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How Do You Implement a Diet Break?

Weight loss was going great and I had a good run. I started actively tracking a caloric deficit and measuring everything in late April and went from 194-180.

I was limited in weight during the lockdown, but I had the energy to keep up with the weights that I did have. My gym reopened in June, and after about 4-6 weeks back in the gym, I’m back up to where I was pre-lockdown on everything except deadlift, despite being lighter this time around. Not yet hitting any volume PRs, but I was cutting it close.

Last couple of training sessions have been ROUGH. I figure that because I’ve been at a 500-700 daily caloric deficit for the last 90 days, maybe with a few days at maintenance, it might be time to reset. So my question here is how do you implement a diet break?

I don’t work with a nutrition coach since I’ve been able to figure out a lot of stuff on my own through trial and error, and I’ve been able to adhere to what I’ve been doing. I’m planning on going to 3000 calories for two weeks (selected goal weight of 190lbs at .5lbs a week in MyFitnessPal) from 2300-2100 that I was previously doing, and then gradually decreasing the calories for 250 deficit for 3-4 weeks, then ease into 500 deficit for as long as I can - hopefully another 90 days with a refeed at maintenance every few weeks.

I also haven’t been doing any cardio aside from long walks, so while I’m in the higher calories for now, I might ease into some hill sprints.

I don’t think that near 1000 calorie swings are a great idea. Ideally, you want to maximize the time you are in surplus to avoid training sessions becoming very rough. If you added 250 calories per week for 4 weeks, I think you’ll be better off and can probably keep the food increase sustained for longer.

Are you still losing weight on your current daily calories?

I was thinking the 1000 jump was big, but I figured if I went up 250 calories, I’d still be at a deficit. My calories to maintian 190 before I started actively losing weight was around 2800/2900 - this was before the 90 days.

Right before I stopped? Yeah. I don’t expect to lose weight on my new calories.

A chronic deficit for that length of time can start causing issues with your metabolism. You can’t cut forever.

However, diet breaks sound great in theory but it’s a bit like telling a person with a history of eating disorders just to eat ‘normally’ for a bit. Equally flawed is the notion that ‘refeeds’ will somehow kick start your metabolism and the fat will continue to melt off at the same time. Anyone that knows the reality about leptin will know that doesn’t happen with random overfeeds.

So ideally, you want to increase your calories and your activity levels. To his credit, John Berardi was the first guy I recall talking about this. It might be worth backing off for 7-10 days to recharge and then attempting to train daily and work on NEPA, etc

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Yeah I def won’t lose weight on these calories, but I’m also hoping that my body will be more responsive to when I cut again from here.

I’m still keeping an eye on the macros during this time.

I’d still bump calories only 200 or so a week. You might be surprised what a difference just an extra 50g of carbs a day could make on your training.

I don’t think you’ll be happy with the results. I predict you’ll gain 3-5 lb that first week if you jump 1000 cals. Are you ok with that?

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How about adding back 700 calories on training days and 250 on off days?

Yeah after a few days I’m realizing that 3k was def overzealous and eating 2400ish feels much better. My appetite can actually stomach it. I went kinda high like 2800 on the first day, so I figure I have a few days to even it out.

Yeah I’m thinking of carbing up more on training days. I think keeping a constant deficit helped me adhere (like 500 across or 700 across) because it was easier to track that way, but it’s something I considered.

Even in a caloric deficit, I feel like there’s a point where I’m almost force feeding myself to hit protein. I wake up late on weekends (which are typically my rest days), so it really sucks trying to down it all in fewer meals.