This is my backstory. You could skip to the bottom for the question.
Ive been cutting for months on and off because I constantly tried different ways of dieting that I could maintain. I started at 220lbs and did fullbody and i found that I was always flat and felt like crap. I was eating at 3200 cals and got down to 210lbs before stalling. All of the advice i would constantly get was to move more and eat less. I picked eating less since Im eating a good amount of calories.
I stopped my cut for a couple months to change my training to something I could manage on a deficit and resumed my diet 5 weeks ago. During that maintenance phase I was eating 3500 cals a day and didnt gain any weight.
When i started this cut I dropped down to 2800 calories to get this diet over with and had good results up until recently. I got my weight down to 202lbs and stalled for two weeks. I should still be losing weight but thats not happening. I only lost 9lbs , so my new tdee shouldnt change that much. Today i found that im at 201lbs down from 202.4 the day prior. Im considering doing a refeed these next two days to help my metabolism and possibly flush excess water out of my system when i eat normal again.
Question: My biggest issue during my dieting was metabolic slowdown which would happen every 3-4 weeks like clockworks when I should still be losing weight and be at an average deficit of 200-300 cals per day at the very minimum given activity stays the same. Is there a way to get around these plateaus? People just say eat less or move more, but wouldnt that make metabolic damage worse? Are consecutive refeeds/cheat days the key to breaking plateaus in weightloss? Isnt the key to eat a little more and not less before dropping more cals or increasing more workload on the body?
I hear you, but I think this is likely to just be a case of “I’m disappointed I have to go lower calorie than I want.” It happens to us all, especially the first time or two we try to get lean!
Until you’re getting below 10 calories per pound, I just don’t see a crash diet concern (in my humblest opinion). In this case, we’re still over 13x and closer to 14x at the 201lbs weight - that’s darn near gaining territory for many of us. @gottheruns how old are you, by the way?
You dropped 10 pounds, and stalled, and felt shitty.
Then you did a little break, or “maintenance phase” for a couple months to feel better. And you held your weight steady during
Then you dropped another 10 pounds (in 3 weeks?) before you stalled again.
You did good at losing weight and Great at maintaining during your break.
The problem is that you lingered in stall mode a couple times, and you felt so bad that you needed that maintenance phase in the middle. That drew the process out for months, so it feels like you didn’t accomplish much.
Now you want to get strategic with refeeds or cheat days, to avoid to feeling flat, metabolic slow down, or stalling out on your cut. That sounds like a great idea.
An idea that immediately jumps out would be- Get into a deficit and drop pounds for 3 weeks. Then that 4th week, when you know you’re about to stall, increase calories to “Maintenance” to refeed, feel better and fire up your metabolism. From there, start another 3 week deficit, followed by maintenance week. After 3 of those cycles, take a longer diet break. That just seems like it would fit with what your body does anyway.
Another way could be the once a week “Cheat Meal.” But I think the whole cheat meal thing is more about a psychological break. Or like a discipline, mental thing more than a nutrition thing.
A way right in the middle is the Zig Zag or 5-2 diet.
You eat in a deficit for 5 days to cut some weight. Then eat more calories for 2 days to avoid the metabolic slow down. If you put your hardest workout during the higher calorie days it helps with recovery.
You just have to keep whittling the calories down. Keep the 5 low cal days and the 2 higher cal days, only remember to reduce cals on both days, over time.
What is that? You cant even measure that little to be sure.
I cut on at least 3000kcal deficit but ok, im a psycho. My girl has a bikini competitor trainer and she has her and all the girls do at least 1000kcal deficit for 3-4 months.
I think the problem is the small deficit. Its just that when people measure food, they are usually off by 200 kcals at least. And when they measure activity its the same. So aiming for 1000, one day you might get it, another day you might have like 500-600 deficit.
There is no way to make sure everything is so perfect day in and day out that 200 deficit would exist. Id say on most days you are in a maintenance or even slight surplus.
This is my timeline.
My initial cutting phase from 220 to 210 lasted 12 weeks. I then took a diet break for two weeks and ate at maintenance which was 3600 calories. During that time I still got down to 208lbs somehow.
I tried dieting again and got down to 205 at my lowest which was glycogen depletion. I switched lifting programs and ate at my maintenance and gained water weight back and was 208lbs again. I increased the calories because i was ending my last powerlifting mesocycle and I needed the cals.
Once i switched programs to something more maintainable, I started my cut immediately at 2800 cals down from 3600 and went from 208lbs to 202.4 in about 4 weeks. I stalled for a week at 202lbs which was last week and today im down to 201lbs.
I understand metabolic adaptation is a thing, but as you lose weight you generally need less cals to work with. If I was in a 800 calorie deficit, I shouldnt have adapted in 4 weeks. I should still be losing 1lb per week minimum. 10lbs of size is about 100-200 cals iirc.
I dont mind not eating a lot as long as i can maintain my lbm and lift. More so lifts because i enjoy powerlifting. My lifts arent dropping so im not worried about cals just yet. Im 25. The reason why i can afford to eat the calories is because i work in warehouse and get in 60k steps per week just from work. I also do powerlifting 5/days a week and my lifts are decent, so the higher workload helps with the amount of calories my body needs.
I figured the weekend refeed/cheat day will help because everytime I did have one unintentionally, i would drop weight and break past my weightloss plateau. Especially if its pizza and I eat slightly below maintenance. For some reason pizza increases my body temperature and i wake up weighing a pound or two less.
Read through this initial post and see where you’re going wrong.
Also, don’t focus so much on the supplements unless you actually need them. Sure, they help some - but are better used when you’ve exhausted all common methods.
Based on your numbers, I think you need to reduce more calories. If you are being 100% honest in your macro counting and not losing weight at 2800, then 2800 is your TDEE; reduce calories 500/day to lose 1lb/wk
Keep in mind, glycogen stores account for a LOT of initial weight loss. Simply changing your diet and reducing carbs can have an outsized effect on perceived weight loss - which will end up coming back when you reverse-diet.
Thanks for the input. I guess my mistake isn’t continuously making adjustments and trying to keep the same amount of cals the entire time. Im starting to realize a linear deficit is a little more easier to follow but harder to maintain compared to a carb cycle. My very first cutting cycle i carb cycled and I didnt have to decrease my weekly calories as I lost weight compared to a linear deficit. So while eating the same thing everyday, i need to make more changes more often.
Respectfully, I think the single biggest thing you need to adjust is how many calories you are eating. Carb cycling works and all that, but it makes scale progress difficult to track (because of glycogen store depletion/replenishment). This is fine if you can objectively track your progress in the mirror, but that is rather difficult for most people… Pictures help with this effort.
Funnily enough i just found my calorie log for my second ever cut to 180lbs at 10% bf. Turns out i decreases calories by 100 every two weeks until i got to about 12% then i switched to carb cycling which got me to 10% from 12% in 3 weeks. At the time I was eating 2300 cals and dropped to 2100 before carb cycling. Ironically enough 2100 calories a day totaled 14,700 calories per week. When i carb cycled, my weekly calories are 15,038 and I lost more weight eating more.