How Should I Transition Out Of My Diet... My Keto Diet.
Part 1: Returning To Maintenance
First and foremost, it's important to know that while calculators such as the ones provided by MyFitnessPal are very general. Unfortunately, they don't have the ability to understand that you've been dieting for the past few months. So, while 2020 calories may be "maintenance" for your height, weight, composition and activity level, it's certainly not the correct amount for your situation.
If you're basing your weight loss (or maintenance) off of calories, it's imperative that you find your actual maintenance intake by counting calories and watching your weight fluctuation for a few days. If your weight stays the same, then you've found your "current maintenance," which I'm almost certain will be different than the MyFitnessPal Calculator.
Second, in terms of reverse dieting, you're certainly correct about that increase (1520 to 2020) being a bit too large to do over night. However, it's important we touch on the different methods of reverse dieting.
Method 1: Slow reverse dieting
While slowly increasing calories (<50 kcal at a time) can potentially allow for better control, I believe it's a bit too slow. Consider that for most people, 50 calories over or under maintenance won't make a difference. That's literally fewer calories than eating an extra oreo.
While having moderate increases in calories might be great for monitoring weight changes, It's a bit too slow. Not to mention, if you're only increasing calories by 50 or so every week, you'll remain at a "deficit" for a very long time, which could reduce your responsiveness in the gym.
Method 2: Fast reverse dieting
In this case, you're increasing immediately back up to your original "maintenance calories intake." This is wrong in my eyes for a few reasons.
First, this isn't your maintenance anymore. With such a drastic change of body weight and a strong reduction of calories for some time, you're metabolic rate decreases, otherwise known as adaptive thermogenesis. So, if you automatically jump up to your original "maintenance" it's likely that you're actually in a surplus.
Second, if you immediately jump up to higher calories (significantly higher) you don't have the ability to adjust before weight gain occurs. You could accidentally consume 5-10,000 extra calories in a matter of a week (overall) and not even know it.
Method 3: Moderate Reverse Dieting
I suggest using the same methods that would be used for weight loss. After finding your "current maintenance," increase that amount by 20%. During this increase, monitor weight daily to understand how you're responding. If you haven't gained any weight, increase by another 10-20% based on your response.
By using this method, you can make small adjustments while increasing calories meaningfully, yet not so much that you accidentally get fat as a result.
Don't immediately increase calories in their entirety but also don't increase at the pace of snail. Start with a 20% increase of calories (or an extra meal of protein, veggies and a light carb). Weigh yourself daily and increase calories further based on how your weight and performance in the gym changes.
Part 2: Switching Macros
As far as switching macros are concerned, your first consideration should of course be calories. However, I think it's important to not ignore the potential of switching macros here. If you were normally consuming carbs and simply wanted to increase or decrease, it wouldn't be a big deal. However, since you've essentially been keto for sometime, special care should be taken when switching to a higher carb approach.
First, you've been consuming little to no carbohydrates for some time. To all of sudden increase carbs drastically won't only upset your gastrointestinal system, but could also lead to unwanted fat gain. The reason for this is largely because you're simply not accustomed to the high carb intake anymore. Not to mention, your body is likely optimized for metabolizing fat rather than a large amount of carbohydrate.
Essentially, this is the possibility: You're in nutritional ketosis, primarily using ketones (metabolized fat) as energy. Now all of a sudden, you consume a large amount of carbohydrate. So, does the body immediately switch to metabolizing carbohydrate? Well, sort of.
Obviously the body needs to metabolize the food you eat, but it's more so of what happens once the byproduct of that metabolism (carbohydrates now become glucose in the blood). Does that glucose get used? Probably not, since you're body has been primarily using ketones as energy. Now you have both high blood glucose and high levels of fatty acids in the blood (which is similar to what occurs with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
Now let it be known I'm not saying this will happen to you, just that it's a possibility. I mean is it hard to believe that they body may have difficulty digesting and using large amounts of a macronutrient that you haven't consumed for months?
