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Overreaching in Diets – Should You Overreach in a Diet?

After we’ve already talked in-depth about Overreaching from the point of view when building mass and respectively exceeding our basal metabolic rate daily, we’ll take a different point of view today.

How about Overreaching it in a diet, in a calorie deficit?

Should one also get into a state of overreaching there?

For the general public, it would probably make more sense to stay away from overreaching or not to overreach in a diet. Because as discussed, you always need a period of light training to get out of overreaching.

Otherwise, our performance decreases further and eventually we even get into overtraining with all its negative consequences.

But why can’t we just do a light training period?

The reason is the calorie deficit.

It forces us to train hard so that we can keep our hard-earned muscles. The light training period should, therefore, be avoided in a normal diet. However, in some cases, it may make sense to do this.

1.) You are already overreached

Although you wanted to avoid it at first, you still overreached. In that case you have no other choice, or do you want to even worsen your current state of overreaching or overtraining and lose even more power?

2.) Diet Breaks

A diet break is nothing more than a ‘break from the diet’ of about a week. Concretely, one increases the calories onto the maintenance level and can thus partially reduce or reverse some negative adjustments of the body to the diet.

Exactly this week, you could then use to complete your light training period. In that case, you wouldn’t be in calorie deficit anymore, and thus in a bad situation for muscle maintenance.

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You can continue to overreach as usual if you plan on Diet Breaks earlier. Alternatively, you could take the diet break the following week to regain any lost muscles.

Also in the first case, I would recommend you a Diet Break, if you have no pressure for time.

Generally, it applies: If you are overreaching heavily, sooner or later you will have to reduce and recover that fatigue. No matter if you are currently in a calorie deficit or not.

Sometimes, however, it can make sense to postpone your mesocycle a bit and eventually delaying the deload phase.

Assuming your training mesocycle usually consists of 5 weeks, ordinarily 4 training weeks followed by a week of light training. Now, however, you all at once realize that you have a holiday in 6 weeks and training is hardly possible there.

In that case, it would be worth considering stretching the training mesocycle to 6 weeks. In that scenario, I probably would not even change the training programme tremendously but just hang on to it for another week.

But what if the holiday is due in 7, 8 or 9 weeks?

1.) 7 weeks

For example, if you had increased the weights from beginning to the end of your mesocycle by 10% during the 5 weeks of training, you will do exactly the same thing over 7 training weeks.

This means, instead of increasing by 2% (10/5 = 2), you simply increase by 1.43% (10/6 = 1.43) per week.

As the cycle lasts longer, you will probably overreach more, but that should not be a big problem in itself. Unless you overreach without the additional stretching week already quite strong. Then it is necessary to make some adjustments and overthink it once more.

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You should avoid this anyway, as it is simply not necessary.

2.) 8 weeks

We do the same as in 1.), but only with a cycle of 3 (+ Deload Week) and one of 4 training weeks. So once with an weekly increase of 3.3% (10/3 = 3.3) and once by 2.5% (10/4 = 2.5).

3.) 9 weeks

Same scheme as in 1.) only with twice 4 training weeks.

In general, it is important to know that overreaching has different degrees of expression. So you can either overreach “fairly easy” or “extremely strong”.

For optimal training results, it is absolutely enough to overreach moderately. Everything about that benchmark can be quite counterproductive, be it through a higher risk of injury or less muscle mass gains.

Final thoughts

Basically, overreaching should usually to be avoided in a diet.

That is, of course, easier said than done but however, still manageable if you adjust your training properly and make anticipatory plans.

Also, make sure to keep track of upcoming events, holidays or business trips that may require you to change your training routine. In that case, it is totally viable to stretch your mesocycle and therefore, delay the scheduled deload week.

Lastly, due to the fact that especially in a diet, the calorie deficit makes it even more important to train hard to maintain your hard gained muscle mass.

Having said that, there is one exception with overreaching in diets, namely in combination with diet breaks. As you remember, diet breaks simply are nothing else than ‘a break from your diet’ in which you increase the calorie consumption up to your basal metabolic rate to maintain current size.

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That one week diet break promotes the deload phase to be conducted at that very time. Therefore, when dieting it is always a good thing to implement diet breaks every now and then as we cannot avoid deloads, otherwise, the only result is decreasing performance and eventually missing gains.

How do you handle deloads when in a diet? Do you implement diet breaks frequently?

Leave a comment below and engage with us!

As always thanks for reading,


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Hi, I'm Claas. I am a passionate fitness and performance lover. For several years I have been training and developing my personality with dedication, ambition, and commitment to pursue my goals. During this time, I already had the opportunity to support many friends, family members and athletes on their journey to achieve their goals, both athletic or performance driven. Whether about nutrition, training, performance or self-development, for the last few years I was able to steadily improve my knowledge to provide our clientele with all my experience. I believe the key to a happy life, to pursue your goals, overcome challenges and convert your dreams to reality, is based upon mastering our four underlying four pillars; nutrition, fitness, productivity, and mindfulness.

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