Nutritional strategy’s for optimal results.
Just before I get into the main body of this, a nutrition plan or guide is a static document that may or may not get revised and changed over a period of time.
A nutritional strategy is something that’s designed to achieve a set goal or aim over a long period.
A well designed nutrition plan will provide results but eventually results will plateau.
Human physiology is never static which is why our nutritional strategy should never be static.
The human body is the worlds most incredible survival mechanism which has managed to survive millions and millions of years on this planet. We’ve done that because we can learn to survive to whatever conditions we are presented with. That includes slightly less calories than we require.
Metabolic adaptation is what we see when someone has been following a set amount of calories for a prolonged period of time.
The body adapts to what it perceives to be the average.
So if we program a 10% calorie deficit we’ll experience weight loss (how much of that weight comes from fat and how much comes from muscle will be determined by a number of factors) but eventually the body will think……
‘Hang on a minute, we’re not quite receiving the amount of energy (calories) that we require so we’ve been replenishing that deficit through stored energy (fat and muscle) but if we stay in this 10% calorie deficit eventually we’re going to run out of stored energy and we’ll die’.
‘We’re not keen on dying so we need to adapt to survive’.
‘Let’s down-regulate our metabolic rate’ which means, let’s learn to operate and survive with a lower amount of total energy requirement per day.
As a result of this metabolic down-regulation we’ll see weight loss plateaus and/or health issues. So one way that the body will reduce it’s Total Daily Energy Expenditure TDEE is to reduce hormonal production.
(A menstrual cycle isn’t essential so we’ll save the energy required for that and not do that this month) This may be what happens in fairly extreme cases but something that I see fairly regular in my job role.
Reduced daily energy and mood quality, reduced training output and impaired sleep quality are also signs of down-regulated metabolism, so you’ll un-consciously withdraw from conversations, choose to sit on the sofa rather than go out and be social. All these things are an attempt by your body to reduce your TDEE to meet your current calorie intake.
Your 10% calorie deficit eventually becomes a 0% calorie deficit and the body is now happy that it can continue to survive with reduced chance of death, it will continue to survive, all be it at a lower quality of life but it can now survive.
Another contributing factor towards a weight loss plateau is that you may have lost some tissue through the dieting process which does actually reduce your TDEE as well (less muscle = less calorie requirement)
So your 10% deficit is eliminated this was as well. Certainly not ideal if health and looking good is your goal.
A less experienced coach will just reduce calories further to push through this plateau, which in the short term will work until the cycle starts all over and this behavior/strategy is how we find people on 900 calorie diets and not losing weight. The ‘just keep doing more and eating less’ approach to weight loss.
If you’re starting your dieting phase already in a deficit then you’ll have your work cut out as well.
Ensure you spend some time at theoretical base calories, a basic calculation that will get you close is bodyweight in kgs x 33.
So for me it’s 90kgs x 33 = 2970 calories per day.
For bonus points you could even push calories higher for a short period until you achieve metabolic adaptation to the higher amount then you’ll have a higher platform from which to diet down from.
So with this knowledge to hand, this is how we lay out our more advanced nutritional strategies for prolonged fat loss and muscle growth.
We know that human physiology is never static so our nutritional strategy should never be static either.
Week 1 – Base calories
Week 2 – 5% deficit
Week 3 – 10% deficit
Week 4 – 15% deficit
Week 5 – Back to base and restart the process
There’s a little more to it than that but that’s the basis of a advanced nutritional strategy. This avoids metabolic adaptation, allows for 4 weeks of dieting and fat loss before there’s a well timed diet break so compliance is easily achieved, glycogen restoration can occur, mineral and vitamins can replenish, ghrelin and leptin can reset and we can even experience a little bit of muscle growth in Week 5 so our overall net result is a lot more beneficial over the long term.
With this kind of strategy we see clients achieve accelerated results whilst the process is a whole lot more enjoyable and sustainable for them.
The most importance aspect of a successful diet is adherence from the client, second is the correct calculations then the non static approach which this strategy accounts for all three.
Whatever you decide to do with your approach, measure, review and change where needed to achieve your set goal.
Make sure the process is enjoyable and place your health above everything else.
Coach Stephen Arnold
Ps, if you want some help designing your nutritional strategy, feel free to reach out and get in touch, I’m always happy to help.