T Nation

Cut or Continue?


#1

All,
A short while back I asked for help re fat loss and retaining strength. I got the answers I wanted but decided to carry on with eating loads and getting stronger for a time.
The issue is my work place health assessment has conflicted me. Now I know the body fat scales are crap. But they give an indication of magnitude. It came back as 32.8%. So I figure somewhere around 30-35% is a good guess.

At 114kg that’s 75-80 kg lean mass. Or at a reasonable body fat of 20-25% I could be 90-100kg…

The things conflicting me are:
To cut
I look okay. But I could look good. I have okay mass. 16 inch arms, pec over hangs and massive legs for my stage of training (31inch tops and 17inch calf’s). Cut my fat some and done!
My cholesterol came in at 6.25. Not high but my dad has heart failure, his dad and his uncle both died of heart attack. So I’m paranoid.
I don’t wanna have to cut much more than 10-15kg.

To carry on
I’m still making weekly gains of 2-3kg per lift. And I don’t wanna lose that.
I have a power lifting comp in 10weeks and that might be a better time to cut?

In short, I’m struggling with conflicting goals. I know the should I bulk or cut question is so well done. But what did others do? How much strength or muscle did you lose? Anyone got before and after so I gauge the sort of improvement I’d see?

FYI - My current lifts on 5/3/1
Squat 142.5 x 10
Deadlift 157.5 x 12
Bench 97.5x9
Press 62.5x5


#2

Dude, you’re obese by any measure. Why do you think that’s a good idea? Your lifts certainly do not justify carrying that much fat. Unless you’re a top SHW lifter, with a powerlifting total above 2100, it’s not justifiable. And honestly, I wanted to go with higher than 2100, because I know guys with better totals than 2100 at sub-10% bodyfat. How can you justify being obese for the sake of below average powerlifting totals?

Cut, dude. Bulking is NEVER necessary. Get your ass below 15%, and stay there. Your new goal should be to hit the numbers you’re at, while carrying half the bodyfat. I know you can do this, and once you do, I can promise you’ll never regret the massive change in body composition. You’ll look back at your fat previous life and wonder why you ever got there in the first place.


#3

Truth hammer hurts dude. But thanks.

I guess I’ve been putting it off as I don’t look like your typical obese / 30%+ body fat guy.

But that said I am. Can’t ignore that.

Time to purchase some kitchen scales, get my chefs hat and add food to my training log.

That should keep me honest.

Flip - thanks.


#4

It’s probably well distributed, you have tight skin, whatever. some obese people look sloppier than others. Some just carry it all in their gut. A 20% bodyfat guy CAN definitely look worse than the 30% guy if that carry it all in a beer guy, or they have loose floppy skin, stuff like that. Having some muscle helps for sure.

But it’s absolutely going to help you in powerlifting to shed the fat. You’ll be able to compete in a lower weight class, and over time put up the same or better numbers. If you can drop 2-3 weight classes, that’s HUGE. Even if you lose, say, 5% on your lifts temporarily, it’s still going to work out as a net gain. That’s what matters from a competitive standpoint. Any weight-class based sport favors leanness.

And you’ll get healthier. Which is even more important. Your blood markers might be fine now, but over time, carrying extra bodyfat WILL take its toll on your health.

Anyway, I appreciate you being receptive, that will take you far. Feel free to ask me if you need anything else.


#5

Dude - I ask loads of question and some times Im as dumb as bag of spanner’s. But honestly I’m all ears.
I wanna get good at this.
I destroyed a good rugby career 16 years ago cuz I never listened. I know I have the training attitude. I just need to eat right, lose the gut, and restart.

FYI if I ever ask for clarification it’s for info purposes not questioning.

Aha question. On 5/3/1 - calorie deficit on the +sets seem evil. Should I adjust at all? Or just carry on and see?


