T Nation

Pre-Contest or Time Sequenced Cut Calorie Levels

T Cats–Esp. Patricia, Muf, KB and the others.
Out of curiosity, what do you guys/gals set your cut calories at when initially entering cut phase and as you progress up to peak day. I start cut with a one day phase in at -500kcal deficit(approx) and then try to stay static at about 800-1000 day deficit until body fat is around 6% at which time I slightly lessen the defcit…once body fat hits <5%, I will again hit a three to four day period of 1000kcal deficit before embarking on serious lean gain again…this leaves me literallly shredded with negligible muscle mass loss.
Obiviously the greater the caloric deficit per day, the quicker you reach your goal…but, I just wanted to see where everybody sits at

Hmmmm. Will Vain, all I do is cut out ‘things". Like beer. And rice. And my cookie a day, morning scones, bagels (anything bready). And I don’t eat past 6PM. As the show gets closer, I cut out Nonfat Lattes’, and drink black coffee only (through this time, I increase my water intake BIG time). And I switch my training from late at night to early AM before I get ready to go to work and start (this does effect me). My boyfriend (who as many know here is a Chef) begins to prepare my meals for the week. Yams and gold potatoes become my primary source of carbs - with a bowl of oatmeal (w/ one egg mixed in) becomes my breakfast. On weekends sometimes for breakfast will be pasta with meat sauce (yummy!). For protien, it’s chicken breasts and red meat. And I also eat ALOT of veggies and I use Mangoes as my primary “treat”. Please note, that I do not cut my calories by a huge amount. I also have to increace caloric intake week of a show. So, you see I don’t really get all too “scientific” about my diet. I do know this, my last show I dieted 8-weeks and got to 5-6% (I stay at 10-11% year round), this year I’m dieting much more slowly and have begun (12-weeks). I use the mirror ALOT. Plus, I’ve been competing since 1987 - therefore, I know my body pretty well. Let me say that if what you are doing is working, then “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. BUT this year for my June 1st show, I am going to do the Meltdown Training and will be using Biotest supplements (currently, just creatine). I believe what Franco Columbu believed in, which is eating up to contest weight. Frank Zane use to also get in contest shape during times when he wasn’t competing, just to see if some new method would work. And Vain, I’m 36-years old - I find it’s “easier” now than ever before for me to get lean for a contest. Wierd, huh? As long as I increase my activity levels (by adding the evening stretching, posing sessions), and keep the weights heavy, I know that by the week BEFORE my show, I’ll be ready…wow, I’m just rather amazed that you’re asking for my opinion on this! Especially when there is a abundance of knowledge on this site!!! I hope I’ve provided some info for ya!

My dieting methods are extreme and I don’t recommend for everyone but it works for me and my training partner. When I get ready for a show I start 3months out cutting out pasta, white rice ect. I eat on an avrage 6-8meals a day every 1 1/2 to two hours most of these meals are mrp though and Protien shakes. The only soild foods I have is Breakfest which consist of 4-5 egg whites bowl oatmeal and some lettuce… Sounds nasty and blend and it is… I probably have two shakes before my next soild meal whichi is Lunch which is two chicken breast bake potato,yams ect. I also eat red meat at this time Filet Minenog also my greens… then is shakes throught the day…
If I get hungry I feed it with filet mineong and I donot cheat with anything!!!
Like I said this diet is extreme but if you want to get extremely shreeded you haave to got to the extreme. I also take a bunch of supplements through out the day such as glutamine, muti-v, creatine, vit-C,D,K,B-12 ect. I also drink about 2gallon of H2O a day.

Towards the last week I also sodium load and deplete…

Its alot of time and prepration for a show. But the ones who stick to their diet and doesnot cheat usually come out on top!!!

