Can You Gain Strength When Cutting Calories?

Hello all,

This is probably a bad question, and I think I already know the answer to it. Is it possible to get stronger when eating less calories?

I recently decided to clean up my diet, so I’m not eating any more crap (sweet stuff) and have cut down on greasy foods (pizzas etc). I basically now just eat meat, vegetables, fruit and eggs. A typical day is something like this:

Breakfast - 3 scrambled eggs, pint of milk.
Snack - banana
Lunch 1 - 2 tins tuna, veg (peppers, onion, cucumber etc)
Lunch 2 - 2 chicken breasts, veg (broccoli, cabbage, carrots etc)
Dinner - Meat (fish/chicken/steak/pork etc) and veg (cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, green beans etc).

I’ve been tracking my food and with all of the above I’m never normally eating over 1900 calories, sometimes 2/300 less. Since I started this diet I’ve felt I’ve not been as strong as I was in the gym (probably due to returning from holiday too) and have been missing 5/3/1 reps that I was previously smashing, even after resetting my TM to a cycle previous.

Is this the reason? Also - I’ve not changed my protein intake at all, and if anything this may have increased but I still feel weaker.

Would you guys recommend any additions to the meal plans? I’m trying to lose some body fat but don’t want to lose strength and want to keep progressing with 5/3/1.


First of all its not Jim but;

Ive gained strenght while on a low calorie/ cutting diet but it was extremely slow and didnt include any alcohol plus lots of sleep

Think its doable but i dont see the point. Just loose weight while your ONLY aim being keeping your strength levels and then move on while you reach your desired weight.

Also carbs post workout wont necessarily hinder your gains but prob assist you. If you cut them out completely, you will prob go through a transition phase which youll adapt sooner or later.

Remember that the 531 program and the total training is based on performance, not calories. Although food habits are part of the 10 Weak Points, it is done in regards to performance in the other 9 areas. Good luck.

How drastically have you cut your calories?

There’s many reasons performance could be suffering but eating a massive calorie deficit would certainly be near the top of the list.

Eating cleaner can give you a boost in strength and body composition, but not fueling your body is a mistake. Giving up most junk food, processed food, chemical food additives and stuff like that is a good thing. But don’t neglect calories.

Add some good carbs to your meals. Sweet potato, rice, and oats. If you’re worried about carb/calorie intake then focus on eating them pre and post workout. You still need to eat them though. Veggies are mostly fiber and harder to use for energy than starches.

Echoing dbarry14…adding a cup of rice or potatoes to those 2 lunch meals and maybe potatoes in the eggs. It makes a big difference for me. I also drink Vitargo after workouts, which is 100% (magical) carbs, and that helps me recover considerably better.