An Inside Look at A Weight Loss Cut

I’d like to see my abs this summer. Here’s how I’m approaching 10 weeks of slowly losing body fat, while maintaining muscle mass, and keeping my energy high.

Mar 18, 2022
This week I started a cut. 
I want to lose some body fat while maintaining my lean muscle mass. 
Summer is coming and I want to see my abs. 
In a world that glorifies diet culture, I’m hesitant to share my process. Not least because I don’t want anyone to think that visible abs equate to self-worth. 
I realize many people struggle with body image. I have witnessed the devastating impacts of anorexia on friends. I myself have faced some of these demons. 
But today, I’m grounded. I respect my body. I appreciate food. And I have a deep understanding of nutrition. 
If this topic is a trigger for you, please delete this email or close this tab.  . . .
I do believe that physique goals are worthy goals.
It’s natural to want to look good. 
And it’s possible to achieve a well-defined body while nourishing yourself appropriately. 
Yet, it’s confusing to figure out how to achieve a toned physique due to all the bullshit information “out there”. 
Which is why I want to share my approach because it’s not magic. 

My Approach to Cutting Body Fat, While Maintaining Muscle

In order to lose weight, you must be in a caloric deficit. 
Slow and steady is preferable because it's sustainable.  
For the next 8-12 weeks, I’ll be in this mode. 
I’ll assess my energy levels, weight, and body comp changes as I go. 
My goal is to reveal a little more of that hard earned muscle I’ve built over the last year. 
I’m starting out at 135 pounds. At 5’ 7”, I’m already lean. 
I don’t have a target weight goal. In fact, I don’t care to drop more than 5ish pounds.  
Here’s what I’m doing.
  • I established my target daily calorie intake.
    • 1800 calories 
  • I identified my daily protein goal. 
    • 145 grams which is 580 calories 
  • The rest of my 1200 calories will come from carbs and fat. I’m not precious about the split. 
  • I’m increasing cardio from very little–I’ve been in hibernation mode–to at least 30 minutes a day. 
    • Most days it’s walking (thanks to my new pup Ranger this is easy)
    • 1-2 days a week I run for 30ish minutes
    • 1 day a week I row for 30ish minutes
    • Most days are steady state cardio
    • Once per week I aim to do high intensity interval training
    • For the week, I’m looking for about 90 minutes of moderate to vigorous cardio and 120-150 minutes of low intensity walking
  • I continue to strength train 3-4 days per week.
  • I’m minimizing drinking to no more than one drink per week. 
  • I avoid takeout but if it happens because… life… I have a list of go-tos choices that won’t throw me off track. 
  • I know I will eat out with friends several times during this cut. I will enjoy those meals but will skip extras like appetizers, desserts, and drinks. 
  • I will have to travel during this cut. I will bring protein bars and a lot of beef jerky. I will order salads with dressing on the side in most places. If I’m stuck in a situation with limited choices, I won’t beat myself up. 

What does a typical day of food look like? 

  • Breakfast: Greek yogurt blended with milk, berries, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and topped with ½ a serving of Fruit Loops. 
  • Lunch: Some sort of stew with ground chicken, spinach, peas, carrots and tomatoes, topped with a serving of cheese. 
  • Snack time: Protein power, milk, a slice of Dave’s Killer Bread, and peanut butter. 
  • Dinner: Chicken and vegetables, a handful of almonds, maybe ½ a serving of rice, depending on calories remaining.  
If I’m really hungry, I add in a beef jerky snack along with ½ a serving of almonds. 
I drink a ton of coffee, water with Nuun or Kool-Aid water flavor enhancers (0 calories), and the occasional Diet Dr. Pepper. 

How I prepare for the week of food

I’m not a meal prepper but I do prepare.  I make sure I have enough Greek yogurt, frozen berries, fresh berries (if possible) and a box of cereal. I stock up on chicken breasts, broccoli, carrots, and lots of frozen vegetables. 
On Sunday, I whip up 6 servings of the stew I will eat for lunch all week. 
I ensure the kitchen is stocked with my “back up” meals in case I need options. 
  • My backup breakfasts: 
    • Protein powder, milk, toast and peanut butter
    • A Built Bar if I am very pressed for time (not my ideal) 
    • Eggs + egg whites, mushrooms, frozen peas, pizza sauce, cheese and toast 
  • My backup lunches: 
    • Canned tuna, green beans and a slice of bread with either peanut butter, cheese or cream cheese 
    • That goofy egg and pizza sauce option from breakfast
  • My backup dinners: 
    • Choose from the backup breakfasts
    • Order a chicken and vegetables dish from a favorite Chinese place or a chicken salad from my favorite Mediterranean place 
    • Repeat stew for dinner 
Every week I try to switch up the core meals. 
I realize this is boring, and from a foodie perspective, unacceptable. 
I wish I had the time, patience, and cooking skills to have more variety during the week.  But this works for me. 
I believe that the weekends deserve their own discussion, so I’ll come back to that in a few weeks. 

It’s not easy and it’s not required

Precision Nutrition has a fantastic infographic detailing the cost of getting lean. The leaner you want to be, the harder it is. So if this is your goal, and it doesn’t have to be, it’s important to understand what it takes. 
Including snacks, I eat about 28 meals per week. I have very little room for going outside the plan. I don’t mind the challenge because I’ve gone through this before and I know what to expect. 
I’d also say I am a little better now at sacrificing short-term enjoyment for a longer term goal. But it’s taken me some cycles to get here. 
If you’re looking for help, I suggest the following nutrition coaching options: 
I’ve written more on this before: 
And I’m sure I’ll write more on it in the future. 
Thanks for reading. Please share questions and comments - it really makes my day!