So with today’s post, I want to continue along with our series, taking you through a step by step of setting up your nutrition plan successfully. If you haven’t seen our other articles in the series, check them out here:
One of the things that should be taken into consideration when it comes to your nutrition plan is when and IF you need to change things, and if you do, how you should go about that. When I’m taking on the task of updating a client’s plan, and deciding if we need to adjust the diet, I look at a few things:
- Physical stats: has their weight changed, have measurements gone down, are they looking any leaner by way of pictures?
- Client feedback: are they noticing that their clothes are fitting differently (getting looser), are they seeing physical changes in themselves that signify progress?
- Client’s observation about hunger levels, energy levels, and just overall well being.
- Client’s observation about training intensity and energy in the gym.
These are all essential clues in the game, and these are the things (considered on the whole) that should dictate the moves that you need to make.
Going About Adjustments: How To Do It
Typically when I’m sitting down to adjust calories, I keep in mind this ideal…
Within the RoxStar Fitness culture and our stance on nutrition, the goal is to try to keep as many calories in as possible – all while affecting change in the body. Remember you need to FEED yourself to see progress, you need to EAT to grow, change, lose fat, gain lean mass, and any other physical goal you have!
So if you are looking to take calories down when your goal is fat loss, start with a SMALL deficit. Keep in mind, you are ALREADY in a deficit, so taking it even deeper or in a huge amount isn’t ideal. The game is always about GENTLY COAXING the body to change – not forcing it. Small deficits that push thing in the right direction become the sweet spot for continued progress. Now, you’re probably asking what I mean by small deficits?
Well, simply cutting off about 50-150 calories a day can actually go a long way! If you do that, and let’s say, increase activity a bit, you can get the ball moving in the right direction again – with body fat flying off of you. Another thing you can do is play around with macros. So it’s not just about taking away calories, consider where these calories come from. I would always say to leave protein pretty constant, and look to play with the body’s two favorite sources for energy – carbs and fat.
Keep in mind that there are 4 calories per 1 gram of carbohydrates, and 9 calories per 1 gram of fat. So if you decide to take out 100 calories from your current set up, and you want to take them from carbs, then you’ll be losing 25g per day. That small amount can truly bring about some good change. If you wanted to take 150 calories away, and take it from fat, that’s roughly losing 17g of fat on your plan. You can even do a combo of the two, taking away a little fat AND a little carbs.
So just play around, do a little math, apply the changes to your body and see how it responds. In the case of reverse dieting and/or lean building, you want to follow the same protocol, the only difference is that you are adding in those calories. Small increases are always the best bet because it allows your body a chance to get acclimated to the increase, and can keep fat gain at bay. The same criteria stated above that influences your moves during fat loss should also be considered during a lean build or reverse diet.
Biofeedback is the MOST IMPORTANT aspect of all of this. So listen to your body first and foremost, and allow that to always dictate your next moves.
How Often Should You Adjust Your Plan
The next thing to consider is how long you should actually be staying on a plan before making changes. To be honest, that’s a highly individual thing, HOWEVER there are some things that I like to follow for pretty much all clients.
When a plan is newly created, I ALWAYS require that the client stay on the plan for 2 weeks, and focus on hitting compliance at 90% or better so that we can solidify things. I want to make sure our starting calories are exactly where they need to be. We are building the foundation for the plan from this moment, so dietary compliance and simply “seeing how things go” is essential. Now, after that initial 2 week period ends, I assess where the client is, and make my moves from there.
And sometimes that means not changing anything at all!
Read that last line again because it’s definitely something that you need to consider. If things are going well, and you are seeing changes in your body in a positive way, that means that you are exactly on track! So there is no need to change a thing. Continue to ride in on that plan until you notice physical progress starting to slow down a bit.
When you do, you can apply the principles outlined above. I have had clients riding in on a fat loss plan that stays exactly the same for periods of 4 to 6 weeks before we needed to change anything. In the case of lean building, I like to allow clients to stay on caloric increases for about 4 weeks or so before bumping calories up again. Sometimes a little longer, it really all depends on their biofeedback. So simply listening to your body is the main goal in this equation. T
hat’s the best way to ensure that you make the right moves when it comes to seeing positive changes without stress.
Have questions about this process and how to go about it for your own programming? Go ahead and post in the comments below!