T Nation

Cutting Diet After My First Year of Lifting


Hey I'm new to T-Nation although I've been reading and being a fan of the site since I started lifting. I have been lifting for about a year, always going heavy and hard as possible. I have a six day split where I split chest, back, shoulders, arms, and legs (hams and quads). I recently decided to cut and am I interested in some of the expertise of the members of this forum.

I am 5'6 go to college and weight in about 182 lbs started at 145 lbs. I am usually at the gym for about an hour and half everyday, always trying to increase the weight after each set. I don't really plan to change my style of lifting, I just try to go as hard as possible. Please don't be hesitant to ask for any extra information you may need to critique my lifting or diet. I am aiming for about 1800-1900 calories daily. I am currently taking lipo-6, flaxseed oil, optimum nutrition casein and whey protein, Flameout, micronized creatine and scivation extend.

When I first wake up: 2 Flameout pills, and lipo-6

Breakfast (11AM)
-Oatmeal 1/2 cup of whole grain oats, 1 serving of natural peanut butter, serving of cinnamon, 1 serving of natural honey, and 1 scoop of whey protein.

Pre-Workout Meal (1-2pm)
-2 servings of baked shrimp w/ celery and broccoli

Lifting Shake & while lifting my Sciviation watermelon flavored XTEND
-2 scoops of whey protein, 1 serving of honey, and 1tbs of cinnamon
2 pills of lipo-6

Post-Workout Meal (5pm)
-2 fillets of talapia and broccoli and celery

Meal #4 (8pm)
3 whole eggs with green onions and mushrooms

Meal #5 (11pm)
2 scoops of casein protein before sleep

-Before going to bed I take flaxseed oil, 2 pills of Flameout
I calculated the calories about 1850 calories with about 210g of protein. Wondering if anyone has any diet recommendations as well as little tips or experiences you had with lifting while cutting. The only vegetables I will be eating will be made up of celery, broccoli, green onions, and mushrooms. Trying to get to about 10% body fat but have no idea how far I am. I am pretty short and most of my weight accumulated around my lower stomach as well as my love handles. As well as people's take on cardio, I hear slow cardio after lifting is beneficial because I am really trying to preserve as much muscle mass as possible during this cut as well as safe as much as my strength gains. Thanks in advance looking forward to hear your recommendations.


I'd say you don't need to cut yet, but a picture would help.


EVen though you're not especially tall (I"m not either), 1800 cals is insanely low, especially for your STARTING diet numbers. You always want to have room to make adjustments as progress starts to stall.

And don't get me started on your 'low intensity cardio to preserve muscle mass' - lol



Other than making sure calories aren't too low and protein is high, there's not much else to say. You can't go wrong with the basic meat and veg diet (with some carbs thrown in there)...which it seems like you're following. Looks like you're from a country where "healthy eating" is more of a normal lifestyle (e.g. Mediterranean)?

I think that you need to do a hell of a lot more "slow paced" cardio (like 7 days a week) to equal the benefits of high intensity interval training (HIIT)...as Stu will no doubt agree LOL. So in my opinion, if your calories aren't too low, and you are eating enough carbs (e.g. never lower than 50g/day), I think HIIT done twice a week or so is superior for results. There are different versions of HIIT bear in mind (some people think of sprinting, some think of weight training complexes/circuits). There's nothing wrong with low intensity cardio, I just don't think it needs to be the primary form of fat burning (if you're actually at the stage where you HAVE to do cardio).

Bottom line, I doubt that you are as fat as you maybe think you are...and remember that progress (strength/muscle mass increases) will most likely come to a standstill on a proper cut (depending on your level of development and current amount of bodyfat), so don't expect to attain both goals in any large degree at the same time.


I have always heard that HIIT will destroy to much muscle to quickly while cutting.If anything I would do complexes twice or three times a week. The barbell complexes are always fun and have showed great results in the past. I am trying to cut for 2-3 months at this pace (hopefully 2bs-3lbs a week), do you beleive this is the smart thing to do?

I want to be able to see my hard earned work and would also like to compete in school powerlifting. But my numbers for my weight class are no where near competitive. I was hoping to get to 165 and see where my strength is. I made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot from my first bulk about 8 months ago.

I know a lot of people on this site hate when people cut after 2 months haha, and I do agree with that but I do beleive it's time for me to really truly cut. I was also intrested in your idea of not doing cardio until you have to, I think i'm going to stick to a strict diet until I start to stall and then move onto complexes (HIIT).I never thought that complexes would be considered HIIT? I always thought it was only sprinting in intervals.


Yeah that's where people get confused with interval training; it doesn't just mean sprinting. Even weight training could be classed as interval training. Another form could be jump rope (pretty good from what I've heard...haven't tried it, sprinting always works well for me)

Any form of cardio can be abused. If you push too hard with volume/intensity, it will upset your hormone balance whether it's via cardio or weight training (although it is usually diet that's often at the route of most people's problems when they complain about "overtraining").

