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  1. #1
    Registered User metallick's Avatar
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    Metabolic adaptation a legit thing? Worth having occasional periods of maintenance?

    Not sure if this is the right thread but it is one of the more active ones;

    I am cutting right now as a 5’6 160 lb male, having around 1500 calories per day. I am losing 2 lbs a week yet I have yet to lose any strength in any compound or isolation exercise- even making progress on my bench (my lifts are late novice/early intermediate so that helps).

    Is metabolic adaptation a real thing or is that just a lower TDEE from a loss of body fat? Not sure if my caloric intake is too low for someone my stature but I still feel fine physically.
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    Registered User Heisman2's Avatar
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    In general losing >1% body weight weekly will increase the risk of losing LBM. However, if you're doing well and your lifts are not going down you can probably get away at continuing to cut at your current rate.

    Regarding metabolic adaptation, I've read dozens of papers on this topic and my current belief is that "adaptive thermogenesis", where you get a decrease in BMR, TEF, NEAT, and even EAT (via increased exercise efficiency) is a real thing while you are in a deficit. However, once you get out of the deficit pretty much all of that reverses and stabilizes to your new total body mass, with possibly ~50 kcal/d decrease relative to where you would expect your TDEE to be otherwise. The only study that shows significantly greater deficit than this was the 2016 Biggest Loser study, which is only questionably applicable to most people.

    So I wouldn't worry about it and you can likely continue what you are doing, but try to slow the rate of weight loss at the first sign of things taking a turn for the worse.
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    Registered User metallick's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Heisman2 View Post
    So I wouldn't worry about it and you can likely continue what you are doing, but try to slow the rate of weight loss at the first sign of things taking a turn for the worse.
    When you say this, are you referring to if I start losing strength?

    Unrelated but is there a particular reason I overcame my plateau once I started cutting? I could barely bench 135 lbs for 3 reps when I was bulking, recently I was able to do a set of 150 lbs for a triple. I'm adding 5 lbs every week or so and I wasn't able to do that before
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    Registered User Heisman2's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by metallick View Post
    When you say this, are you referring to if I start losing strength?

    Unrelated but is there a particular reason I overcame my plateau once I started cutting? I could barely bench 135 lbs for 3 reps when I was bulking, recently I was able to do a set of 150 lbs for a triple. I'm adding 5 lbs every week or so and I wasn't able to do that before
    Losing strength would be a strong sign for sure. Others would be sleep problems, mood problems, hair loss, becoming injury prone, other health issues, etc.

    No obvious reason to overcome a plateau when you start cutting without some other variable at play. In theory your leverages can change with weight loss but that shouldn't make a big difference for your bench. Consider if you changed your program in some way, changed your mental approach (ie, focus and drive to do your best), or perhaps after being at a plateau long enough your body is finally adapting well to break through it.
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