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Get in, nerds, we’re aiming to understand and heal diet fatigue, and design diet cycles (cut, actively maintain, bulk, intuitively maintain) that don’t produce diet backlash.

 

So many of us have dieted successfully only to find that, in the period after the diet, we experience extreme hunger and disinhibition and regain all the weight much more rapidly than it came off. With each new attempt we seem to have even less endurance and willpower, and each new diet is shorter, more distressing, and less sucessful. We might even become anxious at the thought of any further restrictions, and start hoarding food or bingeing. Sometimes it feels like the only option is to eat everything, forever, in a mild panic. Other times (or possibly at the exact same time) it seems equally urgent that we start a strict, rapid diet that will definitely, for sure, totally one zillion percent be different this time because we are more desperate than ever.

 

Renaissance Periodization has a term for this; diet fatigue. It’s not a character flaw, or a shortage of willpower. Rather, it is a powerful set of phsyiological and psychological changes that occur due to dieting and weight loss. These changes are currently being studied and described by researchers and we will likely understand even more about it in the future. RP’s book The Renaissance Woman drew my attention to the concept of diet fatigue as a variable that MUST be managed in order to design a successful diet, and although every diet book or article mentions “sustainability” without explaining how the fuck you’re going to sustain being hungry for the rest of your life, this is the only book I’ve seen attempt to really design a programme to manage it, other than Intuitive Eating, whereby you manage diet fatigue by never dieting ever again, but you also never reach your body recomposition goals unless by luck.

 

If we think of diet fatigue as a concrete constraining variable, then it becomes clear that we cannot simply push through with willpower and diet infinitely, any more than we can do infinite training and get infinite performance improvements. The problem, of course, is that dieting is needed to lose weight, but dieting causes the diet fatigue that causes the diet to fail. But hopefully, just as with stimulus vs fatigue in training, we can find that sweet spot that gets results while keeping diet fatigue low enough for success. I’m going to write up my notes on the book’s suggestions for this, and try to start designing my own diet cycles based on their recommendations. The book has some powerful recommendations for healing profound diet fatigue that I particularly want to share my notes on.

 

If anyone is reading or listening to anything interesting that relates to the topic, this is the place to share notes. I think we can also use this space to tell our dieting histories and start planning our way out of the dieting backlash, and to review and adjust our plans as they proceed. Anyone is welcome to join. The focus will be cycles of cutting, active maintenance, bulking, and intuitive maintenance, since dieting indefinitely is not feasible for managing diet fatigue. I’m going to suggest that we stick to two important guidelines here, which is that if you're going to try another diet here, you must plan a cutting phase with an end date, and you must plan the phase after your cut. Whether it’s going to be active or intuitive maintenance, or bulking, you should be able to say what you’re going to do for the three months after dieting, even if it is just weighing yourself once a week or once a month.

 

I have no flipping idea if this is going to work, but the concept of diet fatigue seems useful and my hope is that this is the missing piece that can explain the failure of diets past, and help guide diets future. If it doesn’t work this thread will stand as a monument to our failure and I’ll just make another art challenge thread, possibly with bats. Or pandas, since bats are unclean vectors of plague. Good work getting through this intro text. Have a (diet?) fatigued red panda to reduce your panic. 

 

panda1200-1.jpg

 

 

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You can absorb me! - Harriet the Contextless Guru

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STUDY NOTES

 

 

What causes diet fatigue and what is it, physically and psychologically?

 

We go through psychological and pysiological changes when we restrict calories or macronutrients or our eating time window or when we lose bodyfat. These are described in detail in Stephen Guyenet’s The Hungry Brain, but in short: our hunger and focus on food are powerfully increased; metabolism slows a little to reduce caloric expenditure; unconscious activity reduces to further reduce energy expenditure; we can become physically fatigued; and our bodies are ready to bounce back up to their “settling point” which is a weight we tend to stabilise at, at a certain intersection of our genes, dieting history, food quality and food environment. The combination of psychological and pysiological pressures has been likened to holding one’s breath: under voluntary control in the short term, but phsyiologically determined in the long term.

 

RP describes the symptoms of profound diet fatigue: fear of further dieting, aversion to diet foods,  aversion to tracking and weighing, cravings for junk that are not relieved even after you indulge them, and fantasies of eating everything and never having to diet ever again. If you’re experiencing these at the start of a diet, you’re in trouble. Stoppity-the-song-stoppy! Design a maintenance cycle instead or consider their four step programme below.

 

The primary factors influencing diet fatigue seem to be previous harsh dieting, the amount of weight lost, the length of the diet, harshness of the diet, proximity to the last diet, and other life stressors. Food quality and sleep will also influence diet fatigue since they influence our hunger. For example, trying to eat a hypocaloric amount of pure cupcakes will probably leave us a lot hungrier than trying to eat the same calories in porridge. Remember that our settling weight is the intersection of our genes and food environment, so cupcakes are going to produce a different settling weight to porridge, even with the same genes.

 

What heals or reduces diet fatigue?

 

According to RP, a diet break of 2-3 months to eat at maintenance can reduce the psychological and pysiological aspects of diet fatigue, and also reset the settling weight. They say that semi-dieting or maintenance with some remaining restrictions is the worst of both worlds, since you don’t lose much weight OR fully reset your diet fatigue.

 

For profound diet fatigue, RP recommends the follow four steps, which are to be carried out over a year. Yes, a whole-arse year.

 

1: Eat whatever the fuck you want with no tracking. The purpose is to totally take the focus off diet and reallly reduce the psychological burden. 2-4 months or until you feel happy to start making healthier choices.

