I posted this blog on March 26 last year – and exactly one year later I still believe every word of it to be the truth.
So enjoy the read, enjoy your break and enjoy your carbs – next week we can talk about your shredding season 🙂
“Here we are, wrapping up everyone’s favorite (or least favorite) five weeks of the year – THE OPEN.
How’d it go for you?
Do you officially hate dumbbells?
Are you super motivated to start training for 2018?
Truthfully you are probably going through a range of emotions from relief that it’s over, to a bit of disappointment at the results from one or more workouts – don’t worry, you aren’t the only one. Even the highest level athletes feel as though they could’ve performed better on certain workouts….we are all humans that think we are superhuman 🙂
But the real question is – NOW WHAT?
Well – either you are going to regionals, or you aren’t…right?
No matter which applies to you, I want to propose a week off.
I KNOW I KNOW, you are ready to smash your weaknesses and crush 2018, but let’s take a step back first, and actually RECOVER!
Enter the diet break.
WHY TAKE A DIET BREAK?
I guess I should back up and ask if you are even following a structured eating plan? The concept of performance nutrition is no longer taboo, and is regularly accepted in our space. In fact I would argue that if you aren’t monitoring your food intake then you really don’t care about your performance as much as you say you do.
But you are reading this, so I’m going to assume you do monitor your nutritional intake.
And if you read my articles or have been following my advice on Facebook over the last five weeks, your eating patterns have revolved around one thing – fuel and recovery. We are just wrapping up the “in season” phase of my periodized nutrition model and that comes with little to no emphasis on body composition.
Ahhhh – but summer is here, and you want to be shredded for the beach – right, bro?
It’s cool – so do I.
Put more accurately, you want to actively place yourself in a calorie deficit for 12-16 weeks in an attempt to look good for the opposite sex while wearing very little clothing on the beach.
(you know I keep it real AF)
Unfortunately, jumping right into a deficit after the five most nervous system intensive weeks of the year is a recipe for disaster.
YOU WILL BURN OUT.
YOU WILL NOT RECOVER FULLY FROM THE OPEN.
AND YOU WILL NOT PERFORM YOUR BEST NEXT YEAR.
I don’t care how perfectly you ate for the last five weeks, your hormones, nervous system, and body took a beating that it needs to actively recover from – and that does NOT happen in a calorie deficit.
Remember that as you undertake a diet, a few things will happen:
• Thyroid levels will drop
• Leptin will drop
• Cortisol will increase
• Metabolic rate will slow
While none of these are “bad” and are very “normal” parts of the process – we want to ensure that we are starting as close to “adequate” as possible.
We do this with 1-2 weeks of caloric maintenance – or A DIET BREAK.
At this time I highly recommend that whether you are going to regionals or not, you deload your training and increase your calories at a minimum to maintenance – or perhaps higher if you are already in a relative surplus.
Most importantly – I want this done primarily with CARBOHYDRATE.
Everything we are looking to restore is most sensitive to carbs.
Leptin and thyroid are both far more sensitive to carb intake than they are to protein or fat intake.
Also, in a period of time that includes reduced training volume/intensity combined with a caloric surplus, we see hormones like testosterone go up, and we are able to blunt the body’s cortisol response.
So if we start our summer diet with a fully functioning thyroid, maximal testosterone levels, and a proper cortisol ratio – do you think we will be more successful?
I thought so 🙂
BECAUSE WE ARE ALL A LITTLE MENTAL…
Let’s also not forget that there is a major psychological component to nutrition.
In fact the whole concept of a diet break comes from a failed study relating to psychology of nutritional adherence.
In this study, subjects were told to deviate from their diet for a full 2 weeks in an effort to see what happened when falling off the dietary bandwagon.
The results? Not what you would expect….
• IMPROVED DIETARY COMPLIANCE
• LITTLE TO NO FAT GAIN
• IMPROVED MOTIVATION
• METABOLIC IMPROVEMENT
Wait, so a study aimed at showing the detriment of a multiple week dietary deviation showed an IMPROVEMENT in overall dietary structure?
And I would hypothesize that this is largely due to the psychological factors relating to nutrition.
Think about it, if I told you that right now – while you are tired, worn out, inflamed, and a bit frustrated from the open – that your next 12-16 weeks were going to include hunger, more fatigue, less recovery, and most likely strength/performance decrement – would you be excited?
Of course not!
You have already been busting your ass for weeks and months at a time!
But If I gave you a week or two to push the “reset button”, do you think you could handle those 12-16 weeks a little better?
Of course you could!
The whole concept of “mental toughness” in prolonged dietary compliance is bullshit.
In reality – we need to find something you can SUSTAIN, not just for the next 12-16 weeks, but well beyond that.
Some of you may need a small diet break every 5-6 weeks.
Others may go longer.
Regardless, no one should be forced to live in a manner of deprivation for very prolonged period of times.
Not only is not physiologically healthy, it is not remotely conducive to a positive relationship with food for the long haul.
TAKE THE ACTION
At this point you know I’m right, and you really need to rest and eat.
Some of you will be tempted to forego this, but I promise you that if you take the break, you will love me for it several times over, over the course of the next year.
Take a week for yourself.
Do some things you love.
Eat a few higher calorie foods, and more specifically, EAT SOME CARBS!
Have some fun.
And let’s crush our summer shred together!
As always – feel free to leave a comment below with any questions, and congrats on all of your success in the open this year!”