Reason I asked, is you compete…and that in my mind, is BIG TIME…i don’t care what level its at…I am very anal and analytic about pretty much everything i do, and that includes diet (huge excel database) and training (actually have a stopwatch for gym sessions to monitor time in gym esp. during cut). I go keto the whole cut time, and supplement wisely (based on the research I have read). I too try to stay no greater than 10% in the offseason (fall/winter) as I usually compete locally towards the start of the summer etc. I have a one day phase, and then hit it hard as I said, but i wonder if the deficit per day results in greater lbm losses than a lighter deficit…not sure on this one, but i think cardio, and other factors play a role…I am analyzing my data to see what just works for me.
Thanks for the info I appreciate it immensely.

If I go zero carbs, I will suffer from a huge LBM loss. That’s just me. I understand that there is a huge discussion on this forum regarding low to zero carbs and keto. However, with me, I lose way too much if I fiddle with my carbs. I know that I do naturally drop the amount of carbs I consume during a peaking cycle - but I also believe it’s to maintain that “stay hungry” feeling that I know you know about…I’m just trying to figure out from your original post if you are losing LBM during your low carb phase. What is the length of your “cutting phase”? How much weight do you drop? Let me tell you this, usually after the first week of dieting, I can already tell a difference in my physique. But I believe that yes, you should take in account everything else you do, activity-wise, when preparing for a contest. It all affects you - you’re body begins to get so sensitive that I think even the littlest change will make a difference. Especially to those of us who are lean to begin with.

Pat: I’ve really been picking your brain today! Hope that’s okay!

I’d like your thoughts on the thread “Berardi, Aceto and Carbs”…it’s along the same lines as your comments…

Vain…I haven’t forgotten you! Just wanted to get that message to Pat before work!

Patsy (if you don’t mind)
thanks for the info, as for my current digits and numbers here is what i have
I started cut at 192lbs and about 9.5% body fat. Cut, based on previous cuts, can last anywhere from 30days upward…that obviously depends on how low, per day, i cut calories, but i have already told you pretty much what i do there.
In my current cut phase, i am 18days in, with (based on my calculations) a 4.45lb fat loss and a .95lbm loss. I don’t notice any strenght declines per se (at least not max strength), and I don’t feel keto causes lbm losses, after all, the reason you are supposed to be in ketosis, is to spare LBM losses.
Obvious pump declines, and I have noticed that being in ketosis does indeed blunt hunger.
I do notice changes in body comp (i.e., fat/muscle) rather quickly.
But…keto has worked well for me before, and each time, i analyze data painstakingly and research the supplements very hard in the journals…people that say such and such doesn’t work, usually don’t know how to combine the supplment with proper diet and training to achieve desired result. For example, HMB and nothing else is not going to spare LBM loss…but HMB, BCAA, Ketosis, Proper Training, and hypocalorie flux, combined with max type strenght training to maintain mass and proper recovery will in my opinion. Its not one thing, and other people on this forum seem to think this stuff is a magical potion.
Ooops sorry i am rambling again

To elucidate my earlier point—let me restate by saying SOME posters think certain supps are magical potions and since I use HMB in the keto pro shakes by met-rx (now since discontinued) at two or three times daily i get a decent amount of HMB

With that said, you mentioned in your article about Met-Rx AD series keto-pro, that the HMB needs a specific amino acid and electrolyte ratio to be most effective.

Anyway, i am sure people will get fired up but after all, thats what this forum is for…

I don’t believe in miracle pills or supplements. I believe in hard work in the gym and good old fashion food. But this year, for the first time, I am going to try some supplements. I have been using creatine (with fantastic results), and will be using some of the Biotest products during my Meltdown Training next month. I agree with you Vain on what you are saying. I have to also add that newbies to training should hold off on adding supplements and see what happens after a year of regular training and improved dietary habits.

Well if you have the dedication I think a person can do very well by just changing up the macronutrient combos without having to cut calories too much. For example:

  1. Cut out all the junk, shift to a whole unrefined foods diet.
  2. Cut out most of the condiments.
  3. Start to replace starchy carbs with fibrous carbs while simultaneously increasing protein (especially for meals later in the day)
  4. Cut down further on starchy carbs and replace with fibrous carbs…increase intake of EFA’s begin to increase CV exercise.
  5. Add a stimulatory type of fat burner with additional CV exercise and limit non fibrous carb consumption to postworkout only
    Though this is not a shotgun approach it does enable one to maintain a high caloric intake while gradually shedding the fat, thus better sparing muscle.

