Many people are confused by the conflicting information available on how you should train when on a calorie restricted diet, and the answer is quite simple – it is to still train hard.
Training & Calorie Restrictions |
Ensure your metabolism and training routine is in a good place before you begin cutting.
An often overlooked point but one that will make or break your success in a cut. Make sure that your metabolism is in a good place before contemplating starting a diet.
What does this mean?
✓ It means ensuring that you are eating as many calories as possible and doing as little cardio as possible while maintaining weight before you even begin a diet. Yes, this involves effort in the off season, but from experience, it is well worth it! This will prevent cutting right down on calories to get very lean, or perform cardio every day for hours.
✓ It also means you can maintain some balance during your dieting phase, and stay as healthy as possible with as little deprivation. By no means is it in anyway necessary to be miserable during a cut if you begin it in the right place to start with.
Why Train During
When dieting, you need to ensure that you keep as much muscle as possible. The more muscle you have on your body, the stronger your metabolism will be. This is the absolutely golden rule if you want to obtain the best results possible from your cut.
Maintaining muscle is a lot easier during a calorie surplus as your body has plenty of calories to spare to dedicate to muscle maintenance and repair. During a cut however, this is not the case, and if you slack with your training, you will soon find that you lose a lot more muscle than necessary. This occurs because the body will break down its fat stores and will also dip into its muscle stores for energy if there are not enough calories in your diet to sustain it.
Keeping the intensity high during training and continuing to implement progressive overload as much as possible will help to ensure that your valuable muscle stays put. A tip I have picked up along the way is to keep a close eye on your strength levels. We all have off days, but if you notice your strength has declined consistently this may indicate you are losing muscle.
Cutting Season Tips
✓ Don’t overdo the cardio
Many people instinctively increase their cardio dramatically when they begin a cut. Yes, you may find that adding in some cardio will speed up your results, but always be conservative with how much you add. Your goal should be to achieve the best results possible on the minimum amount of cardio.
Ideally you should incorporate High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) where possible, although bear in mind this type of cardio is tough on the body and so you should have a rest days to allow your body to recover as much as possible.
Weight training should definitely be your priority during this time, which is why it is so much better for you to begin a cut without relying on a ton of cardio to maintain your weight. Cardio should be considered a tool in your fat loss kit and used accordingly.
✓ Focus on nutrition & timing
When the calories are getting lower, it is important that you are strategic with what you eat and when. This is to ensure your body gets as much nourishment as possible so that it can recover in ample time for your next session and to ensure you hold on to your muscle mass.
In terms of supplementation during this time, Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are a great addition to your arsenal. They will not only help curb your appetite and keep you focused, but will help supply the body with amino acids, sufficient enough to prevent muscle breakdown and increase protein synthesis – therefore muscle loss has an increased chance of being kept to a minimum during this period of calorie restriction.
Take home message
Get your metabolism to a good place before you begin a cutting phase to make the process more pleasant and easier for yourself. Keep the intensity high in your weight lifting sessions and keep the cardio sessions to a minimum.
Ensure your nutrition is on point and your protein intake adequate to reduce any potential muscle loss!