As already discussed, past a certain point, we need to alternate bulk and cut phases to keep progressing. This is the only way to continue gaining muscle over time while managing body fat levels.
To do that, we need to make calorie and macro adjustments. This is because our energy needs change as we gain weight and lose it.
👉 If we don’t adjust, our weight will plateau, as will muscle and fat mass changes. We get stuck in physique purgatory.
👉 If we set or adjust things too aggressively, we risk muscle loss when cutting, and excess fat gain when bulking. This can add years to the time needed to reach your genetic potential. (The point where you are as jacked as you can possibly be without drug use.)
The problem is that the solution doesn’t tickle anyone’s testicles with excitement — be patient and clinical when interpreting your data. 🥜
And this is juxtaposed with endless charlatans peddling fake shortcuts, who get away with it because they don’t coach people and are not held accountable for long-term outcomes. 💊
So the purpose of this article is to show you the difference that well-executed mid-diet adjustments can make, in the hope that you take it seriously and don’t waste years of your life as I did.
The only shortcut is doing things right in the first place, after all.
The Time Cost of Losing Muscle When Cutting
During a cutting phase, we need to reduce calorie intake to keep progressing. But we don’t want to cut calories too early or slash calories indiscriminately, or we will find the diet hard to sustain and risk losing hard-earned muscle mass.
Losing muscle is like taking one step backward after every two steps forward. Take a look at the sketch below. The lines represent muscle mass and the path to our genetic potential.
The green dots at the end of each line represent the point where genetic potential is reached. The difference between the two lines is that with the one, muscle mass is maintained during the cutting phases, but with the other, it is lost.
You can see that if you screw up and lose a significant amount of muscle mass during each cutting phase, it can add years to your journey.
There are several things to check for when assessing whether a reduction in calorie intake is needed, but people get impatient and rush things, costing them muscle mass.
Typically, a reduction is the last thing I consider in a long mental checklist. I’ve put that checklist in a flowchart here: How to Adjust Calories and Macros as You Diet.
The Time Cost of Gaining Excess Fat When Bulking
As with cutting, at some point, we will need to adjust calorie and macro intake to continue to bulk successfully. However, unlike when cutting, where our cautious approach is driven by the desire to not lose muscle, when bulking, it’s because we don’t want to gain an unnecessary amount of fat.
If we gain excess body fat when bulking, one of two things happens:
- We have to spend more time cutting, or more commonly,
- People end their bulk phases too early because they feel too fat.
The result of each is that less time overall is spent in a calorie surplus, growing your physique. Again, this is like taking one step backward after every two steps forward, and it can add years to the time needed to get to our potential.
The second is more common than the first, so I’ve sketched what that looks like below.
The lower of the two lines in the sketch shows the scenario where you end each bulk phase earlier than you ideally would due to feeling uncomfortable with the level of fat gain. More frequent cutting phases mean less time spent gaining muscle, which also adds years to the total time taken to reach muscular potential.
Mid-diet adjustments are harder to get right when bulking than cutting. This is because muscle growth is slower than fat loss, and so the rates of body weight change are lower, and more time is needed to sniff out the signal from the noise in your data. People get impatient and rush things, costing them excess fat gain.
My bulking adjustments decision flowchart differs in several ways, but a calorie adjustment is still the last thing I consider. You’ll see this flowchart in the next chapter.
The Difference in Time Taken to Reach Your Genetic Potential When You Keep Losing Muscle When Cutting and Gaining Too Much Fat When Bulking
If you lose a significant amount of muscle mass when cutting and gain too much fat when bulking, the effect on the time it will take you to achieve your desired physique can be dramatic:
If this visual doesn’t capture the need for care and patience when making mid-diet adjustments, nothing will. If this struck a nerve, I’ll show you how to end your cycle of frustration in the next chapter.
👉 How to Adjust Calories and Macros as You Diet 📉
Thank you for reading. This was a sample chapter from my book, The Diet Adjustments Manual 📙.
Questions are welcomed in the comments and I answer daily.
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