T Nation

How Low Can You Go?

Hi there, I’ve been on a cutting diet for the past few weeks and I’m not seeing the results I want as fast as I want them. I’m eating according to the Massive Eating principles, with a paleolithic twist, but at 25% less than maintenance. This equates to 2712 cals/day, consisting of 275g protein (1.6g/lb), 90g fat (30% of total calories, 70g from salmon), and 199g carbs, all fruit and veggies. My question is: how low can I go? I’m going to drop it to 2500 cals, but I’m worried about losing strength and mass. I’ve been lifting only about 3 months, and I’ve added mass and lost fat even on this “diet.” How low below maintenance do you all go?

I started below maintenance eating (Massive Eating – Don’t Diet, taper method) August 1. This time I had more patience than in the past, and took a more long-term mindset to lose fat slowly and keep the muscle. Cardio started at 4 times per week and climbed to 6 times per week, with duration edging up gradually, but rarely more than 20 minutes. I charted results by taking waist measurements. First 3 measurements were on 8/1, 8/6, 8/20. During that time the tape did not move. But, I could see slight progress in face and chest. I didn’t panic, and didn’t drop the cals. I held cals steady at 3000-3200. I discovered that there was a pretty good lag time before the diet effect became visible. Next measurement on 9/4, waist had dropped 3/4 inch. Finally, some encouragement! I never lowered cals up to this point. Today I’ve lost 2.5 inches since 8/1. I eventually started gradually lowering the cals. Right now my cals are 2350-2500. By this time I am eating instinctively, knowing to shave off some cals, but not too much to keep muscle and be strong and energized during workout (Ian’s Bring on The Pain for upper and lower body). I started T2pro and some MD6 only after I had reached 2 inches off the waist with just diet. So, now using my handy dandy Fat Track II digital calipers from the “Things We Like” article, my fat percentage is 9.8. I started at 16%, 205 lbs. Now at an even 190 lbs, lean mass has dropped 1 lb. My brother has followed the same program along with me. He started at 13%, and is now 7.5%. I plan to stay below maintenance until at least Nov. 1. I will carry this “slowly but surely” mindset into the bulking phase. I know I’ll gain some mass just by going back to only 3500 cals at first. Remember: time and pressure!

If you’ve only been training for 3 months and ‘cutting’ for the past ‘few’ weeks, it’s a little hard to determine where you want to gain the best result from. In these stages of training, sure you’ll be dropping fat, cause your body is just getting used to the concept of training. Pending what your current BF% to lean body weight is, it’s a little hard to suggest the most affective approach. I personally found the ‘fat-fast’ diet worked well for stripping fat is the quickest time (from 12% to 8% in 3 weeks) without too much loss of strength. This diet simply applies a 50% cut in maintenance. I simply adopted the ‘BodyOpus’ principle of 12 cal. per lb of lean weight, knocked off another 10% & used a 70% fat & 30% protein ratio.Training was simply maintenance (3 days) with 4 days ona bike for 30-40mins. @ 60-70% heart rate. If your BF is higher than 12-15%, you may well be better off adopting a more ‘middle-ground’ approach, as the londer one is on a high fat or ketogenic diet, the more strength is loss, hence my interest with going with a radical fat loss/low cal. diet for a ‘short’ amount of time.At the end of the day, it’s difficult to ‘signifcantly’ gain muscle & lose fat at the same time, so I tend to pursue each approach to an exteme for short periods (4-8 weeks for gains, 2-3 weeks for loss).