The mission was simple – create an ALL TIME BEST look for a celebratory birthday photoshoot on Carrie’s 40th birthday.
Well, considering we had previously created some pretty awesome looks, achieving the “next level” was not going to be easy.
In fact, BECAUSE of what we had previously created there were considerations that needed to be made in this dietary phase.
You see, in theory dieting down should be relatively simple – create a caloric deficit, sustain a caloric deficit, account for adaptations, and fine tune along the way….
Unfortunately, REAL LIFE APPLICATION tells us that it is never that simple!
In this article, I am going to unveil EXACTLY how we achieved Carrie’s BEST EVER, and how YOU can use the same principles to guide your transformation!
THE PRE – PRE DIET (offseason)
If you take nothing else away from this article, please understand the following: BEFORE BEGINNING A DIET, YOU MUST ENSURE THAT YOU ARE PHYSICALLY AND PHYSIOLOGICALLY READY FOR WHAT YOU WILL ENCOUNTER.
Ironically, no template or online macro calculator wants to know what you are currently doing or have previously been doing – they simply want to address your current physical traits.
In theory, we should be able to use physical traits along with lifestyle to establish your BMR and TDEE, but the theory does not account for the endless amounts of bullshit you have had to consume in the media along with the several other diets you have likely tried. The fact that you are under-consuming calories and overtraining is not your fault – it’s simply a function of what you have been taught by the “experts.”
In fact, this was the starting point for Carrie and me nearly 3 years ago. She came to me eating around 1,000 calories and extremely afraid of carbohydrates. She also believed that the only way to get super lean was to be doing hours of boring cardio.
Sadly Carrie’s start point with me is very similar to the start point of several other clients that come to iN3, but fortunately, we have successfully helped thousands move beyond this!
This article is about Carrie’s most recent cut, so I won’t go into great detail about our first 2 years together and the rebuilding that took place, but in short – we worked very closely together to ensure that she was consuming adequate amounts of calories/carbs, and controlling the intensity/volume of her training to ensure that she could repeatedly lose fat for her various photo shoots.
When Carrie and I decided to chase her “BEST EVER,” extra considerations had to be made.
First, we must understand what “best ever” even means – and in this case, it meant losing more fat than ever but still maintaining as much of her hard-earned muscle as possible.
With this in mind, we can logically conclude that we were going to be stressing her body more than we ever had previously.
This understanding is CRITICAL, as it dictated our first steps.
Previously Carrie had been going through cycles of cutting and recovery – always achieving a great look in each of her “cuts,” and building more and more metabolic capacity in her recovery phases. She is the epitome of appropriate NUTRITIONAL PERIODIZATION.
However, this pursuit was not about achieving a “great look” – it was about BEST EVER.
For this reason, our first step together was a prolonged OFF SEASON.
We pushed calories as high as possible, and really focused on ensuring all physiological levels were maximized – this includes proper hormonal function, gut health, and sleep quality.
WITHOUT THIS PHASE, OUR SUCCESS IN THIS CUT MAY NOT HAVE HAPPENED
Re-read that line, and let it sink in….this is the single most overlooked component of nearly every failed diet.
THE PRE DIET (preseason)
Once we have ensured an adequate caloric intake, along with a relatively stable homeostatic balance in the offseason, we have the green light to begin pursuing our fat loss goals.
Well – almost!
I firmly believe that every diet needs a pre-diet – a phase in which we acknowledge what lies ahead.
For some, this is physical preparation, but in this case, it was far more mindset related.
Understand that Carrie (and her husband Brian) are amongst the top mindset related coaches in the industry – so “staying strong” was never going to be an issue.
However, this cut was going to be different than previous cuts, and if I didn’t create that foundational understanding for her then I would be to blame for any actions she took that were not in line with my desired level of compliance.
This is why we took a 3-week phase where we slowly ensured that she understood exactly what would be expected of her moving forward.
THE DIET (season)
Because Carrie and I have worked together for so long, we have a lot of data on how her body responds to certain things.
One thing I had noticed is that she has a very adaptive metabolism – meaning that when I push her into a calorie deficit she will briefly respond, but her body will adapt quickly and plateau.
