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  1. #1
    Registered User apollo1975's Avatar
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    Maximum safe calorie deficit?

    Hi, i'm on a cutting phase after letting myself get a bit out of shape. I'm 36 years old, currently weigh 207lbs, body fat at a guess 20%. I'm 6'2". Training pretty much 7 days a week at the moment, but also not working (usually have a fairly active non office based job). I'm on a split weight weight training regime. Lifting as heavy as I can to failure for 3x8 on most exercises. Keeping a journal and always trying to improve weight lifted on the next session. Also doing a fasted cardio 60 min fast walk every other morning, to aid fat loss. I've been training on and off for 10 years, so pretty comfortable that I know what I'm doing, always willing to learn though.

    I've been on 2000 calories, but only lost a pound last week, so was looking to drop my calories even more. I was just looking for advice and opinion on what the lowest calorie deficit someone of my age and size could go on before it starts having a negative effect i.e losing muscle.

    In and ideal world I'd like to get down to 10% body fat, for probably the first time in my adult life. So I assume I need to lose another 20lbs, which is a big ask. But willing to give it a go.

    Really interested to how far i can push my deficit, obviously without making in have a negative effect or make training unenjoyable.

    Thanks for your help and advice in advance.
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  2. #2
    Registered User apollo1975's Avatar
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    photos of me

    I'm going to stick some pictures up. Just to embarrass me in to achieving this.

    These are all today, pre workout first thing in the morning.

    * Edit - The system won't let me post pics because I have less than 50 posts. Is there any way around this?
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  3. #3
    Registered User matt1942's Avatar
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    Dont drop your cals too soon. Some weeks you will loose more then others. I have lots of weeks that I loose less then a pound or nothing at all but when I do the math I still am averaging almost two pounds a week.
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  4. #4
    Registered User apollo1975's Avatar
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    I have posted photos of me on my profile, really would like feedback. I can take it lol

    Matt - That means it would take me another 10-20 weeks. To long of a cut for me.
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  5. #5
    Registered User Pine Grove's Avatar
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    Its not just about calories, you need to find your macronutrient requirements and go from there. Start here

    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showth...hp?t=121703981

    I would figure out how many calories you burn in a day and shoot for 20 percent under that. Try that for a couple weeks and then adjust based on the results you are getting.

    Keep in mind if you cut your caloric intake too much you are not just going to be losing fat but losing the muscle that you have.
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  6. #6
    Registered User matt1942's Avatar
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    Make sure your getting adequate protien and fats. go by your performance in the gym. If your lifts arent suffering its probably not too low
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  7. #7
    Registered User apollo1975's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Pine Grove View Post


    Keep in mind if you cut your caloric intake too much you are not just going to be losing fat but losing the muscle that you have.
    I understand that, that is the question I am asking.....a what point or how many calories will be to low a deficit?
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    Registered User PolishCub's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by apollo1975 View Post
    I understand that, that is the question I am asking.....a what point or how many calories will be to low a deficit?
    When you are losing more than an average of 2 pounds a week. Everyone is different in regards to how their body will respond to certain calories. I am 210 now and in low 20s in terms of BF and I'm on a cut eating 1800 calories with around 175 g protein, 125 g carbs, and 65 g fat, give or take a few grams. I've only been doing it for a few weeks but dropped a little too much weight last week so I'm upping the calories another 200 for this week and we'll see what happens.
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  9. #9
    Registered User apollo1975's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by matt1942 View Post
    Make sure your getting adequate protien and fats. go by your performance in the gym. If your lifts arent suffering its probably not too low
    an average days diet is

    9am breakfast - self made smoothie (protein powder, blue berries, blackberries, milk and natural yoghurt + flaxseed oil = 410

    12pm lunch - 200g brown basmati rice, 200g chicken and broccoli = 500c

    1pm weight train

    2pm post gym shake - myprotien whey isolate and instant oats mix = 200c

    5pm snack - 20 almonds = 140c

    8pm dinner stir fried veg and 300g of chicken, plus a low fat/calorie sauce = 500c

