There are many variables and challenges we face over the period of achieving certain training/fitness goals. We have to manage all of the variables in our training program and lifestyles to make sure we are working towards these goals. We have to make sure that we are managing our nutrition accordingly to help facilitate our goals. And we must also make time to focus on recovery so that we can continue to put in hard work to continue achieving our goals!
If you’re like most people within the fitness community, there tends to be a common theme with weekly progress that either works for you or happens to absolutely wreck your weekly progress!
You see most people train with the intent to add some decent muscle quality, and decrease body fat levels. If not, this should almost always be the long term approach in relating to body composition levels. For the sake of this report, we are going to discuss nutrition in regards to managing body composition.
Far too often, a typical week of fitness enthusiasts looks something like this: Monday-Friday, the diet is on point, the training sessions are going very well, and by Friday we are feeling great about ourselves! Then the weekend shows up, and all of that progress you made could be lost, even worse, you could go backwards away from your goals.
Keep reading, I’m going to outline a few simple areas to focus on, while being away from your weekly structured lifestyle so that we can help keep you on track towards your goals throughout the weekend, and not slipping away from them!
When we’re out and about, we get tempted to eat foods that trigger cravings. One way help eliminate these cravings and urges is to stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the weekend. This will help make you feel full and you will be less likely feeling the need to eat something. And guess what else? We should be drinking water anyways to be hydrated from training and making sure that we’re recovering and being about that lifestyle! If you don’t feel like you fit into this category of needing to stay hydrated, you probably need to start training a lot harder during the week…Just saying…
Yes, focus on eating protein at EVERY MEAL. And I’m talking about quality lean protein as well. Assuming that you’re not going through intense training throughout the weekend, you will not need as many carbs to train and recover and you will most likely get the carbs and calories you need from your cheat meal (read below) which may entail an awesome pizza.
Ok back on track, protein will help your muscles recover from a hard week of training, but yet again, they will help you feel full and diminish the urges to stop at every DQ you see.
“If you wanna be lean, you need the protein.”
One Cheat Meal Rule
See, I told you to read below and most people may like this part. Depending on which phase of dieting you’re in, I’m going to guess that you’re probably in a cutting phase (meaning decreasing body weight) since most people are looking to decrease body fat. It’s all good, just keep working towards those goals! The less unnecessary body weight means less stress on our heart, joints, your well-being, etc.
So a general rule of thumb is to allow yourself to have One Cheat Meal a week. In reality, cheat meals do absolutely nothing physiologically in regards to progress other than possibly give you something to look forward to. And if I say One Cheat Meal, I know it’s probably going to turn into Two Cheat Meals real quick. If you really feel you need to cheat on your diet, just say “just this one time a week exception.”
P.S. I can’t figure out why it’s a “cheat meal.” You’re not cheating by advancing progress so they must have coined it like you’re cheating on your significant other and they are metaphorically your diet??? Deep thoughts…
Oh man, everyone’s favorite topic! I’m going to come right out and say, yes you can drink and still make gainz. We must understand the reality though. Alcohol delays the muscle growth and fat loss processes that we work towards. So here are some general rules to follow, or try to follow, or you can just skip over this if you’re still going to drink like you do currently…
Okay, for the remainder of the readers. Try to plan your alcohol intake as far away from training as possible. Eat a good meal in advance so you don’t have to eat whatever you can get your hands on while you’re drinking. Drinking alcohol is extra calories that you are consuming. More calories equal more weight gain. Yes, this is a real thing, keep this in mind! Making alcohol choices with fewer calories could be a great place to start. Also, shoot for one night a week to drink.
The more serious your goals are the better off you are to completely eliminating alcohol from your diet. These are all ideas and things to consider so we can still enjoy life outside of the gym and be a human being.
Rest or Extra Work
This topic is going to depend on your current goals and what your overall weekly training looks like. I’m not going to tell you which to choose, but I’ll lay out two options you can pick in regards to physical activity.
Option 1: You have intense training all week, so utilize this time to rest and recover. Really there are two main reasons for this in regards to body composition.
#1: being that you need to take time to recover so you can keep training hard over the upcoming weeks, not just a week or two.
#2: being that you need to lower your stress hormones so that you’re in a low stress environment and your body can actually burn fat and build muscles in recovery during this period.
Option 2: You’re someone looking to drop body fat and you’re lucky to get 3 days a week of some solid training. When the weekend comes, in order to help balance out the cheat meal (hopefully just one max), you can get some extra volume of training in like aerobic training, extra strength training, basketball games, outdoor activities, yard work and so on. This will help keep you in a negative caloric balance, meaning you’ll hopefully be burning more calories than you’re gaining.
Negative Weight Gain Goals
Like everything else we do in fitness, we need small short term goals that lead us successfully toward our long term goals! If you’re afraid of gaining weight during the weekend, make a goal for yourself of gaining no weight throughout just the weekend. Just like we do over a 7 day process, weigh yourself Friday evening and then again Sunday evening at the same time of the night and shoot for the scale to not gain anything (possibly to lose a little more).
If your diet and training is good, you should be losing weight anyways. Now, when the weekend comes, you just play damage control so you can still be out while not wrecking your progress. This will help keep you accountable to yourself over the weekend, but it will also tell you if your current weekend lifestyle is too much “fun and games.” It’s simple, if you’re gaining weight over the 2 day period, you’re consuming too many calories and not burning enough of it off.
By keeping yourself accountable and breaking down the weekend even further to measure your progress will only help you have a clearer picture of your strong areas and your areas that may be hindering your overall progress. This will allow for so much more confidence in yourself (recognizing what you’re doing well) and you can gradually challenge yourself against popular myths that involve black and white thinking (ex: pizza/carbs are bad, I can’t have them at all).
I hope you found some great value in this post. Many of my clients and I myself at times have struggled with this area in the past. I understand the struggles in these challenging moments and this is why I wrote this for YOU! These are very easy guidelines to follow to help play damage control if you’re struggling with success on the weekends. Use them, maybe not all of them, but maybe those that can help you the most.
It’s not a lot fun when you work so hard to gain progress to throw it away for just a few moments a week of instant gratification. Or maybe you are working on increasing your discipline and these strategies can help. Overall, the goal is to enjoy some of life’s pleasures and still remain on track for our goals. My clients do it all of the time, and I see others doing it the same.
It’s about finding balance along the spectrum of a achieving a healthy lifestyle. You don’t have to live on one end, where you live this unhealthy lifestyle and you don’t have to live on the other end where you’re never allowed to have a drop of alcohol or eat your own birthday cake again. Work hard, be consistently good at it, and manage your life outside of the gym and your diet and everything will work out just fine!
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