7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Cutting Weight
I used to be that person cutting year-round (rookie mistake), so I have a bit of first-hand experience on this topic. It took me some time to realise that the best gains are not made in a calorie deficit and that we need some time maintaining or gaining weight to grow physically as well as mentally.
You should not be cutting weight if:
- You’re already consuming little calories
- You can’t commit for a minimum period of 3 months
- You’re not willing to add in extra conditioning
- You’re trying to make weight for a competition
- Your aim is to gain muscle
- You’re already lean
- You’re trying to get a “summer body”, and it’s already summer
Let’s dwell on this a little further…
1. You’re already consuming little calories
If you’re consuming low calories day-to-day and aren’t close to your goal, now is not the time to be cutting. It is likely that you’ve either a) started your cut on too little calories, or b) been cutting for too long. You’ll achieve a better result from gradually increasing your dietary intake into a calorie surplus (also known as reverse dieting) to boost your metabolism, build some muscle and then you can start your cut fresh at a more appropriate time.
2. You can’t commit for a minimum period of 3 months
I personally recommend allowing at least 3 months for a cut however the actual timeframe depends on the amount of weight loss desired – obviously more weight loss equals more time. Weight loss is not linear, and we need to allow time to account for normal weight fluctuations and focus on fat loss rather than weight loss – which unfortunately is a slower process.
3. You’re not willing to add in extra conditioning
Adding in some extra conditioning (or cardio) means that you will expend more energy, allowing you to eat more calories than what you would without it. The amount of conditioning that is recommended for a person is subject to their current goal, level of fitness and available time. Energy expenditure is not the only benefit to conditioning, but I’ll leave that for another post.
4. You’re trying to make weight for a competition
Do not cut weight to make a weight class that you don’t belong in, period. In the past, I have been guilty of this and still see it happen at every competition. There are two exceptions to this rule – you’re an elite ranked powerlifter and have a shot at placing in a world-class meet OR you have the chance to potentially break some records (in an established federation). If you don’t fall into either of those categories, eat up and save the water cut for never.
5. Your aim is to gain muscle
The likelihood of you gaining a decent amount of muscle mass in a calorie deficit is slim-to-none (unless you’re a complete newbie). To put it straight – you must be in a calorie surplus (consume more calories than you expend) to enable muscle growth, and conversely, you must be in a calorie deficit (expend more calories than you consume) to lose fat. They don’t happen simultaneously.
6. You’re already lean
This point is aimed at people who have already spent a substantial amount of time in a calorie deficit and have reached their body composition goal. If you fall into this category, you need to re-evaluate your current situation and establish some new goals (short and long-term). If you want your physique to improve and develop overtime, you’ll need to experiment with entering a calorie surplus and gaining some weight – not the opposite.
7. You’re trying to get a “summer body”, and it’s already summer
Just for the record – I absolutely despise the words “summer / bikini body”. Now that I’ve got that off my chest, if you’re looking to get lean for summer – you can’t start in the last week of spring. Depending on your current body composition, you should have already started your cut anywhere between 3-8 months in advance. I’ll end with these three words – it’s too late.