#6

couple ways to address this.

one is adaptation. You’ll adapt to the calorie deficit fairly quickly as long as you don’t try to drop all the weight at once, ya know? if your deficit is reasonable, you’ll be fine. To me, whether I feel good or not during and after a workout is purely based on my nutrition right before the workout, not my overall diet. So if you can eat appropriately around your workouts, you should feel fine. I HIGHLY recommend Plazma. Start sipping it about 20 minutes before you work out, and just stay well hydrated, drink it throughout your gym time. I also make sure I get carbs before I go to the gym. I like to eat a bowl of cereal with milk before I go. Just feels good, and I perform well. Even if you’re trying to work at a calorie deficit and drop carbs, you can make this work for you if you’re judicious with your other food choices throughout the day.

The +sets just mean max reps, right? A max is a max. So you’ll do what you can. If your performance suffers slightly, like you hit a rep or 2 less than expected on a given set, that’s fine. It’s still your max.


#7

Thanks man. Gonna try 2400cals a day with 120/150g of protein, and clean as I can. All carbs from fruit and veg.

I’ll look at plazma. And I might have to learn to live with hunger.

See how I feel after a week or two and adjust.


#8

absolutely. It gets better.

give it longer than this. That’s not enough time for you to feel ‘good’ on a cut. pay more attention to the scale than your feelings. If you lose 2 lbs in 2 weeks, and feel like you’re dying, then your body just isn’t used to the process. A lot of this will simply be mental.

When I do water cuts for weigh ins, I have my last meal/drink at around noon on Thursday. Most days, I would not be eating again until 6 or so, and I wouldn’t feel hungry before then. However, when it’s the start of a weight cut and I know I can’t have food or water for a day, I start feeling hungry/thirsty WELL BEFORE I naturally should. Like, I’ll feel like I’m starving at 3pm for no good reason. Our minds are powerful.


#9

Makes sense. You crave what you can’t have.
I’ll get some scales and add a photo to my log.

Thanks for the advice. I’ll tag you in the log if I need a hand - if that’s cool.

Flip take it easy dude.


#10

All, an update if you care. And I appreciate this might be long in the “powerlifting section” but I don’t want to start lots of threads on the same thing.

I’m well on the way with my fat loss program. I’m 4kg (9lb) down in 13 days. Which is better than planned. WAY better than planned.
I going to attend an IPF meet on the 8th of April. I know they get some stick on here. But they are the most local guys to me and the only guys that responded to my emails.
The cut has screwed with my training a bit – feeling the lack of energy so I’ve swapped from 5/3/1 to heavy triples. Try 10+ heavy squats on an empty stomach. I did try and carb cycle but I found myself trying to cheat it.
Current training is 3x3 at 75% to 80% of 1RM with an additional set of 3 at 85% of 1rm. so 12 reps at 75%+.
Diet is brutally simple. No crap and small portions with added protein. 6 eggs with green veg for breakfast is AWESOME. I tend to eat what every after training. Even if its sugary crap.

My question is – once I’m closing in on the competition when do I return to normal eating? I want to compete at my max strength. But like wise – I want to keep momentum with the weight loss.
I’m not going to stop the diet early just cuz I made weight. If I can get right down and add lean mass this time I want to (He says thinking about meat feast pizzas and bananas in cream dessert).
But like wise I don’t want to be calories deficit right up to the night before. When do I start adding in again to enable me to compete?


#11

Is your performance actually being affected? Like are you capable of doing 5/3/1 and just don’t want to, or are you physically missing lots of reps?

I would not do this, and neither should you. Fuel your workout, dude. This is NOT how you diet. You gotta figure out a better plan. Even while dieting down, you need carbs around your workout to perform. Don’t ever lift on an empty stomach. This is a great way to sacrifice progress.

Have you considered working with a diet coach for like a month? It sounds like you don’t really know what you’re doing. Maybe some professional assistance would help get you on track.


#12

Thanks for the concern - but I’m okay. I re read the post it looks like I’m totally crashing this. But I’ve started to introduce more carbs into lunch and dinner. Because whilst 3kg every fortnight is great fat loss. Its not gonna be healthy. I guess I jumped both feet first and I’ve had to level off. Which I’m okay with. This is my first “cut” and the learning curve is steep.

