T Nation

Fairly Low Cal Diet - Really That Bad?

New to the forums but I’ve read a ton on this site over the last month or so. Here’s my story.

I’m 5’10 and 180 lbs. I used to hit the weights pretty frequently but have laid off over the last 18 months. About 5 weeks ago, I decided I was too chubby and got back on my old routine.

*3 weight training days, approx 50-60 min each day, splits
*3 cardio days, 30 min to 2 hours depending on the activity

5 weeks ago I weighed approx 195 lbs. I have been eating between 1700 and 1800 clean calories daily split into 5 or 6 meals making sure to get at least 185g protein. My carb intake is between 50-70g on non-weight days and between 100 and 150g on weight days.

I supplement with protein shakes, 5g fish oil, and BCAAs during weights and heavy cardio. I usually have one weekly cheat day that comes in around 2500 calories. I’ve lost about 15 lbs in 5 weeks and have made considerable strength gains, although I wasn’t very strong to begin with.

I imagine most people here would probably say I’m eating too little. However, if I’m getting the results I want in weight and strength, what is the downside here? My goal is to get to single digit BF% while maintaining as much muscle as I can. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

It seems like you’re nutrition is good, and you have a pretty low carb intake, and the protein and BCAAs will help with the muscle loss. The calories seem pretty low though. I read in one of these articles not to stay on that kind of a diet for more than 10 weeks. Your body will start to compensate and your metabolism will slow down.

One suggestion I have is to get a consistent body fat measurement. I have a tanita body fat scale that is neither accurate nor precise, but at least it is consistent. I use it to calculate my lean body mass to see if I am losing fat, muscle, or both. It isn’t totally accurate, but its better than guessing.

I’m no expert, but I’d say eat more. At least set a date where you will up to a more moderate calorie intake so your body doesn’t start to break down which it will sooner or later.

Thanks for the reply. I will certainly up the calories once I get to where I want to be in terms of BF%. I guesstimate that I’m in the 15-16% range right now. My plan is to cut down to 173-175 and then increase to 2000 calories and switch up my weight routine a bit. That should put me at about 8 weeks in.

As long as I’m getting the right kind of gains, I envision gradually increasing to 2300-2500. I just can’t imagine getting up to the 3000-4000 range some of these guys seem to work up to. I put on weight pretty easily and I fear that would get me right back where I started, even with clean calories. Will I be selling myself short with 2500 calories at 175 pounds assuming I maintain the same activity level?

Hey man, I’m working out a new diet plan for myself. Read the article Carb Cycling Codex by Christian Thibaudeau. The quote I was thinking of was “Warning: In my honest opinion, no one who’s trying to get muscular should follow a restrictive fat loss diet for more than 16 weeks in a row. And most people would be better off using 8-12 weeks of dieting.”. I just ran across it again going through that article.

I’m going to try the plan and I was just calculating my macro breakdown for the days. At 162 lbs and 5’7", my maintenance level is 2828 calories, minus 20% for fat loss brings me to 2260 calories. On my low(er) carb days, I’ll get 152g carbs. This is still more nutrition than you are getting, even with less height and weight.

In short, once you get to where you want to be lean-wise, 2500 cal is probably not enough for significant size/strength gains. Everybody is different though, and you can always adjust up or down depending on results, but I would start closer to 3200.

Its easy to add calories: Just eat some peanut butter and throw some olive oil and vinegar on your salads. Make your PWO shakes with milk and throw some oatmeal, pumpkin, or whatever in with them.