ALRIGHT SERIOUS TALK.
If you TRAIN in pursuit of any specific or not-so-specific performance or condition result, start thinking of yourself more like an athlete.
More like an athlete, less like “someone on a diet”.
Women in their late teens or early – mid twenties who are hardworking badasses in the gym, also training for and competing in sport on the weekend, otherwise busy and industrious throughout the day as well… the amount who fit this profile who have come to me over the years, unsatisfied with their condition and how their body is responding to training, and thinking they need to cut carbs, cut total cals, go keto… or any other variation of “going on a diet” in the conventional sense to FORCE the body to tap into those fat stores.
NO. NO. NO. NO!
This goes for anyone at any age, for that matter. If you’re doing all that hard work YOU ARE NOT SOMEONE WHO NEEDS TO GO ON A DIET. You are someone who needs to fuel for performance, recovery, and the creation of a stronger, lean body as an adaptation to training.
Trying to “force” the body to burn fat through massive calorie deficit through restriction and expenditure has the opposite effect. Your body will only prioritise the support of lean mass when conditions are most favourable, AKA you are (at least) adequately fueled. The closer you push to a more maximal, optimal energy provision the higher a percentage of that total will be put into the muscles while the body draws more from fat stores to fuel low intensity / non exercise activity.
The further into deficit you go, the lower that percentage being made available to support lean mass becomes and the body will conserve a higher percentage in fat stores because it thinks it is trying to survive a famine or an ice age or something terrible like that.
You are built for survival and adaptation. Put yourself into arduous circumstances with minimal food & energy intake plus maximum work load and your body will try to find a way to survive BUT IN NO WAY does this equate to “the creation of your goal body condition”.
Not in a million years could it mean that. You are built for survival and adaptation though, so provide as much fuel as you can put to use and then train strategically to do just that. Not to “burn calories” but to utilise energy and resources in creating a strong, lean, healthy and functional body condition just like you want.
Now… even if you’re thinking “ok but that’s for people who are already lean, I have all this weight to lose first so I need to be in deficit and burn more calories”, no. Pay attention.
Even if you are actually overweight. Participating in that amount, that type, and that level of performance in training and sports… whatever amount and level that is, we can run the maths and accurately determine a calorific intake that would fail to see a reduction in body fat due to being in excess of requirements. It would actually be a massive amount.
We can also run the maths and determine what is an adequate, and what is an optimal amount that could be taken up and put to use for the very best performance and condition, and it will still be quite a massive amount, but significantly below that “too much” amount described above.
Best results… no… ANY lasting result can only occur when you are in the habit of consuming somewhere within that “adequate to optimal” range of total energy intake. The more consistently you are within that range and preferably closer to the higher, optimal end, the more consistent and the more dramatic the improvements in both performance and condition will be.
Now… you could achieve that optimal intake via intuition, but most people are so used to the “eat less” message that they’ll fall short of an adequate amount without first having a period where they identify and practice planning to meet those targets. Some people might manage to fluke it via sheer dumb luck and conclude that it has more to do with a certain selection of foods than with energy and macronutrient provision, but they’d be wrong and their advice will be detrimental to most anyone else.
You need to establish the habit of meeting at least an adequate total energy and macronutrient provision, via whatever selection of foods makes this the easiest and most enjoyable for you. Preferably, at least periodically you need to push closer to the maximum, optimal end of that usable energy range.
Also you need to train, productively and strategically for a strong, healthy body.
I happen to have a very good system for determining these requirements, and a protocol for hitting first adequate and then optimal targets for best results ever and no restrictions on food choices. Also right now I have a brand new strength training program for athletes and sports people looking to complement their sports training.
It is all available online. Click through for details.