Something that is inevitable for many contest prep or athletes that go through long term dieting is damage control that can happen for many reasons. When long-term dieting occurs there are long periods where food cravings will kick in and in the end it can get to us and cause more harm than good. If you have ever went 16-20 weeks on a diet to get in shape for say a photo shoot, a contest (figure, bikini, physique, bodybuilding), or just for the sake of seeing how far you can diet there may be times where you fall off the wagon and end up getting some foods that may not really help you in the long run and set you back. This is not uncommon for the average gym goer who has a high passion over their physique and trying to get to very low levels of bodyfat.
In this article I want to share with you my stance on damage control on over eating. Along with ways to help get rid of the damage done on overeating, cheat meals, or straying from the diet for a long term period. There are many tools and variables you can utilize to help prevent this and also some forms of supplements that can be a partial aid in transporting excess carbs out of your system (GDA’s) which we will talk about in detail. Before we get started I want to talk a bit about the mental aspect of why we may over eat and then indulge on methods and tips/tricks to overcome the aspect.
Mental and Physical Aspects
First of all dieting does a lot to us mentally and physically. If you ever ask anyone who does compete or does long term dieting you will hear lots of stories and lots of reasons why people fall off the wagon and how one can overcome these problems. The first thing you will notice when you start to diet is the most common thing is lower calories over prolonged periods of time. With this comes lesser choices of food (for those who follow a flexible dieting approach) where fitting different foods in your macros may become harder due to less of a caloric surplus to utilize different sources to hit proper protein, fiber, fat and caloric allotments.
I noticed myself that once I drop below 2,000 calories I find myself getting pretty monotonous on what I do eat in regards to eating adequate veggies, trying to get forms of fruit in my diet (berries), plenty of different protein sources (Chicken, egg whites, whole eggs for saturated fats or leaner forms of beef/turkey. Whey protein is a staple, and I also like to utilize greek or regular yogurt mixed into my protein powder to make a pudding/sludge that I toss my berries or small forms of cereal’s/ rice cakes for a nice crunch! Fat source wise I utilize trace fats from my protein sources, fish oils, nut butters, and also oils if room does allow but how one allots their macronutrients should be dictated on their performance in and out of the gym and overall digestion and how they fell on a higher fat or lower fat diet same could be said with carbs and how they tolerate them.
Now when one does get to a low level and they start to get burned out on their food choices, another thing that settles in (say a good 8-10 weeks into dieting) is they start to notice a few other symptoms, which can trigger damage control. Lack of sleep is one of them, also people notice they start to get colder due to long term dieting and t3, leptin, and hormone levels do drop over prolonged periods of time from dieting. On the female side of things they go through phases where they may crave foods when their periods do come and go from month to month which can be a side effect/aspect to why they may fall off the wagon mentally and physically. You will also start to notice recovery in and out of the gym with cardio and training will start to decrease as the diet prolongs which makes you want to overfeed and get away from that feeling.
Combating The Issue
Lets get to some topics or ways which we can try and combat the overeating effect via various forms of physical activity. While we all know that exercise does burn calories just like a caloric deficit does over time (For fatloss), one could adjust their training to help progress with this or from an overfeeding. Lyle McDonald has a book labeled “Ultimate Diet 2.0” in which the individual does a very interesting approach with their diet and training, and this is why I am bringing it up.
Lyle has the individual go on a very low caloric intake from Monday-Thursday in the morning, and then does a massive carb refeed for 36 hours, and then tapers their calories back down. This is a process he does over and over and tries to help compensate the caloric load with depletion workouts (full body) to prime the body for the carbohydrate load. Similar scenario here even if you are on a diet where you eat moderate calories everyday and implement cheat or refeed meals you could try to hit up a depletion type workout to help fuel the body for a massive overfeed, or do a depletion workout the following day once your glycogen stores are full to help deplete your body and wash out the excess calories you may have consumed (from slipping on your diet or from a cheat/refeed meal).
Amp Up Your Cardio
Another way is via cardio to help burn excessive calories. Training and cardio are two buffers one can use to help expand excess calories especially those cutting to find a new way to increase their caloric deficit through various activities. LISS Cardio would be long bouts of steady state cardio (Low Intensity Steady State), and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) would be another form of cardio that is very glycogen depleting, and can aid protein synthesis like a workout (due to how demanding intervals are). LISS Is usually performed on any machine or a long walk outside where you can work up a sweat and hold a conversation, while HIIT on the other hand is intervals of time on and off meaning you will go 100% for a time period, and then do a cool down.
A very common example would be a 15/45 split for HIIT cardio meaning you go all out for 15 seconds on whatever machine or as a form of a sprint, and then 45 seconds cool down (think LISS cardio here). Another form of cardio that is very overlooked is multiple forms of GPP (Sled Dragging, Sled Push, Prowler Push, Kettle bell Swings, Hammer Swings, Tire Flips) which I would classify as HIIT Cardio due to the demand on the body that they do provide. These would be excellent ways to finish off a depletion workout to really get rid of the excess glycogen or prime your body for a massive intake of food.
The last form of a finisher or form of cardio would be a finisher complex where you would do multiple forms of complex movements in a cycle to help really stimulate the body and get the heart rate up. Think for example of doing an overhead squat, bringing it down and doing a overhead press, then moving into a hang clean, down to the floor and doing a deadlift, and then snatching the weight back up to your shoulders, overhead press, put the weight on your back and do a back squat. A similar protocol would be something called “The Bear” which you could YouTube and see exactly what I am talking (the image below is not what I’m talking about).
Supplement Your Diet With Supplements
Supplement wise I recently touched on this in my Insulin Sensitivity article where I talked about things like ARA, Chromium, R-ALA, or NA R-ALA, which are all forms of GDA’s (Glucose Disposal Agents) which can help transport or shuttle excessive carbs away from being stored as fat. Other various forms of supplements one could use (and I highly suggest during a cutting phase) would be Yohimbine (which would be utilized prior to fasted cardio upon waking start at 2.5mg and slowly work your way up), Forskolin (which would be split in a dose of 25-50mg 2x a day), Raspberry Ketones/7-Keto, which are fatloss agents and found in many thermogenics on the market. I would highly suggest not jumping into all of these products right away because high doses of yohimbine and Forskolin can have vicious side effects. For instance people who overdose on yohimbine (say take 10mg) may feel very anxious or jittery. The same could be said with Forskolin and it would provide GI Distress from taking a larger dose right out of the gate.
Whenever you utilize a supplement start at the lowest dosage possible and slowly increase (same could be said with pre-workouts/caffeine).
Wrap up time, lets try and make this short and sweet on how we can prevent overfeeding or how we can control damage done on a large meal. Preventing overfeeding could be done with trying to prime your body with nutrients prior to a large meal or stuffing yourself with lower caloric foods (think veggies) to help with satiety especially during a dieting phase. Another way to prevent overfeeding is being mentally and physically strong, if you give into temptation and are weak minded you will find that dieting is not your beast you want to go head to head against, or going through a contest prep will be a very difficult task. If all else fails and you give into a meal or want to prevent that meal from storing as fat then listen to the advice given in this article. Use various forms of cardio, increase the volume on your workouts, utilize depletion workouts, and take some suggestions I have labeled as far as supplements go to try and minimize the damage that may have been done!