Dieting Too Long
Dieting for extended periods of time can actually be a program. We always seem to want to be losing body fat (the reason WHY we diet), but it’s actually hindering our health and performance. Here’s why.
Caloric restriction means to restrict the amount of energy your body needs to function regularly. So imagine driving your car from point A to point B, but you don't have enough gas to make it to point B. What do you think will eventually be the outcome? This is exactly what’s happening to your body.
We know that restricting caloric intake is crucial for fat loss, but doing it for too long can affect our body in negative ways. This is why we’ll sometimes consider carb cycling or reefed days when we’re trying to still lose fat. Our bodies can start to burn through muscle mass that we’ve been working so hard to maintain and gain. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so it almost ‘costs’ more energy for your body to hold onto that muscle. In order to reduce the caloric expenditure (energy used), you body tries to increase its catabolic state in order to survive. Look at it this way: a caloric deficit (what we put our bodies in to lose weight/fat) is simply a ‘controlled starvation’ and your body will most like perceive it as a threat, therefore activating means to ease the downfalls of this controlled starvation.
From a hormonal standpoint, everything works against your goals of losing fat. Testosterone drops, leptin (satiety hormone) drops, grehlin (hunger hormone) increases, cortisol (stress hormone) increases and a series of other processes occur that makes things more difficult. When these hormone get out of balance, you’ll feel hungrier and cravings will become much more frequent; your workout performance weakens and your strength most likely suffer. Your endurance will drop, and your overall mood will change. Your libido will also be affected during prolonged dieting as well.
So when we diet your body down to peel away body fat, we have a few variations we can implement to lessen the side effects as mentioned above. We can carb cycle (higher intake on training days and lower intake on rest days), we can implement scheduled reefed days (depending on your needs, goals, and lifestyle), or we can do mini cuts along the way. Reverse dieting is also a common tool that I’ll use with my clients who have been in a deficit for far too long (usually they’ve come to me at this point from trying to diet on their own for too long and then get stuck in a mucky hole). Even if there’s still fat to lose, a reverse diet can ease the process and actually make the fat loss process much healthier.
When dieting down, we always want to be in the smallest deficit as possible. We want to keep calories as high as possible and doing as minimal cardio as possible, so that if and when your body does plateau, we haven’t dug you into a ditch and messed it all up. Your body needs time to recover throughout little spurts of dieting. We need to feed it the necessary amount of nutrients and calories in order to function optimally. Slow and steady progress means longer results and better health!
For more information about flexible dieting and how you can apply this successful protocol into your lifestyle with guidance, visit my website: courtneyforlife.com/coaching to see programming options that are available. You can email me with any questions that you may have, that aren’t already answered on my website at firstname.lastname@example.org