Why Do I Look Flat During My Cut?
At some point, you’re going to be around 10% body fat and looking to really get lean… right? You will want the abs to pop like they never have before and you’ll start micro-managing your macro-nutrients as that’s the only way getting super ripped is going to happen.
If you’re new to dropping extreme amounts of fat for the sake of the lean and ripped physique, you’ll have the joy of discovering many new firsts along the path (and even the negatives are joyful when you achieve your goal and look back at the journey).
One of those firsts might very well be the question, “Why do I look so flat while cutting?”.
Glycogen and Cutting
I think the reality is that most people who are at the advanced stage of cutting up already know (or heavily suspect) the answer to this question. If you’re around 10% body fat and had to work to get there, you’re no doubt very familiar with glycogen.
Even for those who do, looking flat while cutting up can create doubt. Checking in the mirror and swearing that your muscle mass looks smaller is a discouraging feeling.
Fear not. It’s normal. It comes with the territory.
Cutting body fat down to extremely low percentages means low carb for most people (there are definitely the exceptions to the rule that make us all envious).
Low-carbs mean low levels of glycogen (which is how we burn that fat, right?) When you remove glycogen on a consistent basis, you are going to look flat.
Accept it. Keep on track. Move forward.
Can I Do Anything About It?
Learn to manipulate your carbs. If you’re not having a re-feed day at least once a week, start now. Having a re-feed day is about more than just not looking flat but thankfully, curing the flats is a very rewarding side-effect.
Re-feeding is keeping your daily caloric intake the same but adjusting the macro-nutrient ratios to increase carbs by about twice what you usually ingest and backing off fats and possibly protein if you need to further adjust to hit your overall calories.
Your body will almost instantly show you the effects of a high carb day.. even with the same amount of daily calories. It’s a great feeling.
Better yet, re-feeding keeps your metabolism revved up and burning fat.
“Oh there’s plenty of carbohydrates coming in and there’s not a shortage? Well.. no reason to lower the metabolism and adjust to the lower carbs we’ve seen the last few days.”
Re-feeding is typically done once a week or once every 4th day, depending on individual responsiveness to carbs and the outcome of adding carbs.
Another reason to shorten the window? If you’re fighting fatigue on day five of eating the same amount of low carbs, you’re likely a candidate for fourth day cycling.
Don’t even think about giving up on cutting because you’re feeling flat. You’ll get through it and when you burn away all that fat, you can start on your bulk.. adding a few hundred calories to maintenance, and working on adding solid muscle. At this point, you get to add more carbs and start really seeing all those muscles coming through like never before.
No more flat.. and no more fat. Mission accomplished.
Don’t sweat looking flat. It’s temporary and it will be here and gone before you know it.