This article is for the person who has already and consistently implemented the foundation of a healthy lifestyle (balanced eating, adequate recovery, enough water and enough movement to put them in a calorie deficit) but are not seeing any gains.
There are hormone conditions that can impact how our body processes the energy (aka food) we put in it. These conditions, such as insulin resistance, can be frustrating because you can reduce your caloric intake to less than 1000 calories a day, exercise and not lose any fat!
There are techniques you can try under the supervision of a physician, nutritionist or coach, especially if you have any medical conditions that warrant monitoring if you change your eating patterns. Apply scientific analysis to the technique to track data and outcomes over time and make decisions about tweaks or to stop entirely.
The techniques described here may seem to go against years of what we have been told to do. I would encourage you to do some research by reading or listening to trusted professionals about how the techniques could be tools to help you.
Unfortunately when food became a big business in America, there was “science” that influenced our education as to what was “good” for us; however, some of us were not served well by these messages. For example, many of us were also told to eat everything on our plate whether we were hungry or not and have developed unhealthy eating patterns. It is worth the time and energy to really figure out what kind of energy intake (eating food) works best for your body.
The first potential technique is fasting. Because this can be a scary concept, a good place to start is to try to get 10-12 hours between dinner and breakfast. We have been told for years that we HAVE to eat breakfast, however, research does not support this but, instead, eat when you are hungry and do not eat when you are not hungry. The concept is simply this: if the fridge is constantly being filled you won’t go to the pantry. So if the pantry represents fat that is being stored on your body, you want your body to use that fuel so sometimes not having an option in the fridge forces a trip to the pantry to use up what’s been stored.
Another approach is to carbohydrate cycle, so you do not eat the same thing every day at the same times. Instead, switch it up. You can alter by the day: so you eat high carb/low fat one day and low carb/high fat the next day. Or a more simple plan is to eat the majority of your carbs after you work out which is when your muscles suck up those carbohydrates the most to recover from the exercise. There are many ways to do this so you and your coach should put thought into what might be best for you.
A third approach is calorie cycling, meaning that on days when you expend more energy, you ingest more energy. On days when you do not burn as much fuel, you do not ingest more fuel. So you are altering your meals and caloric intake based on your activity level. This can be, for some, an easy place to start with any type of cycling because it is intuitive.
Keep journals whenever you start a new eating approach so you can track data such as energy, sleep, recovery, mood and so forth, not just a food log. Reflect on the data from your journaling with your physician or coach to ascertain if you need to tweak your approach or change directions completely.