Breaking through contest prep fat loss plateaus

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By Mark Carroll.

12 weeks out from the stage, eating 1,500 calories and fat loss is stagnant, now what?

This is a question I am asked almost every day by trainers and athletes around the world. The truth is, being 12 weeks out and being on 1,500 calories is not a great place to be.  When you start a ‘comp prep’ phase or any diet, you want to be eating as many calories as possible. Starting on or plateauing on 1,500 calories, especially as a comp prep athlete, is not a great place to be, even more so if you have a lot of weight to lose.  

This is why my recommendation is to spend a good time of the off season trying to build your calories up as high as possible.  It’s important to get your calories up to your true T.D.E.E., your total daily energy expenditure. So, make sure that when you do begin your comp prep or your fat loss block, that you’re dieting on as many calories as possible.

The warning signs

Ideally, a female bikini competitor with a body weight of 60 kg’s ,should begin their comp prep around 2,000-1,900 calorie mark to start losing weight or ‘cutting’.  They would only approach that 1,500 calorie mark potentially at the back end of their comp prep a few weeks out. So if you’re at 1,500 calories 12 weeks out from getting on stage, that’s not an optimal place to be because you need to think, you’re already plateauing on 1,500 calories, which means your only option is to take calories away.  

Understanding energy balance

We need to continue creating a negative energy balance and right now you’re plateauing on 1,500 calories, so the only other way to really lose weight is drive up calorie expenditure or bring down your calorie intake, and at 12 weeks out, 1,500 calories is low already, so it means the rest of the next 12 weeks you’ll probably be around 1,200-1,300 calories to try and get a result, which then, again, will lead to more metabolic adaptation, which means your calories will only have to keep going down and down and down.  

Implement a diet break

My recommendation is to take a diet break, spend a week or two weeks consuming your T.D.E.E calories to give your body a break from calorie deficit, and then begin to diet back down again.  Ideally, this diet break has got your metabolic rate back up, your leptin levels back up, and you’re ready to actually lose weight again, hopefully on higher calories because you’ve lost a little bit of that metabolic adaptation. But again, always try to start a comp prep or a fat loss block with your calories as high as possible.

Learn more about diet breaks, metabolic adaptation and nutritional systems for your ‘off season’ in my latest guidebook, The Exit Strategy. The Exit strategy includes over 135 pages dedicated to building calories back up to baseline and mitigating fat gain with ‘gen pop’ clients and also physique athletes. Plus, you will receive over 6 months worth of training systems that you can use in your business for beginner to advanced clients.

Get The Exit Strategy now for my methods on mastering the ‘off season’ and restoring your clients calories to their true baseline T.D.E.E.

Yours in health,

Mark Carroll, Global Head of Education

Clean Health Fitness Institute

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