T Nation

Stuck in a Cut


#1

Good morning all,
This is my first post here, I've been keeping to myself and observing for quite a while now. A little background on myself-
I've been lifting since around the age of 15 and have always had a decent ability to gain strength. Through high school I spent most of time trying to get stronger for sports (football,wrestling,track) in a foolish manner that still somehow worked. I literally benched every day and squatted once in a while, and thats it.

After high school I went on to compete in Track/Field as a thrower in college. I had decent success with this and with a solid strength program in place, was able to get fairly strong by my standards. At one point my weightroom maxes were 425 bench, 615x2 squat and 315x3 hang clean. The problem lies in that to get to this strength and compete at in an event primarily dominated by taller and faster athletes, I gained quite a bit of weight. At my peak around 2 years ago I was 5'10 and 263lbs.

Once I had graduated and gave up the shot put competitively, I turned to my attention to losing body fat, while hoping to maintain as much muscle as possible. I had quite a bit of success by switching to a diet that was heavy on lean proteins,good fats and vegetables. I was on a very low carb diet for quite a while and managed to get down to 215lbs in about a year.

As of this last year I have slowly lowered my body weight to between 200 and 205lbs and am around 14% body fat according to calipers and body fat measurers ( more importantly I look better in the mirror than ever before, its amazing the difference that 14% is from 24%) My strength is still ok, nothing to brag about though. Bench around 350, squat 505 for 2 and deadlift around 465 (only been deadlifting for about 2 months now).

My dilemna is that I have reached a point where the fat loss has slowed down to minimal and I'm looking for some advice, I want to see my abs clearly for the first time ever! My typical diet consist of this typically.

Breakfast-50 grams protein shake with 2 tablespoons peanut butter

Mid morning snack- 4-6 ox of almonds

Lunch- 10-12 oz of chicken, lean beef or pork, 8 oz of broccoli.

Amino acids during afternoon and another 25gram protein shake

Post lifting supper- 12oz of chicken/beef or pork with broccoli or brussel sprouts

Every 4 days or so i had a scoop of raw oatmeal to all my shakes in an attempt to reload on carbs.

Sorry if I got long winded or didn't include enough to give a clear picture, I look forward to any responses.


#2

How do you survive on such little carbs?

How many calories is that a day?

What’s your training look like?

Do you do any cardio?


#3

The extremely low carb diet may have a lot to do with why you’ve stalled. You’ve obviously lost a substantial amount of muscle along the way as well, which is unfortunate, but it happens. But it seems you’ve likely adapted to the low carb diet to the point that it’s no longer effective. I don’t think 1 scoop of oatmeal is sufficient for a carb-reload every 4 days. Hopefully someone who knows dieting better can help, but my guess is you lowered your carbs to zero way too early. If I were you, I’d up my carbs, and then slowly bring them down again.


#4

Thank you for the replies. I had tried bringing some additional carbs back into my diet and seemed to feel bloated and fatter. I’m wondering if maybe I need help with how to properly time carb intake during the day. I really appreciate the help and am willing to try any ideas. I haven’t focused strictly on counting calories to this point so that might be a place to start (my last calorie count of a typical day was around 2300). My training is as follows:

Monday-legs Powerclean 4 X 6 after a light warmup of 10 reps
Squat 10,10, 8,5,5,3,20
Abs

Tuesday Chest/Triceps
Bench press 15,10,8, 3x5, 15
D.B Military press 4x8
Weighted dips 4X10
Overhead triceps 4x12
Wednesday Back/Biceps
Weighted pullups 3x8
Seated rows 4x12-15
Rear delt flys 4x12
Lateral/front raises 3x12
Curls of some sort, 4x10-12

Thursday
Power clean 4X8
Deadlift 10,10,5x5, followed by a heavy 1 rep occasionally
Abs

Friday
Basically repeat Tuesday to some extent except BP is with Db’s.

Saturday
Repeat Wednesday for the most part.

Sunday Off

When I lost a lot of my weight I was doing steady state cardio for 30 to 60 minutes a day but hated it because it made me feel weaker. Lately I have done little cardio other than high rep sets of complex (power clean to press) that I do 2 or 3 times a week. Occasionally I will go for run just to sweat, listen to some tunes and get outside.

Flipcollar-I’ve followed your posts and appreciate the help. I felt like I lost more strength than muscle mass, at this point my measurments are all fairly close to when I was alot heavier, minus my waist and about an inch of chest. I’m sure you’re right and i’ve lost more than I care to consider though, its just one of those things I hate to see happen.

Thanks for the help so far.


#5

I agree with you dropped carbs way to early. I just finished a diet, dropping from 210 to 171 at my lowest. My first 3/4 of it I did low carb, about 100g a day around my workout. The last 1/4 I upped my carbs to about 200-225 and kept losing weight. Carbs are not the enemy some people make them out to be.

If I were you, I would do a refeed day/meal where you take in a lot more calories during that period. If you’re at 2300 right now, go for something like 3300-3500 calories or something and only eat carbs and some protein (like 200-250g protein). Avoid fats that day, yes that means you’ll be taking in 500-600+ carbs for that one day. Then the next day, resume dieting except have some carbs around your workout and do some light cardio 2-3x a week for 20 minutes. Don’t do any more of your current “carb ups” every 4 days. If you do this, you WILL be a couple pounds heavier the next day. It WILL go back down by the end of the week, and likely below your current sticking point, provided you go back to your 2300 calories.

