T Nation

Am I Just Spinning My Wheels on This Diet?

So after a winter bulk i have needed to cut a bit of weight (to get my V taper back). So i stopped drinking every week and cut out:

3 of my morning eggs (around 180 calories)
1 piece of morning toast (103 calories)
1 bowl of porridge (207 calories)
1 bread at lunch (103 calories)

Which is a total reduction of 593. Plus the alcohol i stopped which would have been massive (i drank a lot).

But my weight loss just looks all over the shop. I’ve tracked my weight every morning as soon as i woke up.

Day LBS Comments
|1|01 Mar 21 223.2
|2|02 Mar 21 221.4
|3|03 Mar 21 223.6
|4|04 Mar 21 220.2
|5|05 Mar 21 220.2
|6|06 Mar 21 221.2
|7|07 Mar 21 Forgot to weigh|
|8|08 Mar 21 219.2
|9|09 Mar 21 220.8
|10|10 Mar 21 221.6
|11|11 Mar 21 220
|12|12 Mar 21 219.2
|13|13 Mar 21 219.8
|14|14 Mar 21 218
|15|15 Mar 21 218
|16|16 Mar 21 218.6
|17|17 Mar 21 218.6
|18|18 Mar 21 218.6
|19|19 Mar 21 218.6
|20|20 Mar 21 218.6
|21|21 Mar 21 218.6
|22|22 Mar 21 217
|23|23 Mar 21 217.4
|24|24 Mar 21 216.6
|25|25 Mar 21 218.4
|26|26 Mar 21 218.4
|27|27 Mar 21 216.8
|28|28 Mar 21 216.8
|29|29 Mar 21 217.4 Chips for Dinner
|30|30 Mar 21 217.4
|31|31 Mar 21 217.4
|32|01 Apr 21 217.4 Whiskey & Burgers
|33|02 Apr 21 218.4 All day Drinking
|34|03 Apr 21 217 Ate poor all day
|35|04 Apr 21 219.2 Had cake
|36|05 Apr 21 219.2
|37|06 Apr 21 217.8
|38|07 Apr 21 217.8
|39|08 Apr 21 217 1 glass of wine
|40|09 Apr 21 217
|41|10 Apr 21 217 Chinese & Whiskey
|42|11 Apr 21 219
|43|12 Apr 21 219.8 Cake & Wine
|44|13 Apr 21 218.6
|45|14 Apr 21 217.4
|46|15 Apr 21 217.4
|47|16 Apr 21 215.6
|48|17 Apr 21 215.6
|49|18 Apr 21 215
|50|19 Apr 21 217.6
|51|20 Apr 21 216.8 Wine and big meal
|52|21 Apr 21 216.8
|53|22 Apr 21 218.2
|54|23 Apr 21 217.6

As you can see I’ve been strict most of the time but seem to be spinning my wheels a bit. The only thing that changes is dinner timing (so Monday, Wednesday, Friday i eat a lot later due to work).

Do i need to cut more calories out or am i just overthinking things and need to stop the infrequent cheat meals.

Could do with some hard truth/ advice please, in my head those cheat meals can’t have ruined the total loss in the week but i might just be eating too many calories in total.

Thank you

What’s your calorie intake set at?

How accurate is your measurement on food?

In the 23 days you listed in April, 8 of them had a comment indicating (I assume) poor compliance to your diet.

That’s over a third. One in three days is poop. Contrast with prior to April where you seem to have no compliance issues and were dropping weight.

tl;dr; stop inhaling cake and wine


Yeah dude, your weight was trending steadily downwards til you started eating cheat meals and drinking a bunch.


Thanks all, in my head those glasses or wine and cake couldn’t negate the 500 calorie deficit per day but looking back objectively it looks like it has.

April had been a month with a holiday, birthdays and wedding anniversary and i guess i haven’t managed those too well.

@bulldog9899 I didn’t actually figure out total calories, just adjusted until i wasn’t loosing or gaining and then cut from there. I measure 90% of my food so could figure it out just decided to backwards engineer it for once. I’m one of the lucky people that can eat the same thing for 7 days a week and not get fed up with it.

