Starting a Contest Prep/Fat Loss Phase

Are you ready to start a fat loss phase? Before jumping into this question, it is best to analyze how you spent your time before the fat loss phase. In part 1 of this series, we recently went over how to know when you are ready to come to the end of your reverse diet and transition into a fat loss phase or contest prep. If you haven’t read it yet, we recommend going to check it out before diving into this article!

Overall, when it comes to considering the beginning of fat loss phase, after you’ve checked all the boxes on the topics we discussed in the last article, the most important thing to consider is whether or not you are mentally ready to commit to this challenge. The reason that being able to commit to the process is so important, is because if you are going to go into a diet without fully committing to being adherent, then you often end up extending the length of the diet, and prolonging the adaptations that come with a lowered calorie intake.

Your Caloric Starting Point

Ideally, you should be starting your fat loss phase eating at least, at maintenance. The benefit to being adapted to a higher intake for a while, is so that when you go to cut your calories you will actually respond to that reduction and see some weight loss. How aggressive one needs to be for this initial reduction will vary from person to person. The first adjustment to your intake when beginning your fat loss phase should always come from carbs and fats first. We highly recommend keeping your protein intake as high as you can, and as high as you had previously been adapted to. Ensuring adequate protein intake during the beginning of a caloric deficit will give you a better chance at actually losing body fat, rather than losing weight in muscle mass.

Your Cardio Starting Point

If you are doing tons of cardio before starting your fat loss phase, you will likely be adapted to that expenditure and will have less of a successful chance for utilizing it as a tool to increase the deficit. Now, we are big fans of cardiovascular health so we’re not advocating that you cut out all cardio during your reverse diet, but it should be relatively low when ending your reverse diet/maintenance and beginning your fat loss phase.

First Adjustments

We recommend reducing caloric intake before adding in tons of cardio. It has been our experience that post diet rebounds are always much more harsh when a client is doing tons of unsustainable cardio. Granted, cardio will need to be added no matter what. However, we have found that a reduction in calories and trying to get away with as little cardio added as we can often ends up in a much better physique and post show recovery for physique competitors. For gen pop clients, we still recommend focusing on your nutrition before putting all of your faith in extra cardio for fat loss. In the grand scheme of things, the deficit is more impacted by reducing your caloric intake than it is by adding in cardio. Cardio should be used as a tool to up the ante in creating the caloric deficit when it comes to fat loss.

Setting Expectations

It’s important to set realistic expectations at the beginning of a fat loss phase. Asking your coach questions like, how much weight can I realistically lose? How long will it take for me to reach my goal? How low will calories have to get, etc.? Knowing roughly what the answers to these questions are at the start of the fat loss phase can help properly prepare you for your next fat loss phase!

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