T Nation

Meal Frequency + Minimum Calorie Defecit for Maintaining Muscle on a Cut

Before replying ‘UTFSB’ I will say I have researched this already and have found conflicting answers including conflicting ones here on T-nation

  1. Do I really need to consume protein every
    three hours to maintain (not grow) muscle on a cut? Obviously you need to on a bulk to stay anabolic but a good amount of research literature I have read claims that when the body can no longer burn glucose it begins burning almost primarily fat for about 72 hours and you don’t need to worry about muscle loss As long as you are training heavy still

On the other hand I am reading some doctors and experts claim that you should have a high meal frequency with low calories because your body will go into ‘starvation’ mode if you don’t and rely on muscle more than fat for energy.

2)What is the ideal calorie defecit for aggressive fat loss where you can still maintain as much muscle as possible by lifting heavy?

  1. Say I’m in a 1,000 calorie or so defecit. What is the max number of days a week I can train heavy compound lifts to keep my muscles from going anywhere without risking overtraining or passing out? Are isolation exersizes after heavy compound lifts during a cut OK to do, or are they completely useless when your goal is not muscle growth?

Thanks !

What does this even mean…?

“Use the fucking search bar”

It’s not that common ig but someone hit me with that awhile back on a different forum and I cant help think of that before asking question so now





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Thank you for answering that’s all I really needed…there’s so much conflicting information out there; how do I go about knowing what ‘scientific’ articles are actually credible ??

“Consume protein every 3-4 hours during a bulk to avoid going into a catabolic state” is something I’ve been told and read a million times on t nation and other forums.

There is evidence to suggest that you do want protein every 3-4 hours in order to maximise protein synthesis, but it’s not like you’ll shrivel up and die if you spread your meals out longer.

What makes a difference in a laboratory doesn’t always make that much of a difference in a real-world setting. So long as you’re getting adequate protein and calories throughout the day you’ll probably be ok.

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There are some very good contest prep logs in the bodybuilding section that lay out in real time as it happened the diet and training regimen of a couple of guys that cut down and won contests and pro cards.

Practically speaking, it doesn’t get any better than that.

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"Refractory Period"

Research (Dr Layne Norton) found that consuming protein every 4 - 6 hour produces greater Muscle Protein Synthesis rather than every three hours.

The muscles are like a sponge. A dry sponge soaks more water than a soaking wet sponge. Metaphorically speaking, muscle do the same.

Going Into Starvation

Frequent meals shut down the fat burning process via increasing insulin. Insulin blocks the fat burning process. Source: Dr John Berardi, ISSN (International Society of Sports Nutrition)

Infrequent meals, not consuming anything for longer periods, utilized fats to a great extent, especially with low to moderate activity.

As you noted, research shows that it take up to 72 hours of fasting before the body begins to catabolize nuscle.

20% Caloric Deficit

Researcher’s Drs Layne Norton and John Ivy independent came to the same conclusion on the most effective method of maintaining muscle while maximizing fat loss.

Decreasing your caloric intake approximately 20% was found to minimize muscle loss while increasing fat loss.

Another study, demonstrated a diet that rotated Decreasing Calories for two week followed by increasing calories for two week, then repeating it, optimized fat loss while maintaining muscle mass.

That due to the General Adaptation Syndrome; it take the body around two week to adapt to an increase or decrease in calories.

Once adaptation occurs, progress stops. Thus, you need to keep playing games and tricks on your body to get it to go where you want it to.

1,000 kcal Deficit

That will work for decreasing your weight. However, decreasing your caloric intake 1,000 kcal a day means you are going to lose more of your hard earn muscle mass.

If you were consuming 5,000 kcal per day, a 1,000 kcal deficit would fall into the 20% range and most like be fine

Compound Exercises

What most individual fail to realize is that Compound Exercise provide virtually the same effect as Isolation Exercises such as Triceps Pushdown, Curls, etc.

That because the “Weak Link” in a Compound Exercise is the smaller/weaker Triceps and Biceps. Thus, the Triceps and Biceps are overloaded during a Compound Exercise more so than the larger muscles.

The Squat is a great example. The weak link in the Squat is the lower back. The lower back gives out long before the legs are completely overloaded, completely worked.

That means for the legs to be completely overloaded exercises that take the lower back out of the exercise equation are necessary such as; The Leg Press, Belt Squats, Step Ups, Lunges, etc.

Kenny Croxdale