You’re about to start a weight loss diet.
You know you need to eat fewer calories than you burn.
You know roughly how much you need to eat every day to lose weight.
Maybe you even have a meal plan mapped out.
But there’s still one question you haven’t been able to answer: how long should you stay in a calorie deficit?
If you poke around online you’ll see different theories about the “ideal” length of time you should stay in a deficit before giving your body a break.
Some say you should diet no longer than 12 weeks.
Others say you can diet as long as you want.
And others say you should only stay in a deficit for a few weeks at a time before taking a diet break, giving your body and mind a breather, and then enduring another bout of dieting.
Well, here’s the truth of the matter:
How long you should spend in a calorie deficit boils down to how fast you can lose fat without losing muscle, and this depends on how much fat you have to lose and how lean you want to get.
So, instead of giving you a one-size-fits-all answer like “12 weeks,” I’m going to show you how to decide exactly how long you should stay in a calorie deficit to reach your goal weight.
Let’s start by looking at how fast you can lose fat without losing muscle.
Press play and let’s dive in!
Lastly, if you want to support the show, please drop a quick review of it over on iTunes. It really helps!
2:49 – How long do I need to be in a calorie deficit?
6:14 – How do you calculate how much fat you can lose before you lose muscle?
16:51 – How long should i stay in a calorie deficit and when should I take a diet break?
23:31 – How do you do a diet break?
Mentioned on the show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
+ Scientific References
- Helms ER, Aragon AA, Fitschen PJ. Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: Nutrition and supplementation. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014;11(1):20. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-11-20
- Long-term weight loss maintenance | The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition | Oxford Academic. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/82/1/222S/4863393. Accessed February 21, 2020.
- Nackers LM, Ross KM, Perri MG. The association between rate of initial weight loss and long-term success in obesity treatment: Does slow and steady win the race? Int J Behav Med. 2010;17(3):161-167. doi:10.1007/s12529-010-9092-y
- Dulloo AG, Jacquet J, Girardier L. Poststarvation hyperphagia and body fat overshooting in humans: a role for feedback signals from lean and fat tissues. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997;65(3):717-723. doi:10.1093/ajcn/65.3.717
- Calbet JAL, Ponce-González JG, Pérez-Suárez I, de la Calle Herrero J, Holmberg HC. A time-efficient reduction of fat mass in 4 days with exercise and caloric restriction. Scand J Med Sci Sport. 2015;25(2):223-233. doi:10.1111/sms.12194
- Helms ER, Aragon AA, Fitschen PJ. Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: Nutrition and supplementation. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014;11(1):1-20. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-11-20
- POLLACK H. Caloric equivalents of gained or lost weight. Metabolism. 1953;2(3):283. doi:10.1093/ajcn/6.5.542
- Alpert SS. A limit on the energy transfer rate from the human fat store in hypophagia. J Theor Biol. 2005;233(1):1-13. doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2004.08.029
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