I would suggest along with your slow increase calories to slowly reduce the level of fat you're consuming, while slowly increasing carbs. Here's an example of how I would slowly transition out of your macro distribution:
If you're transitioning out of keto, it makes sense to reduce fat and increase carbs in steps, rather than all at once. Since you've been avoiding carbs for some time, increasing them by over 100% immediately can cause gastrointestinal distress and may even lead to unwanted fat build up. Overall, it just makes sense to slowly change macros rather than all at once.
Overall, if you're transitioning out of a diet or even also transitioning out of a high fat diet, I suggest modestly, yet meaningfully adjust your food intake. Do so sequentially while closely monitoring your weight.
If you increase carbs and total calories drastically from the start, you risk unwanted weight gain that you won't be able to remove. If you take things too slow, you could waste weeks or months due to continuing your calorie deficit. In both of these situations (which happen to be the same situation) taking the moderate approach is likely the superior option.
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One of my favorite things to do is to search through reddit, specifically r/fitness and find questions that people are asking about training & nutrition. Questions that I believe almost anyone would benefit from hearing answers. So that's what this is. I've done it before but I think it's time to revisit this reddit fitness questions and answer segment.
Keep in mind, if you have questions that are similar and desire an answer, please reach out. I'd be happy to address any questions in the next iteration of this segment.
Question 1: Do You Need To Use Compound Lifts?
First of all, compound movements like the squat, deadlift and press are truly great for building a strong base of well, strength as well as creating maximal coordination between muscle groups, allowing you to efficiently produce strength.
Overall, this to me is the most important reason to use these exercises, not because they are typically great at building mass.
The thing about these movements is that they allow you to stimulate a large amount of muscle at a relatively high amount of weight. Together, this creates a fairly large growth stimulus across many different muscle groups. Essentially, these movements are efficient at stimulating growth for a large amount of muscle, rather than a specific few.
However, you have to consider that in doing so, some muscle groups will be worked to a greater extent than others. For example, you’ll certainly stimulate your abdominals with a squat or deadlift, but if you were planning on specifically building your core strength and definition, you’d want to work them directly rather than use the stimulus from squats, alone.
Really, you don’t need to use movements like the deadlift and squat, but you should, since they can provide you with a strong base of muscle coordination and strength, which is functional and can also improve your performance during isolation movements, which can expedite the growth process.
Overall, you can certainly build a reasonable amount of muscle by specifically focusing on working certain muscle groups directly (isolation movements) but you’re missing out on building a strong, functional base, which might actually improve your ability when working with isolation movements.
If you have the ability to occasionally use compound movements with heavy weight, you should. Just don’t discount the importance of isolation movements as well. If you want a specific muscle group to grow, you should work it directly.
Compound movements like the squat, bench and deadlift stimulate a large amount of muscle, requiring them to work in unison. However, when doing so, some muscle groups will be worked to a greater extent than others. Thus, it makes sense to have a healthy combination of compound movements and isolation if you’re looking for a complete package.
Question 2: How can I start to look "fit"?
Truth be told, there isn’t anything special about this question. There’s unfortunately no secret answer that would be different from a normal prescription for getting fit. But just in case, here’s how I would respond.
First of all, you should consider adjusting your nutrition to first allow for weight loss, but additionally, be in line with your intended result. If you’re hoping to “get fit” you’ll want to first improve the quality of your food intake and second, ensure that you’re in a negative energy balance.
This simply means that you’re reducing that amount of energy you’re taking in, while maintaining or increasing energy expenditure.
The best way to accomplish this is to either begin tracking calories and macros, and/or increase consumption of protein and vegetables. Essentially, stick with foods that you think are “healthy” and try to reduce the amounts foods that are dense in calories (think junk food).
Second, I suggest having a training plan that encompasses a wide range of training styles. This includes lifting heavy sometimes, lifting lighter sometimes, training like a bodybuilder, training like a Crossfit athlete and training like an endurance athlete.
Really, and while this won’t be a popular opinion, look at most highly competitive Crossfit Athletes. While this isn’t exactly a scientific suggestion, just consider how jacked and defined those athletes are. Not to mention, most of them can run 10 miles without even thinking about it.
