I’ve been in a fat loss phase (or cut) since July because I wanted to get a leaner body.
Just over a week ago I went back into maintenance calories, like I was doing every 3-4 weeks. I then decided I was going to stay there.
I could’ve possibly got a bit leaner, but it would only have been a vain attempt to see more of my abs so I knew it was time to stop.
A lot of women want a leaner body, so I thought I’d document my experience in the hope it might help others.
Calculating my calorie intake for the cut
I used an online TDEE calculator to help calculate the calories I needed to maintain my weight.
The calculator takes into account your weight, body fat ratio, and exercise levels.
There’s nothing special about this particular TDEE calculator, it’s just one I found easy to use.
Some people say that a calorie deficit of a standard 500kcal is a good place to start for fat loss. However, I feel this would’ve taken me too low with my calories.
So, I decided to start with a 250kcal deficit. This means I subtracted 250kcal off of my maintenance calories to give the new, lower level of calories I’d eat to help me lose fat.
The beauty of it is, if you find your weight isn’t shifting then you can reduce calories.
Just be careful – don’t reduce calories too soon if you think you’re plateauing.
I’d give it 4-5 weeks to see if the weight reduces, as my weight was stuck for a while and then suddenly dropped.
Deciding on my macro split
During a fat loss phase there’s a risk of losing muscle mass due to eating fewer calories.
It’s therefore important to keep protein high to try and retain as much muscle mass as possible.
I ate about 1.3 grams of protein per lb of body weight.
I kept fat at around 25% of my total daily calories, with the remainder coming from carbohydrates.
These values tended to fluctuate on a day-to-day basis. This meant I sometimes ate more or less protein and adjusted my carbohydrates/fats accordingly.
Tracking my weight and the downward trend
During the first nine weeks of the cut I only tracked my weight once a week/ I then decided to switch to daily tracking to see the ups and downs of the scale.
This might not be appropriate for everyone, and might even be triggering. If so, don’t feel you have to do this.
For me, it helped cut the emotional investment in the number on the scale and proved how much variation in weight there can be.
I’ve included the dates below, but have taken my actual weight off because I don’t want this to be triggering for people.
Why I decided to end the cut
I was feeling more and more tired, my mood wasn’t great and I felt like my squats had started to suffer.
My bench and deadlifts didn’t appear too affected by the cut, but I was beginning to feel quite beat up after sessions.
I feel proud that I listened to my mind and body, as opposed to pushing through thinking I needed to go further.
I have an increased awareness of my mind body connection and I’m glad I didn’t ignore it.
Here are my progress photos for my end point in October 2019 versus my starting point in July 2019.
In terms of weight and measurements, I lost a total of 9lbs and 2.5 inches off my waist.
Whilst I am pleased with these results, I did lose some strength and my lifting form, particularly on squats, suffered.
However, I can start to work on that so it’s not as though it can’t be fixed.
Time to maintain
I’m now into my second week of being back in maintenance calories and I’m starting to feel like I have more energy.
It was weird because during the first week of maintenance there were times where I really felt the urge to have a carb ‘binge’.
I’m not sure if the urge to binge was because, mentally, I knew the cut was over and I felt like ‘letting go’. Or, perhaps my body was just signalling that it needed more food.
Nonetheless, I didn’t binge and during this second week I’m feeling better on the higher calories with no urges to binge.
What I learnt
I’m really proud of myself for this cut for a few reasons. I have a history of disordered eating and was worried going into the cut that it could lead to a relapse.
There were times during the cut where I was overly focused with eating perfectly ‘clean’ all the time.
Watching videos like Jordan Syatt’s 30 Day Big Mac Challenge reminded me that I don’t need to be consumed by clean eating in order to achieve my fat loss goals.
The cut really helped me get ‘the best bang for my buck’ from calories. I ate as many nutrient-dense foods as I could to fuel my body and my training.
I’ve given myself credit for making the decision to end this cut when I did. A few years ago I probably would have kept pushing myself to get a leaner body. However I knew it wouldn’t have been a good idea.
I know that I don’t have much muscle definition (particularly my abs) because I’d not trained those muscles to a large extent. So, another few weeks on the cut wouldn’t have made much difference and I’d end up feeling more fatigued.
Plus, I have to remember that there’s nothing to stop me doing another cut in the future. After all, I’ve just proven to myself that I can do it successfully 🙂
For now, though, it’s time to get stronger. I hope this post has given some helpful tips of how you can get a leaner body that you can use in your own fat loss journey.
Let me know in the comments if you have any of your own tips!
Welcome! I’m a Psychologist and fitness enthusiast. My passion is supporting people with their health and wellbeing, and inspiring them to pursue the things they love doing. Please contact me at email@example.com if you have any questions or want to collaborate!