a vital part of the process. If you have not fully embraced eating more, then you are not ready for a cut.

○ Are you rushing to finish your reset? Are you in a hurry to start that cut? Are you counting down the days until you can introduce that 15% deficit and begin your weight loss journey? If this is you, then you are most likely not ready. At least not mentally…. When your reset is over, you will know it. You will have fully accepted that this is your new way of life. In fact, when you are ready, you will actually be dreading the day you have to give up any calories! Suddenly that 15% deficit will seem huge and you will be contemplating starting with just a 10% cut, or maybe even 8%,  or 5… You get the idea :-)

○ As far as the physical aspect, if you have been eating at an extreme deficit prior to beginning your reset and had symptoms of metabolic damage such as fatigue, hair loss, brittle nails, low body temperature and/or loss of menstruation, you should begin to see all of these improving. Seeing improvements in these areas is a good sign that your body is recovering and now using those additional calories for normal maintenance functions, and not simply the vital ones.

Succ○ Your weight will have stabilized. Often, the reset process comes with some associated weight gain. Some of that is water, as glycogen stores are refilled. Some of it may come from other sources. When we subject our bodies to severe caloric restriction and excessive cardio, the weight that is lost is not all necessarily fat. The weight that is lost can also be from muscles, tendons, ligaments and even brain tissue! As we begin to re-feed and nourish our bodies properly, the body will begin to rebuild that muscle, tendon, ligament and brain tissue and that will show up as a gain on the scale. Note: this is just another reason to not rely on the scale as your sole method for gauging success. Not all scale losses are good ones! … I mean, who wants to lose brain tissue?!

As you have worked your way through the reset process, chances are, your weight may have fluctuated. A lot. By the time your reset is complete, these fluctuations should have stabilized. Yes, you will still have those ups and downs caused by water retention following a high sodium day, or water retention due to DOMS following a heavy lifting day, or that normal 3 – 5 pound gain many see around TOM, but overall your weight should be holding fairly stable.

○ By the time you are ready to cut, all of those overly full, bloated feelings that you may have experienced as you increased your calories should have subsided. You should feel comfortable eating at your Maintenance calories (TDEE). You should not feel like an over-stuffed turkey on Thanksgiving, in fact you should feel hungry again! These are all signs that your metabolism has returned to a normal state.

 

No matter what your dieting history, EM2WL will work for you.  It is all just a matter of doing your research, figuring out your “numbers” and determining what plan will be correct for you, and then putting that plan in place to get you to your caloric goal.  Each person’s plans will be different.   Some people will see results in as little as 4 – 6 weeks, while others may take as long as a year, depending on their dieting history (the more severe the dieting history, the longer the “metabolic healing” can be expected to take).  Research and patience will be key, in either case.  And, if you need help along the way, EM2WL is here to help with our online courses and coaching programs.

Why You Need to Break Up With Your Scale

Why You Need to Break Up With Your Scale

If you're stuck in a relationship with your scale — using it as the primary tool of measuring the success of your diet and workout program — then it’s time to break up!  Using the scale to gauge your success may tell you if you are losing weight or not, but it will not tell you about the QUALITY of the weight that you are losing. You have no way of knowing if those losses that you may be seeing are fat, water, or even worse, muscle!

scale picThe diet industry has done very little to change this perception. Advertisements continually pound consumers with promises for quick and permanent weight loss, often through decreased caloric intake and increased exercise (“eat less, move more”).  Although this may result in a significant (scale) weight loss, initially, what is not taken into account is that much of what these consumers will be losing is muscle, rather than fat. This muscle loss is a primary reason that weight gain will likely occur when they are no longer able to maintain this low calorie/high exercise regimen.  Every dieter has experienced this “fall off the wagon” weight gain upon returning to their previous eating habits.  Plain and simple: if your weight loss plan results in muscle loss rather than fat loss, your metabolism will soon be in trouble!

The Importance of Muscle

Muscle is so important because it is essential for maintaining one’s BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate).  Your BMR is responsible for approximately 2/3 of your daily caloric burn or TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). Without muscle mass and fuel (food), your metabolism will soon likely slow to a crawl.  Indiscriminately dieting and exercising without the end goal being muscle gain (or at least maintenance) is a sure recipe for disaster: muscle LOSS.

