T Nation

Leaner, Dieting Advice

I don’t diet often so I’m kind of a newbie at it. What are things you have done in the past that made it successful while minimizing strength and muscle loss? Thoughts on the following would be helpful.

  • If there is no time limit, what is ideal pounds per week
  • Carb cycling, 1-5 days per week where you eat like your not dieting
  • Meal frequency, fasting. Basically any changes to WHEN you eat or # of meals per day
  • Carb timing pre/post workout

As for training I’m going to keep doing the exact routine which is lifting 5-6 days per week, recently cut volume a tiny bit in favor of more frequency.

To minimize strength and muscle loss, do a strength specific workout around 3 times a week while having a slight caloric deficit without any unneeded diet gimmicks. That way you can push yourself for the little time it takes to do the sets that matter.

My most successful diet has been 6 months of doing Layne Norton’s PHAT routine while eating at a caloric deficit. Close to zero muscle and strength loss, pulled a deadlift weight PR for reps right at the end of the diet and lost 13kg or 28lbs for you imperials. It’s a slow-ass pace but what it takes to prevent muscle loss. PHAT isn’t a routine I personally would recommend to everyone while dieting because it’s absolute shit to do continuous hypertrophy sets with a caloric deficit.

Pound per week is usually considered an acceptable pace of weight loss.

Start easy. Just like with the weights.

If you haven’t paid much attention to your diet, focusing on getting around 200 grams of protein and 6 cups of fruits and vegetables per day will take you a long way.

Meal frequency kind of depends on your lifestyle. But 2-3 meals and a protein shake or a little snack, works great for me.

Dividing the protein, by the number of meals and getting It, plus vegetables, in every day takes a little planning and preparation.

This is kind of like establishing a routine in the gym. Once you have the basic framework and schedule down, you can focus on 1 or 2 more specific things, carb cycling, or meal timing or whatever.

So slow and steady calorie reduction? I’m good on the protein and don’t plan on changing that much. What about planned carb loading days? I think my main concern is reading lots of articles about how your body gets used to the calorie deficit and weight loss slows down because of it, meaning you need to cut even more to accomplish the same. Simpler than carb cycling would just be like 1 cheat day a week. By cheat day I just mean more healthy carbs like rice and oatmeal for a few meals, not pizza and ice cream binge.

Yeah, slow and steady. Like you said, after awhile things slow down. So if you start with a simple plan, you leave yourself plenty of options for the future.

For carbs, cut some out, and see how you feel. Monitor your workout log. Check the scale. See how they all relate to eachother. Lots of guys who post here have trouble when they drop carbs drastically, all at once.

Cut back a little, then make sure workouts don’t suffer, and you don’t feel run down.

Scheduled meals where you, “cheat” or loosen up seem really effective for lots of guys.

Edit: As far as when, carbs around workouts. Before or after exercise should be cool. You’re training so often, I don’t think it will make a huge difference at this stage. Try one way for a week or 10 days, monitor your progress. Check the scale, how you feel, and your workout logs.

Double edit: Nate Miyaki has some great articles on T-Nation. Punisher always recommends “The Simple Diet.”

5 days a week where you eat like you’re not dieting is not going to get you where you want to go.

Well I’m not doing 5 but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. If you can burn fat 2 days a week and not gain any the other 5 you’ll make progress.

yeah but why not just burn fat all 7 days?

EDIT: you’re right though, I guess it would work but it’d be frustratingly slow and way shitter progress than if you did it properly


The answer is going to be very different if you are 300lbs and 35% body fat than if you are 180lbs and 17%.

More info please.

-I’ve had my most success cutting weight while getting stronger for competitions by limiting my weight loss to half a pound per week. It’s very slow, but it also means I’m not taxing my recovery much and minimizing fat loss.

-I pretty much eat no direct carb sources when I’m trying to lose fat. I’ll drink skim milk with a protein shake post workout, and eat an unlimited amount of green veggies, but that’s about it. I will permit myself one cheat meal a week where I eat highish carbs, and one time I ate a serving of oatmeal every 3 days to prevent myself from going into ketosis, but otherwise it’s just meat and veggies.

-I’ve never engaged in fasting. I figure that’s something starving people do, and they aren’t very jacked. I would eat 5-7 small meals a day, which is pretty normal for me.

-I only screw around with carb timing when I want to gain weight. When I’m losing it, I just cut out carbs.

As for training, I cut out my conditioning work and reduce the volume of my assistance so that I can focus on recovering.

I’ve used the above approach to cut from 202 to 181 and pull 601 in a powerlifting meet back in 2012, and then to cut from 202 to about 185 in 2015 just because I was tired of being fat. I was able to pull 585+chains for 7 reps when I hit about 190 with that approach, so in both instances I saw increases in strength.