So you have a big weekend coming up. Might be one that you planned for way in advance with a beach house, visitors from out of town, a plethora of good food all while having a drink in hand.
How would it be possible to take on a weekend like without getting fat? Could it be done? How does Johnny Gotm prep for a weekend of all weekends…one like July 4th.
I bring you “Prep Week” and it’s a tactical plan to peak on the weekend all while minimizing the damage. The plan is un-rivaled and could very well be the code on how “peak” when it matters most…on the WeCan Weekend.
Step 1- Create a caloric buffer: Reduce calories for the 5 days before your WeCan Weekend. Since fat stores are primarily a function of energy balance you’ll burn quite a deal of fat being in a deficit. This also gives you some extra wiggle room when the weekend hits so if you really go HAM you will still break even in terms of fat balance.
To put things in context, I naturally burn about 2200-2400 calories a day naturally. Add in some extra activity through walking, some sprints, I might hit 2800 calories if I’m lucky. My intake for the 5 days prior was around 1200 calories each day of primarily protein, some healthy fats (fish oils), fibrous vegetables. So you are looking at a caloric buffer of 7000 calories or what we like to call a 2lb fat loss. Btw, under any diet, I’ve never seen anyone (besides the very hefty) lose more than 1-2lbs of fat a week.
This caloric reduction will come with some noticeable tightening but more importantly it allows for freedom this WeCan Weekend. My caloric buffer was more realistically about 5000 calories after my Wendesday night diet break as discussed below in the bonus section.
Step 2- Enter the WeCan Weekend with fully depleted glycogen stores
This comes with part 1…as you reduce calories, strip out the carbs. This will create room for the weekend onslaught of carbs…many of these come in liquid form and you know exactly what I’m talking about. Further, studies show that periods of low-carb or glycogen depletion allow for supercompensation or holding more glycogen than you normally would. This is why, you might actually be able to avoid fat gain during a weekend (even in a caloric surplus) as long as most of the calories come from protein, carbohydrates and alcohol. Basically, these nutrients either get plugged into your stores or burned off through thermogenesis.
Step 3- Consider increasing sodium intake for a few days. By having slightly more sodium (Salt) in your diet for the 4 days prior to the WeCan Weekend and then reducing intake you’ll retain less water. For me, the simple solution here is the cottage cheese solution. Cottage cheese works perfectly in prep week for two reasons. One, it’s higher in sodium so you will retain more water throughout the week. This helps preserve muscle in the deficit. Not to mention, it’s primarily slow burning protein aka casein. This will also help preserve muscle during the deficit.
Once you cut out the cottage cheese on say Friday and for the weekend, you will drop the water retention quicker than that Friday class you signed up for at 8am in college. Our bodies have a unique way of adjusting to sodium intake. This is why people who are on the “low sodium” diet aren’t exactly tight at all times as their body adjusts. People who also have salty diets aren’t exactly bloated because their body adjusts. The only way to look tighter than you normally would be in the short-term through a moderate increase in sodium intake followed by a period of reduction in sodium intake. Cottage cheese will do this for you.
This also made the caloric reduction quite mindless as eating the same thing 3 times a day made it somewhat mundane (and when it’s mundane we eat less). I had a pint of cottage cheese 3x a day. This was a 190g load of protein with not too many calories…just above a 1000.
This was usually my first meal on these “eat less” days. Usually consisted of cottage (sprinkled with bacon), fibrous vegetables (spinach, cauliflower, red onion sprinkled with a little fetta cheese). I also added 3 eggs to make my caloric defciit more moderate.
Meals 2 & 3 during my prep week consisted of you guessed it..more cottage cheese. I also had some raw vegetables with each (not pictured). What you will notice is that I took down alot of water this week. This further helps with the weekend water retention. In short, the more bloated you are on a Wendesday, the more ripped you’ll look on a Saturday. Water is also a great tool for “eating less”. Alot of people will mistake thirst for hunger.
Step 4- Get a workout in before the weekend starts: This is very important for “channeling the weekend nutrient uptake”. By working out with weights or sprints you will have a nice up kick in nutrient uptake. This activates glut4, increases insulin sensitivity.
What is cool about your Friday workout is you will start to feel a nice dopamine kick in the weight room. The high is real and I can attest to it first-hand. If you read my article on taking advantage of your dopamine system you will understand why your mood is elevated during this Friday workout session. You are in anticipation of the reward of the WeCan Weekend.
Consider doing a full body workout with your friends. Bring your friends so they can join in on the fun of “channeling the nutrients”. Make it full body as you’ll be able to have better uptake all over instead of just across one or two muscle groups. So unfortunately doing a beach workout of abs and arms isn’t going to work. Squat, bench, weighted chins, shoulder press. Why not.