2: Eat without tracking, but try to make healthy choices, which largely means moving away from heavily processed foods to less processed foods. The purpose is to establish healthy eating habits without restriction or anxiety. 2-3 months or until you feel no fear of beginning tracking again.

3: Use non-strict portion control to design meals with a balanced amount of protein, carbs, and fats (there are various measures like a palm size amount, a handful, etc.) It could involve eating a serving of fruit or veg at evey meal, for example. The purpose is to be getting roughly the right macros and amounts for maintenance without strict tracking or restriction. 1-3 months or until you’re hitting balanced meals most of the time without stress.

4: Weigh and track to create healthy, macro-balanced meals without restricting calories. The purpose is to get used to tracking again but without any target amounts or restriction. 1-3 months or until the habit is painless.

 

How can we mimimise diet fatigue on a cutting phase?

 

Okay, suppose we’re ready to cut again. RP’s main recommendation here is to limit a cutting phase to a maximum of 12 weeks, since diet fatigue accumulates rapidly and unsustainably after that. As for the harshness of the cut, they recommend trying to lose between 0.5-1% of one’s bodyweight per week. Faster cuts increase diet fatigue massively more rapidly, while slower cuts can be demotivating because not much change is seen week to week. Calculate using the formula of -500 calories per day to lose one pound. It’s not perfect but it is a starting point.

 

What are some further practical considerations?

 

Macros can affect your hunger. RP recommends 1g of protein per lb lean body mass. As an example suppose you are 150lb and 30% bodyfat. You may want to eat 100g protein. And you may not have to eat that; it is simply the maximum beyond which additional benefits are negligible. Still, it’s probably best not to go super low, as protein has benefits for satiety and muscle maintenance.

 

Food quality affects your hunger. Don’t eat lots of junk or calorie dense, super palatable foods on a cut, it will drive you crazy. Eat filling stuff, whatever that looks like for you.

 

Don’t plan a cut when you have holidays coming up and will want to eat nice stuff with everyone else.

 

Possibly, you might want to arrange your year to place cutting phases in March-May or September-November, avoiding both the coldest times of the year, but also shorts & t-shirt weather, and the times when most celebration food is available.

 

Weight training and sufficient protein will ensure that almost none of the weight you lose on a cut of reasonable length and harshness will be muscle. If you do not weight train or eat enough protein, you may lose muscle as well as and fat and end up with an unfavourable body composition at a lower weight. The heavier you are to start, the less likely you are to lose muscle, though, so weight training may not be top priority for you at first if you are trying to move down from a very heavy weight category. However, it seems ill-advised to do any bulking periods if you are not weight training. The proportion of muscle gained in a bulking phase is probably less than half even when training, so it just doesn’t make sense to bulk without weight training unless you are underweight and need to gain fat. Beginners to lifting and especially those who are heavier can gain muscle when weight training even when eating at maintenance or when dieting. Gaining muscle at maintenance or during a cut is much less likely for those at lower weights or with more lifting experience.

 

Lastly, don’t go to intuitive eating directly after a cut, since the cut has primed you to jump back to your previous settling weight. Do choose active maintenance, where you track and try to stay the same weight for a few months. If you’re panicking from hunger after the cutting phase, hang in there; a couple of weeks of eating 500 more calories of the same filling healthy foods you were on may not be as fun as cookies, but it will bring your diet fatigue down rapidly.

 

What’s the step by step approach look like?

 

1. Plan a convenient time to cut and then maintain or bulk. Decide how many weeks for the cut and how much to lose. Weigh yourself.

2. Start with a couple of weeks of tracking your food (without restricting amounts) in an app that you like. Start playing around with meals to get a few easy, filling meals that are approximately the right macros and that you think you can eat repeatedly for several weeks. After a couple of weeks you should have an idea of your maintenance calories and what meals you’re going to eat. At the same time, track your daily steps without changing them.

3. Cut about 500 calories (or whatever fits your plan, as long as it is likely to result in no more than 1% weight loss per week) either from your food, or by adding some steps, or both.

4. After a couple of weeks, calculate your average weight loss. If it’s faster than desired, add back 250 calories. If it’s slower than desired, cut another 250 from food or with more steps or a combination. Or try another week at the same calories if you suspect water retention or cannot face another reduction in calories.

5. Repeat for as many two week periods as you planned, up to a total of 12 weeks.

6. Time for active maintenance! Add back 500 calories while eating the same healthy, filling foods.

7. Ignore any weight change in the first two weeks, but add or subtract food to keep weight roughly stable after that.

8. Continue maintaining for the rest of the 3 maintenance months. Congrats, your settling weight should now be lower.

9. Choose to cut, bulk, continue active maintenance, or move to more intuitive eating. If you choose intuitive eating, set some dates to weigh yourself to make sure you’re not gaining weight back rapidly.

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Let cheese and oxen and mead crowd out our secret desires for power and domination - Harriet the Viking

Just be bold, fluid and unapologetic, not small, hairy and indecisive - Harriet the Artist

You can absorb me! - Harriet the Contextless Guru

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All righty. That's my notes. I don't know if this will work, since I tried a lot of other things that didn't work, mostly healthy eating plans that were healthy but, um, didn't make me lose weight. Anyway, now would be the time to share our stories and plans, or share or request further readings and details. 

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Let cheese and oxen and mead crowd out our secret desires for power and domination - Harriet the Viking

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You can absorb me! - Harriet the Contextless Guru

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Thanks for setting this up! I could so relate to your first post. I don't have time to read your notes, but I'll make time to do it sometime today.

