Why do most diets work?
Because they've discovered a manner to put you into a calorie deficit long enough for you to lose weight.
Why do most people end up gaining back that weight?
Because nobody talks about the exit strategy.
If you want ridiculous transformational results, you're going to have to frequently do things that are a bit radical, or at the very least not your average practices. Sometimes you have to get just plain stupid.
...Or, you have to be patient.
When I first began my journey the word "patience" was not even remotely in my vocabulary. So, I did a lot of stupid, and as a result I got stupid crazy results.
I recently read about some of the stupid that they put the contestants on The Biggest Loser through.
I don't want to make this into a controversial debate about the safety of a reality T.V. show, nor do I care to take a side in any kind of discussion about the biggest loser. I don't have all the information and I refuse to buy in to either argument without certainty of statements. However, in regards to the insane results that are produced and the subsequent danger involved...That's the price of fast results, more danger, more torture, more stupid.
But honestly, I don't mind stupid. Stupid and me were best friends for the better part of a year, now I flirt with stupid on occasion and bring my clients to as far as stupid as they can physically and mentally handle without putting them into the realm of danger. Not right away, it's a progressive approach to stupid.
But the difference between most diets and training to extremes and my protocols, is that it takes you all the way to a point and then leaves you there. They have no exit strategy, most diets do not give you a way out of that diet/training without losing some results.
What is an exit strategy?
Nobody wants to jump off of a program and then lose all of their results. But that's exactly what happens. Once the program is completed, people stop and resume their prior behaviors, which usually entails inactivity and YOLO dieting. Going from 120% to -3% is a recipe for a fat gaining rebound disaster!
My exit strategy involves two things:
- Reverse dieting
- Tapering training volume
Reverse dieting comes in two forms: Slowly introducing more calories primarily in the form of carbohydrates and, at a lesser rate, fats, and minimizing cardio to just basic maintenance for cardiovascular health. In some instances minimizing it altogether if they're receiving that kind of stimulus from their weight training. They slowly introduce more food and less cardio until they've reached the limits of their appetite, or they've begun putting on weight too quickly...In my mind this is the only logical exit strategy.
Why reverse dieting works
Your metabolism is flexible in a sense that you have some influence on the amount of additional calories you can consume without putting on too much more body fat. But a reverse diet is not some form of miracle metabolic advancement technique, it's merely introducing more calories into your diet, watching the scale looking at the mirror and noticing when you have reached your current maintenance then seeing how much more calories you can introduce without putting on excessive amounts of body fat.
If you have been dieting a long time then you will probably be able to introduce a surprising amount of calories if you do it slowly and specifically, just because your body will find ways to utilize that energy not only in the gym but also in your everyday interactions.
You will notice that there are naturally slim people who tend to be very fidgety. Their metabolism is going to be a lot faster just because of how they interact with the world, whereas a person who is or has been considerably overweight most of their lives may be much more lethargic. This is a large genetic component to individual metabolisms.
Reverse diets require discipline. Your body is going to fight you during the dieting process, Especially if you're already fairly lean (sub 15-12% body fat for men.) Hormones such as leptin and ghrehin will do their best to send you into thralls of feasting. When I was at my absolute leanest, I chewed ice to satiate the motor patterns associated with eating and to put material in my stomach.
This pictures shows the results of my current reverse diet. The differences are subtle and are a bit difficult to distinguish with the different lighting, but to the trained eye the picture on the right has less detail, fewer lines, etc. The guy on the right is doing considerably less cardio and eating way more calories than the guy on the left. He's stronger, in a much cheerier mood, and has all the fully functioning hormonal patterns that a man in his 20's should have. The guy on the left is not as strong, easily irritated and usually isn't in the mood and would much rather go to sleep so he can get to his next meal.
The guy on the left is by no means super shredded, but a year before that picture he weighed 100lbs more, so he was going through very similar hormonal shifts that a natural body builder would go through.
Now, if you haven't caught on both the guys are me. The one on the left taken mid Des Moines, pre Giovanni (June 2014) and the me on the right taken January 30th 2015. I maintained that physique until mid September and then began reverse dieting into my current lean bulk phase.
All of this is basically to say that a well executed exit strategy can not only help you dig yourself out of a lot of stupid, but it can help you keep a lot of stupid awesome results. If you want to keep your results post program, slowly ween yourself off of it until you've discovered a place that is very much manageable, maybe even a little too easy. And if you don't have the patience to do it yourself, pay somebody to do it for you. (Like ya boy, Ol' Yeargain.)
Until next time,
Lift Big, Sing Big, and Look Great Doing It!
The Opera Bro