The "magic" pill you haven't taken yet
Consistency is the magic pill that everyone is looking for but no one wants to take. Nutritional Periodization is one of the most effective tools to increase consistency and progress when it comes to your diet. At its core, Nutritional Periodization helps us segment our nutrition into the weekly/monthly overviews to allow life to ebb and flow. Nutrition problems don't arise when we miss a day or two on our protocol. The problem isn't when we eat over our calorie target or we miss a habit. The real problem occurs when we feel off track. When we feel off track we think that we screwed up or we lost momentum. When we feel off track we tend to throw everything out the window because we feel like we messed up. If we can always feel on track we bypass 99% of the frustration that will inevitably come when life gets in the way. We are not robots. We are human beings that live multi-dimensional lives. We can't expect nutrition to fit inside of an equation. We need to have margin and a system where we ALWAYS feel on track regardless of the situation.
When it comes to nutrition it takes time to see progress. You will not lose fat from eating one salad and you will not gain fat from eating one doughnut. Progress takes time in either direction. The same thing applies to a weekly window. We won't see astronomical results from following a plan for a week or two (or at least results that we will be able to sustain). So our best bet is to find a sustainable rhythm that we can put on autopilot for multiple months. If we have that mindset and approach, nutrition becomes exponentially more effective.
Instead of looking at nutrition success from a day to day lens, Nutritional Periodization helps us pan back and measure our success in a different light. It helps us look at the bigger picture of nutrition and thus increases consistency and metabolic effectiveness. At the same time, nutritional periodization also bypasses common pitfalls and traps that occur while calorie counting and eating in a caloric deficit.
Before we dive into the specifics we have to understand some basics. Like we discussed in the previous blogs you should only use this tool if you are in a position to track calories as Nutritional Periodization is built around the planning and undulating of calories. When we track calories we are able put ourselves in a consistent caloric deficit (a caloric intake that is below our caloric maintenance) and thus lose fat over the long-term. However, when we put ourselves in a caloric deficit for an extended period of time we tend to see a down-regulation of our metabolism and some key hormones involved with the dieting process. In essence, Nutritional Periodization helps bypass a lot of these negative effects while creating consistency along the way. It's important to remember that a caloric deficit is not meant to be a long-term play. It is only meant to help us reach our goal and then shift to maintenance protocols and eventually intuitive eating (blogs to come). However, with that being said, it could take some time to reach your goal so here are some Nutritional Periodization tools to help you do that in the most consistent, effective, and efficient way possible.
A Re-feed is a pre-planned day in which you eat to your caloric maintenance level or slightly above. Essentially a 24 hour window where you can eat more calories for the sake or priming the metabolism and helping eliminate down-regulation of key hormones involved with dieting.
A reset is a preplanned day in which you don't track calories to either replenish will power reserves and/or if life gets too hectic. Essentially a 24 hour window where you focus on similar meal structures and intuitive eating while following foundational habits.
6 days at your current nutritional protocol followed by 1 re-feed day (usually Friday or Saturday for social outings, events, and parties).
5 days at your current nutritional protocol followed by 2 consecutive re-feed days in a row (usually Friday and Saturday).
Following your current nutritional protocol and then implementing a re-feed or reset day depending on bio-feedback (how you feel).
2 weeks at your current nutritional protocol followed by 2 weeks of consecutive re-feeds.
3 weeks at your current nutritional protocol followed by 1 week of consecutive re-feed days.
Following your current nutritional protocol and implementing re-feed and/or reset weeks depending on bio-feedback (how you feel).
As outlined above, here are multiple different options you can use to execute your caloric deficit as opposed to just eating in a caloric deficit everyday and white knuckling it until you reach your goal (which rarely happens). We want to utilize re-feed and reset days to our advantage. Both tools play a vital role in creating a consistent caloric deficit over the long-run. They help reset hormonal levels, metabolism, will power, and allow us the margin to enjoy life WITHOUT feeling off track. The weekly and monthly splits are utilized so you can still enjoy social outings, vacations, holidays, and parties without having the stress and anxiety of tracking and/or limiting caloric intake. Essentially, you have the ability to reach your goal and enjoy life along the way!
Remember the point of Nutritional Periodization is to create consistency to give yourself the freedom to float between multiple tools and splits as you progress towards your goal. You don't have to marry yourself to one specific split. Remember progress is measured in multiple different ways. Some days progress is measured by executing your caloric deficit. Some days progress is measured by taking a re-feed or reset day and not feeling like you screwed up or feeling off track. Some days it will be saying no to ice cream. Some days it will be saying yes to ice cream and not feeling any guilt, shame, or stress because of it. You have the tools to fit nutrition inside of your life inside of trying to fit your life inside of nutrition. Now go execute, experience, and enjoy the journey. If you have more specific questions about Nutritional Periodization or nutrition in general don't hesitate to reach out. Remember, your best is yet to come!