Re:How rigid should cal deficit be on a cut?
Eating around maintainance then deficit through exercise is the best way imo. If you don't do the exercise then you will need to lower calories instead.
Wouldn't recommend doing -1000 then break even, better to just get -500 everyday for a pound a week.
You don't have to burn 500 during the exercise, weight lifting and short intense cardio will raise your RMR.