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Here We Go Again!


Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that tomorrow is Day 1 of my next fat loss phase.

My 10 weeks off have looked like this:

TRAINING:

  • Hypertrophy (weight lifting for muscle growth) focused
  • Reduced cardio down to 10 minutes post lift (usually LISS)
  • Increased rest days from training x6 days weekly down to x4 days weekly

DIET:

  • Increased calories via increased carbohydrate intake
  • Dietary freedom – Although I have still been eating healthy every day, dietary treats such as alcohol and dessert have happened often

I should probably stay in this gaining phase for a few more weeks to be honest, but I feel both mentally and physically ready at this point.

I can see a visible change in both my muscular shape and my body fat increase.

I have gained a substantial amount of weight and have gone from a size 6 to a size 10.

Why do I implement these breaks?

Coming out of a calorie deficit and allowing your body to regain some fat has huge hormonal and metabolic benefits. Not to mention the mental and social benefits of more dietary freedom and spontaneity.

Coming out of a calorie deficit and allowing your body to gain some muscle mass again has great metabolic benefits, and will improve your aesthetic results down the line.

The first 2 weeks of my fat loss phase will look like this:

TRAINING:

  • Continued hypertrophy (weight lifting for muscle growth) focus
  • Increased cardio from 10 minutes post lift to 15 minutes post lift (LISS / MISS / HIIT varied)
  • Decreased rest days from training x4 days weekly up to x5 days weekly

DIET:

  • Slightly decreased calories via slightly decreased carbohydrate intake
  • Less dietary freedom – Dietary treats such as alcohol and dessert will not make an appearance until a I have made significant progress, and will only occur on a refeed day if at all

If you are interested in learning how to track calories and macros, and manipulate both for your goals, The Food Philosophy Guide at the top of this page will teach you how.

Alternatively, my next book, The Fat Loss Blitz, is now available for pre order on AMAZON:


Do I Need to Track Calories and Macros?


My followers sometimes get confused because even though I personally track my daily calories and macros on MyFitnessPal, my books do not use this specific form of dieting…

Instead, my books instruct:

  1. A clean diet (healthy eating and calorie control)
  2. Specific portion sizes and recipe suggestions (calorie control)
  3. High protein, high fibre, moderate fat, carb cycled meals (macro manipulation)

Essentially, my books are all meal plans created to get you results without you having to overthink anything.

Why have I given you something different to what I do?

Because weighing out your food and tracking your daily calorie and macro intake is not for the faint of heart. Initially, it is very time consuming, very hard, and not at all fun.

Eventually, it does become second nature, but this can take a few weeks or even months of trial, error and all consuming food preoccupation.

In short, I do not recommend it to most people.

So what do you need to do if you want to lose fat but you don’t want to track?

  1. Eat clean foods for health and (with the exception of excessive fats like nut butters etc) lower calorie foods
  2. Eat smaller portions to ensure you are not in a calorie surplus throughout the day / week
  3. Focus on having protein and veg in every meal, but time your carbs pre and post training, replacing them with fats the rest of the time

These simple rules will work WITHOUT you having to drive yourself mad.

Always remember that just because one person is doing one thing, does not mean that it will work for you.

Tracking works for me, but most of my clients would throw in the towel within a few days.

Juicing may work for some, but I can safely say I will never do it (unless an external factor like illness forces me to).

Atkins will work for many, but if you lift heavy and train hard, I recommend you always find a way to fit carb bumps into your week.

Dieting…a million and one options…only one you.

 

*if you are interested in learning about tracking, download The Food Philosophy Guide at the top of this page*


Training for Your Goals


When it comes to my clients, both online and in the flesh, they tend to come with 1 of 4 goals…

  1. Get fit and healthy
  2. Get fit for an event (marathon / triathlon / Iron Man)
  3. Fat loss
  4. Muscle building

1 of 2 problems usually arise…

  1. They tell me they want to get ‘toned’
  2. They tell they want all of the above

So, keeping this in mind, I want to talk you through some things…

  1. If you want to ‘get fit and healthy’, this does NOT look like marathon training, or a fat loss plan, OR a muscle building plan. Getting fit and healthy requires fun, functional training. Training you will enjoy, training that will constantly be changing, training that is going to get you limber, cardiovascular fit, strong and active. A fat loss plan will not do all of this, a marathon plan will not do all of this, and a muscle building plan will not do all of this.
  2. Getting fit for an event like a marathon or a triathlon or a rugby game requires functional training that reflects the sport. HIIT, endurance, specifically targeted areas of muscle – this is what you need to be focusing on – NOT how you are going to LOOK in 4 weeks time.
  3. If you want fat loss, you are going to need to implement a calorie deficit via cardio or diet – ideally a bit of both so you are not over-training or under-eating. Ideally, a fat loss plan will come off the back of a muscle building plan because the more muscle you have, the better your metabolism will be. You SHOULD continue to train your muscle on a fat loss plan, but that is NOT the point of a specific fat loss plan.
  4. If you want to build muscle, you quite simply have to lift heavy weights and eat the right food at the right times. This means protein and carbs, and A LOT of both, pre and post training. The rest of the time, you can reduce your carb intake slightly (but still keep it in there), and add in some fat. You should be in a calorie surplus, which means you will most likely gain body fat, but this is ABSOLUTELY NOT a problem, the fat loss goal comes LATER.
  5. If you want to get ‘toned’ – and this is really important to remember – THAT MEANS YOU WANT MUSCLE BUILDING AND FAT LOSS. ‘Toning’ isn’t a thing. It is not ONE goal, it is TWO.