Summary: Refeed day with 600 carbs, normal protein, minimal fats. Then resume diet with modifications. So instead of having almost 0 carbs, my plan would be replacing about 30g of fat with 70g of carbs and have them around the workout, and doing 2-3 days of 20 minute cardio sessions. No more having a scoop of oatmeal every 4 days. Do another carb up once a week, but keep calories only slightly higher than your current diet (so in this case, do a carb up with like 2600 calories and have minimal fat that day).

This is how I would approach it, and how I did approach it with my diet when I hit a sticking point near the end of my diet.


#6

And a scoop of oatmeal to your 2 shakes isn’t a carb up. Unless that scoop is literally a full cup and you do that to like 4+ shakes, thats not enough carbs to really “carb up”.


#7

So, on the plus side, as you’ve already noticed, you can initially lose weight quite easily by cutting carbs and not watching calories (because they tend to get reduced naturally). The downside is that while you lose a lot of fat, you’ll also experience loss of lean body mass. (when gluconeogenesis runs out of materials in the bloodstream cortisol starts breaking down muscle mass for fuel) On top of that, with such a low carb intake your thyroid is going to slow down considerably. If you want to continue cutting there are really two things you need to do:

  1. Start counting your calories and macros daily since what you’re doing is no longer producing effortless results

  2. Go on an extended refeed or “diet break” where you increase both calories and carbs for several weeks in order to reset your metabolism. If you’ve been cutting for a whole year without a break, this will need to be a fairly significant event, I’d shoot for about a 5%-10% calorie surplus (over maintenance), with at least 200g carbs a day for about a month. Don’t freak out when you gain a bit of weight initially as your glycogen reserves fill back up and you add some water weight. Your mood should improve, your gym lifts will increase and you’ll start getting really hungry even though you’re eating more. Once all that happens then you’re ready to turn around and start cutting some more. In future, try to plan a refeed every couple of months, though they can be shorter if you do them regularly (2-3 weeks every 2-3 months is usually plenty)


#8

Thank you for all of the replies it appears I need to start adding quite a few carbs back in. Any suggestions on what everyone eats to do this? My go to carb sources are oatmeal and quinoa. Also here is a pic to show my current state. Also, this isnt photoshopped, im actually always this happy haha The thing that I’ve oftned wondered about is, if my metabolism is slowing down from the lack of carbs, why am I so damn hungry all the time? I’m typically pretty good at not letting myself get off track but during the day especiacially, I feel like I’m starving all day. Thoughts?


#9

What are your end goals? If all you’ve lost is strength and not muscle mass, and your end goal is simply to look good, then losing that strength isn’t really a big deal. You’re still strong enough for most purposes.

I’m fairly hesitant to give you advice on carbs, as I can tolerate very high carbs and stay lean. I’ve added 2 candy bars, a bag of chips, and a regular soda per day to my diet to try to get more carbs, lol.


#10

Haha i feel like im a little more carb sensitive at this point, probably wont be throwing candy bars in anytime soon.My goal is to get to a lean state, around 10% bodyfat. That’s just a number, I want to be around 190lbs with abs. Once I get there I want to slowly gain strength and mass without all the unsightly fat with it. I want to be as big lean and strong as I can. My strength loss has been significant but I figured it was reasonable to expect this while removing 1/4 of my starting bodyweight.Pound for pound im stronger now them I was then, not that mentally this helps me forget about the 4 and 6 plate bench and squat days.


#11

In the last couple of days I have taken suggestions to heart and added about 100 grams of carbs to my pre/post workout drinks. I actually already feel quite a bit different as my energy has been better throughout the day. Scales can be a stupid way to measure, but I noticed my bodyweight has right at 203 yesterday and today. I appreciate the help and look forward to some changes. Anyone have any thoughts on carb powders for adding to preworkout mixes? I picked up some cheap here at our local store that mix amazingly well. I like real food best but for cramming 50 grams in immediately before a workout this seems like a cheap and easy option?


#12

If you’re going to do it that way Surge might be the right choice for you. Personally I’d rather have those carbs as real food in the post-workout meal, but that’s for psychology reasons rather than any difference in effectiveness.


#13

So just a little update, I have upped my carb intake to around 200g daily for the last week and a half. My gym lifts feel great and I definitely have more energy. Weight has stayed right around 204 so no big difference. Squat is feeling strong, hopefully the video works. 500 lbs but need to get down lower, it just felt good to move some weight. Thanks for the advice


#14

Not everyone likes ATG squats, but you’re not even breaking parallel. Hard to tell from the video angle but it looks like you’re leaned pretty far forward as well. I’m no squat expert but you might want to start a squat form thread and get some pointers from others who know how to critique this stuff better than I do.


#15

I couldn’t figure out why the video posted sideways. I know my depth was nowhere near where it would need to be for competition, but am really curious if my angles are that bad (forward lean) I’ve always squatted in this manner with a low bar position. I’m open to critique as I want to get better at this and avoid injury.


#16

I’m not seeing the video.


#17

I tried to submit a question to tech support because it posted sideways but haven’t recieved anything or found a way to fix the video. Only reasonable solution is to quit squatting and buy a van down by the river.