I have a general question for discussion, and not just to shoot the breeze, but because I think it is a real fundamental question about nutrition.
When should someone choose to actually eat fewer than their goal maintenance level calories, versus eating maintenance level nutrition and focusing on optimal nutrition?
Whether someone is in the 20-30% range or 12-15% range, is it ever better to eat say 500 cals below goal manitenance than it is to eat properly at maintenance levels?
Yet the first thing that people usually do to improve body composition is to cut calories, and not just below current eating levels, but below maintenance levels by say 400-800 cals per day.
There are 4 reasons why submaintenance cals may make some sense to me.
1) You body will supplement calories from bodyfat stores, so if you eat 80% maintenence, and have excess fat you already "have" the other 20% available.
2) Losing fat fast for short beginning period, especially if you are 20%+ can help improve hormone balance and help you get leaner.
3) Obviously if you are going down into the sub 10% range, for bodybuilding needs you may need to be willing to sacrifice some muscle to get lean enough to stand next to the other guys. I'm not really concerned with sub 10% though right now, but from say 10% or more, if you are looking toward long term body composition improvement.
4) Cycling calories between sub and slightly over maintenence may let you gain a little muscle and lose a little fat.