The whole hype about HIIT being bad for muscle maintenance is unfounded in my opinion. Sure you'll lose muscle on any routine that has you doing too much for what you're taking in.

As Stu pointed out, the first thing you should have done is simply reduce calories by small amounts to start with. Then when results slow down/stagnate, reduce again. If you have a slow metabolism (doubtful) then it's advisable to do cardio straight away. If not, you can get away with just reducing calories (at least to start with).


After a few weeks on 3500cals, weight loss comes to a halt, so you decrease to 3000 cals. Weight loss comes to a halt on 3000 cals, so you reduce to 2500. At this point, say for example you're around 12% bodyfat, you may decide to add in cardio (instead of lowering calories again), so you do HIIT twice a week for the shortest period (e.g. 10 mins/session). Every time you come to a halt, you increase duration of HIIT to a max of 20-30mins/session. Personally I wouldn't like to do cardio more than 5 times per week (and I wouldn't do HIIT more than 3 times per week, two's better). Also, 2000 cals per day would be the absolute bottom calorie intake for me personally and I think most would start to risk muscle loss lower than that (especially if doing cardio at the same time).

When you get lean (e.g. under 10%-12% bf) it is advisable to have one or two "high" calorie days a week (days where you eat at maintenance or just above) and maybe have a little extra carbs on these days too...this stops the metabolism from slowing down and thus keeps fat burning going.

Some weeks you may lose 3lbs, other weeks you may lose 1lb or none. Don't get impatient, give it a couple of weeks or so before you make a change (you're body may be recomping - ie gaining some muscle while losing some fat). To put it in perspective, there won't be too many changes in calorie intake/cardio over 8-12 weeks of cutting.

It all depends on how much fat you have to lose to start with.


A note on the complexes if you decide to do them; most people overestimate the weight and it turns into a weight lifting session as opposed to cardio...don't make this mistake. Yeah it needs to be very intense, but the lack of weight can be overcompensated for by effort/speed/volume.


Thank you its_just_me I really appreciate you giving me some great advice. Completely understandable, I believe I'm about 17-20% bodyfat. I've always heard to keep your calories around 10 or 11 bodyweight so I try to keep my calories around 1850-2100 calories depending on what i'm lifting. I definitely think i'll start doing complexes soon, prolly in about two weeks to range my progress. I really want to be around 8-10% bodyfat and then begin a cycle of clean bulking, which is not what I did last time and I regret it everyday haha. But thats why we makes mistakes to learn from them I guess lol.


My pleasure :slight_smile:

Strictly speaking, I wouldn't say that your diet needs to be that restrictive if you are close to 20% bf. A simple maintenance intake will change your body composition over the long term (make small strength/muscle gains while losing some fat). Obviously, you can't get the best of both worlds (fat loss and muscle gain), but you won't make many mistakes by going to extremes and it will be easier to stick to. Many people make the mistake of expecting instant results, and thus the reason why many lose muscle (they drop calories, which inevitably includes reducing protein, because their fat loss isn't what they would consider "fast enough"). You need to do trial and error, not just rely on a calculation - if you are dropping strength or stagnating really badly (despite not even being all that lean), you're not eating enough. If your sex drive takes a "nose dive", you're not eating enough. It's not just a case of calories in vs out - if you don't take in enough calories, your body will "shut down" the metabolism and start using muscle for energy. Let your strength/mood be your guide.

Speaking from personal experience, in about 12 weeks I've managed to drop around 4% of my bodyfat while maintaining muscle, simply by cycling my calorie intake (no cardio). My calorie intake has been averaging around 3000 cals (roughly "maintenance") - so most days it's close to 2500 cals (catabolic), and a couple days a week I "spike it" by taking in around 3500 (anabolic). All the while I've been making small strength gains. If you want a good idea of what your maintenance intake is - just follow your appetite (don't overfill yourself, and don't allow yourself to starve), this generally is a good "rule of thumb". Most people naturally cycle their calorie intake without even thinking about it (some days like on workout days, they'll feel more hungry).

If you want to get really lean (something you don't need to be concerned about until you've built a decent "base"), then you tend to need cardio for that extra "edge".


:frowning: I hates me some cardio....


If you're not lying there's no way that at 182 and at your height you look small, just don't get caught in the cutting game for too long if you have more mass goals, 12 weeks max I'd say.


I went to weight myself I'm right now about 180 lbs after lifting. I do have a decent amount of mass but like I said it was a good first bulk, I don't plan on stopping but I would like to start looking like a bodybuilder. I feel I am carrying to much weight in my stomach and lower back and its taking away from my physique. I'd like to get down to 8-10%body fat while retaining as much muscle and strength as possible.

I planned on doing this in the summer because of all the free time I have to lift and eat the right amount of food. I plan on "clean" bulking and paying much more attention of what I eat come fall. And I hate cardio as well but I do plan of incorporating barbell complexes in about a month or when my losses seem to stall. Thanks again for all the words of encouragement I wish I could post a picture but I don't have a camera and my iphone doesn't take pictures all to well.