DumbellsLosing all of that valuable, metabolically active muscle mass, is setting yourself up for a rebound weight gain.  You can’t maintain a very low caloric intake combined with excessive cardio workouts, so you'll inevitably return to your old eating habits — or perhaps continue to restrict — but now with occasional all-out binges thrown in. With your muscle-deficient metabolism creeping along at an all-time low, this increased intake will inevitably result in weight (fat) gain.  Following a low calorie diet combined with (often excessive) aerobic exercise will most likely result in an initial scale weight loss, but if the loss is muscle rather than fat, this scenario is setting you up to become a smaller, flabbier version of your current self (the dreaded “skinny fat”).

If weight loss is your goal, then you want to make sure that what you are losing is truly fat, and not metabolism-fueling muscle mass. The body naturally burns more calories each and every day to support a pound of muscle than it does to support a pound of fat (which is metabolically inactive), so the end goal should be to have as much muscle as possible in an effort to keep the metabolism running at a high rate.

What does this have to do with the scale?

Muscle is dense and, by volume (the amount of space it occupies on your body), weighs much more than the flabbier fat. The end result: if you build some *heavier* muscle, your body will appear smaller and tighter due to the dense nature of muscle, but the scale may not show much movement downwards. Hence the reason to not put a lot of emphasis on the number that you may see on the scale.

Can't I just do cardio?Other than the scale, there are many ways to monitor progress, from the most basic, right up to the most technologically advanced methods (BodPod testing, Bio-electrical Impedance, skin-fold caliper testing, measurements and simply taking progress photos all can be very useful). If nothing else, everyone should start with a set of progress photos and update them on a monthly basis. Once you begin strength training, you will be glad you did!

So what can you do to ensure long-term success? Invest some time in some strength training. Build some metabolically active muscle in an effort to keep your metabolism running at optimal levels. Just doing plain old cardio or aerobic exercise will do little if nothing to build muscle, and in fact, doing too much will actually begin to break down that hard-earned muscle tissue. The best thing you can do for yourself and your metabolism is to build some muscle tissue. Not only will you be physically stronger, but you will be less susceptible to injury, and your body composition will begin to change and improve over time. Soon you will notice that you can fit into clothes which were previously too tight, even though the scale is not really moving. Being strong is also empowering!

When considering a nutrition and exercise program, muscle growth and maintenance should be “front and center.” Seek out a good, periodized strength training program and start to challenge yourself. Confused as to where to start? Check out EM2WL’s Beginner Strength Training Manual for answers to the most frequently asked questions, as well as a complete 12-week workout plan, access to a *bonus* private area with video demonstrations of each exercise, & a place for any other questions you have along your journey. Combine strength training with fueling your body properly by eating at or slightly below your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) and you will be on the road to success!

 

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Making Rest Weeks a Priority

Making Rest Weeks a Priority

DumbbellExperienced lifters know the importance of rest between sets, which can be anywhere from 30-90 seconds, depending on how quickly you recover.  They also know that rest days from weight lifting — even during the week — are important, and structure their sessions so they can train one body part while the others are getting a rest.  But, did you know that it is even more important to take an entire week off from strength training?

Some refer to rest weeks as de-load or recovery weeks. Whatever you prefer to call them, they are necessary. This is an opportunity to give your entire body rest from lifting heavy weights, and even from high intensity cardiovascular workouts that put a strain on the body and the mind.

Rest weeks are unfortunately over looked by many weightlifters — especially newbies — because they think the few days during the week that they rest (if they rest) is enough. They have the “no pain, no gain” mentality. They feel that the more they do, the better and stronger they will get and the quicker they will reach their goal. Actually, failing to take longer breaks will affect your progress in a negative way.

This magic of building muscle does not happen while you are actually lifting the weights.  Instead, it happens while you rest.  Surprised?   Yes, I was too!  When you lift weights to build muscle, you are tearing the small muscle fibers.  Quick science lesson…After you workout, your body begins to repair damaged muscle fibers through a cellular process where it pulls the fibers together to form new muscle protein strands, or myofibrils.  These repaired myofibrils increase in thickness and number to create muscle growthMuscle growth occurs whenever the rate of muscle protein synthesis is greater than the rate of muscle protein breakdown.  All of this happens while you are not working out!  This machine — called the body — is truly amazing!!