1 Like

Agreed with the cheat meal comments above. I know the articles act like there’s no damage to be done, but they’re hard for me to bounce back from.
I have found I can make trade-offs when I want my booze - like give up a serving of carbs or whatever. So instead of Cheerios for breakfast, I just have my usual beer(s)!
Seriously, the other benefit of the trade-offs is you start feeling shittier as calories get lower so your brain doesn’t want to give up your dry potatoes or whatever - you start actually thinking you prefer your diet!
Anyway, all told, it looks like your down ~6lbs in a month. That’s a good show


Just a slice of cake and one small wine and that deficit is gone…

1 Like

On the upside you stalled but didn’t rebound. Get back to strict compliance and youll be well on your way again.

1 Like

I agree with the other guys. Great progress at over a pound a week, but that two week span of straight non-compliance killed you.

The same thing happened to me earlier this year. I did well for a month then had a bad week and got derailed. From there it took a month to get back where I was.

It’s really hard to stay on a strict, restricted diet! Mentally it’s a grind and physically your body isn’t getting everything it needs. That’s why people “cheat.” That’s why so many diets include cheat days, or refeeds or carb ups, or whatever you want to call them.

I’ve been using this plan, 5 days in a mild deficit then 1 or 2 days at maintenance to “refuel” and prevent myself from going crazy. Lately I’ll loose 3 pounds over the week eating chicken and rice then gain 2 pounds on the weekend eating more normally. It’s been mostly working for about 8 or 9 weeks.


As someone who also likes to splurge on weekend beers, pizza, and burritos, here’s what I have found:

  • You need to be almost overstrict for several days a week. I’m probably in a deficit to account for the weekend excess, but I don’t measure calories. So, in totality, your week’s calories are within range after a weekend splurge.
  • Account for beer calories as much as possible that day. On a drinking afternoon, but sure to eat a very clean breakfast and lunch. Try to avoid snacking while drinking. One bite of loaded nachos will have as many calories as a beer (maybe more). You’ll notice those with beer bellies blame the beer, but if you watch them they eat nachos, wings, and loaded potatoes with their pints. You’ll get fat doing that even if you replace the beer with La Croix.
  • Get right back at it the next day. Don’t let a splurge the night before lead to McDonald’s for breakfast. Get out there and go for a run and have a healthy breakfast.

I’ve noticed that I can have 1-2 splurges a week. These would be an afternoon of beer and a pizza dinner, for example. More than that and the scale climbs. I also hit conditioning pretty hard, which helps. In fact, some of my best runs are after beers the previous day.

1 Like

If the splurges are inevitable, for whatever reason, track them. count the calories in the wine, the beer, the pizza. At the end of the week you can see what the impact was on your average calories.

This won’t give you any additional information, since you can already see they are enough to stop you losing weight, but what they will do is keep you mindful of what you’re doing. It stops a cheat meal becoming a cheat day.


Honestly I’d give yourself a bit of credit. 6 lbs in a month isn’t that bad at all. And as pointed out benefits may exist to slower and steadier fat loss. For the sake of brevity I won’t go a bunch into it right now. Yeah it’s not a blazing fast amount of weight loss but it’s also not like half a pound or anything.

1 Like


After some good hard truth from you great people I’ve been 100 compliant again and down to 214lbs. Top abs back in some good lighting.

Back on track. Any harm to cutting all the way until July and then starting a 6 month bulk?

My previous ‘bulk’ actually worked to add some muscle. I think I’ve realised what I’m messing up with my diet these days.

1 Like

Good job!

What do you mean by harm? Lose weight until you’re happy

By harm I mean slow down my metabolism too much or start losing muscle mass?

I’ve always read that you should bulk for too long and just wondered if the same was true of cutting. I mean I’m not back to by 12% bf look so I know I’ve got loads to go but just wondered if I should have a maintenance break at all.

Well, you shouldn’t bulk too long because you’ll lose track of how fat you’re actually getting.

Most of us who aren’t competing don’t tend to get too lean, and I don’t think you see the negatives (metabolic/ hormonal issues, significant loss of muscle mass) just because we still have plenty of fat (biologically speaking) to fuel the process.