As for 5/3/1 and empty stomach squats - this was on day 1 - after about 1800 calories that day. So not really empty but felt empty. And yeah missed reps. Felt shocking as well.
I also think i thought myself into this. I was so worried about it and i think it got into my head. I let this happen on lots of things.

As for a coach I thought that was what you where for… :wink:
But honestly - never considered it. I keep meaning to swap over to the dedicated power lifting gym in town - maybe this is the nudge I need. I know they have come quality coaches and a few guys with 850kg totals.


#13

lol. I don’t think I’d be a very good diet coach. I’ve never worked in that capacity. I’m capable of helping with the basic premises I think should be followed by most people, and I understand how fat loss works, but a diet coach goes well beyond this, and generally for a reasonable price if you’re not paying for like a contest prep. 100 bucks could get you at least a month (and I’m pretty sure that’s on the high end) of dedicated diet coaching from a professional. They would be able to help you with the details and figure out how you respond to different strategies. You would be presenting them with a whole lot more information than what you share here, and in return, you would get much more quality feedback. A couple months of coaching could go so far for most people. You’d learn things you would carry with you for the rest of your life. A solid investment, to my mind.

Anyway. Regarding workout nutrition. I really think it’s worthwhile to have a dedicated workout nutrition plan, something you repeat every time you go to the gym. Don’t just rely on the calories you consume as part of your ‘regular’ diet. For me, that’s Plazma. 1-2 scoops, prior to training, that I sip throughout my workout. I always feel great. And the calories aren’t particularly high anyway. There are other options, this one just makes me feel so much better every training session.


#14

I looked at plasma - but I’m UK based and it expensive to ship.
I might try something else but I’m also a cheater. so if I have 1/2 an excuse to eat high sugar food - i’ll be eating 4 bowls of lucky charms 3 times a day telling myself “it work out prep!”. Honestly - my relationship with food is abusive.

But thanks the heads up. I might tap up my local pro gym.
Flip as ever - Thanks.


#15

that’s an option, but generally speaking, you don’t have to go local. Online diet coaching works well, and is generally less expensive, and you have access to better coaches.

You can definitely sub a similar product for Plazma. Plazma is the cheapest way to get those ingredients all together here in the US, but there are certainly other options.

If sugar is a problem, don’t use a sugary workout drink. And don’t use one that has stimulants in it. I don’t know if this works for you mentally, but for me, once something becomes routine, I generally stick to it well. So if my workout drink is specifically one thing, as I mentioned, I can easily dedicate myself to it. It’s one shake, at one specific time of day. That’s it.


#16

I hope the op isn’t annoyed by me asking a side note question, but since you were taking about plazma…

While I would love to try it, I too live outside of the US and it’s currently a problem for me to get it.

So I bought the main ingredients (cyclic dextrin and peptopro) in bulk and i’m still waiting for the delivery, do you think that’d work just as well?

I read plazma does have some other ingredients, like citrulline malate and some micro nutrients, though.

@flipcollar do you think a blend of cyclic dextrin and peptopro, sipped during the workout, along with a whey and chocolate milk (yeah) drink 30 minutes before would be a good starting point as far as workout nutrition?


#17

If you don’t want to hire a diet coach then you could buy a book like Eric Helms’ “Muscle and Strength Pyramid: Nutrition”, Renaissance periodization also sells diet templates for those who don’t want to put too much thought into things. Right now it looks like you are cutting too fast, more than about 2lbs a week is going to lead to a lot of muscle loss. You should be eating around 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight, cutting on a low protein diet means cutting muscle. Also don’t reduce training volume too much, same issue there.


#18

I wish it was just sugar. But i’m just plain old crap with food. Its why I’m so fricking big (fat). As i say I’m trying to curb fat loss to 1kg a week. So I’m eating more - still not applying to much science. But if I can;t get a better handle on stuff I’ll get a coach.


#19

Dude, you should be eating normally now! Establish habits that you can carry on for your entire life.


#20

I get what you mean - but i think you can safely say my relationship with food had never been “normal”. I’m more over when to turn the deficient into a surplus closer to the date.

And I’m trying to get the habits running. But - as I say - there’s much to unpick/relearn!