Many of us are trying to lose weight, lose fat or gain muscle but most of us go about this the wrong way. We attempt to stay on a weight loss program for months and months only to gain the weight back while losing many of the gains we’ve made. Why do we only focus on weight loss and not look at the bigger picture? Because that’s not sexy and it doesn’t sell in the market place.
Our company On the Go Fitness Pro is focused on science based solutions that work in the long term. We want to make sure you see the results you are looking for.
First let’s explain the concept of diet periodization.
What is periodization?
Periodization is the systematic planning of athletic or physical training. The aim is to reach the best possible performance in the most important competition of the year. It involves progressive cycling of various aspects of a training program during a specific period.
Periodization is traditionally used for exercise programs to provide peak performance for an event like lifting weight or running a marathon. But recently experts have found this style of planning useful for nutritional planning.
How to use periodization in a diet program.
When we plan a diet program we can design the program to focus on periods of weight loss and maintenance that be in 8-12 week blocks which will help anyone trying to lose or gain weight to stay on track without falling off completely.
Weight loss phase
When doing a weight loss phase, you should plan to do 8-12 weeks of cutting and this can be done by cutting 500-750 calories from your diet per day. This will allow you to lose 1-1.5 pounds per week giving you 8lbs on the low to 18 on the high end after the weight loss phase is complete.
Willpower will dictate if you will need to cut your weight loss phase a little short. If you find yourself craving a ton of food during your weight loss phase you might need to cut it short because what will happen is that you will give up and go back to old eating happens or worse, you’ll overcompensate and eat more than you were before starting the program.
While in a weight loss phase we can expect to lose fat, muscle and athletic performance. This is because we are not fueling the body properly to excel in workouts. After a while the weight loss can cause people to feel tired, burnt out or just not interested in getting in shape. Therefore, we only should do a weight loss cycle for 8-12 weeks.
When doing a weight loss phase, you must decide how much you want to lose per week. If you cut to many calories your will power will drop much faster and if you don’t cut enough, then you won’t lose much fat during this phase. The sweet spot for me is cutting about 500-750 calories per day, this will have you losing about 1-1.5 pounds per week. Use an app like my fitness pal to help you keep track of the food that you’re eating.
Tips on how to avoid hunger during fat loss
Eating a diet high in fruits and veggies will allow you to get all the fiber you need. The benefit from having fiber is that your body can’t digest it but it fills you up. This can help keep you from becoming hungry during the fat loss phase.
Make sure you’re getting plenty of protein during this phase because it will keep you full due to its slow digestion rate. The protein also has side benefit of helping you maintain muscle as you’re losing fat.
Making sure to have plenty of water is a good idea to help keep hunger away. Sometimes the body will signal hunger when you just need some water. Having water before meals can also make you feel full faster while eating.
Other fat loss phase tips
Hitting the weights is one of the best things you can do during a fat loss phase because it will help you avoid muscle loss while you’re losing weight. If you skip the weights you will see some muscle loss during this phase. Try to focus on compound lifts like squats, bench press, deadlift, shoulder press or pull ups during this phase.
Avoid a lot of cardio
Doing a ton of cardio during a fat loss phase is not a great idea because it may leave you feeling hungry causing you to binge on food. Cardio like running may cause you to drain your will power only leaving you more liking to break your fat loss phase too quickly. It’s best to work on high amounts of cardio when you’re trying to maintain weight. If endurance is your goal.
Muscle gain phase
Most of us can’t gain muscle while losing or maintaining weight unless we are new to lifting weights. Therefore, it’s important to focus on a muscle building phase.
Using diet periodization for muscle gain is just as important if not more than a weight loss cycle. Many people want to gain muscle but the problem is that you’ll gain some fat during this phase. If you gain too much fat during this phase you will have a challenge taking it off and you will be burning off a lot of the gains you made over the muscle gain phase.
When building muscle, you don’t want to do the reverse of what you were doing during a fast loss phase because if you eat too much you will see a higher gain of fat. Stick with a max of 500 extra calories per day.
Tips for a muscle building phase
Drink whole milk
Whole milk is great for bulking up because that’s what it’s designed to do for a calf (baby cow). It’s full of all the building blocks to build muscle while giving you the fuel to lift heavy. Try adding 2 glasses of whole milk a day to your diet to bump up your calorie needs.
Avoid excess cardio
Doing a ton of cardio is a bad idea if you’re trying to gain muscle because it will burn up the bulk that you’re trying to put on. The whole point of a muscle gain phase is to gain weight not lose it and a ton of cardio will keep you from gaining mass. Doing some cardio is important because it will teach your body how to use fat which will come in handy during your weight loss phase.
Get plenty of sleep
Getting 7-8 hours of sleep is important during this phase because it will be the time when your body is growing muscle. Sleep also helps to produce human growth hormone (HGH). This hormone is important for repair of tissue.
Do heavy compound lifts
Doing heavy weight training is key to muscle growth because it puts the body under a lot of load (stress). This load will tell the body to build more muscle quickly so that the load (stress) won’t be as bad next time you lift. Doing liftings like squats, deadlifts, bench press, shoulder press and pull ups will help you build muscle the fastest. Stick with 2-3 sets of 5 per exercise.
Maintenance phase is quite simple because all you must do is maintain the weight that you’re in. This is a great time for marathon training or sports that require a great deal of demand but you don’t want to gain weight for. Simply keep your calories at a neutral balance. In this phase, I would recommend using an app like my fitness pal to make sure that you’re not over eating or under eating. Keep lifting weights to maintain muscle during this phase.
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