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Can't Establish a Consistent Maintenance, What Next?

So back from mid-Feb to beginning of June I had a very successful cut wherein my weight dropped from 197.6 to 175.6, losing 22lb. image

In the 18 weeks that have followed I’ve been focused on keeping my weight <180 while improving performance in the gym. However, the results have been somewhat frustrating and confusing, and I was looking for some more objective input.

So here’s what hasn’t changed at all throughout that time:

  • 250g protein/day
  • 50g fat per day
  • 6 days/week training push/pull/legs planned in 4 week training blocks (only one week was a 4 day bro split “deload” week)
  • walk an average of 5mi a day (my only cardio)

The one thing I have altered once/week is carbs/day. I will measure my weight consistently after waking every Saturday, naked, after going to the bathroom. I stuck to a painfully basic strategy, of adding 50g carbs if weight went down, changing nothing if weight stayed the same or went up but stayed under 180, and dropping 50-100g/day if I went over 180. Here is my average weekly change based on carbs/day for that week, and the crux of my frustration:

Carbs/day Ave. Change
50g -2.80 lb
100g -1.60 lb
150g -1.00 lb
200g -0.13 lb
225g +0.67 lb
250g +1.85 lb


So it’s safe to say somewhere in the 200-225g carbs/day is where it seems I’ve established maintenance. That’s all fine; however, what throws me off is how wild my weight swings get as I deviate only a little from that. Just changing by 25-50g/carbs (literally only 100-200 Cal/day) means losing/gaining 1-2lbs a week. I understand fluctuations in weight from water/glycogen stores, but for a measly 1400 Cal (< 0.5 lb) difference per week? Just these last 3 weeks, I lost 2.5 lbs over the first 2 on 200g/day, and bumped to 250g the last week and gained 3 back!

To me this doesn’t feel sustainable long term, having to pin point my carbs to basically a 25g window, and I’m not sure how to proceed. At 200g carbs/day, I’m hungry almost all the time.

Any suggestions? What I was thinking was maybe just riding out at 250g/week for awhile until my weight stalls or even starts to come back down a little. Probably worth mentioning I’m very lean at the moment, 181 lb (about 6 lbs over my low weight), and honestly look and feel just as lean. Waistline hasn’t changed, I’m just a bit fuller. I kinda wonder if my body’s just trying to converge to a healthier baseline weight for me, and I missed the mark thinking that was 180.

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Looking good dude.

This sounds like a good idea.

A few observations from reading your posts:

  • Overall, your caloric intake seem quite low still. (250p/50f/200-250c = 2250-2450)
  • You seem to have gone against your own rule set, and went from 225g to 250g, I’m curious as to why?

At any rate, I would say you have no reason to be flummoxed (although I understand that you are).

Personally, I would be hungry too with that macro split. I find that my hunger is deeply informed by not just caloric intake, but also energy availability. Protein has gotten a lot of PR as being satiating, and I find that is true to a point. After a sustained deficit, it stops blunting my hunger while macros that are more readily converted into energy (fat/carbs) do more to alleviate hunger.

Lastly, your weight fluctuations seem entirely normal. It’s important to note that a single gram of carbohydrates can on its own carry 4g of water. So, now we have a scenario wherein you are upping your carbohydrates, and days do not exist in isolation, then I’d expect to see that not only do glycogen stores get restored (weight), that glycogen holds water (extra weight), you have more food passing through your digestive tract which doesn’t necessarily empty every day (even more weight).

Your examples refer to day(s) but in the range of 2-3 days, not a moving average across say 5, 7 or even 14 days, and I think that’d be a lot more interesting to look at. If you want to get fancy, you could always do <100g carbs on your off-days and skew the carbs you are missing out on on those days to your training days and see if that doesn’t blunt your hunger. But, you should consider ingesting more fats on those low days then.

Hope this’ll be somewhat useful for you, somehow.

Are there any changes in your strength - did you keep the level or did the results fall. Or you became stronger on some exercises. How did you train, in the sense of heavier and less repetitions or vice versa. What was the volume during this period.
However, congratulations on the results achieved.

