I took a break from my training and nutrition regime from late last year until the end of February. During this time I gained a little weight and lost some strength. I decided to get back on track starting March and I began my realignment with a “cut”. A “cut” just means I’ve tweaked my diet & training to prioritize fat loss over muscle gain until I get town to my target weight.
Weight loss 101 (this is not the only path one can take):
- Uncover your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) & set weekly caloric deficit.
- Set daily protein intake to at least 0.82g per pound of bodyweight.
- Set daily fat intake to 0.25g-0.5g per pound of bodyweight, essential fats get priority.
- Set carbohydrates to fill remaining calories.
- Track food intake (I use myfitnesspal.com) to meet macro & calorie targets until you reach your desired weight.
You’ll notice that there’s no “exercise” listed there. Fat loss is 80-90% diet. Sure you could do insane amounts of cardio to “burn off” excess fat, but this takes a lot more effort than most people realize, it will probably increase your appetite, and risks the loss of significant muscle mass. Although even if you avoid lots of cardio, you’ll still lose muscle.
One does not lose only fat when dieting for weight loss. Some lean mass will be consumed to make up the energy deficit that’s required to lose weight. There best we can do is minimize muscle loss, and the best way to do this is by setting an appropriate caloric deficit (there is a limit to how much fat you can burn each day), eating adequate protein, and weight training. I’ve set my protein macro at 1g/lb bodyweight per day, and it will increase to nearly 2g/lb by the time I get down to 12-10% body fat. I’m also restarting the Starting Strength weight training protocol, which should escalate the intensity of training in step with my diet and body comp changes.
Results? It hasn’t even been 3 weeks since I began my cut, I’ve already lost 12 pounds, and I have yet to do any exercise at all. I’m on track to lose ~25 pounds by the end of April, when I transition the priority away from fat loss and back into muscle gain.
update (03/25): 3-week weigh-in: 15 pounds lost. 😀