Trying New Things: Renaissance Periodization Diet Templates

There is no denying that Renaissance Periodization has had some incredible success with athletes and weekend warrior types of all flavors. I’m seeing more weightlifters and powerlifters with abs, and I’ve stopped seeing so many people #cleaneating and #waroncarb flag flying. They’ve done a lot to educate people in the CrossFit and athletics realm on whats important in the nutrition hierarchy.

At United Barbell, there is a significant contingency of people who are either doing personal coaching or following the RP templates. And many of them have had great success with it.

I’ve done nutrition coaching. I worked one on one with Joy Victoria, a great experience you can read about here, here, and here.

I’ve done a lot of nutrition experimenting. I’ll try on the latest fad that seems to have shown some success for a handful of acquaintances. I like to think of myself as pretty open minded with things. When I did Paleo, I noticed that I did lose body fat, but I also lost a lot of energy and strength. Being hot but weak is a no go for me. I tried keto and various forms of keto cycling, which kept me from gaining weight, but my training went flat and my overall body composition eventually went to shit.

I decided I’d follow my normal curiosity and try out the RP templates for myself.

I was able to use a discount through a strongman group I’m a part of to get the templates for $89. You give them your height, weight, gender, and out pops a series of excel documents to cover the intensity of your training (none, light, medium, hard), tabs for the phase of the diet (base, cut 1, cut 2, cut 3) and a couple documents outlining how to use them all and answering common questions.

I gave myself a week to jot down some ideas for meals to fit the meal-by-meal macros. Made a grocery list. Sunday I had 15 containers (one breakfast, two lunch each day), a new protein regiment, and a new dinner planned for when I got home.

Days 1-3 I followed okay, but it was actually pretty stressful. Not stressful in the normal “oh this is so different and I hate change” way, but stressful in the “my whole approach to my schedule for training is going to have to change to accommodate these meals.” I was having to rush around way more to get my training in so that I could eat around training at the “right” times. Smaller, more frequent meals meant that at no point did I ever feel like I had actually eaten a meal.

And on Thursday it all fell apart. You see, I usually train from 2-4, doing my heavy shit, then I teach at 4, take class at 5 (which I find FUN!), and then teach again at 6. How the hell am I supposed to eat a small meal before and after that? I basically ate both lunches at noon, did my training and class, drank my protein during the 6pm class I teach, and fuck it.

This is basically exactly what I was doing when I worked with Joy.

And even though I KNOW better, I felt like I had failed to a certain degree. And all the energy used to force the eating regime for three days came back at me on Friday when I did a big, off macro breakfast at Rudy’s Can’t Fail Cafe, then turned my left over planned meals into a burrito with extra cheese and avocado. Then there were cupcakes at the gym that I DID NOT SAY NO TO.

No fucking regrets.

So what went wrong?

For me, and I really think for the vast majority of people, too many changes and too much detail and/or complexity is the death kneel for real habit change. I’m someone who’s pretty good at making big changes when I really want something (something my fiancé wishes would rub off on him), but even I have my limits. When things are too detailed and I can’t see the use in all the detail, or I’ve experienced something easier that works well, too, I’m just not going to be able to stick with it.

I had great results with a much more relaxed approach to nutrition. I was able to eat around my schedule, rather and schedule around my eating.

What are some good resources for us “normal” people?

If you’ve been burned by a lot of the fad diets out there, or maybe you’ve never done a diet before but you know you need to make some long term changes, I highly recommend Georgie Fear’s Lean Habits book. This book is primarily geared towards the non-fitness professional or non-athlete. It comes from a place that wants to educate the public on the why of nutrition in whatever scientific depth you’re willing to go for it.

If you’re an athlete and have a sort of crazy schedule (a lot of competitive athletes run their life training others and are all over the map), I would suggest working with Joy Victoria or checking out Eat to Perform coaching. They’re going to start you off with a basic plan that you can fit to your life and adjust from there instead of starting with complexity and adjusting back.

If you’re a professional athlete or a professional of any sort that has a schedule that more amenable to your own whims (work from home, flexible start, stop, and break times) then you probably will have far less trouble doing the RP style templates. It’s not hard to make all the food, it’s not hard to take it with you. But you have to have the schedule flexibility to implement it, or risk feeling like you’re constantly failing.