Don't Diet For Too Long!
A common problem that I see too often, people trying to lose fat for far too long!
Now why do I say this is a "problem"? Let me break it down...
Restricting calories is a must for fat loss, but it can be detrimental if done for too long. So it's important to periodize your caloric intake throughout the year.
What I mean by this is that you can't try to lose fat forever. At some point a caloric deficit can start doing more harm than good, and its important that you come out of that deficit and feed your body the calories it needs to properly function.
Prolonged periods of dieting (Caloric restriction) will make your body start to burn through muscle mass and make you lose your hard earned gains. This is due to the fact that muscle is more metabolically active than fat, so it costs your body more energy to hold on to muscle. And in order to reduce that caloric expenditure your body will increase its catabolic state to try and survive. Since a caloric deficit is basically a "controlled starvation", your body perceives it as a threat to your life, and will activate mechanisms to mitigate the downfalls of this controlled starvation.
Hormonally everything starts working against your goals... Testosterone drops, leptin (satiety hormone) drops, grehlin (hunger hormone) increases, cortisol (stress hormone) increases and a series of other processes occur that will only make things more difficult.
What this means is that you will feel hungrier, cravings will be more frequent, the efficiency and effectiveness of your workouts will diminish, your strength will likely suffer, your endurance wont be the same, your mood will change... And don't be surprised if even your libido is affected.
So come out of that deficit and slowly reverse diet your way out of it if you've been dieting for 20 weeks or more. Increase your calories slowly over time for at least 4-6 weeks before you try to lose weight again. Even if you still have a lot of weight to lose, this reverse diet can help you ease the process and make fat loss a healthier approach once again.
Because keep in mind... Caloric restriction means restricting the amount of energy your body needs to function regularly. Just imagine driving your car to go from point A to point B, but you don't have enough gas to make it to point B. What do you think will eventually be the outcome?
So give your body time to recover, feed it the necessary amount of nutrients and calories it needs to function optimally, and go through what I call a "metabolic recovery" process, so that when time comes to fully focus on fat loss again, your starting point will be optimal for it!
I would even suggest going through a lean mass phase in order to put on some muscle mass, the more muscle you have the better! Not only will it help you expend more calories, but it will also help you shape your body the way you want it to!
The only reason why someone should diet for more than 20 weeks is if they are prepping for a bodybuilding show and are doing so in a slow and controlled manner. For the general population, dieting for so long is not a good idea!
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions, leave a comment below.