- Make sure you’re actually ready to diet! How do I know if I’m ready to diet? I’ve been eating at maintenance for AT least 3 months (or at least as long as I’ve been trying to diet previously). Our metabolisms take time to respond to changes- we can’t eat at maintenance for one month and expect our body to be like okayyyy I feel safe (after ping pong-ing in and out of a deficit for 1,3,5 years). Shit takes time. More time than we want. Patience is an indispensable asset :))
- Diet on as much food as possible! The point isn’t to drop food crazy low- it’s to keep food as high as possible while getting no more than 0.5-1% body weight loss/ week. That is slow. It’s intended to be slow :))
- Reduce liquid calories. Chewing helps with satiety. Especially if you have a voracious appetite like I do, you’ll want to reduce or eliminate calories from liquids. Chew your fooooods.
- Prioritize water intake. Lean on water flavorings, BCAA, or sparkling waters to keep things interesting. Full transparency, I’ve been enjoying some diet root beer- ITS SOOO GOOD. And like the carbonation does help with hunger. I know that’s not for everyone with the artificial sweetener- but that’s the beauty with nutrition- we can experiment with what works for us. At this time. Right now.
- Be strategic with caffeine. I love good coffee. It makes my heart happy. And I love a good pre-workout. My personal boundary is not to consume any caffeine after 3pm (which is a little later than works for some people). I also will only consume coffee (no energy drinks) during my deload weeks. That is always very difficult and I think its a good way for me to consistently throttle back on caffeine intake.
- Increase produce intake. Plants are low calorie and high volume. My favorite hack is to always have shredded lettuce and romaine around and use that to bump up the volume of my meals. And salsa. Also low calorie and freaking delicious.
- Experiment with meal size and meal timing. I personally do best with fewer large meals throughout the day. I’ve had clients who that works terribly for- and they do better with lots of small meals throughout the day! Everyone is different- and it will take some experimenting to figure out what works for you!
- Prioritize sleep! 7-8 hours non- negotiable. I mean I don’t really think I need to explain this but something everyone doesn’t always think about is that poor sleep has consistently been linked with more food cravings. So in case you know feeling like a functioning person isn’t enough- getting good sleeeeps will also help with managing food cravings.
- Prioritize calories in the post workout window because RECOVERY. We want to initiate the recovery cascade immediately after training as our bodies are working with less resources (calories) than they were during maintenance.
- Make space for food you enjoy. This is perhaps the most important point! Plan it in. There’s no point in making yourself miserable by cutting out all of the foods you enjoy. Maybe eating them every day isn’t the best strategy but maybe you make space for them weekly or every two weeks or something. I’ve already planned to have my favorite lox bagel and pancakes on Saturdays with my family because that’s important to meeeee :))
- Utilize refeed days to help with adherence. Most people do really well with refeed days! These are formally days with higher carb intake and lower fat intake- you can experiment with how much to increase overall calories on those days based on your biofeedback. The higher carbs can help manage hunger. My experience with them historically has been the opposite- that is I get more hungry on the days following refeeds (this happens to me even during maintenance). For this cut, I’m going to experiment with doing blocks of 3-4 refeed days every 2 weeks. Excited to see how that goes. IM GOING TO EAT SO MUCH RICE! lols.
- Know your exit strategy. Okay maybe this is the most important. Plan your time frame. And plan your reverse diet! At the end of a cut phase, your metabolism is lower (because hopefully you’ve lost some mass). Slowly increasing calories can help you manage weight regain- some of which is inevitable- its going to happen. Our bodies are not designed to lose weight forever. They are designed to exist at maintenance. Changing our bodies takes place over time- not over the course of one dieting cycle. You need to increase calories after your diet phase.