I"m currenttly doing reverse dieting. The plan is to  slowly bulk , while lifting weights, and eating protein. This increases your metabolism. Then , when you are ready to cut it doesn't to be as drastic. I'm setting a date for how long I  cut for. However, I'm also giving myself an escape route. If I start getting diet fatigued before the date, I can take a few days, a week, or two off and then go back. I'm trying to think long term. It may not get me to my goal as quickly, but hopefully I will avoid the diet backlash.

 

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That was all very interesting. Thanks, Harriet! I will compose some thoughts as I have time, this is a lot to think about. 

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Thank you so much for taking the time to type all this up!

 

I am currently planning a quite short diet cycle of 4 weeks before a 10-week maintenance phase.  It's mostly to test the waters without freaking myself out and to lose 5-6 pounds so I can pull my jeans up without hopping.  And also, spring break, a slew of birthdays, my anniversary, etc make the spring months a bad time to diet.

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My story is that roughly ten years ago I lost about 13kg, taking me from 71kg to 58kg, on a months-long calorie restricted diet. I didn’t know much about dieting, wasn’t choosing the healthiest or most filling foods, and wasn’t doing any exercise. Not only was I unhappy with my body composition when I got down to 58kg because I had so little muscle, I was also neurotically hungry and afraid of dieting again. I regained the weight seemingly involuntarily, and actually spent several years being unable to diet effectively due to diet fatigue (more like diet neurosis!). Luckily I discovered lifting in this period so I was at least happier with the 70kg that I returned to that with the 71kg I had come from.

 

I have tried sporadically to diet since then, but cannot seem to keep it up for long. So I’ve spent a lot of time looking for healthy diets that promise weight loss without calorie restriction: paleo, keto, carnivore, whatever. That probably works well for people who are very heavy, have insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome, or are eating more junk to start. But it has absolutely no power to shift me much below 70kg. Best I can say is that I can maintain this weight eating as much as I want of relatively healthy foods.

 

I have had my fill of promises from healthy eating gurus and just want to restrict calories for a short period, sensibly, to make small improvements in my body composition. Having read about diet fatigue, I am hopeful for the first time that I might actually make cutting and bulking an enjoyable long term part of my habits.

 

My plan is to cut for the spring months (March-April) to 65kg, maintain or slow bulk to 67.5kg for summer, cut to 62.5kg in Autumn, and finally maintain/slow bulk to 65kg in Winter. I really don’t know if this is going to work but I want to try. At the same time, my lifting goal is to develop consistency while keeping fatigue low. No ambitious performance goals as I’m not well enough, but at my beginner level even a small amount of lifting should have a favourable effect on partitioning (i.e. how much energy is taken from muscle vs fat when losing weight, and how much is given to muscle vs fat when gaining weight).

 

What I’ve done so far: I have gradually added high carb foods back in to see how I react. I have started entering my foods into cronometer to see where my macros and maintenance calories are at. I’m trying to design a few meals that will hit my macros, be filling, and also be the right level of palatability: not super delicious and addictive, just nice enough that I can eat it every day and not need something else or something more. I’ll be doing this for the next couple of weeks since I don’t know how low my maintenance range can go. Then it will be time to cut, and I will take 500 calories off my food since adding exercise is not feasible for me personally. I am counting my steps at the moment, though, and I will try not to let them fall during the cut. The cut ends at the end of May. 


If this fails I will paint red pandas for you all, as penance. 

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Let cheese and oxen and mead crowd out our secret desires for power and domination - Harriet the Viking

Just be bold, fluid and unapologetic, not small, hairy and indecisive - Harriet the Artist

You can absorb me! - Harriet the Contextless Guru

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1 hour ago, Elastigirl said:

Thanks for setting this up! I could so relate to your first post. I don't have time to read your notes, but I'll make time to do it sometime today.

I"m currenttly doing reverse dieting. The plan is to  slowly bulk , while lifting weights, and eating protein. This increases your metabolism. Then , when you are ready to cut it doesn't to be as drastic. I'm setting a date for how long I  cut for. However, I'm also giving myself an escape route. If I start getting diet fatigued before the date, I can take a few days, a week, or two off and then go back. I'm trying to think long term. It may not get me to my goal as quickly, but hopefully I will avoid the diet backlash.

 

 

I love it. I love the slow bulk while lifting. I suspect this is going to be awesome for you and I look forward to hearing about your results. We really do need to shift to that long term mindset. 

 

27 minutes ago, Everstorm said:

Thank you so much for taking the time to type all this up!

 

I am currently planning a quite short diet cycle of 4 weeks before a 10-week maintenance phase.  It's mostly to test the waters without freaking myself out and to lose 5-6 pounds so I can pull my jeans up without hopping.  And also, spring break, a slew of birthdays, my anniversary, etc make the spring months a bad time to diet.

 

You're welcome! I love that you have maintenance planned. So 6lb in 4 weeks would require about 1.5lb loss per week, or roughly a 750cal deficit. Is that okay for you? If the purpose is testing the waters, would a a more mild deficit be acceptable, like 1lb per week? Can you create some of it through extra walking (I cannot, but maybe you can without much extra stress). Also, mini cuts are used by bodybuilders to re-sensitise their bodies to nutrients so they can grow even faster afterwards. So it might be good to prepare psychologically for a bit of weight rebound, and it could be strategic to do some exercise with a strength component (bodyweight, obstacles if you prefer) to make the most of the few weeks after the cut. 

 

1 hour ago, Sovalis said:

That was all very interesting. Thanks, Harriet! I will compose some thoughts as I have time, this is a lot to think about. 

