5 Tips to Perform Better on a Calorie Deficit
If you've ever tried lifting on a calorie deficit for an extended period of time, you know that those calories really did help with performance.
When your food intake is high, your body has a lot of extra energy available to resynthesize ATP and to maintain glycogen stores in our muscles for those intense sessions. Every workout should be performed with intensity and focus.
When restricting calories, maximizing performance is a bit more complex. The body has less fuel to meet the demands placed on it.
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So here are some tips that will help you boost your performance while remaining in a calorie deficit.
More Energy While Dieting
1.) You'll Have to Start Timing Your Meals Strategically
Since your body is limited on calories, your athletic performance will rely on meal timing. The most readily available source of energy we limit is carbohydrates when working in a calorie deficit.
Timing these complex carbs optimally will provide your muscles with glycogen before rigorous training. It's important to consume these carbs in a pre-workout meal so there will be sufficient fuel available during your workout.
The subpar performance comes from a calorie deficit that zaps our muscle glycogen levels. This is why post-workout meal timing is important.
Recovery will be slower during a calorie deficit, so drinking a whey protein supplement post-workout will encourage faster nutrient assimilation when your muscles need it most. You could also check out a glutamine, BCAA, and a creatine supplement for enhanced recovery.
2.) Supplements Help You Perform
If you think about consuming the proper nutrients before you training the same as putting gasoline into your car's engine before a race, you know that taking the right supplements for your pre-workout is the fuel needed for performance.
In order for your performance to thrive during a calorie deficit, addressing the fundamental processes which allow muscles to grow is important.
A pre-workout supplement that includes creatine, caffeine, and taurine all can help ignite your performance due to enhanced ATP regeneration along with laser focus. Beta-alanine is great for buffering fatigue by sustaining muscle carnosine levels, and L-Citrulline stimulates the flow of oxygen-rich blood to our muscles.
3.) Train Smarter
In order to maintain high performance while working under a calorie deficit, you need to be a bit smarter with how you train. The high-volume training with short rest periods isn't as productive when on a calorie deficit due to our energy reserves quickly running dry.
When we have to be modest with our calorie intake, but we want performance, it's important to focus on the quality of the lift instead of the quality of reps. A lower volume with larger rest periods will allow some energy preservation and ATP turnover — meaning we can perform at a higher level of output in each working set.
The goal is muscle stimulation, not annihilation, so it's important to use high volume training appropriately.
4.) Sleep More
Recovery is an important part of building muscle and maintaining a high level of performance. As our energy intake is restricted, sleep becomes more vital to our performance.
Getting enough sleep helps our anabolic hormones peak and allows us to recover faster. Our central nervous system recovers while we sleep, and it is the neurological network that is used to drive performance in the gym. Our performance will suffer if we do not have a healthy and consistent sleep pattern, especially when we are running on a calorie deficit.
In order to get a great sleep, try to eliminate any stimulants within six hours of bed, and watch your blue light exposure that stimulates our mind and interrupts our melatonin levels.
5.) Hyper Hydrate
I'm pretty sure almost every fitness-related article mentions to drink enough water. Proper hydration is a cornerstone of basic health and optimal performance for both your brain and body. Running even slightly dehydrated can interrupt many internal biological processes.
When you are dehydrated, your body has a hard time fighting against agents such as lactic acid and hydrogen ions — easily hindering your performance.
In order to properly hyper hydrate, you should consume half of a gallon of fluid within your first hour of waking up. The previous eight hours have gone without fluid, so overcompensating is vital. For the rest of the day, consume plenty of water, especially if you are training.
Add some electrolytes to your water that contains potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous to take your hydration above basic water.
Wrapping It Up
Maintaining peak performance on a calorie deficit is hard, but the fundamentals are basic. Being able to prioritize your day, train smart, and getting plenty of recovery allows your body to perform at optimal levels.
There is less room for error here, so don't overlook these simple factors — they can really keep you at your peak performance levels when it matters the most.