What is the best way to 'cut', without losing muscle?


What is the best way to 'cut' (i.e. lose body fat) but minimise muscle loss?

Okaym, I am assuming you need to eat less (so that there is a calorie deficit), right?

But how much and what sort of training should one do?

- Aerobics? (If so, what intensity? & how long should each training session be?)
- Running?
- Weights?

If you keep doing weights (e.g. HST type training), then (I think I read somewhere that) the body starts taking muscle (i.e. catabolizing) any of your muscles that you didnt manage to train hard enough!

Disaster !

Also, over how many weeks should one be doing one's "cutting" ?

I am no expert, but it is my understanding that, during a cut, it is wise to keep your protein intake high. Figure about 1 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body weight.

With a calorie deficit it is hard to keep up long weight training sessions, so you might want to drop back to only twice a weight. Lift heavy, but with fewer reps.
I presume you mean twice a week not weight (?)
Yup, sorry.

Hmm... After reading all this highly exact HST calculating, this sounds a bit vague !
HST stands for Hypertrophy Specific Training. You're not going to get hypertrophy while cutting. You can gain muscle or lose fat, but it's hard to do both at the same time. To maintain muscle while trying to lose fat, keep your protein intake high and lift heavy. You may have to cut back on the number of workouts.

You asked about "the best way to 'cut' (i.e. lose body fat) but minimise muscle loss"; I made my suggestions based on that.

You might want to google Lyle McDonald. He always has good diet recommendations.

Also how many weeks in a row do people normally "cut" for?

That would vary for each person. Many set a particular goal -- a certain body weight, or waist measurement, or body fat percentage -- and keep cutting until the goal is reached.
Lyle McDonald's UD2.0 works well too (go to www.bodyrecomposition.com for more info).

Basically, you need to tell your body to hang on to the lean tissue for as long as possible (although you will almost certainly lose some as you lose bodyweight). In order to do that you'll need to lift heavy weights for each body part at least once a week. Diet is key to all fat loss but exercise also plays a part in burning calories. Just don't try to lose too much weight each week or you will be burning up more muscle tissue than necessary/desired. A loss of 1lb a week is a good goal to have. However, don't expect steady/consistent results from start to finish. Sometimes a few weeks will go by and you won't have experienced any fat loss. Then, suddenly, you'll seem to drop a fair bit - there does seem to be an effect where water is retained for a while before being released, leading to jumps in weight-loss.

It's also a good idea to have a 'reset week' every 5 or 6 weeks. By increasing cals for a while you can encourage your body to reset certain hormone levels that are part of the fat-loss control mechanisms that alter when dieting (look up ghrelin and leptin). After 10-12 weeks of consistent dieting, I would take a complete month off the diet and eat at maintenance cals. This will help you to adpt to your new body weight before deciding whether to continue your cut.

Knowledge, understanding, consistency and perseverance are key. Read as much as you can on the subject, stick with it and you will get good results. One cheat day a week is fine if it keeps you focussed the rest of the time - just don't go mad with the cheating!

You will need to learn to count cals and not guesstimate if you want your cut to be as successful as possible.

It is always good to record how you get on so that, when you look back at your notes, you can see what worked best for you.
intermittent fasting


Hmm... OK, I don't dispute that fasting would probably work... however, I was under the impression that intemittent fasting is "the hard way" to do it !

i.e. That by fasting intermittently, the body starting thinking that there is likely to be a food shortage, and therefore the hormones shift around to start to shift around and store fat as soon as it gets a glucose surplus. I think I read something to that effect by Barry Sears (of The Zone Diet fame).

Yeah whoever wrote that is an idiot and doesn't read research. The whole 'you gotta eat every two hours to keep your metabolism up bro' argument was destroyed by research a long time ago. Eating several times a day does nothing special and is not any different than eating three meals a day or even one meal a day. Intermittent fasting is actually pretty easy. It doesn't feel like a diet. It feels like you feast every day because you get all your calories in a short period. It actually makes more sense than regular dieting because you are only taking in calories during the period when protein synthesis is raised, so the possibility of storing more calories in bodyfat is quite low and the chance of losing significant muscle mass is reduced quite a bit as well.

UD2.0 works really well too, though I recommend it more for once you've hit 10% bodyfat and are trying to get down below that with minimal muscle loss. It's hard for some people to do especially if you have to work it around your job. But it works really well when executed properly.

