**Client progress and history is important in the context of this situation.
With dieting, once you put work in and get to your goal things are more manageable and you earn the freedom to be less restricted.
If I use myself as an example, at the end of February 2017 I weighed 89 kilos. A year later of diligence with my nutrition I had dieted down to my leanest point ever (in my adult life) at 78 kilos.
Now, I wasn’t overweight or unhealthy at 89kg as a starting point, I just wasn’t fully happy with how I looked.
This will vary from person to person, maybe it’s a health thing, maybe it’s a confidence thing – whatever it is the willingness to want to implement change and work hard must outweigh the easier choice of staying the same.
In terms of someone who is carrying a lot of body fat – it is known that carrying excess visceral fat – that is fat located around your midsection is related to negative health outcomes (greater risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension or elevated blood pressure, types of cancer) so keep in mind that when it comes to health making progress and shifting down in weight is a big deal.
For an obese person a loss of 5-10% of their body mass has been shown to be enough to improve health outcomes even though it’s usually preferable to go beyond that.
Anyway, just have it in mind that being relatively lean and exercising/managing your nutrition is a very good thing overall for physical and mental health. Anyone disputing this – I legit don’t even have time to entertain a conversation because the evidence is overwhelming… and it’s just common sense.
With weight loss however, you do not want to be in a constant state of dieting. It sucks for you physically, mentally and your body will fight hard against long term attempts to keep dropping. You have evolved to survive and that alone will always be the main driving force.
Set timescales to commit to weight loss – remember it is a stress on the body and those survival mechanisms kick in eventually stalling out weight loss (or making almost impossible to sustain).
You will get an incredible amount of good work done at maintenance – that is living at energy balance. You take in roughly the same amount of calories daily as you expend.
You will make huge progress with training, you’ll be less likely to get sick, you can fit in some nice foods here and there and feel mentally and physically energised.
There is energy available for all the metabolic processes in the body – your hair, nails, skin, immune system, everything is pretty much looked after.
Dieting = less energy than you require, always remember that. All that stuff I just mentioned will suffer which is a bit of an unfortunate irony – you’re dieting to possibly try and look and feel better but by doing so you’re restricting the energy needed to support hair, nails, skin etc.
Another good reason to not try and constantly restrict things.
A really good example here of someone making a total balls of things is restriction all week – they are hungry, deprived and think they are doing all the right things. Then at the weekend a big binge happens, whether it be food, alcohol or both.
You try really hard Monday through Friday but then go crazy at the weekend.
This evens out calorie intake for the week and weight loss won’t happen because of this. Also, you feel like shit all week, energy is restricted and your food choices are restricted.
Then you feel like shit when you binge…because that’s a natural reaction.
All the metabolic processes are still probably suffering plus your hair, nails, skin – putting in 1,000’s of junk food calories 1 day a week won’t solve that.
Does that pattern sound familiar? Hopefully not.
Anyway, moving on… the conversation lead to ‘how do I manage things when the weight is lost?’.
A great way of managing things is having a weight threshold.
Example – I dropped from 89kg down to 78kg, 78 is unsustainable so I give myself a threshold of 80-82. This is my personal choice. I live at maintenance and try to not be strict with life but still keep a handle on things.
If my weight goes over 82 kilos I know it’s time to reign things back in and get calories under control. Again, this is my personal choice.
A threshold of 82kg is a full stone plus (some people aren’t familiar with kilos) away from where I started at 89kg. Always keep that in mind, it’s too easy to pass off hard work and accomplishment.
From my starting weight that is huge progress and unless control is somehow taken away from me I will never, ever go back to 89 kilos.
If you take an example of someone who is 115 kilos and where the fat distribution might fall in to a risk factor category (around their stomach) – if that person drops down to 90 kilos, and they give themselves a threshold of 90-95 they are still 20 kilos down from the start point.
It’s so important to recognise how far you’ve come from a point in the past, and especially that the knowledge of ‘why’ is there, and that the element of control is firmly with you.
Before anyone asks ‘what’s the right threshold for me?’, there are several variables here.
Have you got to the point where you are happy with how you look at whatever weight it may be?
Do you fall into a healthy weight category? (not underweight and not someone who falls into risk factors)
Someone who is heavier and taller probably has a slightly bigger threshold range because of they way they can carry weight.
If you are small and a relatively low weight you’re not going to be giving yourself a threshold of 6 kilos (or maybe you can if you want to).
The answer comes down you and your coach figuring out what makes the most sense.
There are considerations for when finishing a dieting phase and scale weight too…glycogen, or stored carbohydrate, exists as a reservoir in the body. It is stored mostly in muscle tissue but there is some in the liver and in the blood as blood glucose.
The biggest resevoir pool is in muscle tissue so if you’re dieting down that pool will be low due to restriction. When you add food back in the pool fills back up…this will affect scale weight, but it IS NOT fat tissue (although if you go crazy and start eating everything in sight it’ll happen pretty quickly).
Long story short if you diet down to a weight and move back to maintenance the scale will simply NOT stay at the lowest weight you were, but that’s not because you’ve put fat tissue back on.
There’s some other stuff going on there too which affects scale weight but again it really is a case by case thing with thresholds.
Bottom line – don’t think you can just go on a diet or restrict forever, it won’t work. Drop down in phases until you get to where you want to be. When you’re not dieting down you are living at maintenance level calories where you will feel great and get some amazing training done.
Contact me if you have any questions or need more information.