    11pm post bed shake = 164c

    total 1914 calories
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  10. #10
    Registered User apollo1975's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by PolishCub View Post
    When you are losing more than an average of 2 pounds a week. Everyone is different in regards to how their body will respond to certain calories. I am 210 now and in low 20s in terms of BF and I'm on a cut eating 1800 calories with around 175 g protein, 125 g carbs, and 65 g fat, give or take a few grams. I've only been doing it for a few weeks but dropped a little too much weight last week so I'm upping the calories another 200 for this week and we'll see what happens.
    Thanks thats good info, so any more than 2lbs a week is negative. I had read the before, but was just double checking. Can anyone run over my diet and roughly work out any many carbs, protein and fats i'm eating?
    Last edited by apollo1975; 02-06-2012 at 05:42 AM.
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  11. #11
    Registered User Pine Grove's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by apollo1975 View Post
    Thanks thats good info, so any more than albs a week is negative. I had read the before, but was just double checking. Can anyone run over my diet and roughly work out any many carbs, protein and fats i'm eating?
    Why would someone else work it out? You're putting it in your body, you keep track. Just a quick look over it makes me think you are not getting anywhere the amount of fat you need.

    BTW meal timing is irrelevant. You don't need a post workout shake or a shake before bed.

    "hitting your daily macronutrient targets is FAR more important than nutrient timing."

    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showth...hp?t=123915821


    Find out what you need, then find out what you are taking in on a daily basis. Adjust from there.

    Also 2lb a week is a rough approximation... for someone 130lbs it might be way to much, for someone 400lbs its might not be even close to enough. Don't think just because you are dropping 1.9lbs a week you are keeping muscle.
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  12. #12
    ask about my narcissism MrDude1's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by apollo1975 View Post
    I understand that, that is the question I am asking.....a what point or how many calories will be to low a deficit?
    its really hard to put a number on it. someone that is smaller or has a very low body fat percentage has to lose it slower then someone who is larger or is obese...

    theres going to be alot of people that tell you stay around 2000 because its a safe number.. and an even larger amount of people that will act like you'll die if you're under 1200... the only advice i can give you is to ignore anyone that tells you advice based on a number.

    you're lifting to failure, so you're going to see if your lifts are suffering.. just try cutting back and seeing how your body reacts after doing that for a week.. you said you're at 2000 so try 1700.. although to be honest, im impatient and if it was me id drop it down to 1400 and go back up in cals if i had too.. otherwise id stay there until i lost a few or the lifts suffered too much. that last bit is "what i would do" not the "safe advice id give others"...
    btw, the big calorie deficit cant last forever to get you to low bodyfat.. at some point you have to bring the calories back up, and lean out much slower.
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  13. #13
    Registered User apollo1975's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Pine Grove View Post
    Why would someone else work it out? You're putting it in your body, you keep track. Just a quick look over it makes me think you are not getting anywhere the amount of fat you need.

    BTW meal timing is irrelevant. You don't need a post workout shake or a shake before bed.

    "hitting your daily macronutrient targets is FAR more important than nutrient timing."




    Find out what you need, then find out what you are taking in on a daily basis. Adjust from there.

    Also 2lb a week is a rough approximation... for someone 130lbs it might be way to much, for someone 400lbs its might not be even close to enough. Don't think just because you are dropping 1.9lbs a week you are keeping muscle.
    Fair enough. I just thought that some one could look at my diet and know straight off what the contents are. My bad.

    In the 10 years I have been training and reading up on it. You are the first person ever so say that your don't need to get protein straight after training. I thought it was a must to get protein straight in to your body after training?
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  14. #14
    Registered User apollo1975's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MrDude1 View Post
    its really hard to put a number on it. someone that is smaller or has a very low body fat percentage has to lose it slower then someone who is larger or is obese...

    theres going to be alot of people that tell you stay around 2000 because its a safe number.. and an even larger amount of people that will act like you'll die if you're under 1200... the only advice i can give you is to ignore anyone that tells you advice based on a number.

    you're lifting to failure, so you're going to see if your lifts are suffering.. just try cutting back and seeing how your body reacts after doing that for a week.. you said you're at 2000 so try 1700.. although to be honest, im impatient and if it was me id drop it down to 1400 and go back up in cals if i had too.. otherwise id stay there until i lost a few or the lifts suffered too much. that last bit is "what i would do" not the "safe advice id give others"...
    btw, the big calorie deficit cant last forever to get you to low bodyfat.. at some point you have to bring the calories back up, and lean out much slower.
    Great advice thanks
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    Originally Posted by apollo1975 View Post
    Hi, i'm on a cutting phase after letting myself get a bit out of shape. I'm 36 years old, currently weigh 207lbs, body fat at a guess 20%. I'm 6'2". Training pretty much 7 days a week at the moment, but also not working (usually have a fairly active non office based job). I'm on a split weight weight training regime. Lifting as heavy as I can to failure for 3x8 on most exercises. Keeping a journal and always trying to improve weight lifted on the next session. Also doing a fasted cardio 60 min fast walk every other morning, to aid fat loss. I've been training on and off for 10 years, so pretty comfortable that I know what I'm doing, always willing to learn though.

