I began writing this article shortly after finishing a men’s physique season. I competed because along with genuinely enjoying the sport, it’s important as an online coach to periodically go through extensive dieting phases myself. Something that really helps me stay grounded in what my clients experience, and test out strategies I can then implement to better help them. One of the single biggest benefits to dieting myself is being reacquainted with the mental challenges it can create.

I finished my season in, aesthetically, the best shape of my life. I took home a solid 2nd and 3rd place finish, and was really happy with what I accomplished for this stage in my career. Frankly, I wasn’t bad to look at. But as soon as the season wrapped up, I began purposefully gaining some weight back. A reverse dieting process I’ve covered in more depth in my articles, Why You Should Reverse Diet and What Science Can Teach Physique Athletes. A process that, even as a coach myself, wasn’t entirely easy to come to terms with as my detailed physique began fading away while I transitioned back into my “offseason look.”

Andrew Pardue
Andrew Pardue, APFitness LLC

In short, to various degrees depending on your long-term goals, after dieting you’ll likely need to gain some weight back in order to allow yourself an environment for continued muscle growth, and to regain efficient hormonal and metabolic function. [1] Granted, some populations like competitive physique athletes will need to gain more back than the general person working to improve day-to-day appearance and health, But even still, at some point we’ll either consciously, or maybe even mistakenly, gain some weight back after dieting.

Unfortunately, even in the most ideal transition, gaining weight can not only be one of the most stressful aspects of a fitness journey, but also where people tend to sabotage their long term progress and wellbeing. Below are some tips and expectations I’ve gained from coaching and personal experience, to help you navigate the many mental pitfalls that can come with post-diet weight gain.

 

Resistance is Futile

Stolen from virtually every alien movie ever made, “resistance is futile” is pretty good advice for post-diet weight gain, not just world domination. More so for those pursuing more extensive fat loss like physique competitions or photo shoots, it’s important to be reminded that for most, maintaining a very lean physique more than a few weeks is just not realistic.

Your favorite social media page may make you feel otherwise with their constant stream of pictures that have all been taken at once but posted across months or years to give the illusion of constant aesthetics. But for most of us, to have sufficient energy, hormonal function, and metabolism, not to mention progress in the gym, we’ll likely need to carry a bit more cushion than we would ideally like to.

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