FWIW, I follow method of macro tracking I picked up from Shelby Starnes awhile back. I only count main macros and not incidentals. Like I don’t count protein in rice or carbs in nut butter. There’s some exceptions like eggs and cottage cheese where I have to count more than one macro. In any case, I’d say my total cal probably average ~200 more than this, but yeah, still pretty low.

The 225g was an experiment. I actually went from 200 to 225, since last time my weight jumped so much on 250, I wanted to split the difference and see if I could slow down the rate of gain.

See, this is why I came looking for objective feedback. It’s so easy to convince myself I’m getting fat again and all my hard work was for nothing. I do tend to favor high fiber carb sources like Ezekiel bread, berries, sweet potatoes, etc. so that only further validates your point about more variance in water weight and food in my stomach. Would you say it’s possible then I’m still not really at maintenance despite scale weight moving up? I know that sounds like a dumb question, but hopefully you get what I mean…haha.

Thing is I work out 6 days/week and the other day is filled with sports, usually ultimate frisbee. Do you think in general cycling carbs could be a good idea? I recently switched my push/pull/legs split to upper compound/upper isolation/legs (realizing I needed a few lower stress days). I had posted about it in BSL and you suggested a good periodization program from CT, so I’ll be trying that one next! Maybe I can go lower carb on the isolation days.

I’ll stick with 250g and ride it out, and follow up here periodically if anything gets goofy.

I don’t think you are getting fat. Maybe your adding a little bit, and I’ve read in the past that even when we’re in a deficit after a meal some calories end up in our fat cells. I believe your weight fluctuations can easily be attributed to water and carrying extra stool.

If you think about it objectively, imagine a car and you fill up the tank. It’ll weigh more, inevitably. You are taking in more fuel, so you’ll weigh more. It doesn’t de facto mean that you’re undoing your cut.

I kind of believe that yes, refer back to the earlier statement about fat cells filling back up even when in a deficit. Either which way I think you need to give it more time to figure out which reality you’re living, and I believe restricting calories whenever you see the scale go up is laying the foundation for some really unhealthy behaviour.

In truth, I feel somewhat uncomfortable answering given the discrepancy between your physique and my own. But this makes me more convinced you still haven’t found the calories at which you’re actually maintaining. I’d say you’re presumably in a deficit still although someone might quote some physics definitions about how your weight relates to this. I’m guessing you are maybe at the bottom end of your window where your weight will actually be somewhat stable.

Personally, I’d look at weekly average calories and adjust from there. Not day-to-day.

I like cycling carbs for a variety of reasons. If its appropriate for you only your own first-hand experience can dictate that.

During the cut, strength stayed the same. Since starting maintenance diet, I’ve gotten stronger across the board. I’ll just post an example of a block for a push workout; it’ll be much easier than trying to explain. This is a bench primary/delts pump. Second push day is military press primary, chest/tris pump. And similarly w/ quads/hams and upper back/lats alternating focus.

Wk 1 Wk 2 Wk3 Wk4 Wk5
A BAND BENCH PRESS 6x6 6x5 6x4 6x3 3x8
B FLOOR PRESS 6x8 6x7 6x6 6x5 3x10
C DIP 6x10 6x8 6x7 6x6 3x12
D DB SHOULDER PRESS 4x12 4x10 4x9 4x8 2x15
E1 PLATE/DB BUS DRIVER 4x15 4x12 4x10 4x8 2x20
E2 INCLINE LATERAL RAISE 4x15 4x12 4x10 4x8 2x20

@Voxel Just following up. Good call! I held my carbs at 250g. Once again, my weight jumped that first week, but for the first time I didn’t drop cals just because it went over 180. Sure enough, over the next 3 weeks my weight has dropped back down about 2.5 lb and I was 178.8 as of this morning. On to 300g carbs next week!

Funny thing is by my third straight week at the higher carbs, I started feeling hungry all the time, and even looking flat again in the mornings! All this for a guy who’s been traditionally afraid of eating any more than 100g of carbs in a day.