As we enter the British holiday season, many of you gym dwellers may find yourselves grinding through the final weeks of your summer cuts in order to polish off your bodies ready for the beach. These last phases of a cut can come with plenty of temptation to go off track, either by missing training sessions or not sticking to your diet. This article aims to give a little inspiration to anyone who is struggling to keep on track with their weight loss. Here are my four main tips to help you get through your cut without falling off the wagon.
1. Set realistic goals
Have you set yourself a specific goal? If you haven’t, now is the time to do so. By having a goal in mind throughout your cut, you will be ten times more motivated to continue battling on. Everyone’s goals will be different; you may have in mind a goal weight, body fat percentage or measurements that you wish to hit. It is important to consistently keep track of how your body is changing as the weeks go by so that you can ensure that you are actually making progress. I recommend weighing in or taking your measurements every morning, and making an average for each week.
Having a time period you wish to achieve this goal in can provide even more motivation to stay on track due to the added time pressure, for example your goal may be to lose 10 lb before your holiday at the end of August. By having this goal in mind to focus on every time you feel like going off track, you are much more likely to stay motivated and achieve your goals than if you were just aimlessly dieting with the vague goal to “lose some weight”.
2. Learn to cope with a caloric deficit
The next thing you need to do is to learn the best coping strategies of dealing with being in a caloric deficit. Some people are not particularly fazed by having to eat less food, but for others this can be a real challenge. One of the best ways to cope is to trick yourself into thinking you are still eating a lot by replacing low volume high calorie foods with high volume low calorie foods. One example is the famous Beltsander brownie recipe (the original can be found here), replacing a sugary high calorie brownie with a high protein low calorie alternative.
Vegetables are also great for increasing the volume of your meals whilst keeping the calorie count low, and if you really cannot stick the thought of eating plates full of broccoli all you need to do is invest in some seasoning you love (I swear basil makes everything taste like pizza). You can also get more volume out of your meals with low calorie food alternatives, such as the GoNutrition ZeroCals Sauces (great for flavouring plain greek yogurt) or the GoNutrition ZeroCarb Noodles. Another trick for dealing with a caloric deficit is to substantially increase your protein intake.
Whilst at maintenance levels, most people tend to aim for 1 gram of protein per lb of body weight; it may be useful to increase this number up to 1.5 grams of protein per lb of body weight during a cut. Not only is this important for sparing your precious muscle mass, it is also the macronutrient that will keep you fuller for longer due to it being digested in the stomach, and this means you can eat more food which is far less likely to be stored as fat than carbohydrates or fats.
3. Be smart with cardio
Another thing to consider whilst you’re grinding through your cut is how you implement your cardio, if you implement any at all. Cardio is by no means necessary in order to lose weight, however it is often included in favour of cutting down caloric intake even further. Many people choose to include a mixture of high intensity interval training (HIIT) and low intensity steady state cardio (LISS) into their training regimes. Always take into consideration what works for you as an individual.
If you prefer to blast through your calorie burn in 20 minutes and be left panting and sweating at the end then the obvious decision is to choose HIIT over LISS. HIIT is often favourable due to the fact that your heart rate remains elevated after you finish exercising, leading to even more calories being burnt after your workout (known as the “after burn” effect). There are many different styles of HIIT and LISS out there and there is no reason to feel like you have to force yourself through gruelling cardio sessions that don’t suit you. Hate doing sprints on the treadmill for your HIIT? That’s fine; implement some circuits and complexes using weights instead.
Hate walking on the stair master for an hour for your LISS? Go outside and take a hike. There will always be cardio sessions that we struggle to push ourselves through, however if you dread every single workout then I really do recommend switching it up and trying something new. Another great idea is to invest in a heart rate monitor in order to track your calorie burn during your cardio. This way you can ensure that your heart rate is high enough to be effectively burning enough calories, and it will give you an idea of how long you need to work out in order to reach your calorie burn goals.
4. Keep training sessions interesting
You’re in a caloric deficit, you’re losing body fat (and most likely also a little muscle), therefore you’re going to feel weaker and have a lot less energy in the gym. You must make sure you don’t let this ruin your weight training sessions for you, as it is so easy to become discouraged about your progress and believe you’ve lost all your strength whilst trying to chase numbers. Switch up your schedule. Experiment with new exercises and rep ranges. Add in plenty of drop sets and supersets to challenge yourself and get your heart rate up.
The important thing is that you finish your workout feeling like you’ve worked hard, not feeling disappointed. A good way of staying on track is by trying to train with different people. Everyone has a different training style, and by including bits of other people’s training sessions into your own, as well as teaching them about your own training styles, can help make sessions fun and challenging again. You may even find yourself pushing through the reps harder in order to compete with your training partner in cases where you would have normally given up on your own.
This post was brought to you by GN Academy member Georgina Stanway. If you’d like to find out more about the GN Academy or apply to join then you can do so here.