Aren't those pleasant times of the year when family and friends come together. It is the time of merry and joy. Of celebration and delicious food and drinks. Dreaded are those people who are dieting down during those times and the biggest concern that they have is, "How do I escape this thing? I do not want to go off the diet. I have put a lot of effort into this." The dilemma haunts them and they are often oscillating between the thoughts, "Should I avoid the celebration and make up a lame excuse for it?" or "Who gives a damn?! Cheat day!!!"
Well, what if I told you that there is a middle ground here? That you can enjoy the festivities, eat out and still maintain your progress. Sounds too good to be true, right? But with what you are about to read, you may soon agree with me as it is gonna make perfect sense
This is something I have covered in the 'Nutrition simplified' eBook as well and I have come across this through the work of Eric Helms.
It is something that we call the 3-tier system of tracking/dieting. Now we all know that when we are dieting, there is a fixed amount of calories that you need to be eating with a certain amount of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. This is the most optimal way or the tier 1 of tracking. But sometimes, the social setting or food availability might not allow you to do so. In those cases, rather than going 'Cheat day' and going overboard with calories, you can do makeshift adjustments and make some progress. It looks something like this:
You are hitting the right amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats as per the targets you have set for yourself. There could be a +/- variance of 10-20 in your protein and carbohydrate targets and a +/- 5 variance in your fats target. This is the gold standard. You are doing your best to follow this for a majority of the time.
Here, you are getting in a bit of flexibility into your routine. There is evidence that has compared different dieting strategies that had the same amount of calories and protein but different carb to fat ratios. The end result, similar rates of fat loss. This gives us the tier-2 of tracking. On days you want to incorporate eating out, just complete your protein and then care about not exceeding your calorie target for the day. Carb to fat ratio, give it a break.
Example, your targets are to consume these macros: P 160 C 200 F 60 which would roughly be 2000 kcals. On some days, it is okay to complete the 160 protein through protein-rich foods and then the remaining calories with whatever foods that you have access too.
These are the days which you can kinda treat them like those nasty 'cheat days' but with certain terms and conditions. The terms and conditions are to basically ensure that you still maintain your progress while enjoying a day off-dieting, kinda. On this day, you eat whatever you wish to without any regard to the amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. But you ensure that your caloric limit is maintained. The 2000 kcal target as an example.
This way, you not only enjoy your day but it enables you to have a social life while dieting. Again, you want to be doing this once in 8 to 10 days and not very frequently as the aim should be to stay in the gold standard category for the majority of the times. But also taking breaks by falling into the tier-2 and tier-3 at times.
The tier-wise tracking technique will not only help with a social life balance, but it'll also teach you the long-term consistency that is needed to maintain the dieting success you have achieved while actively dieting.
Thus folks, make sure that you incorporate this during the festive season and make the best of both worlds.
Article Contributed by - Pratik