Vain: I’m a bit like you said you were on a post once; a LITTLE compulsive about calculations etc. when it comes to diet. However, I’ve found that I HAVE to be (as a “Fat Hardgainer”. By the way; I use this moniker NOT as an excuse, but as a reminder that I have to be VERY deligent…almost compulsive…with my diet, or I will find it almost impossible to reach my goals).

I remember Shawn Ray saying once (and I’m paraphrasing) that he had been in the iron game so long and had been so conscious of diet, resistance training and the way his body responded to both for so long, that what he did was very instinctual. Pat eluded to something similar. Wow…if I could be so lucky! Perhaps with time I’ll be able to take things more instinctual, but for now, it’s measurements, calculations, re-measurements and that damn mirror!

So…going into a cutting phase for me is a gradual thing, mostly done by cutting calories by 250 kcal multiples (250, 500)per week, and monitoring the changes, always looking for the “Holy Grail” of fat loss/LBW gain. I TRY not to be too drastic with diet, because my “rebounds” can litterally set me back for months. Since I know that I have to “re-feed” slowly after being on, say , a drastic ketogenic diet, I much rather take it slower from the FRONT end and not risk weeks of hard work at the end (with bloating, gas, water and fat shifts and “smootheness”).

So…decrease cals slowly by 250-500 kcal week. Monitor my progress. Adjust. Re-adjust…

How do you figure out your maintenance calories. I’ve read that you should multiply your bodyweight by 12 to 14 and I’ve seen Berardi’s way. Which way do you do it?

Ditto on the anality of tracking every last thing, but something you have said has peeked my interest. Based on the research i have done, it seems it would be physiologically impossible to be hypocaloric and gain lean mass (hypocaloric=catabolic) except for beginners…i always asked myself why regarding the beginners…well, given that a lot of what bb’ers do has neurological ramifications and not just muscular ramifications, i am convinced the loss of fat and gain of lbm in newbies is becuase of the “dual signal” sent to the body to gain and lose at the same time…after years of training, its either one or the other…so, i guess my point is do you really lose fat and gain muscle when prepping for contest? If so, is it just macronutrient ratios as opposed to energy balance?–which wouldn’t seem possible.

In regards to your refeed, i have found that the leaner i am, the more absurd my refeed can be becuase it goes almost directly to lean mass (given clean eating here). I have literally had an upward of 800+cho in a day with 30 fat, 250protein and have gained negligible fat...and of course the researching saying the leaner you are, the greater your lbm to fm weight gain proportions. One thing i think people miscontstrue is WEIGHT gain, with fat gain, esp. subcutenaous, extracelluar water caused by sodium levels. Do you agree?. Yeah carbs hold water inside, but they don't make you soft outside....whats your take? Vain

Maintenance calories and how do I gauge them? Again, I look in the mirror. I also go by how strong I feel in the gym. And how much energy I have. Quite seriously, I don’t have the time in my typical day, even though I usually get up at 5AM and go to bed at 10 or 11PM, to calculate how much I’ve eaten, etc. I truly believe in instincts. I will eat in the course of one day (an example), a can of tuna, 3 chicken breasts, 4 golden potatoes or two large yams, vegies, a big cookie, large bowl of oatmeal w/egg, toast. Sometimes, I eat a steak instead of two chicken breasts. And if I’m strong in the gym, and have energy afterward to do some artwork, or play with our 4-parrots, I know my maintenance calories are just fine. Oh and as long as my poundages in the gym is on the up and up, means I haven’t lost any muscle. Again, another positive signal. MUFASA: I again agree with Vain in his post to you. Once you get down to a certain level of leanness, it does seem that even if you chow down on a somewhat high-fat meal, it doesn’t all go to fat storage. Quite the contrary. I know that Jason N. had something to say when I had once referred to a lean athlete’s body being more “fuel efficient”. But I believe, Mufasa once you get to that area of leanness, you will experience this effect yourself.