 

You're welcome. I don't know if it's going to work, but it's an approach I want to try and anyone may join me if they, too, are interested.

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Let cheese and oxen and mead crowd out our secret desires for power and domination - Harriet the Viking

Just be bold, fluid and unapologetic, not small, hairy and indecisive - Harriet the Artist

You can absorb me! - Harriet the Contextless Guru

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2 hours ago, Harriet said:

So 6lb in 4 weeks would require about 1.5lb loss per week, or roughly a 750cal deficit. Is that okay for you? If the purpose is testing the waters, would a a more mild deficit be acceptable, like 1lb per week?

I guess I was also counting the "weight-loss bonus" (water weight) in the starting week to reach the 6.  I typically lose 3 lbs or so in the first week -- already down 2 since Monday.   It means I'll only lose 4 real pounds, but even the illusion of 6 is good for morale.   At any rate, I've only cut 500 calories. 😇

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7 hours ago, Harriet said:

You're welcome. I don't know if it's going to work, but it's an approach I want to try and anyone may join me if they, too, are interested.

I am going to join in here. I am much like you in weight (around 68 kg/164 cm tall, probably around 28-32% body fat) and have been eating at a maintenance for a while with little effort. The last few challenges I have tried to be better at getting in food at regular intervals (lunch is always a hard one for me ) and now I am trying to build the habit of tracking. I have also been working on upping my activity level with 5-7 walks per week and a third day of strength training. My end goal is to try for a cut this summer starting in June and ending in September at the latest.  But I really need to know how much I am truly eating so I can actually know how many calories to cut. I also want to be sure I don’t lose too much muscle with the cut as it is something I have always struggled to put on. 
 

I feel as a female (in my 40’s) this is super hard. I have never tried dieting before and I am really nervous about messing around with mine. My family history is that women who easily gain weight and never lose it. I want to be smart about this by building good lifestyle choices that can see me through the rest of my life.

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11 hours ago, Harriet said:

STUDY NOTES

 

 

What causes diet fatigue and what is it, physically and psychologically?

 

W:

 

RP describes the symptoms of profound diet fatigue: fear of further dieting, aversion to diet foods,  aversion to tracking and weighing, cravings for junk that are not relieved even after you indulge them, and fantasies of eating everything and never having to diet ever again. If you’re experiencing these at the start of a diet, you’re in trouble. Stoppity-the-song-stoppy! Design a maintenance cycle instead or consider their four step programme below.

 

The primary factors influencing diet fatigue seem to be previous harsh dieting, the amount of weight lost, the length of the diet, harshness of the diet, proximity to the last diet, and other life stressors. Food quality and sleep will also influence diet fatigue since they influence our hunger. For example, trying to eat a hypocaloric amount of pure cupcakes will probably leave us a lot hungrier than trying to eat the same calories in porridge. Remember that our settling weight is the intersection of our genes and food environment, so cupcakes are going to produce a different settling weight to porridge, even with the same genes.

 

What heals or reduces diet fatigue?

 

According to RP, a diet break of 2-3 months to eat at maintenance can reduce the psychological and pysiological aspects of diet fatigue, and also reset the settling weight. They say that semi-dieting or maintenance with some remaining restrictions is the worst of both worlds, since you don’t lose much weight OR fully reset your diet fatigue.

 

For profound diet fatigue, RP recommends the follow four steps, which are to be carried out over a year. Yes, a whole-arse year.

 

1: Eat whatever the fuck you want with no tracking. The purpose is to totally take the focus off diet and reallly reduce the psychological burden. 2-4 months or until you feel happy to start making healthier choices.

2: Eat without tracking, but try to make healthy choices, which largely means moving away from heavily processed foods to less processed foods. The purpose is to establish healthy eating habits without restriction or anxiety. 2-3 months or until you feel no fear of beginning tracking again.

3: Use non-strict portion control to design meals with a balanced amount of protein, carbs, and fats (there are various measures like a palm size amount, a handful, etc.) It could involve eating a serving of fruit or veg at evey meal, for example. The purpose is to be getting roughly the right macros and amounts for maintenance without strict tracking or restriction. 1-3 months or until you’re hitting balanced meals most of the time without stress.

4: Weigh and track to create healthy, macro-balanced meals without restricting calories. The purpose is to get used to tracking again but without any target amounts or restriction. 1-3 months or until the habit is painless.

 

How can we mimimise diet fatigue on a cutting phase?

 

Okay, suppose we’re ready to cut again. RP’s main recommendation here is to limit a cutting phase to a maximum of 12 weeks, since diet fatigue accumulates rapidly and unsustainably after that. As for the harshness of the cut, they recommend trying to lose between 0.5-1% of one’s bodyweight per week. Faster cuts increase diet fatigue massively more rapidly, while slower cuts can be demotivating because not much change is seen week to week. Calculate using the formula of -500 calories per day to lose one pound. It’s not perfect but it is a starting point.

 

What are some further practical considerations?

 

Macros can affect your hunger. RP recommends 1g of protein per lb lean body mass. As an example suppose you are 150lb and 30% bodyfat. You may want to eat 100g protein. And you may not have to eat that; it is simply the maximum beyond which additional benefits are negligible. Still, it’s probably best not to go super low, as protein has benefits for satiety and muscle maintenance.

 

Food quality affects your hunger. Don’t eat lots of junk or calorie dense, super palatable foods on a cut, it will drive you crazy. Eat filling stuff, whatever that looks like for you.

 

Don’t plan a cut when you have holidays coming up and will want to eat nice stuff with everyone else.

