Congratulations - you did it! As the MWU Challenge comes to end, this is a great time to reflect on your past 6 weeks and recognise all of the amazing achievements and healthy habits you have been able to implement. We are so proud of you and hope you feel the same way too!
Wrapping up a Challenge is a really exciting time, but it can also be tricky as we start to consider, well… what’s next? This blog has been created to simplify things for you and help you in navigating your goals and nutrition post-challenge.
It’s OK to have a maintenance goal!
First and foremost, it’s important to know that striving for a physique-based goal year round may not be sustainable or healthy for the average person. If you have spent this challenge (and potentially several months prior) chasing a fat loss or physique-based goal and are starting to feel a little burnt out, we would encourage you to consider whether coming back to your predicted maintenance range may be the best option for you right now. At MWU we encourage you to allow yourself to enjoy fitness for how it makes you feel and to take some time off tracking your nutrition throughout the year to get back in touch with yourself and your hunger and fullness cues. You may also have other priorities popping up in your life right now, so this is your permission slip to put your healthy habits in place and allow health and fitness to fit INTO your life for a while, and not necessarily sit at the forefront. Remember - health looks different for all of us and finding your idea of balance and health is a fantastic goal in itself.
If you are still feeling the motivation and wanting to kick ahead with your physique or strength-based goals, keep reading on!
Most Recent Goal = Lose Body Fat or Both
If you’ve been on a Lose Body Fat or a Both goal for the last couple of months, you’ve been in some degree of a calorie deficit (significant deficit in a fat loss goal and a milder deficit for a Both goal) and may be feeling a little extra hungry and low in energy right now. There are a few options to choose from at this point, based on where you are currently at and what your goals are moving forward:
Still currently achieving fat loss
If you are still noticing fat loss on your current calorie target and this is an achievable intake for you (i.e. you are not starving!) it is absolutely fine to continue on the way you are going. While we do try to limit fat loss phases to ~12 weeks, if you are still noticing positive results it is ok to continue for up to 16 weeks. After this time, please reach out to us so we can increase your intake and help you with a small diet break, or a reverse diet.
No longer noticing fat loss
If you feel like you have plateaued on this calorie target it may be time for a break, or to reassess your calorie deficit target. The body will naturally adapt to a lowered intake over time, and human nature may also result in less accuracy toward calorie tracking after extended periods, meaning you may be eating yourself out of a deficit unintentionally. First step here is to be truly honest with yourself and reassess your nutrition tracking. If you feel you may have some room for improvement this is the best place to start. We never want to reduce your daily calorie target unless it is 100% necessary.
If you are currently consuming <1600 calories and fat loss has stalled, we would recommend that you begin a reverse dieting phase to slowly bring your intake back up to a more sustainable level before embarking on any further physique or fat loss-based goals. If you are currently consuming >1700 calories and wanting to continue to lose body fat, you could look to reduce your calories slightly (e.g by another ~100-200 calories). But be mindful - the lower your calories go, the longer your reverse dieting period may need to be to get you back to your maintenance calorie range!
Aiming to build muscle mass
If you are happy with your fat loss and/or are ready to embark on a muscle gain phase, you can get started straight away! If your calories are >1600 we would recommend increasing to your predicted maintenance and then starting to increase your calories into a surplus. If your calories are currently <1600, you may need to implement a short reverse dieting phase to gradually increase into your surplus. If you are unsure, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss this with our dietitians!
Most Recent Goal = ‘Both’
If you have been following the ‘Both’ goal we have aimed to place you in a mild calorie deficit to encourage sustainable fat loss while preserving muscle mass. It’s important to note that we cannot efficiently build muscle in a calorie deficit. However, this goal may have given you the appearance of increased muscle definition if your muscles have become more visible due to a reduction in body fat. The Both goal is intended to have you just below your maintenance calories, so like a fat loss goal it’s important not to stay here for too long and risk metabolic adaptation. Follow the steps above to make a plan for your nutrition from this goal.
Most Recent Goal = Muscle Gain
We say this a lot but building muscle takes time! If you have been on a Muscle Gain goal throughout the challenge we have aimed to place your body in a slight calorie surplus, which is the ideal environment for building muscle mass and limiting body fat gain (although some body fat gain is inevitable). If you have been on this goal for <3 months, we would recommend sticking with it and really focusing on progressively overloading your muscles with your training to stimulate them to grow! Ideally, you would stick with this goal for 3-6 months and really make the most of your building phase.
If you have been on a muscle gain goal for 6+ months or you are no longer wanting to continue with this goal, you can either:
- Maintain your current weight and physique by dropping to your predicted maintenance calories; or
- Move into a fat loss phase where you will need to reduce your calories into a deficit. This will allow you to reveal your hard earned muscle mass! To do this, we would recommend moving to the ‘Both’ goal in the MWU App to place you in a mild calorie deficit to start this process.
While we do everything in our power to ensure your nutritional targets are appropriate for your goals, it takes time, consistency and accuracy with your nutrition to see physical results. However, please don’t forget to also acknowledge all of the non physique-based wins that you may have also achieved along the way! If you did have a physique-based goal and didn’t hit your nutritional targets semi-regularly throughout the challenge that’s completely ok - we’re all human! Take some time to reflect on your behaviours and achievements throughout this Challenge, and decide on a clear path forward to creating your best self.
If you’re still not sure on your next steps from here and need some help navigating your goals post-Challenge, please reach out to our team of dietitian’s who are always happy to help ❤️