It doesn’t matter what you have to deal with and fight through to get there. Losing weight isn’t always a cakewalk, but it’s a whole few levels easier than the task of checking the rebound. You can pat yourself on the back for getting there, and accept that things are only going to get harder.
This is the stage where the body is perfectly primed for fat-gain. The reasons are part-psychology, part-physiology.
All diets aren’t going to end in this sorry state. You could absolutely get through several months of dieting without experiencing these side-effects. You might even feel stronger and sharper on the other side. This guide is aimed at any programme that really pushes the body to its brink and strains homeostasis. That usually means it checks two of these four boxes.
- Aggressive Weight Loss
- Extended Weight Loss
- Terrible Nutritional Quality
- Low Body-Fat
So you might have royally screwed up the diet, or you may have just had to push to get the last inch off. Either way, there’s are fresh threats waiting at the finish line. This may well be where the real challenge begins. Brace up.
Apathy – The Mental Block
Losing The Following
Leading To – Poor Discipline
It’s easier to suffer through a lifestyle when the goal means so much to you. The healthy habits have purpose. There’ll be days where you survive on adrenaline alone. The emotional weight is enough of a distraction from all the training and pathetic meal portions you’re wading through.
What happens when you reach the goal? Adrenaline turns out to be a finite resource, and your old lifestyle comes calling. Those habits feel tedious and pointless without the diet to anchor them. It’s easy to quit to revert to the status quo that made you fat in the first place.
Focus is going to be the dominant mental state during a diet. You lock the sights onto the goal, the process, and everything else drops out of view. But that focus also runs out over the course of the diet.
Once you get over the line, the chances for cheat meals and lazy-days might seem more appealing. That state of focus can transition to relaxation. You’ve got the job done, now you can kick back and deal whatever cravings you’ve been willfully ignoring over the past few months. That’s not necessarily bad, you do need to make use of both modes for an apex lifestyle. It’s just not the best time to be sitting back. The body is primed for fat-regain.
There’s always the chance to dive straight into the bulking season, but that’s not necessarily going to be at the front of the mind. You’re now short on several ingredients that put the mind on the front-foot.
Suppression – Lack Of Energy
Losing The Following
- Testosterone / Estrogen
Leading To – Low Energy But Plenty Of Hunger
Just like the brain gets depleted across the stretch of a diet, so does your physiology as it starts to flag. The body has effectively been forced through a period of sustained starvation. Its response is simply to try and survive. Inessential systems are wound down, and the metabolic rate tanks. Aggressive deficits, long-term dieting, terrible nutrition, and excessive leanness can all amplify these effects.
In any case, suppression is a fact of dieting that you’ll need to pass at some point. Eventually, you’ll have to pull on some of those levers in order to keep progressing.
Amongst all the hormonal downgrades, testosterone and estrogen play key roles in deciding your energy and enthusiasm for the post-diet challenge. Not only do they affect strength gain, but they also drive up willpower and confidence. These are front-foot hormones, encouraging you to keep pushing forward from one goal to the next.
Then we have leptin, which regulates both thyroid and ghrelin levels. It inevitably drops alongside weight-loss and particularly with carb-depletion. The deeper you dig, the slower you get, and the hungrier you become.
Some people assume that all this can be alleviated once the shackles are loose and normal eating resumes. And while hormones can eventually return back up to baseline, the process can take half a year. There’s even a mechanism linking the metabolism to lean mass. Meaning you won’t get the full mojo back until strength returns to pre-diet levels.
This can be tricky due to all the other confounding factors, such as low testosterone and insulin sensitivity. While the latter can generally be accepted as a good thing, the post-diet is a special case. The fat cells are now sensitive to the effects of insulin, making storage more likely. Regaining all that lost muscle is an uphill battle. It’s quite easy to end up fatter than you were pre-diet, a process is known as fat-overshooting.
Life won’t stop sucking the day after the diet ends. With the best tactics, you’re still looking at 3-4 months before the post-diet hangover winds to an end. During this time training will often feel like a chore and portion control becomes a myth.
None of this is aimed to say dieting is pointless. You just have to be prepared to continue the grind past the finish line. If you relax the rules you’ve set down over the course of the diet, it’s invariably going to end in disaster. The lifestyle must go on.