I have been doing Renaissance Periodization (RP) method of nutrition for probably about 2 years. This will have been my second time doing a “cut”, otherwise known as a fat loss cycle.
The following paragraph is about RP. If you are familiar with it, go ahead and skip through to the lessons learned. If you are unfamiliar with RP, here is a quick breakdown of how it works. You purchase a template from them based on your sex, weight, and goal (fat loss or muscle gain). You then follow the template every day and it tells you how to eat each meal based on the time of day you workout. It is a very specific method of eating. For example, it will tell me for breakfast (Meal 1) that I need 42g of protein, 15g of fat, and 60 carbohydrates. I need to create a meal that will hit these macros exactly. It takes some time to figure it out, but once you get your meals down, it becomes second nature. As you go day by day, you need to weigh yourself a couple times a week and average it. When you start the diet you should not see any weight gain or loss. This is called being on “base”. Then after a month on base, you move to what is called “Cut 1”. This is the first stage of the fat loss where they restrict some calories from your daily diet. They mostly take away some fat sources. On Cut 1, you should see approximately 1lb of weight loss per week. If you keep losing 1lb per week, you stay on Cut 1. If weight loss slows, you move to Cut 2 where they restrict calories even more. Then you should see 1lb weight loss per week again. You keep this cycle up until you’ve hit your goal weight, or its been 3 months. You never want to stay in a caloric deficit for more than 3 months or it can start messing up your hormone balance. After you finish the cut, you will go back up the ladder, adding calories in at specific amounts, until you get to “New Base”. This is a full fat loss cycle.
First, here’s how it went.
Here is a snapshot of 3 months. Starting on Base in January, and then moving to Cut 1 at the end of January and finishing at the end of March. These images are a screenshot from my FitBit scales app on my phone.
Here is a zoomed in shot of one month. Take notice of how my weight loss is not a linear line down, but it goes UP, then down, then UP, then down. But the overall trend is … down.
So here you can see a few things. I did a scan before the holidays, I did a scan at the beginning of February when I started Cut 1, another scan March 1st, March 15th, and then finally March 29th.
Total Weight Lost – 11.6lb
Muscle Lost – 1.8lb
Fat Lost – 9.8lb
Lessons learned and important takeaways:
1 – Consistency is everything
Let’s say I have 6 meals per day, 7 days per week. That is 42 meals per week. Over the 2 month Cut, I averaged 41 perfect meals per week and 1 “cheat” meal. Even the cheat meal wasn’t much of a cheat meal, it just wasn’t perfect macros.
I’ve been doing RP for over 2 years. I have the meals and macros down well. This time I only went to Cut 1 – I never went to Cut 2 or Cut 3 (further caloric restriction). I believe my body responded this way because I’ve been so consistent over the long term. A diet should not be a short-term fix, but a way to live and eat for the rest of your life.
2 – No booze
Over the 2 months, I consumed alcohol on 3 days. Two of those days were related to the birth of my son. Alcohol is probably the number one reason people don’t succeed with weight loss. Alcohol stops any fat burning from occurring for 24 hours, and the alcohol by itself has a lot of calories. The 3 days I did consume, it was 2 drinks at most.
3 – Get temptations out of the house
Beer, wine, girl scout cookies, Easter candy, all of it, gone. Can’t get rid of it? Lock it up and give the key to your spouse. Ideas are endless, but if there are temptations nearby, it can be very hard to resist when the cravings are real.
Good news though, the longer you resist, the less you’ll crave them. If you can stick it out the first month, I promise you the second month is easier. You wont want the booze or snacks, and if you do give in, you’ll regret it after and not feel well. Sugar and alcohol are after all – toxins.
4 – Eat your veggies!
5 – Meal prep is huge
6 – Take the good with the bad, knowing why you are doing it.
There were plenty of days when my meals were plain chicken, white rice, broccoli, and cashews. Very boring and plain. There were also just as many exciting meals though. If I timed my workouts correctly, I could still enjoy Taco Tuesday with the family. Denise is great at whipping up home cooked style meals like chicken pot pie and healthy chicken parmigiana that meet my macros.
7 – Don’t expect to get stronger. The goal is to maintain.
This comes with having proper expectations for losing fat. If your body is in a state of caloric deficit, getting stronger / building muscle is extremely hard. The goal should be to maintain your muscle and metabolic conditioning as you cut. If you progress to Cut 2 and Cut 3, you may feel your conditioning suffer because of lower carbohydrates. This is to be expected. Again, know why you are doing the Cut. Don’t get frustrated.
During this time I was participating in the CrossFit Open and did not do much heavy lifting. I believe if I had done more heavy lifting, I could have prevented more muscle loss.
Moving forward, I plan to stay on maintenance for the next five months. Then in the fall I will do a mass cycle and try to add muscle. Then I’ll maintain for a few months, and then do a cut again next winter and the cycle repeats 😊
“It doesn’t end with the diet. To make fat loss a permanent change, a good maintenance phase is as important as the fat loss diet itself. As you slowly ramp up food intake after your diet, during the maintenance phase, you should feel less and less hungry and fatigued and less and less deprived. By the end of a good maintenance you should be in that healthy state of balance where you enjoy some treats and drinks, aren’t measuring all of your food obsessively, and are in general relaxed and not excessively worried about what you are eating or what the scale says.”
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About the Author:
My goal is to continually increase my general physical conditioning. I like to be strong while still having an endurance capacity.
Newport Marathon 2015 (3:53)
Ironman 70.3 Syracuse 2017 (6:40)
Ironman 140.6 Lake Placid 2017 (14:14)
Bench Press 315lb