Weight and Resistance Training - How scared should I be of catabolism?

07-12-2012, 10:15 PM
I have committed myself to lifting heavy, and my muscles tell me that I am definitely pushing them. Yay!

But I am scared of catabolism. I am trying to eat a protein-centered diet, and I have eaten so many egg whites that I am afraid that I will never want to see one again in my life. (Egg whites = cheap protein, and my finances are restricted.) But I am still calorie-restricted. I indulge in protein shakes and/or bars for recovery right after the work-out, but I am only eating 1000-1200 calories per day, and sometimes less, depending on how busy I am and how well I have planned for the day.

I am also working on less of an all-or-nothing attitude towards weight loss so that I will not give up if I am not doing it "perfectly." I am in the last two weeks of studying for the bar exam, still working part-time, and still managing five kids. I am not going to beat myself up about not always preparing properly or always counting calories/protein grams.

Yet, I see all of these things where people say if you don't eat enough protein, you might as well not be lifting at all. Is it truly this black and white? Or will lifting heavy benefit me even if I'm not always getting as many calories/protein grams as I need?

07-12-2012, 10:45 PM
If you're lifting heavy you need to be eating a LOT more calories than 1,000-1,200. You should worry about it.

Have you tried cycling? I eat a lot more on training days to feed the muscle. I don't feel so stressed on alternate days about my macros.

07-13-2012, 06:45 PM
Hey Val. Thanks for the reply. I lift six days a week, alternating upper and lower. I am not surprised by what you have said, but I never increased my calories for cardio, so it's a tough mindset to adopt. It's really hard for me to make myself relax about the calorie thing, but I will push myself harder. Hey - if I do it in the weight room, I should be able to do it in the kitchen, right?

07-14-2012, 06:14 PM
You should up your calorie level, especially if you're lifting weights. You're losing weight from muscles because muscles need calories AND protein to grow and this way you are not doing much good. You can't progress if you do it this way.

07-15-2012, 02:02 PM
im sorry, i disagree completely.
#1) the OP is signficantly overweight (sorry! not meaning to be harsh). if she is COMFORTABLE and able to eat so few cals, then by all means, go for it. People with more to lose can hit harsher deficits without the same risk of complications and consequences as a "normal" weight person trying to lose fat.
#2) muscle "catabolism" is MUCH harder to achieve than is popularlly believed. It takes EFFORT, and practically total atrophy to occur. If you are doing ANY form of strength training--> body weight, kettlebells, "heavy lifting" etc, then your going to preserve your lean mass. During a caloric deficit, very moderate maintenance lifting one or 2X a week is all that is needed, and in fact, is hardley necesary. Given your weight, if you walk to the store every day and eat adequate protein (not HIGH protein, but a "normal" amount) you will be fine.
this is assuming the OPs goal is to lose fat? If we were talking about GROWING muscle mass, than that is a different thing altogether, and is not really possible when eating at a deficit ("newbie" gains aside--> and that term generally refers to STRENGTH gains, as opposed to actual gain in MASS)
the concern id be more worried about, is that if youre training intensly while slashing calories, youre probably setting yourself up for intense hunger/binging episodes later down the line, or possible injury because you arent able to adequately recover.
People have taken the idea of catabolism, and how it relates to cardio and calorie deficits way to far....

07-15-2012, 02:25 PM
Not harsh at all! I am significantly overweight, and my goal is to lose fat while preserving as much lean muscle mass as possible. Ultimately, gaining lean muscle would also be really nice, as I could use the metabolism boost.

I guess the bottom line for me is that I want to lose fat and gain muscle. Calorie deficits cause the first. I am hoping they don't also prevent the second.

07-15-2012, 08:42 PM
I'd be more concerned about how you feel during your lifts. Do you feel like you can complete them?

You can always TRY eating more and see how that feels. You might notice that your lifts are better if you have more fuel (you can do this just on workout days if you want) which in turn might let you burn more calories and lose weight at the same pace (or faster).

07-15-2012, 08:42 PM
mkroyer is right.

I responded from a place of "I want to grow muscles" not from a place of "I need to lose weight." I didn't read well enough. I apologize. Sometimes I get into that mindset and it's hard to break it. I'm struggling hard to gain muscle mass. I'm a weird one, I want to bulk up a bit in some areas ;).

In either event... There is seriously no reason to be training 6 consecutive days a week, especially on so little calories. I worry that you won't be able to get your nutrient requirements fulfilled, and like mkroyer said, lead to an epic binge. If you're going to be eating so little you have to make sure that 100% of your calories are whole nutritious foods. There is NO room for empty calories there. You'll probably lose weight better on a bit more, especially if it prevents you from losing control and falling off the rails.

You're on the right track, just tweak things a bit. This doesn't need to be torture! Make it something you can sustain for the rest of your life.