So essentially, if you want a “fit physique” you first need to eat in a way that will favorably adjust your body weight/fat in the direction you need and then train in a way that will probably get you fit. Not gigantic, not small like an endurance athlete but rather the whole package.
I suggest training with the following focuses if your goal is “to get fit”:
Many people get caught up in technicalities when it comes to “how you should train.” Really, it’s quite simple. If you want to get strong, you should train to increase strength specifically. If you want to get big, train to get big. If you want to get “fit” then you should train in a way that will allow you to do so. In my opinion, training and mastering all facets of fitness is the answer to this question.
Depending on your primary goal, you should train in ways that will actually allow you to achieve it. If you want to be strong, train to get stronger. If you want to get big, train to get bigger. If you want to get "fit" then train with a wide variety of training styles to ensure that you don't only look fit, but can also play the part.
Question 3: How to train around sensitive joints?
Keep in mind this is personal anecdote, but I’ve found that if I have sensitive regions, such as the tendons around the elbow during triceps extension exercises, I always opt for a compound movement instead that will work that target muscle group.
Surely, using isolation movements are the best way to specifically improve a muscle group, but when using these movements, two things can happen:
1.Either you put way too much direct stress on the muscle and tendons or
2.Your muscle outgrew tendon strength.
In the first scenario, this is typical. For example, the triceps muscle grouping is fairly small, relatively speaking (consider the amount of muscle that comprises the “quadriceps” compared to the amount of muscle considered to be “triceps."
When doing a compound movement, you can place this muscle group under much more stress. However, when using an isolation movement, you’re also placing much more direct stress on the joint and tendon(s) that allow for that movement to take place.
In the second scenario, it’s not unreasonable that with a large amount of direct work to specific muscle groups, that they can outgrow the tendon that connects the muscle to the bone.
That’s because the tissue that makes up tendons, cartilage and ligaments has a poor blood supply, meaning that recovery and build up is slower than that of the muscle it’s attached to, creating imbalance and potential risk of injury. In fact, that’s one of the reasons that many steroid users experience injury, since the muscle is growing at a sped up rate compared to the tendon.
Over years of experiencing this issue myself, I’ve come up with two solutions.
First, I’ve found that by using a compound movement that still works the target muscle, you’ll place less direct force on the joint and tendon in question. So, while you may not be working the muscle directly, you’ll still potentially stimulate growth.
Second, just take a break from directly working that muscle group. If you’re having pain, that’s a good indication that you’re placing too much overall or direct stress on that area.
Lastly, I suggest trying to find alternatives that work the target muscle group. If scull crushers hurt your joints, but triceps pushdown doesn’t, simply opt for the other exercise. Just because you had one exercise planned, doesn’t mean that an alternative won’t provide almost identical benefit.
Pain around joints during isolation movements is quite common and could be due to just too much direct force on a small muscle / tendon group or because your muscle has outgrown the ability of the tendon. If this describes you, consider opting for compound movements and finding alternative exercises for the target muscle group. Always attempt to train around pain before completely abandoning it. Most exercises have alternatives that will achieve the same end results you're hoping for.
Chances are that you've seen someone wear straps in the gym before and perhaps you've even used them in the past. So should you be using them?
Lifting straps are sort of a strange accessory in the world of lifting. Some bodybuilder's use them, powerlifters use them sparingly and much of the time, strongmen wear them, even during world record attempts. Even so, there are some mixed messages about when and even if you should use them at all.
Why Use Lifting Straps?
Lifting straps really just allow you to hold on to significantly greater weight, even if your grip strength is up to par. For reference, my biggest deadlift was 550 lbs, without straps. During that lift, my grip strength was certainly put to the test. On another occasion however, I've held a 700+ lb. barbell, using straps; something I would not have been able to do otherwise.
In essence, lifting straps allow you to place significantly greater stress on large groups of muscle than if you were not using straps. In theory, lifting straps should allow you to progress faster as compared to not using weightlifting straps.
