Want to know the number one issue I have with diet plans from “online coaches”?. It’s that clients are generally not high-level athletes, top end bodybuilders or fitness models. Yet they get treated as such, I’ve seen a diet plan for 30+ year old woman that had a bulk and shred period and when I asked exactly what her what her training goals were and how her coach calculated what calories she would be on per day, she didn’t quite know how to answer because she wasn’t asked. Online coaching is essentially a guessing game. Once they’ve got your weight, height, some measurements (usually done by the person themselves so already there is a huge margin of error) they’ll enter it all into a website and get a rough approximation of BMI, caloric maintenance level and then send you the same diet plan as everyone else with minor additions.
They generally never meet their clients, but it’s hard not to get results when you put someone on a 500+ calories a day deficit for 4+ weeks and have them working out for 4/5 days and if it somehow doesn’t work, they're quite skilled at shifting the blame right back at you….
But one of main issue with not just shredding but diets in general is the length of time people spend in a caloric deficit. It’s not unheard for people to jump from diet to diet in the aims of achieving their goals but do so without comprehension of what’s happening to them on at a cellular level.
During the process of weight loss, the body takes from protein and fat stores. The ratio of each is really the golden ticket we are looking for. Preserve protein and utilise as much from fat stores as possible. Easy right?
Statistically, women are a lot more likely to sit in a caloric deficit in comparison to men, so let’s use an example of a “shredding plan” made available by a Instagram model aimed at women. Without having physically met any of the women this was aimed at, or any nutritional certification, she insisted a 1000k/cal diet would “have them shredded in 6 weeks”. Using her own progress photos as an example of this diets effectiveness she claimed that despite the huge caloric decrease she had "more energy and better intensity during workouts" but did not pay attention to the fact the "after" photo used was previously uploaded 2 years prior. Red flag number one.
So, let’s do some basic maths, 1000cals a day from food when the average female burns around 2400k/cal a day (yes that's around average for a woman) means that 1400 cals a day comes from their own stores. That sounds ideal right? They’ll look like Michelle Lewin in no time. Red flag number 2.
Now, 2400cals a day is average for woman who DON’T WORK OUT, so let’s assume that right now this is the case. By not working out, exercise activity thermogenesis is not relevant, but non-exercise activity thermogenesis (N.E.A.T is energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-like exercise. It ranges from the energy expended walking to work, typing, performing daily tasks, undertaking physical tasks and even fidgeting) is, this becomes relevant later during the “shred”.
That level of caloric deficit will eventually cause your metabolic process to slow to preserve fat for survival, it's essentially starving youself. The 1400cals is coming from their stores each day and as the days go on their bodies will continue to slow metabolically to accommodate the 1000cals she is getting from food.
So, what’s happening during all this on cellular level? Impaired protein synthesis, a decrease in total daily energy expended as well as a severe drop in circulating thyroid hormones, testosterone, leptin, insulin and IGF-1. An increase in catecholamines, glucagon and ghrelin.
As i said above, that diet is essentially starving them. And given that weight is the most common marker for progress, it’s easy to mislead into feelings of failure if weight hasn’t dropped as much as they'd like due to a decrease in their N.E.A.T. We live in a society were food is omnipresent, so once these feelings of failure kick in the urge to binge eat becomes more prominent resulting in weight gain.
And this is if they WEREN'T working out whilst on this shredding plan.
So the next time you let someone you’ve never met put you into an unsustainable caloric deficit, do a little of your own research into the long term effects on your body. You are the only person that truly knows how your body reacts to food and supplements, so save your money and spend the time working out what works for you.
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