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Cutting with a weekly splurge: interesting early data

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 by  
Filed under Daily Blog


On Monday I wrote about the splurge snack I’d consumed the day prior, which was noteworthy for just one reason: in the nearly 14 year history of JSF, I’ve never consumed a cheat meal or snack while cutting.

saltAs I wrote on Monday, I was not worried about the relatively minor increase in net calories for that day (+300 or so). My main concern was how the perceived loss in momentum would affect me mentally.

Because of the high sodium content of the snack (it was movie theater popcorn–nearly 2,000 mg of sodium), I expected some water retention/temporary weight gain. Even though I know full well that any retained water would be gone after a day or so, I thought that it might throw me off my game a little bit.

On Monday morning I was surprised to see that I was down nearly a half-pound. Yesterday my weight remained the same, and this morning I was down another 1.2 pounds. So if I did retain any water, it was offset by fat loss and didn’t show up on the scale. I think it helped that I pounded the water all day after my cheat snack (if you’re not sure why increasing water intake actually reduces water retention, please see my article “A few words about water weight, and what causes it.“).

I also noted on Monday that I started my current cut at the exact same weight as my January 2015 cut (179.2 pounds). At the one week mark of both these cuts my scale weight was down, but still identical (174.6 pounds). This morning, after 8 full days of cutting, I weighed in at 173.0 pounds; compare that to 174.2 pounds after 8 days of cutting on my January 2015 cut, and I’m now ahead of pace–with a cheat.

Of course fat loss is non-liner, and so 1.2 pounds over just 8 days doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot. I just found it interesting that I was tracking identically until I had the splurge snack, and then moved ahead of pace.

The really interesting data will come about a month from now, especially if I continue to have a single splurge meal or snack each week. I might have to, in the name of science. 🙂

John Stone Fitness Comments

3 Responses to “Cutting with a weekly splurge: interesting early data”
  1. John, thanks for sharing this experiment. I’m really fascinated to see what happens if you have further cheat meals, and the comparison to the past cut is illuminating.

    Just another data point to add from my own personal history: in past cuts my weight would get stuck over the course of a week, even with no cheat meals. I would then have a cheat meal that I would call a “refeed” (hah) in which I would destroy an entire pepperoni pizza myself. Then, the next day (Day+1) I would be up a fraction of a pound presumably from water, but the following day (Day+2) I would be down 2 lbs or more, and then I would continue dropping over the course of the following week. I have seen this repeated a half-dozen time in my logs over the last few years.

    I’m not sure why this works, but I assume it’s because the spike in calories provides a metabolism boost in the face of the prolonged calorie restriction that cutting requires. I assume others have similar experience with this.

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    • Absolutely agree. In fact, I was just having a very similar conversation on Facebook with a friend who pretty much said the same thing that you wrote above.

      I’ve always known that a brief (1-3 day) boost in calories would help spark the metabolism, break a stall, etc. In fact, on several occasions over the years I’ve used clean refeeds specifically for that purpose. But yeah, a little junk food once per week isn’t a big deal for most of us. For me it was really a question of if I could mentally handle a little junk food while cutting. I seem to be doing okay so far.

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      • Psychological self-experimentation is as interesting as dietary experimentation, even if it doesn’t involve measurable numbers. You seem like you’re doing better than “okay”… good luck! I personally hope you try it again to continue seeing what happens.

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