IS THERE AN OPTIMAL CALORIE DEFICIT? 🤔
Garthe et al. compared a calorie deficit of 19% (about 400-500 kcal) vs 30% (about 600-750). .
The high deficit group lost muscle and fat, whereas the low deficit group took longer, but lost more fat and even gained some muscle.
This means there’s an optimal calorie deficit when it comes to optimizing fat loss.
A much newer meta-analysis on military personnel by Murphy et. al., 2018 assessed how power and strength declined when eating at a specific calorie deficit, giving us more of an insight (over 9 independent studies assessed)
Some of them were on a 3000 kcal calorie deficit 😶!
Because strength and power losses are related to muscle losses, this study tells us something about the optimal calorie deficit for fat loss without muscle loss. .
It showed that a calorie deficit of 58 to 126 kcal does not lead to muscle loss or strength, as the subjects retained their strength and power, or even increased it. .
On the other hand those with whooping 1237 kcal deficit led them lose a significant amount of strength. .
The sweet spot in the study was shown to be around 300 kcal deficit mark as cutting on above that, was shown to be detrimental to retaining muscle and therefore strength and power.
Things to keep in mind: Not everyone can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time as it depends on:
4️⃣Your protein intake
5️⃣Diet and training program adherence
6️⃣Body fat (e.g. A man with 25% body fat may cut successfully at -900 kcal per day while someone with 8% body fat may hardly get away with -200 kcal) [Rossow et al 2013; Huovinen et al. 2015]
7️⃣How much and which type of cardio you do (aka interference effect -> Helms et al., 2014b)
8️⃣How close you are to your genetic potential
When considering going on a cut, find your maintenance calories first and depending on your aims choose a time-frame for when you want to end your cut. That will determine what the stages of calorie decrease per week will be.