The goal of the “cutting” phase is to use a caloric deficit (eating less than you burn) to shed the fat you have put on as you built muscle (using a caloric surplus) throughout the year. Optimizing your cutting phase is important to minimize loss os lean mass (muscle) and maximizing fat loss. There are three key things to keep in mind for an optimal cutting phase:

(1) don’t limit calories too much (lost around 1% weight per week)

(2) Keep Lifting! (Can’t emphazise this enough)

(3) EAT more protein than you usually do.

Pasiakos et al did a 21-day study with dieting participant eating either 0.8 g/kg, 1.6 g/kg or 2.4 g/kg protein daily. The low protein group cause the greatest loss of body WEIGHT, but also the greatest loss of MUSCLE. The intermediate group and the high protein group lost 70% and 64% fat mass, respectively.

So higher levels seem to have beneficial effects, some studies even find that boosting protein to 4.4 g / kg during a bulk doesn’t add fat mass. We have previously recomended 1.6-2.2 g/kg bodyweight/day when bulking (1.6 g/kg/day for endurance atheltes, a 1.8 g/kg/day for lifters). For CUTTING, a good starting point is to aim for 2 g/kg/day.

 

Sources:

1. Mettler S. Increased protein intake reduces lean body mass loss during weight loss in athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Feb;42(2):326-37.

2. Helms ER. A systematic review of dietary protein during caloric restriction in resistance trained lean athletes: a case for higher intakes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2014 Apr;24(2):127-38

3. Pasiakos SM. Effects of high-protein diets on fat-free mass and muscle protein synthesis following weight loss: a randomized controlled trial. FASEB J. 2013;27:3837–47

4. Geliebter A. Effects of strength or aerobic training on body composition, resting metabolic rate, and peak oxygen consumption in obese dieting subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Sep;66(3):557-63.

5. Ballor DL. Resistance weight training during caloric restriction enhances lean body weight maintenance. Am J Clin Nutr. 1988 Jan;47(1):19-25.

6. Stiegler P. The role of diet and exercise for the maintenance of fat-free mass and resting metabolic rate during weight loss. Sports Med. 2006;36(3):239-62.

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