With this understanding, we decided to use a cyclical approach to her diet.
When most people hear the word “cycle” involved with a dietary phase, they instantly think of “carb cycling.” This is NOT what we used as our approach in the beginning. Instead, we decided to intentionally cycle through slightly larger than normal calorie deficits, followed by periods at maintenance calories.
Here’s what it looked like in application:
Weeks 1-2 – 30% calorie deficit – Because of the extended offseason we had put Carrie through, we had achieved a full restoration of her consuming maintenance calories at that point. The 30% deficit was achieved by taking her maintenance calorie consumption, and simply reducing it by 30%.
The macro breakdown of this caloric deficit was achieved through the same process we have outlined previously:
- Protein was set to approximately 1g/lb bodyweight
- Fats were 20% of total calories
- Carbohydrates comprised the remaining amount of calories
- The result of this first phase was nearly 6lbs of weight loss in 2 weeks.
Next was a maintenance period of 5 days. This is a FULL RESTORATION of maintenance calorie consumption.
The result here was gaining just under 1lb of bodyweight.
Our next move was to create a 32% calorie deficit for 2 weeks. Again this was achieved using the same process as outlined above.
After 2 weeks here we had lost another 4lbs.
Once again, we returned to maintenance, but this time for 6 days.
No weight was gained in this second maintenance phase, but one thing Carrie reported is that training had been going better than ever – BOOM!
We continued small cycles like this until about 5 weeks out, at which point I began asking for pictures DAILY. Remember, this was a pursuit of her BEST EVER – so I wanted to make sure that we dotted every “i” and crossed every “t.”
Our daily check-ins resulted in the cycles becoming smaller – approx 4-5 days spent in deficits, and 1-2 days at maintenance (obviously the deficit got larger as the process continued).
One thing we NEVER did was add inappropriate amounts of extra cardio. We never exceeded 45 min 4x/week, and 2 HIIT sessions weekly. INSTEAD, we opted to increase her daily activity via monitoring her levels of NEAT. This dietary phase began with her achieving 10k steps daily and slowly worked up to approximately 15k steps per day.
At approximately 12 days out, we had surpassed her previous low weight and all-time best conditioning – so all we had to do was finish this and ensure we hit her peak.
Peaking for specific events is one of the most misunderstood processes, and often most misapplied processes out there. Far too many people expect “magic” inside of the final seven days before a big event when in reality this phase should be much more about fine-tuning.
One thing I was noticing through our daily check-ins was that Carrie was staying abnormally “full” on relatively low carbohydrates and low calories. This is not a problem in any way, but it absolutely needed to be understood as it completely changed the way in which we approached the final 10 days.
Instead of opting for the traditional “deplete/load” approach, we opted to continue riding her fullness and solely manipulate water at the end.
99% of you reading this right now will not need to worry about peaking, so I won’t go any further into detail – but suffice to say we nailed it 🙂
AFTER THE DIET (post season)
Currently, Carrie is enjoying a nice break, and we are actively beginning to push calories back towards maintenance levels.
This will ensure that we have accounted for any metabolic and hormonal adaptations that have taken place – and will set us up for the ability to create the physical improvements she desires for the future looks she wants to present in her shoots.
THIS PHASE IS ESSENTIAL, AND CAN NOT BE OVERLOOKED.
Far too many individuals think the dieting process is over at the end of the diet, when in fact you are really just entering one of the most critical times.
ENSURING A RETURN TO MAINTENANCE IS CRITICAL!
The Wrap Up
There are a lot of reasons this process was successful:
- A proper pre-diet
- A highly customized diet
- Excellent application from the client
- Communication from nutrition coach and client
- Customization based on biofeedback, not some “pre-planned process”
- Hard work 🙂
From consuming 1000 calories and doing entirely too much training to getting absolutely shredded at 40 years old – this process has been a fun one!
All the congrats to Carrie on her hard work – she deserves every ounce of results she has ever created!
Ready for your own “All-Time Best?”
I think you are!
You can either…
- Start tracking, keep tracking, research, buy my blueprints, experiment some more, google search, scroll through social media and let 6 months go by
- Schedule your chat with us NOW and see how we can literally start helping you become your All-Time BEST – today!