I've done both diets and I thought that Intermittent Fasting was easier and it worked really well for me. However, UD2.0 can work really well too especially if you have a hard time with the fasting parts of the IF diet.
Btw, for me at least, I can tell you that eating a number of small meals has a completely different effect than eating 1 large meal per day.

Personally I did an experiment taking my lunch in to work. And if I ate it in 1 sitting I gained body fat. Whereas if I ate it in 3+ sittings I lost body fat. It was healthy well balance food (meat + veg).

We are all different I suppose but my findings are in accordance with Zone Diet theory, no?
According to my endocrinologist, your metabolism is defined mainly by the lean mass you are carrying. Whether you eat once a day or twenty times a day does not make the slightest difference. The only way to speed up your metabolism is by adding lean mass. He also has the opinion that restricting calories is never good. Slight calorie restriction over a longer period (measured in days, not weeks) will negatively affect hormone production. The more you restrict calorie intake, the more your body will restrict energy release. The first thing that will be cut off is fat loss so as to favor more important functions because the process of fat loss requires energy.
What he told me to do is this: Eat the calories you require. It’s no problem to get hungry, even for a couple of hours. But it’s always better to burn off calories with activity than to restrict calorie intake. If you get tired after workouts or feel sluggish for some days, add calories. It’s a typical reaction to insufficient calorie intake. The fat loss process will suffer if calories are insufficient.
From what I understood, diets of any kind should be avoided like the plague. Concepts like IF are much better and have always occurred pretty naturally. And most importantly, they can be tolerated pretty well by all healthy people.
I picked up 1500-m sprinting for fat loss. After some time, I got so tired and exhausted that I thought I was overtraining. He pointed me to an article entitled The Starving Runner, and having read this one, I put the advice into practice under his care. I was eating something like 1700 calories and got stuck with fat loss. Now, I eat about 3000 calories and fat loss continues. But don’t let those numbers fool you: I do a lot of activities, so 3000 calories isn’t that much at all – even for a 43-year old.
The only way to speed up your metabolism is by adding lean mass.
Surely that cant be correct. Taking exercise definitely speeds up one metabolism, no?

Concepts like IF are much better...
What is "IF" ? (rather a hard word to Google!)

But I am confuse about your central message - if you are not losing fat by restricting calories, how exactly ARE you losing fat?
I believe he said something like the basal metabolic rate can only be elevated if you add more active tissue. But don’t nail me on that one as it was a conversation and I really can’t remember all details. But he is convincing. At least convincing enough to be the man to look for whenever you get into trouble at the track and field club. But you should definitely read up on metabolism.
IF = Intermittent Fasting
I can confirm from my own experience that calorie restriction will soon cut off fat loss. I did as I was told and fat loss kicked in again. I eat at maintenance and run – a lot. Have you read The Starving Runner? If not, google for this article. It is true from start to finish. The exact same thing happened to me and was solved with the exact same solution.
According to my doc, if you eat too little, the body will preserve more energy for more important functions, and fat loss is definitely not important for your body – on the contrary. It will hold on to any fat it can and get energy from elsewhere, like lean mass. Lean mass includes but is not restricted to muscle tissue. I don’t know if this is true, but it seems so. When I was on low calories, my lean mass was also lower, although I was lifting heavier weights at that time than now. So that too, makes sense to me.
Going back to the original subject of the thread...

The only way to cut without losing muscle is a very delicate balance between training and diet. You have to eat at or almost at maintenance for your overall body composition. Thing is - that can be a tricky proposition to figure out even with the best science behind the thought. Fundamentally, as humans we all require the same basic things nutritionally. BUT - as you refine and refine again your musculature through training, your individual requirement can vary tremendously from a nutritional perspective, much like a fingerprint. For one person, a tremendous amount of meat-based protein will work, but for another, only egg-based proteins work. Then you have the vegetarian/vegan crowd who make a strong argument for bean-based proteins. Then you have the supplement crowd, etc.

The thing I think the anyone who really attempts such a feat is this - try a bunch of different approaches, with the best prospect of thought and time behind it. How can you really say how you'll respond to any one particular stimulus, be it through training or nutrition? Training is not about the right now - it's about an end line goal. We owe it to ourselves to find the right way for ourselves. I see so many of these types of questions out on the web, and had to throw my opinion our there.

Good luck to anyone who struggles with such a thing. I personally have tried a ton of approaches for YEARS and think I may have found my answer - for me - and it's nothing anyone has ever told me, nor anything I've read in cyberspace. Thing is - I'm still testing this approach.