It's not uncommon to be able to deadlift an additional 5-10 reps, solely because you have straps on. Over time, that increase in training volume could be meaningful.
An Argument For Lifting Straps
As just mentioned, lifting straps can allow you to use significantly more weight than if you were not using the straps. Just about any lift that involves some form of pulling can benefit from using straps.
For example, the deadlift. The deadlift is a posterior chain dominant lift, meaning that basically all musculature on your back side is being recruited to some extent when performing a deadlift. The reason that straps may be beneficial is that your grip strength will be significantly less powerful than the combined output from all posterior chain musculature.
In the above argument, you have to decide if letting grip strength be a limiting factor in your training is important to you. If it isn't the use of straps would make sense.
Even more convincing is when completing single arm exercises, such as a dumbbell row. Surely, your lats, rear delts and biceps can row 130 lb. dumbbells, but can you actually hang on to it? In this situation, you have to decide which factor is more important: Grip strength, a balance of grip and target muscle strength / growth or just building the target muscle group.
Lastly, the use of lifting straps may allow for significant improvements in training volume. For instance, it's not uncommon to be able to deadlift an additional 5-10 reps, solely because you have straps on. Over time, that increase in training volume could be meaningful.
An Argument Against Using Lifting Straps
One argument against the use of lifting straps is that you may eventually create imbalances. For example, if you use straps always when you deadlift, you may be able to deadlift 600 lbs. But what happens when you can't use straps? Perhaps you can only hold on to 530 lbs. without straps.
In this case, what do you do? Do you always lift with straps? Do you drop weight and forgo your 600lb. deadlift for the sake of increasing grip strength? Do you need to do separate, grip specific training to catch up?
This is an issue that surprisingly happens with many powerlifters. During training blocks, lifters will use straps to get ahead of the competition and then on competition day, they can't hold on to 90% of their estimated max.
The issue with this really depends on why you're lifting. If you're lifting for competition, lifting straps can be beneficial, but you'll be required to often train without them to make sure grip strength is up to snuff. If you're just looking to get stronger or to body build, straps can be beneficial, but still present issues in terms of grip strength.
The Situation Should Determine Use Of Straps
You're A Beginner
If you are a beginner (just starting or have trained for less than 6 months) I advise against the use of lifting straps. The reason for this suggestion is 2 fold. First, as a beginner, your advances in strength will be fast enough. Almost anything you do will benefit you in terms of strength. If you're using an actual periodized training plan, your gains will probably be even greater.
Second, as a beginner, you need to focus on building a base of strength and coordination, including all musculature, including those involved with grip strength. As a beginner, you want to ensure that you strength growth includes your grip strength. Otherwise, you could end up being very strong, yet only able to hold on to a quarter of the weight you need to continue growing.
As an advanced athlete, you may need to look towards different methods to increase strength. The use of lifting straps may be that answer.
A good example for application would again be the deadlift. As an advanced trainee, you understand the extent of your strength for the most part. If you do, then you understand that lifting an additional 50+ lbs. because of lifting straps can be incredibly beneficial for improving strength.
However, it's important to know that this is situational. Surely your end goal should dictate how you train. However, I advise against always training with straps, since you can become reliant on them, creating imbalances between your muscle and grip strength. Their use should be situational for overload, with other sessions allowing you to train without straps to bring your grip strength up to snuff.
The Verdict On Lifting Straps
Lifting straps can be a very valuable tool for improving strength but they can produce imbalances between your grip strength and actual muscle strength, resulting in reliance on the lifting straps.
As a beginner, you shouldn't use straps since you'll have such rapid growth anyways. The use of straps could create large imbalances, which may stick with you. As an advanced trainee however, the use of straps situationally to improve strength and training volume may be beneficial. However, it's important to remember that imbalances can occur. In this situation, you should train often without the use of straps to ensure that your grip strength improves along with other musculature.
Do you use lifting straps? If so, when? Have they helped you like you'd hoped? Let me know in the comments below.
About The Author
This article topic was provided by Kristin Damitz, a Doctor of Occupational Therapy Candidate.