    I've been on 2000 calories, but only lost a pound last week, so was looking to drop my calories even more. I was just looking for advice and opinion on what the lowest calorie deficit someone of my age and size could go on before it starts having a negative effect i.e losing muscle.

    In and ideal world I'd like to get down to 10% body fat, for probably the first time in my adult life. So I assume I need to lose another 20lbs, which is a big ask. But willing to give it a go.

    Really interested to how far i can push my deficit, obviously without making in have a negative effect or make training unenjoyable.

    Thanks for your help and advice in advance.
    I believe that you have already been advised to do so. However, if not, I'll give it a go.

    Go into the nutrition section of this site & calculate your macros @ maintenance caloric intake using the calculators in the IIFYM writeup. This will give you a ballpark idea of how many calories, fat, protein & carbs to ingest daily to maintain your current weight. Build a diet based on this info and give it a go while consistently monitoring your weight, and make adjustments so that you can ACTUALLY maintain your weight (this step is critical).

    After determining your REAL caloric / macro intake maintenance levels then reduce your caloric intake by about 15% to cut (add 15% to bulk). It is my understanding that the +/- 15% is optimum for cutting (bulking) in order for a natty to cut or bulk without wrecking their physique.

    I personally wish I would have known this about 5 months ago. Good luck OP.
    brb eating...
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    Originally Posted by TigerBulk View Post
    I believe that you have already been advised to do so. However, if not, I'll give it a go.

    Go into the nutrition section of this site & calculate your macros @ maintenance caloric intake using the calculators in the IIFYM writeup. This will give you a ballpark idea of how many calories, fat, protein & carbs to ingest daily to maintain your current weight. Build a diet based on this info and give it a go while consistently monitoring your weight, and make adjustments so that you can ACTUALLY maintain your weight (this step is critical).

    After determining your REAL caloric / macro intake maintenance levels then reduce your caloric intake by about 15% to cut (add 15% to bulk). It is my understanding that the +/- 15% is optimum for cutting (bulking) in order for a natty to cut or bulk without wrecking their physique.

    I personally wish I would have known this about 5 months ago. Good luck OP.
    I've probably missed it and I apologise, is there a link to a page, where I can find all of this info out and work out my macro needs. At the moment I only really make sure I'm getting enough protein and probably neglect the fats and carbs ratios. I must add that I tend to keep carbs to a minimum and only really eat them pre and post workout, as I'm pretty carb sensitive and it has worked for me in the past to be on low carbs while cutting/losing fat.
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    Originally Posted by apollo1975 View Post
    In the 10 years I have been training and reading up on it. You are the first person ever so say that your don't need to get protein straight after training. I thought it was a must to get protein straight in to your body after training?
    It takes about 8 hours for you to fully digest a steak or a large chicken breast... it still takes time, even to digest "fast" sources like whey protein. Your body WILL adapt and use protein you eat, when it gets it... regardless of timing. If humans needed their protein immediately after a workout, we wouldnt have survived this long.
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    Originally Posted by MrDude1 View Post
    It takes about 8 hours for you to fully digest a steak or a large chicken breast... it still takes time, even to digest "fast" sources like whey protein. Your body WILL adapt and use protein you eat, when it gets it... regardless of timing. If humans needed their protein immediately after a workout, we wouldnt have survived this long.
    Maybe "need" is the wrong word.
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    Originally Posted by MrDude1 View Post
    It takes about 8 hours for you to fully digest a steak or a large chicken breast... it still takes time, even to digest "fast" sources like whey protein. Your body WILL adapt and use protein you eat, when it gets it... regardless of timing. If humans needed their protein immediately after a workout, we wouldnt have survived this long.
    Definitely this....ze great Lyle debunked supplement protein delivery awhile back, don't have the link to it handy but I'm sure someone does. Those supplement studies were conducted on empty stomachs (re: nothing to eat for 10 hours or more), and the whey protein still took 3 to 4 hours to fully digest. Which means that if you lift heavy for an hour, you would need to drink your whey shake 2 hours BEFORE lifting to maximize the flow of protein hitting the blood stream, not 30 min after, -if- the timing of protein delivery was that important. Which its not. The bulk of muscle recovery/repair still takes place when you're sleeping, not right after because you drank your shake.
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    yea, i know the article you're talking about, but I cant find the link either...
    Originally Posted by justmightbecraz View Post
    The bulk of muscle recovery/repair still takes place when you're sleeping, not right after because you drank your shake.
    The nice thing about the sleep/recovery thing is it makes me feel good to stuff myself with a late steak\chicken\etc dinner... knowing its GOOD for me to eat late at night... that way im full before going to sleep... I dont mind sleeping on an empty stomach, but i have a loud stomach and its grumbling noise annoys someone else in bed.
    the whole "dont eat late at night" myth is one im really glad is BS.
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    Originally Posted by MrDude1 View Post
    yea, i know the article you're talking about, but I cant find the link either...