 

Possibly, you might want to arrange your year to place cutting phases in March-May or September-November, avoiding both the coldest times of the year, but also shorts & t-shirt weather, and the times when most celebration food is available.

 

Weight training and sufficient protein will ensure that almost none of the weight you lose on a cut of reasonable length and harshness will be muscle. If you do not weight train or eat enough protein, you may lose muscle as well as and fat and end up with an unfavourable body composition at a lower weight. The heavier you are to start, the less likely you are to lose muscle, though, so weight training may not be top priority for you at first if you are trying to move down from a very heavy weight category. However, it seems ill-advised to do any bulking periods if you are not weight training. The proportion of muscle gained in a bulking phase is probably less than half even when training, so it just doesn’t make sense to bulk without weight training unless you are underweight and need to gain fat. Beginners to lifting and especially those who are heavier can gain muscle when weight training even when eating at maintenance or when dieting. Gaining muscle at maintenance or during a cut is much less likely for those at lower weights or with more lifting experience.

 

Lastly, don’t go to intuitive eating directly after a cut, since the cut has primed you to jump back to your previous settling weight. Do choose active maintenance, where you track and try to stay the same weight for a few months. If you’re panicking from hunger after the cutting phase, hang in there; a couple of weeks of eating 500 more calories of the same filling healthy foods you were on may not be as fun as cookies, but it will bring your diet fatigue down rapidly.

 

What’s the step by step approach look like?

 

1. Plan a convenient time to cut and then maintain or bulk. Decide how many weeks for the cut and how much to lose. Weigh yourself.

2. Start with a couple of weeks of tracking your food (without restricting amounts) in an app that you like. Start playing around with meals to get a few easy, filling meals that are approximately the right macros and that you think you can eat repeatedly for several weeks. After a couple of weeks you should have an idea of your maintenance calories and what meals you’re going to eat. At the same time, track your daily steps without changing them.

3. Cut about 500 calories (or whatever fits your plan, as long as it is likely to result in no more than 1% weight loss per week) either from your food, or by adding some steps, or both.

4. After a couple of weeks, calculate your average weight loss. If it’s faster than desired, add back 250 calories. If it’s slower than desired, cut another 250 from food or with more steps or a combination. Or try another week at the same calories if you suspect water retention or cannot face another reduction in calories.

5. Repeat for as many two week periods as you planned, up to a total of 12 weeks.

6. Time for active maintenance! Add back 500 calories while eating the same healthy, filling foods.

7. Ignore any weight change in the first two weeks, but add or subtract food to keep weight roughly stable after that.

8. Continue maintaining for the rest of the 3 maintenance months. Congrats, your settling weight should now be lower.

9. Choose to cut, bulk, continue active maintenance, or move to more intuitive eating. If you choose intuitive eating, set some dates to weigh yourself to make sure you’re not gaining weight back rapidly.

My thoughts on this:

It is actually really encouraging to hear that it isn't all about will power.Diet fatigue is a real thing.

Also really helpful reading the steps to cure it. I was feeling slightly guilty that I have  "wasted the last year" because I wasn't focused on losing the weight by tracking calories. But, I did a lot of the things that recommended. And I kept working out. I  have focused on eating protein, and balanced meals. And now I'm ready to track calories, and in a much better head space about it all.

I like the plan of tracking at least a couple of weeks after cutting.

 

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My plan is :

I'm following the reverse diet plan, which is similar, except you start with bulking and then go to cutting.

Right now I'm  bulking.  My calories are just 50 calories a day short of my goal which is 2,300 calories a day. I'm going to up it to that, and keep it at that range through the month of March. I weigh myself 3 times a week, and take waist measurement. If I start seeing big increases, I'll adjust as needed.

We have a mini vacation planned at the beginning of April, so my bulking/ cutting is timed around that. Ideally, I would like to start the cut earlier, but the timing didn't work.

Mid April will start my 500 a day calorie deficit. By then hopefully, the weather will be nicer, and I will be gardening and going on long walks.  My  goal is to cut for 6 weeks. But, if at 4 weeks , I'm feeling fatigued, I might take a week break. After my cut, I will work slowly up to maintenance, and then do a short bulk before I do a new cut. The length depends on how long my cut was (aiming for it to be about equal time) I'm going to play that a bit by ear. The idea is to find the balance between moving forward on my goal, but not burning myself out. I will experiment with the timing. Pretend like I'm designing a game, it needs to be challenging enough to be fun, and like you've achieved something, but not so hard  you just quit.

 

I'm focusing on losing inches rather than weight. I want to lose about 4 inches around my belly. I'm guessing that is about 25 pounds.  At a cycle of 6 week mini cuts- that might  take 4-6 cycles, which if you include bulks, might take a year. That seems a long time. Also, on that schedule I end up cutting in October.Just as our weather is dark and cold. So, I might eventually take longer cuts. But, right now 12 weeks in a cut sounds daunting. And I want it to feel like a goal I can achieve. So, I'm giving the cut a shorter time frame. 

 

In my bulk so far, I haven't gained any weight. If I do gain weight in subsequent bulks,the plan is to keep it small.

 

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19 hours ago, Everstorm said:

I guess I was also counting the "weight-loss bonus" (water weight) in the starting week to reach the 6.  I typically lose 3 lbs or so in the first week -- already down 2 since Monday.   It means I'll only lose 4 real pounds, but even the illusion of 6 is good for morale.   At any rate, I've only cut 500 calories. 😇

 

Oh, that's great! Since you mentioned serious diet fatigue and anxiety on your thread, I guess it would be good just to observe your levels of diet fatigue. What do you think about just rating your diet fatigue/readiness once a week or so? I heard about it on the RP podcast today--they use it to determine how long someone should maintain--but they also just keep tabs on how their cuts are going in terms of fatigue, as a matter of course. It seemed really sensible to me.

