Dieting: You Can’t Cut Forever

So let’s say, hypothetically, you read some all99life articles, tracked your macros and calories, and you lost some weight. Excellent work! Well, now what?

Life is such an amazing and ongoing learning process. I did my first cut cycle this spring and the results were pretty great. I learned a lot. I lost weight. All in all it felt pretty nice. I had “made it,” I thought. I wanted it to last forever so I did what I usually do with most things I enjoy- I wildly overdid it.

I finally had abs and I was as thin and fit as I had ever been but it wasn’t enough. “Overkill” should be my middle name. I didn’t want to just be fit, I wanted to be able to hide a quarter in between my abs. So I continued to push my cutting cycle for a total of about 12 weeks. That’s 84 days that my body was operating at a calorie deficit while I was working out five times a week, which isn’t very healthy and definitely not sustainable.

Of course I plateaued, lost strength, and started to actually put some weight back on because I would have these absolutely vicious cheat days when my body’s needs and impulses would override my pride and ambition and force tons of fatty and sugary foods down out of desperation for energy.

I would start with the best of intentions. I’d allow myself just 30 more grams of carbs a day, something sweet for one meal, or a desert. Then after one little bit of splurge the flood gates would open and I would find myself driving to the grocery store and buying bags of cookies and consuming them all like a mindless zombie, completely out of control of myself. The effects weren’t purely physical either. I was tired a lot. And moody. This did not feel nice and I did not wish for it to last forever.

The moral of the story is this:

You should only cut for six to eight weeks before switching to either a maintain or bulking diet, depending on your body fat percentage and goals at the end of your cut.

I decided to bulk for about five weeks and am now three weeks deep in my second cutting cycle. What’s the difference between cutting, bulking, and maintaining diets? Really, it’s just the macro-mix of your diet.

Here’s the general idea (the numbers are grams of the macro times your body weight in lbs per day):
Cutting- Protein 1.2x, Carbohydrates 1.0x, Fats 0.2x
Bulking- Protein 1.0x, Carbohydrates 2.0x, Fats 0.4x
Maintaining- Protein 1.0x, Carbohydrates 1.6x, Fats 0.35x

Again, this is just the general idea and the tip of the iceberg. I get my diets and a lot of my fitness guidance from Michael Matthews’ book: Bigger Leaner Stronger. (He has a female edition called Thinner Leaner Stronger)

Dieting is not a one and done deal. Once you have abs you haven’t made it, unfortunately. Fitness is cyclical and ongoing. You have to treat your nutrition and physique as you would anything permanent in your life or you’ll end up back at square one.

The good news is if you’ve made it through one cut and have started a second one, you’ll find that it feels a lot better and easier the second time around. You’ll be able to carry the lessons you learned from the first try. You’ll be aware of your strengths, your weaknesses, and your vices. You’ll also be aware of what foods and meals work best for your lifestyle and will be able to pick up right where you left off.

I’m fairly new to all this, having only learned about counting calories and macro tracking about four months ago, but you should recognize that as evidence that it can be done. If I can do it, you can do it.

No excuses.

About the author

Kyle Milligan

I'm Kyle Milligan. I really enjoy writing. I wrote a couple novels (The Hang-Ups and Hangovers series) and now I blog frequently on a bunch of different websites. I also enjoy lifting heavy things and and writing about it.

Leave a comment: