My 10-Week Fat Loss Phase & Lessons Learned

Let me begin by saying that this post will really lay out everything that went into my 10-week fat-loss phase. It is extremely detailed but please do not think that you should copy everything that I am doing. Training and nutrition is extremely different for everybody but what you CAN get out of this blog are a bunch of basic principles to get an overview of a structured fat-loss or cutting phase. The purpose of this diet was mainly because I overshot my previous mass and got a little fatter than I would have liked. I wanted to get back to a good baseline of leanness to where I could further potentiate mass & muscle gain over the long haul.

DIET STRUCTURE

First off, I stand 5 foot 6 and my maintenance calories lie anywhere between about 2,300-2,400 calories.  I lift 5x per week but as far as outside activity level is concerned, I’ve been working a 9-5pm desk job. 

Diet Part I:
Using previous dieting data, I decided to start the diet between 1800-1900 calories.  I was probably averaging about 1850cal for the first five weeks (half) of the diet.  Some days I was closer to 1800, some days I was closer to 1900, and some days I went over 1900.  In calorie balance terms, I was in roughly a 400-500cal deficit and losing a little over 1lb per week.

Diet Part II:
In the final five weeks of the diet (second half), I really tightened up and for the most part hit my macros every single day.  I went from 1800-1900 calories and dropped it down to anywhere between 1700-1800 calories.  The main reason for the drop was due to the fact that after the first five weeks of dieting, I was feeling pretty good and was not fatigued at all.  I knew I could handle the extra little drop.

The downside of being 5 foot 6 with a 2300-2400 calorie maintenance is that you do not have much wiggle room. What I mean by that is that the line between a healthy deficit and too large of a deficit is a very fine one. This just meant I had to be a little more careful with my numbers and make sure I was definitely keeping tabs on how I felt in my training, how I felt throughout the day, and my sleep / recovery.

TYPICAL DAY OF EATING

Training Day (Mon,Tues,Thurs,Fri,Sat)
5:30am:
Banana and pre-workout
7:30am: Oats blended with whey protein and topped with banana slices
12:00pm: Grilled chicken, sweet potatoes, veggie blend
3:00pm: PBJ on 45-cal bread & apple
6:00pm: Grilled chicken over broccoli topped w/low-fat shredded cheese
8:30pm: Casein Protein blended with chocolate-banana PB spread over 2 rice cakes

Non-Training Day (Weds, Sun)
7:30am:
1 egg & 5 eggwhites (w/ketchup) & bowl of cereal w/almond milk
12:00pm: Grilled chicken, sweet potatoes, veggie blend
3:00pm: ABJ on 45-cal bread & cheese-stick
6:00pm: Grilled chicken over broccoli topped w/low-fat shredded cheese
8:30pm: 1 Pint of Enlightened or Halo Top ice cream

I would say I ate this way about 95% of the time throughout the diet. Of course because of social and family events, some adjustments had to be made. The bottom line is that I went out to eat, had Chipotle a few times, a few alcoholic beverages here and there, and let me put it out there that I probably took down 15+ pints of Enlightened ice cream in the 10 weeks. All of these were factored in and I made them fit my macros. I used plenty of hot sauce over the past 10 weeks and heavily relied on every Flavor God seasoning under the sun. I also drank more diet soda than I ever have before in my life which I used to help curb the cravings but towards the end of the diet, I just got sick of drinking them and stopped. I also believe that eating so many high volume foods like the oats, fruits, and veggies really helped keep hunger levels at bay.

TRAINING STRUCTURE

I won’t go too far in depth with this just because as mentioned earlier, I don’t want people thinking this is the one and only split or way to do it.  I had five training days.  It basically followed an upper-lower split with a full upper at the end of the week.