    The nice thing about the sleep/recovery thing is it makes me feel good to stuff myself with a late steak\chicken\etc dinner... knowing its GOOD for me to eat late at night... that way im full before going to sleep... I dont mind sleeping on an empty stomach, but i have a loud stomach and its grumbling noise annoys someone else in bed.
    the whole "dont eat late at night" myth is one im really glad is BS.

    I thought the myth was to not eat carbs late at night, because you will not expend the energy and they will store as fat.
    Are you saying that is nonsense?
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    Originally Posted by apollo1975 View Post
    I thought the myth was to not eat carbs late at night, because you will not expend the energy and they will store as fat.
    Are you saying that is nonsense?
    You answered your own question, yes that myth is nonsense. You know how many fat Muslims there would be running around after Ramadan if that were true? They fast from 4am-8pm having nothing but coffee or tea, then feast between 8pm-4am, hell Ramadan fasting is the groundwork for Intermittent Fasting that many people here follow successfully.
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    Originally Posted by apollo1975 View Post
    I understand that, that is the question I am asking.....a what point or how many calories will be to low a deficit?
    Your calories are only too low when you start feeling like crap and when your lifts at the gym decrease. That is the only information that matters.
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    Originally Posted by apollo1975 View Post
    I thought the myth was to not eat carbs late at night, because you will not expend the energy and they will store as fat.
    Are you saying that is nonsense?
    yes. its pretty much nonsense. your body is CONSTANTLY storing energy as fat and pulling it back out. sometimes simultaneously.
    Since Im aiming for my macros, and my lunch usually has an abundance of carbs (bread for sandwich, sometimes potatoes, etc) my dinner is usually pretty meat heavy.. but as long as you're eating within your macros.. yeah.. doesnt matter if theres carbs or whatever.
    obviously theres other things to think of too.. i dont eat anything with a ton of sugar or caffeine before bed.. but thats only so i sleep.. I dont get heartburn, but some people cant have some stuff before they lie down. etc.. and of course some people cant eat a pound of meat and sleep well...
    just know your body, eat when it works for you, hit your macros and dont stress about it.
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    Sounds like I really need to get my head around these macros.


    I'll put my hands up. I looked at the thread and it confused the hell out of me.
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    Originally Posted by HealthResearch View Post
    Your calories are only too low when you start feeling like crap and when your lifts at the gym decrease. That is the only information that matters.
    Simply put and makes complete sense. Thanks.
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    Originally Posted by apollo1975 View Post
    Simply put and makes complete sense. Thanks.
    Just keep doing what you are doing. 1 lb a week is great and it makes sense based on a 2000 calorie a day diet. i.e. it makes sense your maintenance is 2500
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    How are you tracking so far OP?

    I'm on currently on a deficit at the moment as well.
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    This is a difficult question to answer because nobody really knows and anything we tell you could only be a best guess.

    However, the logic is that the more fat you have the bigger the deficit you can have an not worry about losing too much lean mass. Anything over 750 calories per day is considered a large deficit and probably should avoided unless you are obese. You seem fairly lean already so I'd probably suggest not more than 750 per day and maybe best at 500.
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    Hard to say what is safe. It would be different for each person. I've run as high a 1700 or so of a deficit for months. Just raised calories 200-250 was at about 1100. That is 2 months of 8.8 pounds lost two months in a row. So I should be 800-900 now. Probably going up again shortly. Still got some fat though. TDEE is obviously lower as I don't do cardio currently and I've lost 85+ pounds already. Still my TDEE is approaching 2900-3000. I guess I have a "fast" metabolism... I basically sit on my ass other then lifting 3-6 times a week for an hour or so a session. Jelly?
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