I think the downside to dieting too long is, more than anything, that you’re not spending that time growing. That brings us back to the first point of let’s not get too fat in the first place (even though it’s fun).

Anyway, that’s just my point of view on it. I’m currently pleasingly plump, so what do I know?


And that’s where I get stuck, wanting to be leaner and cutting but not spending enough time building muscle because you can’t bulk for too long.

The times I’ve made viable changes to my body were over 4 month stints at bulking or cutting.

I might try a 2 month bulk focussed on a certain body part and then maintain for 2 months and rinse repeat until I need to cut, but is that a good thing long term? I’ve struggled with this ‘just over maintenance’ lean bulking stuff that I can’t seem to make progress on but maybe that’s my poor macros or nutritional timing.

I don’t know.

1 Like

TLDR: Diet until you’re as lean as you want to be or can no longer tolerate it, then keep good eating habits at higher calories. Lift throughout.

I can’t say I haven’t had any success just pure bulking, because that wouldn’t be true. I was younger and more active, though. I also was lighter and eating “up” so there was more room to grow.

No I’m older and much, much more sedentary (I think most of society is, to be honest; it’s just how the world is built now) - if I get even a little loose with diet it’s pure bodyfat gain. To be fair, I don’t have significant mass-gaining goals right now. On the flip side, I don’t have the discipline or desire to do a true cut more than once every couple of years at this point; it’s too all-encompassing.

Anyway, all that said, I think it takes years to build appreciable muscle mass. I don’t think you can know exactly how you’ll respond to anything at any given moment, and none of us, except Zoom shareholders, can predict the future. I think your best route is to go after your current goal until you get there, and then reevaluate.

All that said, if it were me, I’d try to:

  • Keep dieting down. You’re making great progress
  • Keep lifting. Until you get to single-digit bodyfat %, you should expect to progress
  • Don’t go crazy on either end. Think of your body as a trend line - you want little variances in your cut or bulk cycles, but still within the trend line.
  • Don’t believe most of the internet. It’s either selling you something magic or a whiny person justifying why they aren’t where they want to be

I really do think your expectations will drive your results. If we think dieting will cause you to lose muscle, we will. If we expect we’re going through a transformation and we’re coming out the back of it looking like Thor, then the dwarves May as well start crafting Mjolnir now.

I didn’t intend to go on a rant for a relatively simple question - sorry about that!

1 Like

Of course not. I have always found better results with some periodic higher calorie or maintenance calorie days sporadically while cutting that long though.

As for the 6 month bulk nothing wrong with that either although you don’t want to get in a cycle where you bulk and become a fatass then cut and become lean and repeat until death.

Other than that train for pain has great advice

I just spent some time gaining and losing weight.

My average gain when bulking was +1 pound per month. My average loss when cutting was -4 pounds per month. I’ve seen some other guys say it’s easier to cut that gain. I agree, it’s like 4 times easier to cut. Maybe that can help set up your timeline.

The best way to train while losing weight seem to be to do a Moderate volume of lifting, and a Lower but still Moderate volume of cardio or intervals. A workload you can recover from and survive for weeks. And while that volume stays pretty consistent you gradually up the intensity over time. Or you make the same amount of work slightly more difficult. Then you strategically wave the intensity back to recover and then gradually increase it to progress again. And because the work load is non killer you can maintain your deficit and loose fat.

The best way to Bulk is to Increase the Workload. More reps and more sets while not stressing adding more weight for awhile. You can keep weights and number of sets the same and really push the reps up every week. Or maintain the weights while you do more and more workouts per week. Or you can just jump right into an unsustainably big workload. Then you don’t even worry about “bulking” or “calories.” You just eat naturally. But your training is killing you and you’re really really hungry and you end up eating a ton just to survive, without having to force it.

Macros and nutrient timing are more important when you’re losing weight. You need to get all of your nutrients and come in under a certain amount of calories so you need a little structure. Keeping the your physical workload consistent helps you manage your hunger during the cut.

Aggressively pushing the workload ramps up your appetite and makes it easier to eat and eat so macros and timing don’t matter as much. You’re starving every couple of hours so just eat.

1 Like