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Dietary Intake Phases: Surplus (or Maintenance) to Deficit

The dietary intake phase everyone thinks they are ready for, yet few actually are -- entering into a deficit phase, or better known as a fat loss phase.

As we outlined in our last post, time spent in either a maintenance or surplus phase (or a combination of both) is essential before entering into, and having, a successful deficit/fat loss phase.


The Transition into a Deficit Phase

The primary goal of transitioning into a deficit phase is to pursue a fat loss goal after spending time building lean muscle, regulating hormones, a combination of the two or for another reason.

The obvious benefit of this dietary intake phase is to reduce body fat, but it should be done so in a slow and gradual manner. The individual's caloric intake will decrease slowly with the goal of creating a negative energy balance. When this negative energy balance is present, the body then burns stored energy in order to function...which results in fat loss.

Below are images that show a real client case study. The progress photos show the progression of the entire deficit and the following graphs and spreadsheets outline real data captured within the first 2 weeks of the transition.


All dietary intake phases have their own unique challenges, mental and physical. So when it comes to a deficit phase, it's important to keep these things in mind:

  • Before entering into a deficit phase, check your mindset. If your mental health is not in a good place, it may be best to hold off on putting your mind (and body) through this more strict, and stress-induced dieting phase.

  • Understand that there will be hard days. Being in a deficit, hunger WILL be present, low energy and fatigue will likely hit. Remember that this was your decision and do your best to remind yourself that those feelings won't last forever.

When it comes to nutrition and training priorities...

  • Protein should be kept high to preserve muscle tissue while carbohydrates and fats are lowered/manipulated to support the fat loss goal.

  • After NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) is accounted for, cardio protocol will likely need to be adjusted and manipulated to further the caloric deficit.

  • Strength training should be kept in hypertrophy-based ranges to prevent any loss of lean muscle tissue. Strength-focused workouts are no longer a goal and it's important to keep in mind that strength and endurance will likely decrease the deeper the deficit goes.

Stay tuned for the next dietary intake phase transition - the deficit to reverse transition phase - the phase that is the most pivotal in terms of maintaining an improved body composition AFTER dieting.

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