ARE YOU READY TO CUT? (The answer is probably no!)
As coaches, we are always surprised by the urgency that women have to reduce their calories. Is it years of diet culture telling us that to look and feel our best, we need to eat less and less? Or is it that we always want a shortcut? Let’s take a hard look and see if it really is time to cut or is it time to recalibrate our view of what sustainable weight loss REALLY looks like.
A healthy rate of weight loss is typically between half a pound and 2 pounds per week. The scale will not move every week. There will be a lot of spikes and stalls on the way to an overall downward trend. We want fat loss, not weight loss and that is a slower process. If you are wondering how that works, click HERE.
Most women come to us eating inconsistently and too little on average. Our first step is getting them into a reverse and slowly increasing calories while working protein to ideal range between their current weight and their goal weight. You can read more about that HERE.
Many women see tremendous body composition changes and even weight loss while reversing. This is the season where your metabolism slowly adapts to more food. The benefits of eating more are abundant in energy, sleep, and workout performance.
After that season, if you still have fat to lose or want to lean out a bit, we can move into a short season of cutting, but there are some things that you must be honest with yourself about.
Cutting Check List
- Have you taken the time to properly reverse up and allow your body time to adapt to eating more food?
- Did you come to us eating less than 1500 calories a day or less? (A history of low calorie eating is going to require a longer reverse and more patience for your metabolism to adapt and recover.)
- Is your consistency high enough? If you can’t consistently hit easier numbers, do you think that you will consistently be able to hit harder, more restrictive ones? Read THIS (Are you as Consistent as you think you are?) to conduct an honest appraisal of your consistency.
- Is your protein in ideal range? As we reverse, we slowly increase protein to create consistency and allow your body and habits to embrace eating more protein. If that process is not finished and your protein is not in the ideal range, it is not time to cut yet.
- Can you commit to 4-6 weeks of high consistency? Do you have vacations, birthdays or big events coming up where you want to choose memories over macros?
- Are you working toward PRs in the gym? Are you training for a race or trying to improve athletic performance?
- Is hunger well managed and leveled off?
- Are you feeling really good? Are you well? Have medical issues been well managed for awhile?
- Are you getting enough sleep?
- Are you struggling with binging? Do you hit your numbers 6 days a week and take the 7th off to “eat all the things?”
WHY IT MATTERS
A cut should never be a knee jerk reaction. It should be part of a long term strategy with your coach. A quick decision to cut can do damage and end in two steps back rather than two steps forward. (You may even be here because you have spent years continuing to cut back calories more and more without finding any success.)
A slow reverse gives your metabolism time to adapt to eating more food. That is why you can get to the top of the reverse, look back and say, “I can’t believe I am eating all of this food and have lost or maintained my weight!” (Some women who have severely restricted calories may gain some weight in a reverse, but it is often a necessary part of the process to allow the body to heal and recover. (This is why pictures and measurements are SO important! More weight does not mean more fat!)
When we cut, we don’t want your body to have time to adapt. We want your metabolism to continue burning at the higher rate and burn fat. For this to work, you have to have a strong, consistent foundation with your nutrition.
Cutting sucks. It is imperative that you go into it feeling great, resolved and not recovering from illness. You must be in a headspace to embrace the suck.
- A cut starts with a big swipe in calories. Some people see great results cutting calories by 12-15%. Some people need a deficit closer to 25-30%.
- Cutting brings HUNGER. The key to managing this hunger is to eat as many whole food sources as possible. Move away from your supplemental protein and eat food you can chew. Nutrient dense foods need to be 100% of your choices. The flexibility that we celebrate with working a cookie in exists much less in a cut. Increase vegetables, drink your water and choose quality carbs. Here is some info on choosing the best carbs. (Not all carbs are equal blog.)
- Cutting can bring FATIGUE. Your body is used to being fueled well! When you reduce your caloric intake, energy and workout performance will suffer.
- Cutting brings STRESS. We are all happier when we feel well fed. A reduction in calories can also stress your body. This is why we only do it for a short amount of time and why it is critical that you are healthy and well heading into the cut!
WHAT TO EXPECT
The scale may not move right away! The scale is just as fickle in a cut. Click here is a reminder of all of the reasons that it bobbles.
Cutting is not magic. If you want muscles to show, you have to take the time to build them with seasons of lifting heavy weights BEFORE cutting. If you have not taken that time, the outcome of a cut may just be a smaller version of the body you currently have. You cannot exclusively lose fat, so you may sacrifice some muscle and strength when you cut.
After the cut, you will need to take the time to properly reverse back up again. It is critical that you are just as consistent in this season. Once at maintenance again, you can play with some flexibility and see what works best for you. The flexibility is not in the reverse. If you are less consistent and your metabolism has not had a chance to adapt, you can gain weight back.
We can only cut for a short amount of time and a couple times a year at the most! Don’t rush it. Take the time to do it the right way to yield the best results.
SO, IS IT TIME TO CUT?
There is one more important thing to check off of the list…have you talked to your coach? We are here to help you manage the long term strategy with your nutrition. Having an unbiased person to help you evaluate data, biofeedback and consistency is critical to making the best choices with your nutrition. We want your path to be toward wellness and sustainability! More often that not, achieving your goals as FAST as possible usually means choosing the slower, steadier approach!