Muscles carry water weight

I know a whole week away from the iron may put some into withdrawal!  But you can make it an active rest week where you're engaged in your favorite sport or in low intensity cardio like walking, yoga, or your favorite aerobic DVD a couple of days during the week.  But, no lifting or HIIT!  And, don’t forget to continue to eat balanced meals of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.  It’s important to continue to feed those muscles while they are repairing.  This simply means DO NOT restrict or lower your calories because you are not working out as much!  In fact, it may be a good idea to eat at  your TDEE  along with making good food choices during this rest period.  If you are cutting during your recovery,  you may want to decrease your deficit from 10% to 5%.  You want to make sure any losses that week are not muscle.  Remember, the whole point of recovery week is for your muscles to have a chance to repair.  So, don't plan to run a marathon during this time!!

If you've been lifting weights and/or doing high intensity workouts and have not taken a rest week, you are well overdue for a much needed break.  It’s a good idea to plan a rest week every 4 to 5 weeks to let that muscle rest, repair, and grow.  Then the weeks following your rest, you will feel refreshed, energized and ready to take your performance to the next level.

 

 

Photo credit: stockimages, naypong

DIET BREAK: Is it just hype?

DIET BREAK: Is it just hype?

With the onset of your cut, it's important to remember that it is just another phase of your fitness journey.  Another step along a journey of many steps.  As fat starts to shed it may be tempting to stay in this phase for the fat loss benefits.  But rest assured, you'll find that over time if you cut too long or too deep, it will work against you rather than in your favor.  So, what to do?  Cue the diet break.

As the name suggests, a diet break is just that, a break from your diet and a return to maintenance or eating at TDEE.  Diet breaks can come in several forms, from simply a cheat meal or a refeed day to a full diet break which can last for a couple of weeks.

diet breakWHY ARE DIET BREAKS NECESSARY

During your cut phase, cals are adjusted slightly below TDEE with a 5-15% deficit.  When cals are reduced, your metabolic rate slows to accommodate the decreased intake.  Similarly when fat loss or weight loss occurs, your metabolic rate can also be impacted.  This slowing of the metabolic rate can, in turn, slow your fat loss.  Quite the vicious cycle, I know.  To add further insult to injury, if you stay too long in a deficit, your body will start to adjust and think your deficit is actually your new maintenance.  When fat loss stalls you may instinctively want to decrease calories further, however, this could potentially do more harm than good.  By taking a diet break, you help return your metabolic rate to normal as well as your hormone levels, all of which will aid the fat loss process once you return to eating at cut.  Additionally, a diet break can also serve as a psychological break if you struggle with sticking with your plan.

WHEN TO TAKE A DIET BREAK

Diet breaks should be planned anywhere from 4-12 weeks of your cut phase and should last for 1-2 weeks.  If you have a vacation, special occasion or even a stressful time ahead, this would be the perfect time to write a diet break into your schedule.  After all, if you're vacationing you'll probably want to kick back, loosen up the diet strings a bit and enjoy a little indulgence.  Why fight it?  The same can be said for times of stress.  Scheduling a diet break might lessen the load slightly.

diet breakHOW TO DO A DIET BREAK

As already mentioned, a diet break is a return to maintenance calorie intake.  If you've adjusted your macros during your cut, you'll want to return these to maintenance levels as well.  Carbs are generally the most manipulated macro during cut, so be sure to bring this back to normal.  As usual, your protein shouldn't change much and should be at least 1g/lb bodyweight.  Although cut phases should never be overly restrictive, if you are cutting back on any foods or macro groups, this is a great time for a comeback!  Now, a diet break should not be confused with a free for all or an excuse to visit your local all-you-can-eat buffet.  Stick to your maintenance cals and macros and you'll do fine.

BONUS

diet break

Interestingly you may find that as you increase your cals for your diet break you may experience a whoosh or drop on the scale.  This whooshing affect may be the result of water being released from fat cells which previously stored fat.  You may also find that during your cut phase you weren't able to perform as well with some lifts due to the reduced cals and possibly lower carbs.  If that was the case, you should find your strength return to normal during the diet break and return to maintenance cals and macros.

There are many reasons to incorporate planned diet breaks into your nutrition plan.  From a physiological perspective, the full diet break is recommended as it allows your body to return to normal levels, which in turn can aid your fat loss efforts.  From a psychological perspective, it's just nice to return to maintenance eating for a little while.  With that said, it is strongly recommended for anyone doing a cut phase to include a full diet break at least every 12 weeks, if not more frequently, into your plan.  While it seems counter-intuitive, trust that it will work in your favor in the long run.

 

 

Photo credit: stuart miles, Serge Bertasias Photography, stockimages

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