How to stay lean on Halloween? The past 7 days have been rough as hell…
Another fantastic way for students to stay lean whilst at university or college is to perform mini-cuts.
These are anywhere from 2-6 weeks. We want to maximise the amount of time we spend in a calorie surplus, as muscle building is a SLOOOOOW process, meaning this needs to be a quick “in-and-out” job – don’t try to re-comp or cut slowly. We want to strip off the excess as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The holidays present students with the perfect opportunity to do this, due to the lower consumption of alcohol (normally), mum’s cooking and slightly better sleep patterns.
I wouldn’t recommend mini-cuts to anyone else, as they are inherently unsustainable, but you may have little choice whilst at university. The social life (which you will likely never experience again) makes staying lean very, very difficult.
Admittedly, there may be certain days/nights during the holidays, such as Christmas Day, NYE, NYD, birthdays, family events, summer holidays etc, whereby alcohol intake will be substantial. But generally speaking, most students will be in a far more realistic position to actually cut a bit of extra fat off during the holidays, as opposed to term time at uni. If you are a serious athlete at uni/college then this may be different.
This links heavily to points 1 & 2 in this article.
In order to make these as quick and efficient as possible, and capitalise on the periods of lower alcohol (empty calories) consumption, we need to be in a substantial calorie deficit and ensure protein intake is in the following range:
- 0.75-0.9 grams per pound of bodyweight, or
- 0.85-1 gram per pound of bodyweight, if you are already single-digit bodyfat
These recommendations may sound very low. THAT’S BECAUSE THE PROTEIN INDUSTRY IS A SCAM!
Unless you are extremely lean, then raising protein any higher is wasting your money. It is also sacrificing those beautiful fats and carbs, which both make us feel happy (particularly the latter), hence making our diets sustainable.
Now, if you are genuinely hungry all the time on the above protein intake, then you may want to consider upping your intake slightly. Just understand that it’s not necessary in order to maintain all your muscle (or as much muscle as is possible within your genetic constraints).
It’s all about sustainability, and what YOU will be able to adhere to on a consistent basis. There will always be a trade-off, and in this case it’s about carbs/happiness vs protein/satiation.
To distinguish between genuine hunger and cravings (emotional) we need to look at areas in which you could be deficient first:
If you are suffering in any of those 3, you will start to have cravings. Also, although you do want to be in a substantial deficit, you don’t want to do anything too extreme too fast. Gradual implementation is vital. Otherwise you’ll run into trouble in these 3 areas. The best ways to counter these psychological obstacles are:
- Intermittent Fasting
- Ensuring your relationships are solid, and you are having enough contact with those important to you
- Having strong life goals (both in the long run & short run)
These are discussed in more detail here.
They are similar to the 3 key indicators of well-being in Psychology: Autonomy, Relatedness & Competency. IF provides freedom, quality of relationships = relatedness and goals = competency.
Therefore firstly, you need the above psychological areas nailed. Then, you look at physiological issues, if there are any. It’s easy to confuse the 2. If you are still consistently hungry, then feel free to increase your protein slightly. Just be aware of the trade-off.
Overall, mini-cuts are a great strategy for some of you students who have gained a few extra pounds during term time and wish to remove them as efficiently as possible!
- Perform them during the holidays (likely less alcohol on average), more sleep and “cleaner” food.
- Get into a substantial (about 20-25%) calorie deficit.
- Ensure protein intake is enough.
- Structure your lifestyle in a way that is conducive to feeling fulfilled instead of deprived (which you should be doing anyway!!)