Monday: Chest-Focused Upper
Tuesday: Quad-Focused Lower
Wednesday: OFF
Thursday: Back-Focused Upper
Friday: Hamstring/Glute-Focused Lower
Saturday: Arms & Full Upper
Sunday: OFF

I worked in 4-Week accumulation periods with a deload every 5th week, so technically, this diet was two 5-week mesocycles long.  The first mesocycle was moderate-high volume of traditional hypertrophy training and the second mesocycle was a metabolite block meaning that I worked in a very high rep range with short rest times to really sequester metabolites and drive the volume up.  I kept progressing through both mesocycles which leads me to believe that I did a pretty good job of holding onto muscle during this diet.  It was only in the final two weeks of the diet where I really started to feel a little beat up, counting down the days until the deload.  Overall, training was definitely a big win during the diet.

CARDIO

I have absolutely no shame in saying this.  I did ZERO cardio.  Zero, zilch, nada for the first 7 weeks of this diet.  That will sound crazy to the folks out there who do HIIT 6 days a week and still don’t see results.  My reasoning for not doing cardio was the following: I didn’t do cardio in the previous few mesocycles and MORE IMPORTANTLY, why would I use every tool in my “toolbox” right from the get go?  Many people forget that cardio is not mandatory.  It is a tool to jack up your daily activity levels.  So speaking from my recent experience, my strategy was to stick to the no-cardio until I felt it was necessary to add it in and really make a push towards the end.  I did pay attention to my daily step-count and would go on a few walks per day to hit that number of 12,000 steps.  So in essence, I was doing “cardio” but none of the traditional kind.

I spent the last three weeks doing two 30-minute sessions per week on the elliptical.  These were done on my off-days (Wednesdays & Sundays).  This was LISS or low-intensity steady state cardio.  Because of how delicate my training-fatigue-recovery systems were on top of a calorie deficit, the last thing I wanted to do was interfere with my recovery.  Many do not realize that HIIT takes a good chunk of gas out of the training & recovery gas tank whereas LISS (especially of the low-impact variety) really won’t fatigue you as much and still adds to your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure).  I’m not speaking out against HIIT by any means and it does have its place in programs.  I just personally didn’t go that route.

RESULTS

At the end of the diet, I lost a total of 11lbs which comes out to just about over 1lb per week.  This is exactly where I planned on being for the most part.  I know Body Fat % is usually anybody’s guess (unless you have a DEXA in your backyard) but I would say that I lost approximately 3% Body Fat over the course of the diet. 

LESSONS LEARNED & THE SCALE

I learned a few lessons from this go around with dieting.  The first lesson is that I definitely CAN stick to a 10-week diet.  I was a bit nervous from the beginning to see if I could stick it out considering this was my first time running a cut longer than 5-weeks.  I also learned that on the eating end, I could afford a few days here and there where I went slightly over but as long as I hit my numbers most of the time, I’d get the results I wanted.  I also learned that having a deload strategically placed halfway through the diet was perfect and gave my body a better chance to recover while still being in the same calorie deficit.

The most important lesson I learned goes back to the scale. I weighed myself every morning and took weekly averages to get a better understanding of what was going on. As much as you think you may know about individual weigh-ins, bodyweight fluctuation, and body water, the bottom line is that… God-damn can the scale absolutely get in your head. I had periods where my weight would stay exactly the same for 5-7 days at a time. There was one week where my weight actually went up 0.5lbs. I’d get to the point mentally where I would really start considering dropping calories further, diet breaks, refeeds, etc. I just trusted the process and would stick it out during these plateaus and then my body weight would drop by like 1.5-2lbs the following week. It makes absolutely zero sense but a true reminder that weight-loss is NOT A LINEAR PROCESS.

MOVING FORWARD

I’ll be entering into a 3-week maintenance or primer phase to hold this low end of my body weight along with resensitize myself to higher training volumes. To reiterate, the purpose of this diet was to get back down to a solid baseline of leanness to start a longer massing phase. At the conclusion of the diet, I can honestly say that I am nowhere near as lean or shredded as I would want to be, but I’m back in a good range where I can begin a slow and controlled 5-month massing phase. The goal moving forward is to gain as much muscle as possible before starting another cutting phase.

As always, please share this article with any friends and family that may benefit from the information.  You play just as important of a role in helping The Strength Lifestyle change peoples’ lives as we do!  You can also find us on Instagram: @TheStrengthLifestyle

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