1. Beaulieu, K., et al., Homeostatic and non-homeostatic appetite control along the spectrum of physical activity levels: An updated perspective. Physiol Behav, 2018. 1(192): p. 23-29
  2. Forbes, G.B., Body fat content influences the body composition response to nutrition and exercise. Ann N Y Acad Sci, 2000. 904(1): p. 359-65.
  3. Kondo, M., et al., Upper limit of fat‐free mass in humans: A study on Japanese Sumo wrestlers. Am J Hum Biol, 1994. 6(5): p. 613–8.

24
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Ryan Hupp
Ryan Hupp

I’m just starting on the novice bodybuilding program after several years of mediocre progress (partly due to flexibility and hip weaknesses I’m addressing with physical therapy and choosing options from the program to shore up my weak points). I’m at a higher body fat percentage than I’d like- I’d estimate a little above 20% at 6’0”, 195 lb- and was wondering if it was appropriate to work at a mild deficit of about 500 kcal while still trying to maintain linear progress or if that would be self-sabotaging?

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Yes, that’s absolutely appropriate and won’t sabotage anything.

Mika Sutinen
Mika Sutinen

Hi Andy!

In your book you talk about sustainable fat percentage levels and if you go under that there will be negative consequences to your overall health and performance (and you will feel hungry even when you are eating your maintenance). However, there is no mention about what these levels are for an average person. I understand that it is very dependent on your genetics, but would you say 10-15% is reasonable guess? Or is 10% too low for most people? As far as I know 10% is a maximum for a “shredded” look. Of course fat percentage is pretty worthless stat because there is no way to accurately measure it, but I would like to have a general idea.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Hi Mika,

I can only speak for those who have hired me, as that’s the only consistent group I see who I can speak for: Anywhere from 8–13%, with the majority in the 10–12% range. Environment (food, friends, and social activities), commitment level, and culture all play a role.

Mika Sutinen
Mika Sutinen

Thank you!

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Most welcome.

Chris Sanders
Chris Sanders

Hi Andy , had sleep issues on my last cut , I would wake up several times during the night wide awake and then have difficulty falling back asleep . This plagued me most nights and was quite miserable at times . I have read this can occur during cutting phases and also while Intermittant fasting , have you experienced with your clients and if so what are the reasons ? Thanks .

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

I’ve worked with a lot of people over the years and this has never been my experience, Chris.

I know from Eric that sleep disturbances can be common with competitors at the tail end of their diets and they just have to suck it up. However, this is very different from recreational trainees getting to ~8-10% body fat, so if that doesn’t describe you, it doesn’t apply.

• Are you severely stressed in other areas and the diet is an additional burden?
• Have you been dieting for too long without a break, or in too severe a caloric deficit?

^ Some things to consider.

If hunger is an issue, see the FAQ item on that. I updated it today.

Chris Sanders
Chris Sanders

Thanks Andy , perhaps too much of a deficit and cutting for too long . I noticed once I stopped cutting and ate more my sleep improved . Also had had just stopped doing shift work as I was cutting so maybe all this contributed to sleep issues .

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

I’d bet that the irregular sleep patterns are the main culprit.

Steve
Steve

“If you dieted to get really lean, your body if anything, is actually a bit more primed for fat storage.” Is there any research/proof of this? I’ve seen both sides argued.

Eric Helms
Eric Helms

Steve, great question. The arguments that you are going to store less fat and more lean mass post diet are actually using inappropriate data to inform that opinion, they are based on the p-ratio research I mentioned in this article, which is in fact, not on people who dieted to be lean, but rather on people who simply were lean normally, and also was not on trained individuals. So there is no data to support the position that dieting down first will make a bulking phase more effective from a body comp perspective. On the other hand, it is incredibly well documented that energy expenditure decreases as a result of dieting, hunger increases, and that body fat overshoot (gaining more body fat than was lost) can sometimes happen after rebounding post diet. Pretty good review with a focus on athletes covering this that is open access here https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-11-7

Regards

Steve
Steve

Thanks for the response Dr. Helms! Do you think there are any negative effects on muscle/fat partitioning when bulking after dieting down to get very lean? At least speaking anecdotally (Aaaaaoooo!!!) since there may not be data on this in trained individuals. I’m curious as someone who tends to be comfortable in the upper teens % body fat. I’ve previously cut down to around 10% body fat to see if it would result in better gains. I’m not convinced it really did lol.

Thanks for all the work you do.
-Steve

Eric Helms
Eric Helms

Steve, you’re very welcome! To answer your question: within reason, beyond what I said in the article in the paragraphs following the sentence you had the question about, no I don’t think so.

Regards
Eric

James
James

Hi Andy, is the second edition free for those who purchased the first ?

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Yes. Upon release, new download links will automatically be sent to the email address you purchased on. This applies to the 95% of people who bought the 2-book set as part of our “free lifetime updates” offer. Those who bought just the one book will need to purchase the second editions. There is no upgrade offer.

Carlos Vanegas
Carlos Vanegas

Great article Andy, can’t wait to read the full second edition of the books.

I have been training for 2-3 years now, and most of my main lifts have transitioned to intermediate progression, so I consider my self as a novice-intermediate transition. I’m finishing a 3-4 month cutting phase sitting on 14%BF (I’m 6′-0″ 155lbs ). And getting ready to move to a gaining phase for several months.
How should I transition (training and nutrition) from cutting to gaining to avoid unnecessary weight gain the first few weeks? I was thinking a 1-2 week @ maintenance coupled with 1 week deload.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan
Wayne Bulk
Wayne Bulk

What do you think about mini cuts for older trainees? I am in my late 40’s. I put on muscle more slowly now and I am guessing have to work harder to retain it in a cut. I like the ideas of mini cuts but have the worry that because they are often positioned as cutting at a faster pace that even though short may just strip off muscle that has been built in the bulk.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Keep the fat loss target to 0.5-1% of body weight per week and you’ll be fine.

Vijay
Vijay

What do mean by metabolic health?

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Metabolism refers to a whole range of biochemical processes that occur within us. “Metabolic health” refers to whether these processes are functioning normally, which gives the indication of disease risk. So, where I have said, “…metabolic health will improve purely from resistance training without dieting,” I’m specifically thinking of insulin resistance, hypertension (high blood pressure), cholesterol abnormalities (serum triglycerides & HDL), and blood clotting risk will all decrease, which is a very good thing.

Vijay
Vijay

Please explain why the below happens?
…and body-fat percentage will go down even if muscle is gained without fat mass losses.

Andy Morgan
Andy Morgan

Sure, another way of saying it is: More muscle with the same amount of body fat means a lower body fat percentage overall.