T Nation

Cutting Phase- Calories and Diet Approach Guide


Hello Christian,
I’m beginning my cutting phase looking to lean up after putting on some size. I’m going to follow a calories deficit using 1 day a week as a re feed day eating around my maintenance level.

My calories are:
Maintenance: 2,800
Deficit: 2,300
Using a 40/40/20 split
Carbs: 225g
Fats: 60g

The 2,300 deficit leaves me room later down the track, if needed, to drop lower, around 250 calories putting my deficit around 2,000-2,050 calories.
On the 2,000 calories ill increase protein and lower carbs and fat-
Protein: 250g
Carbs: 175g
Fats: 40g

Following your guidelines in your article on Thibarmy ill look to slowly add cardio to my schedule when fat loss stalls and further on if needed decrease calories to around 2,000-2,050.


  1. Is this a good starting point in terms of starting at 2,300 calories (500 deficit from maintenance)?

  2. I’ve chosen the 1 day a week re feed schedule as I find eating the same calories for me each day (training and non training days) is much easier to do spread across 4 meals. Is this a good strategy?

  3. Is eating at around maintenance calories on the re feed day correct?

  4. Finally, what day is best to do the re feed, an off day which for me is Saturday or on a heavy lower or upper day which for me is Sunday or Tuesday? I’m thinking the Saturday as it’s a complete off day for me and from reading your article ‘turn rest days into growth days’ you advise to keep calories the same or even a bit higher on off days to increase glucose storage in the muscle and to take advantage of the more anabolic state. This would allow me to reset the body at the end of the week preparing it for the 2 heavy days on Sunday and Tuesday.

Thank you for your time


Yes it i adequate IF your maintenance level truly is 2800 (meaning that you wrote down all you ate for a week, calculated the caloric intake and measured body weight evolution to know if it i a surplus, a deficit or maintenance). Using mathematical formulas doesn’t always work well.


I wouldn’t even include refeeds in the beginning. They are not needed yet. First because your carbs are at a level that will not leave you completely depleted and also because leptin won’t drop before 3 weeks or so. I would wait 3 weeks before including a refeed.


Provided that the added calorie are from carbs (to refill muscle glycogen) yes. In your case that would give you an additional 125g of carbs, which will do the trick.


Both approaches have their pros and cons. When dieting down I like to use them on an off day which allows you to increase glycogen stores more. If you are in a gaining phase I’d put them on a workout day


Thank you for the reply Christian,
Yes, that is my maintenance level as I constantly track my calories and weight whether I’m in a surplus or at maintenance or deficit. I forgot to mention I’ve been sitting at maintenance, 2,800 calories, for the past 4-5 weeks with little fluctuation in weight week to week when measuring weight (daily) upon rising (after going to the toilet).


  1. As mentioned above I’ve been at maintenance for 4-5 weeks (around 300g carbs a day) so now dropping down 500 calories into a deficit, should I still wait 3 weeks to include the re feed or should I include them right away?

  2. Taking your advice I’ll do the re feed on Saturday (off day) to restore muscle glycogen. For the re feed days, should I only increase carbs or can I increase fats as well? Also, should I keep protein the same or should I decrease a bit?

Thanks again for the help