Caloric Cycling and Contest Prep
I wrote a post recently about the importance of knowing when to push ‘hard on the accelerator’ during a contest prep in regards to dieting and the severity of a calorie deficit, versus when to ‘hit the brakes’ or, when to consume more calories.
It went a little something like this:
“Ever heard someone say that dieting isn't a sprint… but rather, a marathon?
And yet, we constantly experience people enquiring with the request to lose weight fast
So why is there such a disconnect with the phrase and the request?
I’m guessing it’s because, like driving a car, some people don’t realise that a dieting phase has multiple gears
At certain times you can go fast
And at other times you need to drop down the revs a little to go slow
But how do we know which gear we should be in or when to hit the brakes completely?
Well, like driving, dieting is just another skill… it’s a skill you learn
At the beginning of a diet phase, when motivation is high and the risk of muscle loss is low, going fast can often be a great way to start the race
But go too fast for too long and you will wear your engine out
Conversely, as your race time extends, not only should you learn when it’s appropriate to brake, but putting your car in for a service from time to time is probably a smart idea too
Speed, like weight loss, doesn’t need to be a rigid consideration, but rather, speed is more fluid
Speed should change depending on the goal
Fast weight loss at the beginning of a diet is manageable and potentially advantageous, but as the dieting time continues, speed will likely be your enemy
So where does that leave us?
Well… dieting isn't a marathon in the sense that it is just a long race (although it is) but rather, it is an extended race with moments to surge and moments to hang back and take your foot off the gas for a little while
If you know your speeds well, you will probably end up with a podium finish. But if you don’t, you will likely keep starting the same race over and over again because you keep burning out your engine”
Now… that post seemed pretty ‘normal to me’ but it turns out that it isn’t so normal for as many people as I thought it would be
Most people fear to hit the brakes because all they think about when they do brake is “im slowing down”
What they fail to see is that by slowing down a little intermittently, you are actually finishing the race in a BETTER position at the finish line.
I mean… what is the point of sprinting for the first ¾ of the race if it just means you burn out before you hit the finish?
Consider cycling your calories in a manner to manage your end goal. That end goal is to MAXIMISE fat loss, MINIMISE muscle loss and to OPTIMISE compliance.
Hitting the brakes within the race is like having 1, 2 or even 3 days a week where you return your calories to maintenance in order to allow more performance throughout the week. You may want to consider doing this regularly on a weekly basis, or semi-regularly on a fortnightly basis depending on your preference
Putting your car in for a service is like having 5-10 days in a row where you return your calories to maintenance in order to allow more total system recovery and restoration. You may want to consider doing this every 6-10 weeks, depending on your preference.
Either way, neither are arguably necessary for fat loss but they may just make the process easier.
And if we can make what is arguably one of the toughest things to do easier, why not consider it?
Diet Smart Not Hard