Earlier this year I attempted my first ever maintenance phase. You can see how that went here. After that I was ready for another challenge and transitioned into an 8 week cut. I went into the cut without a goal weight to hit by the end of it. Weight can fluctuate for a variety of different reasons that aren’t all tied to fat loss so I didn’t want my success to be determined by a number on the scale. I focused on consistency and adherence goals instead. Here was my plan of attack:
Keep resistance training the main thing.
Resistance training should be the base of any fat loss program. It burns more calories overall than intense cardio training and helps change body composition. Muscle looks smaller than fat.
Increased my active calorie goal by 100 daily calories.
This is similar to a 10k step goal. I wanted to increase my NEAT calories(aka calories burned outside of exercise) to help push me into a calorie deficit.
Ate in a calorie deficit.
I calculated how many calories I needed to be in a calorie deficit and made sure I was eating within those bounds. I typically don’t count calories but realized when I started this I had no idea how many calories I was currently eating in a day. I tracked a few days to ensure I was falling within my daily calorie goals for the deficit and ended up enjoying it so continued it for the remainder of the cut.
I lost about 4 pounds over 8 weeks which is half a pound a week on average. As someone who’s already pretty lean this was a great rate of weight loss. I likely could have lost more per week if I had made a lower daily calorie goal however, I wouldn’t have had enough energy to train and I would have had to be more restrictive with my nutrition and I probably wouldn’t have been able to stick to this cut for 8 weeks. It’s better to set a slightly higher calorie goal and make slower progress you can sustain over a longer period.
You can see in the graph that my weight loss is not linear. There were a few days and even weeks where my weight really spiked up. This wasn’t because I suddenly gained 3 pounds of fat overnight; it's due to a wide variety of things from salt intake, carb intake, eating later in the day, weighing in earlier, stress, and many other things. This is why it’s important to use the scale purely to gather data. Overall my weight had a downward trend but if I had gotten fed up on one of the weeks my weight spiked and given up, I wouldn’t have made the same progress that I did. If you’re being consistent with your workouts and nutrition and are frustrated with the results on the scale, keep going and push through what you think may be a plateau.
I’ve enjoyed challenging myself for these 8 weeks but being in a constant fat loss phase is physically & mentally draining. I’m going back to maintenance, giving myself some extra fuel for my workouts and giving my brain a mental break from tracking calories. This doesn’t mean I’m going to go all out and eat all of the cake and pizza. I have 8 weeks of solid data of what a standard calorie deficit day looks like and I can use these meal blueprints moving forward to know what to eat to stay in maintenance without tracking.
If you have more weight to lose after an 8 week cut I highly recommend taking a week or 2 off to eat at maintenance and give yourself a break from diligent tracking, then you can go back into another 4 or 8 week cut. Taking a short break will allow you to feel rejuvenated and be more consistent over time.
The key to fat loss is consistency. Set realistic calorie & training goals for yourself that you can stick to over a long period of time. Don’t dwell on weight fluctuations, stay consistent, be honest with yourself and you WILL see progress.