 

14 hours ago, Sepherina said:

I am going to join in here. I am much like you in weight (around 68 kg/164 cm tall, probably around 28-32% body fat) and have been eating at a maintenance for a while with little effort. The last few challenges I have tried to be better at getting in food at regular intervals (lunch is always a hard one for me ) and now I am trying to build the habit of tracking. I have also been working on upping my activity level with 5-7 walks per week and a third day of strength training. My end goal is to try for a cut this summer starting in June and ending in September at the latest.  But I really need to know how much I am truly eating so I can actually know how many calories to cut. I also want to be sure I don’t lose too much muscle with the cut as it is something I have always struggled to put on. 

 

Brilliant, that's pretty similar stats to me. I'm a little heavier, but also just a few cm taller so probably very similar BMI. I can never tell my bodyfat% from pictures, though, because I carry in such a strong pear distribution compared to literally all the women in every illustration of BF% that I have seen. 

 

Great idea to establish maintenance before the cut, and to gently establish reasonable exercise. I'm trying to do something similar. I looked at my steps and am trying to keep them at an average of at least 7000 (I'm not trying to add steps, just trying to get more consistency).

 

14 hours ago, Sepherina said:

I feel as a female (in my 40’s) this is super hard. I have never tried dieting before and I am really nervous about messing around with mine. My family history is that women who easily gain weight and never lose it. I want to be smart about this by building good lifestyle choices that can see me through the rest of my life.

 

Yeah, it will be harder for you to gain muscle than for a young male, for example. I think that would be a reason for shorter, slower cuts and also slower bulking phases if you do them. Good news, though; if you get down to a lower bodyfat percentage, your hormonal milieu will favour better partitioning next time you bulk. 

 

12 hours ago, Elastigirl said:

My thoughts on this:

It is actually really encouraging to hear that it isn't all about will power.Diet fatigue is a real thing.

 

Agreeeee!

 

12 hours ago, Elastigirl said:

Also really helpful reading the steps to cure it. I was feeling slightly guilty that I have  "wasted the last year" because I wasn't focused on losing the weight by tracking calories. But, I did a lot of the things that recommended. And I kept working out. I  have focused on eating protein, and balanced meals. And now I'm ready to track calories, and in a much better head space about it all.

I like the plan of tracking at least a couple of weeks after cutting.

 

Sounds like a good year, actually!

 

11 hours ago, Elastigirl said:

My plan is :

I'm following the reverse diet plan, which is similar, except you start with bulking and then go to cutting.

Right now I'm  bulking.  My calories are just 50 calories a day short of my goal which is 2,300 calories a day. I'm going to up it to that, and keep it at that range through the month of March. I weigh myself 3 times a week, and take waist measurement. If I start seeing big increases, I'll adjust as needed.

We have a mini vacation planned at the beginning of April, so my bulking/ cutting is timed around that. Ideally, I would like to start the cut earlier, but the timing didn't work.

Mid April will start my 500 a day calorie deficit. By then hopefully, the weather will be nicer, and I will be gardening and going on long walks.  My  goal is to cut for 6 weeks. But, if at 4 weeks , I'm feeling fatigued, I might take a week break. After my cut, I will work slowly up to maintenance, and then do a short bulk before I do a new cut. The length depends on how long my cut was (aiming for it to be about equal time) I'm going to play that a bit by ear. The idea is to find the balance between moving forward on my goal, but not burning myself out. I will experiment with the timing. Pretend like I'm designing a game, it needs to be challenging enough to be fun, and like you've achieved something, but not so hard  you just quit.

 

Nice, I like that you planned around the holiday, that's very sensible. I totally want to hit that manageable level of challenge, too! 

 

11 hours ago, Elastigirl said:

I'm focusing on losing inches rather than weight. I want to lose about 4 inches around my belly. I'm guessing that is about 25 pounds.  At a cycle of 6 week mini cuts- that might  take 4-6 cycles, which if you include bulks, might take a year. That seems a long time. Also, on that schedule I end up cutting in October.Just as our weather is dark and cold. So, I might eventually take longer cuts. But, right now 12 weeks in a cut sounds daunting. And I want it to feel like a goal I can achieve. So, I'm giving the cut a shorter time frame. 

 

A year is a while, but, like, what are you doing two years from now? We have to eat all the time. Maybe if we don't make our diets so hard, we can just do a little improvement here and there for life? 

 

11 hours ago, Elastigirl said:

In my bulk so far, I haven't gained any weight. If I do gain weight in subsequent bulks,the plan is to keep it small.

 

Sounds good. Since we're not strapping young men the amount of muscle we'll be able to add per week will be very modest, so larger increases in weight will be mostly fat.

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I think the challenge for me with this is that it will involve tracking again, which is something I find very fatiguing and have gotten away from. I am maintaining quite nicely with my intuitive eating, but the loss seems to have stalled a bit, which makes sense. I expected I would get to a point where my work activity was going to balance out what I was eating and it seems after six months it finally has. I wonder if my aversion to the tracking means that I am still dealing with diet fatigue to the point where it is unwise to start tracking again? I think I am at the Step 2 in the four steps, and I could maybe tackle Step 3 with a focus on increasing my veggies and tightening up my bread/junk food which has snuck up while Dave has been gone. 

 

 

 

 

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30 minutes ago, Sovalis said:

I think the challenge for me with this is that it will involve tracking again, which is something I find very fatiguing and have gotten away from. I am maintaining quite nicely with my intuitive eating, but the loss seems to have stalled a bit, which makes sense. I expected I would get to a point where my work activity was going to balance out what I was eating and it seems after six months it finally has. I wonder if my aversion to the tracking means that I am still dealing with diet fatigue to the point where it is unwise to start tracking again? I think I am at the Step 2 in the four steps, and I could maybe tackle Step 3 with a focus on increasing my veggies and tightening up my bread/junk food which has snuck up while Dave has been gone. 

 

Yeah I guess we all want to rush ahead, but feeling reluctant and averse seems like a sign of fatigue. Yes, if you're eating intuitively and maintaining, it seems like the next step could be first observing your usual meals for a few days and describing them in terms of portions (e.g. " for lunch I tend to eat 1 handful of fruit, 1 handful of grains, 1 half cup of protein, etc.") You'd then have some portion based guidelines, and you could next move either to making your adherence to your guidelines more consistent if you think they're already good, or you could change the guidelines if you don't think they're ideal. You might build in a certain allowance for junk, you don't have to go zero. 

 

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2 hours ago, Harriet said:

Oh, that's great! Since you mentioned serious diet fatigue and anxiety on your thread, I guess it would be good just to observe your levels of diet fatigue. What do you think about just rating your diet fatigue/readiness once a week or so? I heard about it on the RP podcast today--they use it to determine how long someone should maintain--but they also just keep tabs on how their cuts are going in terms of fatigue, as a matter of course. It seemed really sensible to me.

Good call.  I made up a mood scale some time ago that I have been using daily, but maybe I should start evaluating trends on a weekly basis to make sure I am not falling too much into the negative side of the scale.

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3 hours ago, Harriet said:

A year is a while, but, like, what are you doing two years from now? We have to eat all the time. Maybe if we don't make our diets so hard, we can just do a little improvement here and there for life? 

I would really like to just be in maintenance. I'm not sure how realistic that is. If I don't track calories, I tend to trend toward small weight gain. I  may keep tracking at maintenace , just to get a feel for it. Or, I could do The cut, bulk, maintenance cycle. I don't really want to track calories forever.  I like the plan you suggested of checking in with yourself weekly to see how you feel about your diet. Maybe if I stop before I reach that " I hate this ' point I would be more willing to have a few  cycles of bulk and cut yearly. Right now, I'm just in the experimenting stage. Committing to the reverse diet  test for a year, and after that I'll see.

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20 hours ago, Sovalis said:

I think the challenge for me with this is that it will involve tracking again, which is something I find very fatiguing and have gotten away from. I am maintaining quite nicely with my intuitive eating, but the loss seems to have stalled a bit, which makes sense. I expected I would get to a point where my work activity was going to balance out what I was eating and it seems after six months it finally has. I wonder if my aversion to the tracking means that I am still dealing with diet fatigue to the point where it is unwise to start tracking again? I think I am at the Step 2 in the four steps, and I could maybe tackle Step 3 with a focus on increasing my veggies and tightening up my bread/junk food which has snuck up while Dave has been gone. 

 

I think that sounds like a sensible plan - I'd hold off on calorie tracking if you really don't feel mentally up to it right now. 

 

In theory you never need to count calories to lose weight, though for me it would be harder not to. If you're aware of your regular eating patterns then you can tweak the tyoe and quantity of food you eat, and probably see weight loss for a while. Then after a while you'll hit maintenance, and will have to reassess again. This is actually exactly the same process as with calorie tracking, it's just that with calorie tracking it's easy to go 'I'll drop my target number by 200kcal/day', whereas with tweaking your diet you have to think about more carefully about change strategies.

 

Either way, for now reducing junk and increasing veg is probably enough to see results.

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20 hours ago, Elastigirl said:

I would really like to just be in maintenance. I'm not sure how realistic that is. If I don't track calories, I tend to trend toward small weight gain. I  may keep tracking at maintenace , just to get a feel for it. Or, I could do The cut, bulk, maintenance cycle. I don't really want to track calories forever.  I like the plan you suggested of checking in with yourself weekly to see how you feel about your diet. Maybe if I stop before I reach that " I hate this ' point I would be more willing to have a few  cycles of bulk and cut yearly. Right now, I'm just in the experimenting stage. Committing to the reverse diet  test for a year, and after that I'll see.

 

I also tend to drift up slowly on "intuitive maintenance". So for the long term, either I'll have to get better at intuiting amounts, or weight myself every month or two and just reduce portions or do a deliberate cut once a year to chop off the top end of the drift? So it could be 9 months of not counting, and only 3 months of counting. That sounds okay in exchange for not gaining more and more each year.

 

3 hours ago, Jarric said:

 

I think that sounds like a sensible plan - I'd hold off on calorie tracking if you really don't feel mentally up to it right now. 

 

In theory you never need to count calories to lose weight, though for me it would be harder not to. If you're aware of your regular eating patterns then you can tweak the tyoe and quantity of food you eat, and probably see weight loss for a while. Then after a while you'll hit maintenance, and will have to reassess again. This is actually exactly the same process as with calorie tracking, it's just that with calorie tracking it's easy to go 'I'll drop my target number by 200kcal/day', whereas with tweaking your diet you have to think about more carefully about change strategies.

 

Either way, for now reducing junk and increasing veg is probably enough to see results.

