When restricting calories during a fat loss phase, it is important to consider that your body may experience some temporary changes during the adjustment. It also depends on the amount of calories that are reduced. Normally 200-500 calories are the safest but if you are already eating below your body’s need to conduct regular bodily processes, that’s where things can go downhill. Make sure to account for ALL the factors (food sensitivities, health conditions, exercise, non-exercise movement like cooking etc., temperature, water intake) when calculating your daily caloric needs.
Here are the most common challenges that one may experience when going through a fat loss phase or general caloric reduction.
Common Issues with Fat Loss
This one is a given as your body adjusts to the new level of intake. If you are able to spread your calories out during the day, digestion won’t happen all at once and your stomach will not start producing those ‘hunger pangs’ or contractions during moments before you get really hungry. If you were intermittent fasting, this takes time to adjust. Normally I’ve found that it takes 5-7 days to adjust to a new eating window. In the case of macronutrients (carbs, protein, fats), fats and high fiber foods digest more slowly, so opt for complex sources of carbs, more vegetables and a variety of fats. Here are some strategies I use with some of my clients:
-Eating more fiber and fats
-chew gum (can stimulate the nervous system to suggest that there is food being consumed)
-use flavoured water or tea or just regular water. Filling your stomach up will stimulate receptors to suggest fullness. Although, this can lead to bloating, see below.
This happens for so many reasons. Did you eat something funny? Eat way too much fiber? You may also be lacking in gut bacteria due to less nutrients coming in. Alternatively, from the previous point, you may have put too much water in your stomach and have just filled your stomach up; you’ll need to wait for that to settle. There are a few things to help manage bloating, here:
-Peppermint tea or just put a leaf of it in boiled water
-add vinegar to meals
-Consume probiotics (sauerkraut, kefir etc are are too)
-Consider a digestive enzyme
-Get tested. You could be eating things that cause some havoc in your digestive tract. Find out!
During a fat loss phase, it is not uncommon to feel like you have less energy. So you may feel the need to relax wherever you can. Although, restricting your movement (especially if your workouts are not consistent) can lead to this. If you have not had a bowel movement for 3 days, by medical standards, you are considered constipated
-Get moving more often
-Are you on any iron supplements? Eating a lot of red meat?
-Insoluble fiber helps
-Eat more vegetables
This is a difficult one and can suggest you are eating way too little. You will benefit from a refeed. Normally refeeds are done every few weeks but some people can benefit without one for a few months if caloric restriction is done appropriately.
-Sleep. Mental sharpness comes with appropriate central nervous system rest. It might be difficult even going to sleep during a fat loss phase.
-Use a refeed day or reverse diet
-There are some supplements for this but you should receive an assessment to confirm what is right for you.
It can be difficult getting restful sleep during a fat loss phase. Eating carbohydrates closer to bed can help with seretonin. Performing refeeds or just reversing, can help.
-Eat carbohydrates closer to bed
-Refeed days or reverse diet appropriately
-Try some of the strategies here! Our best sleep strategies, 22 of them!
GERD (Gastrointestinal esophageal reflux disease) or Acid Reflux
You may not have GERD per se, but dieting can trigger acid reflux. Not eating at certain times can lead to excess production of stomach HCL (hydrochloric acid) and to quell that, you would have to eat. Eating something low calorie can help. There are over the counter solutions.
-Adjust your meal times for when you have the most reflux
-Look into receiving a medical consult
The above are a few challenges that we work on with some of our clients. Of course, everyone is different and has their own needs. When losing body fat, it helps to have some assitance and to problem solve for you. Our nutrition coaching program does exactly that. You receive customized meal plans, continual assessments, recipes, accountability (check-ins and measurements), tracking solutions, calendars and more!