We know you are serious about your diet and training, but don’t let that ego keep you from resting when you need it! What we’re talking about here is deloading. If you’re wondering: what is a deload week—no worries; we’ll be looking at what exactly deloading is, why it’s important, what you can expect when pushing through a deload week.
Deloading is a short period of time in which you plan for recovery by working out a little less or a little lighter than you usually would. Put simply, you’re purposely taking time to ease back on the intensity of your workouts and give your body a semi-rest. This is usually known as a “deload week,” since the average time period for deloading is seven days.
So, why are deload weeks important to incorporate? There are a few key reasons we’ll cover below.
- Improving athletic performance
- Reducing risk of injury and overtraining
For some people, deloading periods might seem like a waste of time or an excuse to be lazy, but it’s actually an important part of your training process. Most people need them for proper recovery in between heavy periods of training.
Now, let’s look at how you can actually make deloading work for you.
How to Do a Deload Week
There are several methods for deloading, but the most common (and recommended) one simply involves reducing the amount of weight you lift and/or the volume of your training. Perform all your sets at about 40-60% of your one rep max.
Sometimes, extremely competitive strength athletes will deload by keeping the weight they’re lifting the same while just greatly reducing sets and reps. This is less common and not as recommended for most people, but it’s an alternative option.
As far as consistency goes, deloading is a good idea to do around every fourth week of your training.
Important points to keep in mind when deloading:
- Scheduling a deload week into your training might feel like you’re setting yourself back, but it’s actually good for you. A deload period can help for quicker recovery, increase your power and strength when you come back and help improve any mental blocks getting in the way.
- It’s not about taking the week completely off but rather a period of time to ease back a little and give your body a semi-break.
- Deloading becomes more important the longer you’ve been training. It’s also a great way to break out of a training plateau or help you “refresh” if you’re struggling with lack of motivation—just make sure you’ll be ready to jump back into your normal schedule when the deloading time is up.
- A deload week is not an excuse to derail your nutrition or go crazy on the carbs. Although you’re taking more of a break, following a healthy diet is still important.
This is where the relationship between eating keto and exercise comes into play. Let’s talk about the different types of ketogenic diets for exercise and how they relate to deloading.
Exercise and Deloading on the Ketogenic Diet
As you’ll see from this post, there are three main versions of the ketogenic diet, and the type you follow can depend on the level of exercise you do.
- Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD): eating 20-50 grams of net carbs or less per day
- Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD): eating about 25-50 grams of net carbs or less about 30-60 minutes before a workout
- Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD): eating low-carb, ketogenic for several days and then follow it with a couple days eating higher-carb
If you’re an athlete or exercising/weightlifting at a high enough intensity to need deload weeks, TKD and CKD are good options for you. The CKD most closely resembles deloading in the diet sense, but both involve switching between periods of very-low-carb eating and higher carb intake.
If the carb intake is high enough, it will kick you out of ketosis (burning fat for energy) and the body switch back to using glucose for fuel.
From Glucose to Ketosis to Glucose
When the body goes from using glucose to using ketones for fuel, often at the beginning of a ketogenic diet, a lot of changes occur. As you greatly reduce and “starve” your body of carbs, it begins to turn to your fat stores for energy, which is broken down into ketone bodies — the process known as ketosis.
During a deload week, you might be eating more carbs, especially if you’re doing a cyclical ketogenic diet. If you’re eating more carbs than you’re burning for fuel, your body will switch back to using them and take you out of ketosis.
In order to prevent the uncomfortable ketosis side effects associated with switching from glucose to ketones and vise versa, as well as getting back into ketosis faster, we recommend…
Using Ketones to Get Back into Ketosis
Exogenous ketones are perfect for helping you get back into ketosis quickly and efficiently after eating a higher amount of carbs. You still need to make sure you’re eating very low carb when transitioning back to ketosis, but taking ketones can help you get there more quickly.
For more tips on remedying common side effects of ketosis, see this article.
So, how do you make sure deloading fits well into your schedule without doing it wrong? Here are some things to remember during your deload week:
- Be patient with yourself: Getting used to deloading weeks might be an adjustment at first, so go easy on yourself. Let yourself enjoy this temporary break to deload before jumping back into the grind.
- Re-up on your motivations: Once you’ve finished your deload week, it’s time to start back up again. To prevent yourself from falling back into the same habits, take some time to remind yourself of your goals. Why are you returning to your regular workout schedule and diet? Keeping your main motivations in mind can can make it easier to jump back in the swing of things.
Ultimately, a deload week can help you “reset,” allow for recovery, and keep your progress going without a high chance of injury or burnout. So, give yourself a deload period —and do so responsibly!