Whatever plan you embark upon, I implore you to give it AT LEAST 4 weeks BEFORE you decide if it is working or not.

Changes, be they aesthetic or internal, can take some time to materialise.

Be patient, and if you are not happy in 4 weeks, you can start to alter something in your plan. Chances are, you will instinctively know what needs to change (more food / more cardio / etc etc…).


Dieting Time Lines


When I released my first body transformation book, The 4-Week Body Blitz, I briefly addressed what I wanted Blitzers to do when all was said and done.

However, once the book had been out for a few months, I realised that the 2 pages I had written should have filled an entire chapter. Without a doubt, the post 4WBB question was the question I received the most.

In my new book The Fat Loss Blitz (available for pre order on Amazon now), I do go into much more detail re when to start a diet and when to call it quits. I talk at length about why this is important and also instruct on how best to do it.

However, when there are points that I want to ram down people’s throats like this one, I also like to throw up a blog!

So, please continue reading for my thought on dietary time lines…

*please note the below does not apply to those following intolerance based diets, or to those currently in / recovering from a diseased state*

  • IF YOU HAVE BEEN ON ANY TYPE OF ‘DIET’ FOR A PERIOD OF MONTHS OR YEARS AND YOU CAN NO LONGER GET YOUR BODY TO RESPOND, IT IS TIME TO STOP…

If your diet has been restrictive in any way, be it carbs, fats, calories or solids, and you have been struggling to get a response for a period of months with no success, it is time to stop.

This is because when you restrict your nutritional intake via macros and calories, your body can only respond for so long before it adapts. Initially, fat loss will occur. Usually, muscle loss will follow. All in all, your lean body mass will come down. Once this happens, you have a brand new dietary start point that requires a brand new calorie deficit…

The way to get that loss moving again is to slightly  decrease your calories once again for another few weeks. While this is completely fine for a period of time (gradually over the course of a few months), as your low intake stretches further and further out, there does come a point where there is no further to go, you will stop responding and you will have to come up with a new plan.

Studies show that 6 months is when the majority of ‘dieters’ hit both a mental and physical wall, and at this point, you have 2 options (potentially aim to do both in succession)…

  1. Take a ‘diet break’ – When you have plateaued at a low calorie intake for more than a few weeks, raise your calories by a significant amount for 1-2 weeks, before continuing on in your deficit. This will help you mentally and may well refuel your metabolic and hormonal responses, getting you continued results over the course of the next few weeks / months.
  2. Begin your ‘reverse diet’ – If you have been at a low intake for a period of months / years and you haven’t been responding for months, it is time for your body to recover. You need to slowly start adding in food (calories) each week, over a period of months, before you can even think about starting up another diet. Initially, you will probably see some impressive aesthetic progress. After a few weeks, you will probably find that you are feeling better in your own skin and if you train, you will see huge improvement in your sessions. Eventually, you will start to regain some body fat and THIS IS A GOOD THING! Your body needs body fat to function at OPTIMAL LEVELS. You cannot start a diet if you have minimal body fat to lose and you cannot start a diet if you haven’t given your body a BREAK beforehand.

Please do not think that dieting is forever, it is not, it does not work forever and you will not be happy in a deficit forever.

Please do not be scared to let your body recover, to feed it, to fuel it, and to see it take its more natural shape.

There is a time and a place to push, and there is a time and a place to pull back.

The more cyclical you can be with ‘dieting’, the more long term your results will become.


How Often Should I Train?


How often should I train?

How many rest days a week should I have?

How much exercise do I have to do in order to see results?

These are the questions I receive time and time again across all my platforms, and the truth is, it is goal dependent…

  • IF MUSCLE BUILDING IS YOUR GOAL then I personally would recommend weight lifting 4-5 days a week, implementing a short, sharp HIIT session (15-20minutes) on 2 of those days.

  • IF FAT LOSS IS YOUR GOAL I would recommend training 5-6 days a week, doing a mixture of resistance training and cardio. This would look like a session of weight lifting, followed by a short, sharp HIIT session (15-20minutes) on some days, and slightly longer sessions of LISS / MISS on others.

Rest days are important ESPECIALLY if you are trying to build muscle. Your muscle cannot recover and grow effectively if you are overtraining it day in, day out, week in, week out. Train hard, eat well, rest and recover.

If you are in a fat burning phase, you should know by now that you need to implement a calorie deficit.  These low calories and / or long cardio sessions will see you flail at certain points, especially when the fat burning really kicks in. Again, by denying your body windows of recovery time, you can halt progress by drastically increasing your cortisol levels and never letting your body catch up with itself.

You will not ‘lose’ results by taking a rest day, you will probably fuel them.

As long as you stick to your diet, taking a few rest days when you need to is NOT going to undo all your hard work.