One dieting protocol that has recently started to show promising results is the implementation of diet breaks for individuals who diet for a long time due to longer competition prep programs or larger amounts of weight to lose. If you have ever dieted for extended amount of time you may find that you see affects in performance in your training, consistency in tracking nutrition suffers, and mentally and physically you feel fatigued. These are just a few things you could experience on your journey to lose weight.
A diet break is a planned and purposeful break from your fat loss diet where you eat at maintenance calories.
- Diet breaks can be beneficial for individuals who have been dieting for many months. These individuals may be showing signs of losing motivation with dieting. Their consistency may have dropped off.
- Individuals who are prepping for a body building competition for an extended period of time. If prep lasts for more than 12 weeks a diet can help break up the diet to make it more bearable.
- Individuals who are going on a trip for at least 1 week and intend not to track during the trip but plan to be mindful of their nutrition and be active on their trip.
How to implement?
Typically adding an additional 300-600 calories and reducing cardio by 50% is the protocol for diet breaks. The increase in calories is going to depend on the individual and how their body responds to an increase in calories.
Diet Break Length
Each person is going to be different but a diet break of 1 week to 1 month could provide benefit for the individual. This is unique to the individual.
Goals of Diet Break
- Reduce cortisol from dieting deficiency
- Minimum to no weight gain
- Increase NEAT
- Improve sleep
- Improve bowel movements
- Improve motivation
- Improve strength and endurance in workouts
Strategies for Implementing
- Continue to track all macros: this allows you to increase macros if your body responds well. You can also assess how increases in certain macros affect body composition
- Only track calories and protein: this allows flexible food choices that may be restricted due to set macros
- Only tracking on non control days.
What could happen
- Weight Gain: (increase in cellular water & glycogen, weight of volume of food). Typically this weight will come off when diet break ends as it is temporary.
- Maintain Weight: Physically and mentally feel better, train harder, improved motivation to start diet again
- Lose Weight: Lower cortisol which reduce water retention
Here is a video breakdown diet breaks – https://youtu.be/14xml7QXS64