 

Agreed, sort of. I think the heavier you are to start, the more likely you are to get great value from just making sensible swaps. If you're leaner and already eating healthy most of the time and *still* want to get leaner, then it might be better to cut to the chase and count calories for a bit? Just my experience: I wanted so much for healthy eating to be enough to get me from 70 to 60kg. It isn't. It probably kept me from drifting up to 80kg, though.

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More study notes: I found this page with some good details on how long maintenance should be an when you should cut again. Essentially they say maintenance phases should be 60 to 200% of the length of your cut. The more weight lost, and the more diet fatigue you feel, and the more history of dieting that you have, the longer the maintenance should be. They also mention some psychological guidelines for readiness: having some treats without bingeing, feeling no guilt, being able to eyeball portions, not obsessing about food or weight, and not being upset by scale fluctuations. 

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12 minutes ago, Harriet said:

I also tend to drift up slowly on "intuitive maintenance". So for the long term, either I'll have to get better at intuiting amounts, or weight myself every month or two and just reduce portions or do a deliberate cut once a year to chop off the top end of the drift? So it could be 9 months of not counting, and only 3 months of counting. That sounds okay in exchange for not gaining more and more each year.

This sounds like a sensible and doable plan!

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3 hours ago, Harriet said:

More study notes: I found this page with some good details on how long maintenance should be an when you should cut again. Essentially they say maintenance phases should be 60 to 200% of the length of your cut. The more weight lost, and the more diet fatigue you feel, and the more history of dieting that you have, the longer the maintenance should be. They also mention some psychological guidelines for readiness: having some treats without bingeing, feeling no guilt, being able to eyeball portions, not obsessing about food or weight, and not being upset by scale fluctuations. 

Great article.

I love their end goal of the process of maintenance is to live a balanced life. I found their examples of how to do it very helpful.

The reverse dieting is similar in that going from a cut to maintenance, the idea is to up it slowly. I've never done that before, so I'm interested to see how that works.   I thought the suggestion to start out the first couple of weeks in maintenance with blander food was interesting. In cut, food is usually blander (sauces , fat, all up the calories) so I usually introduce treats and stuff right away. And then quicky go overboard.😃 Going to try this, and see if it helps me to balance out nutritional eating/ treat eating a little better. 

 

Another similarity between reverse dieting and this plan is the idea that yes, you will gain a little bit of weight when you first go back. Don't freak out , stay on plan. If the trend continues, then maybe you need to back off, but wait a couple of weeks to see.

 

And something that made me go hmmm... Their chart for where we should be at maintenance is what I'm at for bulking . I think part of my issue may be that I  restrict a bit too much, then overdo with treat stuff. And, maybe I just will need to do a cycle or two of cutting during the year. And like Harriet said, if we keep that as not super hard, then maybe it's longterm doable.

 

 

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20 hours ago, Elastigirl said:

I usually introduce treats and stuff right away. And then quicky go overboard.😃 

 

I've been listening to their podcasts while knitting, and they say this is super common and it's why they recommend more simple foods, to smooth the path to maintenance and avoid bingeing. 

 

20 hours ago, Elastigirl said:

Another similarity between reverse dieting and this plan is the idea that yes, you will gain a little bit of weight when you first go back. Don't freak out , stay on plan. If the trend continues, then maybe you need to back off, but wait a couple of weeks to see.

 

Yeah, we should probably set ourselves a maintenance range to stay within. 

 

20 hours ago, Elastigirl said:

And something that made me go hmmm... Their chart for where we should be at maintenance is what I'm at for bulking . I think part of my issue may be that I  restrict a bit too much, then overdo with treat stuff. And, maybe I just will need to do a cycle or two of cutting during the year. And like Harriet said, if we keep that as not super hard, then maybe it's longterm doable.

 

Where are you at for maintenance? Maybe you can bring it up with careful cycles and weight training.

I found a cool app (not RP) with a seven day free trial and it quizzed me then suggested about 2450 for maintenance and 1940 for cutting. Generous, but I'm going to give it a try. The cool thing is (if I decide to stay after the free trial) it automatically updates its estimates of my maintenance based on the food and weights I log. So I'm going to try eating the suggested 1950 for a couple of weeks and see what happens. My initial guess was to cut at 1750, if not 1500, but that has made me quite, quite crazy in the past. Maybe too low. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Harriet said:

Where are you at for maintenance? Maybe you can bring it up with careful cycles and weight training.

Yes, that's what I've been doing. I guess I'm on the right track.

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On 2/28/2024 at 11:41 AM, Harriet said:

All righty. That's my notes. I don't know if this will work, since I tried a lot of other things that didn't work, mostly healthy eating plans that were healthy but, um, didn't make me lose weight. Anyway, now would be the time to share our stories and plans, or share or request further readings and details. 

Thank you sharing all this information as well as the RP site.  I was reading some of the blog articles this morning and stumbled across this 

 

 

Quote

Part 2: Does Macronutrient Distribution Matter for Optimal Muscle Massing?

First, your protein needs must be met. Consume approximately one gram of protein per pound of your body weight per day.

Can you eat even more protein and use that extra protein to contribute to the increase in your daily caloric intake? Yes, but excess protein has at least two major downsides:

  • Protein is by far the most expensive macronutrient.
  • Protein has a profound effect on suppressing hunger.

Gaining weight by adding loads of extra protein can turn into an uphill battle in the fight to consume enough calories to mass successfully

 

This was a lightbulb moment for me.   I have in the past struggled with this particular part of bulking precisely because of this (struggled to eat enough).  I may have to dig more into this….and mull it over.

 

 

The article I was reading.

High-Carb Massing

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