Everybody wants to walk around with a low body fat and be as strong as possible. Unfortunately, this just isn’t going to happen for some people over the course of a few weeks or months. If someone was looking at losing 10kg, it would be unrealistic for them to reach this goal in a matter of a couple of months.
If you have a lot of weight to lose, it can sometimes be helpful to diet in stages. Dieting can take a toll on the body and you may benefit from dieting for 12 weeks or so, and then maintaining (upping your calories slightly to maintain your weight) for 2-4 weeks. Having the right mindset going in can help make all of the difference in how you approach the outcome of the diet. Improving overall health, losing a moderate amount of weight and getting healthy are factors that should not be overlooked.
Another note on expectations is for somebody that is already starting off at a light bodyweight. For example, a 60kg client that wants to get leaner is going to be in for a shock if they expect they can eat as much as they normally do and get down to 55kg. This is unrealistic as the number one factor in a diet is calorie balance (calories in vs calories out).
This next tip builds directly off of the first one. Setting the right goals is critical to your overall diet success. If you have unrealistic expectations and set ridiculous goals in the short and long term, you’re going to be discouraged along the way and very likely will break from the diet.
How do you go about setting the right goals? Well, we’re going to start with weekly goals. For individuals with more weight to lose, 1lb per week of fat loss tends to be optimal. This means a calorie deficit of approximately 500kcal. If you don’t have much weight to lose (you may already be fairly lean) this should be lowered to 0.5lbs (approx 250kcal deficit) per week in an attempt to preserve muscle mass.
The reason for these deficits is an important one for the context of the strength athlete. Assuming our absolute focus is on preserving lean body mass and keeping strength as high as possible, it means that there is a tradeoff in cutting too much weight too quickly. Being in large energy deficits increases the risk of your performance suffering via lower energy levels and reduced glycogen stores. Keep those large deficits up over long periods of time and your strength and performance will suffer.
On the complete flipside, the same rule applies for gaining weight. A surplus of 500 calories per day is a good rule of thumb so that you are gaining around 1lb per week. Anything much more than that and you will likely end up gaining too much fat!
Accept That It Won’t Be A Simple Process
Dieting is going to take a lot of hard work and preparation. This means you may benefit from planning meals ahead of time according to your diet so you aren’t stuck without food or end up having to buy something unhealthy from the shop next to your workplace! Yes, this means you might have to “meal prep” like the thousands of pictures that are out there on social media. You don’t have to, though at least having a plan in place just helps to ensure that you are able to stick to the diet and are more likely to be successful.
With the ‘if it fits your macros’ style of dieting becoming increasingly popular, this gives the idea that you can eat crappy food and still lose weight. This may hold some truth, but we want to keep our bodies as healthy as possible so shouldn’t eat junk food as long as it fits our calories. Nailing your calories and macro breakdown gets most of your diet requirements taken care of, but somehow people along the way have mistaken this for eating anything they want as long as it fits their macros. By doing so, they’re limiting their diet success by not taking into account proper nutrient timing and food composition. These last two nutritional priorities won’t make or break your diet, but they certainly play a role in the ultimate success of your diet.
So if you’re thinking about dieting or are already in the process of it, then take these tips into consideration. Be realistic, set achievable goals, and stay consistent. It won’t be easy but it’ll be worth it.