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.


  1. 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.

    1. 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.

  2. 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 .

    1. 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.

    2. 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 .

  3. “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.

    1. 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


    2. 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.

    3. 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.


    1. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. 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.

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

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