Peri-Workout Strategies When Fat Loss Stalls
Ever since I posted this series Peri-Workout Nutrition Part 1 in 2012, it’s been the go-to topic that people have asked me to talk and write about. I’m convinced people like reading about nutrition and training more than actually doing it, but that’s beside the point.
In case you aren’t familiar with this topic, Peri-Workout refers to the periods before, during and after your exercise session. Even though peri-workout nutrition is a finer detail in the grand scheme of things, it’s still worth paying attention to. Often times one of my nutrition clients might hit a plateau in their progress and some minor adjustments to nutrient timing can help them break past this sticking point.
Below are my three favorite and most proven peri-workout strategies when fat loss stalls.
Avoiding Carbohydrates Post-Workout
Before you lose your mind go back and read this article –
Personally, this is the strategy I use most often when I want to reduce body fat. If I’m working with a nutrition client, I tend to only use this if they are more advanced or we really need to improve their sensitivity to insulin. However, just because it’s my favorite doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.
How to do it: Load carbohydrates in your pre-workout meals either the night before or leading up to the workout. After the workout, adjust protein to be higher than normal, include fat and restrict carbohydrates.
- Allows you to load carbohydrates pre-workout so lifts don’t suffer while you diet
- Works extremely well to lower body fat and maintain lean muscle
- Relatively simple to follow
- Can get away with simple carbs pre-workout
- Improves sensitivity to insulin and overall carbohydrate metabolism
- Powerful for fat loss or overall recomposition
- Not easy as hunger initially can be difficult
- If you work out early, the majority of your day is spent carbless
Keeping carbohydrates contained to the peri-workout window
I tend to use this method with clients who don’t have great glycemic control and struggle with total carbohydrate intake. The goal here is again to make sure you have the fuel to perform and recover from your workouts but outside of that window, keep insulin levels low and fat burning high (hopefully).
How to do it: You can have pre-workout, intra-workout and post-workout carbohydrates (or just pre + post). Outside of that window, you will keep calories to protein, fats and low glycemic non-starchy carbohydrates like fibrous vegetables.
- Still allows for moderate carbohydrates pre-workout so you have energy to train
- Allows you to keep carbohydrates post-workout which most people are used to
- Simple to follow
- Can “get away” with more simple carbohydrates in this window
- As you continue to diet the lack of carbohydrates pre-workout may impact workouts
- Most people are used to carbohydrates in every meal so this is a change
- Hunger can become an issue here as well
I have written a ton of content on intermittent fasting and fasted exercise so I would start there:
As I get deeper into my diet, this is a strategy that I will blend in from time to time. I will also use this with clients who once again struggle to lower body fat towards the tail end of their diet. This method can be tough for those who are not used to fasting or training in the fasted state. I wouldn’t recommend jumping right into this.
How to do it: Leading up to your workout do not ingest any calories. You can have water, black coffee and if you absolutely insist, bcaas (but they’re not necessary). Post-workout make sure you have protein + carbohydrates and keep fat low for the next few meals.
- Easy for planning in that you don’t have to worry about breakfast
- Works well for fat loss when you are stuck
- Will improve your ability to train fasted and potentially your metabolic flexibility
- Workouts may suffer unless nutrition is completely nailed the day/night before
- Post-workout hunger will be much higher than normal
- May not be optimal for retaining lean muscle IF workouts are sub-par
There you have it, three easy to implement peri-workout strategies to peel away that last layer of fat. Remember, your overall caloric intake and macronutrient split is every bit as important but once that is dialed in, start to tweak your peri-workout window and see what happens.