The Weekend itself- a few tips:
1) Since you went through the whole week fully depleted, you are ready to suck up carbs like a vacuum. Although, I wouldn’t stuff your face. Instead, try to enjoy your weekend instead of just primarily consuming. Trust me, you’ll definitely eat up…just make it social and fun. Don’t be the person in the corner stuffing their face in attempt to repack glycogen stores. Relax.
2) As far as storing fat you are better off keeping fats more moderate this weekend. When drinking your body goes through a process to remove the acetate (poision). In turn, you aren’t burning ton of fat. Luckily, you still oxidize proteins and carbohydrates at a similar rate. This is why you should opt for a beer and a steak or ribs as opposed to woofing down a block of cheese at happy hour.
A few quick notes on macros and how easily they are converted to fat in the short-term:
Alcohol- never turned to body fat, perfectly oxidized*
Fats- easily stored in caloric surplus also in face of high insulin (carbs, protein)
Carbs- only converted to fat via DNL aka de novo lipogenesis (luckily since you went into the weekend depleted, this isn’t going to happen)*
Protein- similar story to carbs, but even tougher to convert to fats. Basically your body would have to convert excess protein to glucose then go through DNL*
As you can see, stick to eating meats, some corn on the cob and maybe even some potatoes.
And if you happen to want a cheesburger, it’s really no big deal. That is why you created the caloric buffer (#1) in the first place. It allows weekend freedom. So don’t fret it if you happen to consume some fats on the WeCan Weekend…it’s really no big deal in light of your whole week. If you are going to enjoy the cheeseburger, have it.
3) Stay active during the weekend- instead of just lounging all weekend consider body surfing, some beach volleyball, dancing or any other primal workout you can think of. This will further help channel the weekend nutrients.
4) Don’t forget to cycle in some waters during your WeCan Weekend. With the sodium manipulation along with the drinks you’re going to be looking pretty tight all weekend. Throw in some waters to keep the party going.
5) Consider shrinking your eating window if you are doing back to back to back partying. So if you happen to crush some pizza at 3am on Friday night…try not to eat breakfast the next day. … I won’t have my first meal til 3pm the following day. This doesn’t have to be done but it’s a good way to minimize the damage, allow a brief detox period and get you ready for another afternoon/night of fun.
I usually will wake up around 11am, get some coffee, hit the skimbaord for a few hours then get ready to do it all over again. Not saying this is what you need to do, but I find this schedule most enjoyable and it also helps avoid “crashing” mid-weekend.
If you want to have some breakfast on your WeCan Weekend, go for it…but generally my breakfast comes “late night” ha.
Closing Notes: Any ways, be safe, have fun and don’t get too carried away with cyclical dieting. If anything allow this to be a valuable tool the help you really enjoy your WeCan Weekend where you can forget about dieting, calories, your job and any other stress for a few days.
See you on Fire Island,
Bonus 1: I didn’t stick to this caloric deficit for 5 days straight. I actually took a break from it on Wendesday Night. For alot of people a stint of dieting may lead to runaway hedonism once they re-introduce carbs or other highly palatable food. So instead of going 5 days, I had a post workout “enjoy more” night so I was mentally prepared for a weekend full of hedonic temptations. I don’t plan on avoiding the hedonic party but I’d rather concentrate on enjoying it rather than consuming. For some people, a small break or reward mid prep-week will be a great way to have a more moderate intake during their WeCan Weekend.
*Since protein, carbohydrates and alcohol aren’t stored to fat in the short-term alot of diets go wrong recommending exactly that, low-fat with ad-libitum carbs, protein. I wouldn’t recommend this as our body has a unique we of upregulating the DNL process. (you can’t exactly avoid fat storage by having a low-fat diet). You can use this to your advantage in the short-term (say on the WeCan Weekend) by keeping fats lower. You will also notice my Wendesday night diet break did not have a ton of fats (besides the omega 3s in the salmon). Btw, make sure to get your fish oils. Remember a caloric surplus of just about any macronutrient combination will lead to storage, so keep the hedonic spurts short-term.
Bonus #2 Why this all works from a philosophical standpoint: Beyond fat storage, cyclical dieting the WeCan Weekend is philosophically sound. We inherently want what we can’t have so by restricting certain things for even a short period of time we upregulate our sensitiity to those things. The WeCan Weekend is the opposite of alot of what was going on during the Week. This is what makes it so much fun as it’s a true balance to your system. You’ve actually set yourself up for enjoying the situation more based on the way the human mind self regulates to pleasure. (This is why cyclical dieting is more philosophically sound then just “eating healthy of the same” every day).
Low Calories >>>> Higher Calories
Getting Things Done>>>> Social fun
Solitude>>>> Social Interaction
Find your balance..
Eat Less, Enjoy More