I am puzzled by this and would like others who know more to shed some light....my trainer has me at a calorie deficit of about 500 calories per day (I am eating 1500 calories). I track them closely so that I am very accurate. My weight is stuck. He says I am putting on muscle and losing fat. I don't understand how a person can put on muscle while in a calorie deficit. Please help!
10-20-2005, 12:47 PM
Don't know the science, but I'm in the same place. I've been stuck at the same weight for weeks. However, I've had several people ask me if I've lost weight, and my pants are looser so something good is going on. It's time for the scale to go in the garage, I think.
10-20-2005, 01:58 PM
I don't know the exact mechanism for building muscle while in a calorie deficit, but I see it every day as a trainer. It's not at all ususual for scale weight to remain the same, while body fat goes down and lean body mass goes up. And, just like Sheila noticed, the inches go down along with the fat loss. :cp: Which is why the scale is often such a bad indicator of success!
I managed to add muscle while losing fat during the year that I was losing weight -- I added (let me get my records out to make sure) 7.5 pounds of lean body mass, while losing 129.5 pounds of fat, for a net loss of 122 pounds.
I believe that adequate protein intake is the key to muscle building during a calorie deficit. I probably ate between 125 and 150 grams of protein/day that year (still do!) and worked out heavy, both of which probably allowed me to add muscle while eating between 1200 and 1500 calories per day.
It sounds like you're both on the right track! Don't let that :censored: scale discourage you - what matters in the end isn't a number on the scale. What really matters is your body composition, how your clothes fit, and how you look and feel. Keep up the good work! :)
10-20-2005, 02:35 PM
Meg, I am am glad you see that. My changes are so small that it is frustrating. With some of your clients, how much is a normal fat loss for someone already fit. Let me give you some info to help...I am 132 lbs (in the morning before food etc) and am 5'5". My trainer says I am 27% fat and I want to be 20% fat or lower. I am trying hard to lose fat through eating 1500 good calories per day, working with Trainer 3x per week (stability training with weights) and doing cardio (running at 70% of THR for 45 mins) 5 days/week. My results are almost negligible and I am frustrated. Any suggestions?
10-20-2005, 03:52 PM
Hi Stuck! :wave: That's a hard question to answer because there are a lot of different variables to fat loss. :) I really don't think there's a 'normal' speed to lose fat - sometimes you just have to be patient and let your body take its own good time. Even if I told you that you 'should' be losing X pounds in a month, what good would that do if your body doesn't cooperate? It would just frustrate you or make you feel like a failure - and you're not, of course! :)
Your lean body mass of 96 pounds is fairly low for someone of your height (as I'm sure your trainer explained to you) and that's what makes your BF% as high as it is, even at your normal weight. Additionally, your weight is already fairly low for your height, so changes really can be frustratingly slow at this point (trust me, I understand! :yes: )
Mind if I ask a few questions? What exactly is 'stability training with weights'? Can you tell me a little bit about how you work out -- what kind of exercises you do, reps, sets, split, weights? Do you ever work to failure?
Have you lost a lot of weight prior to this?
How is your trainer measuring your body fat percentage?
Do you track your ratios (carbs, proteins, fats) that make up your 1500 calories? Do you know how much protein you eat in a typical day? What sorts of foods do you usually eat? How many meals do you usually eat per day?
Without knowing any of those answers, my off-the-cuff take on your situation is that you need to focus on adding muscle at this point. Your scale weight is perfectly fine, so ignore what it says. ;) What you probably want to do at this point is reshape your body -- that's where increasing your LBM (by adding muscle) comes in to play. More muscle will increase your metabolism and help get rid of those last pesky pounds of fat. And we all know that muscle is so much smaller, tighter, and firmer than fat!
It sounds to me like your cardio program is just fine as is. If you give us a little more insight into what you're eating and how you're working out, you might get some ideas on tweaking your plan from some of the knowledgeable people here.
10-20-2005, 04:15 PM
Happy to share all the info...here it is...
protein 30% (average of 100 grams / day)
I eat 6 x per day. Typical breakfast is oatmeal and egg or oatmeal and yogurt. Typical lunch would be boiled shrimp, broccoli, salad. Typical dinner would be turkey, steamed veggies, roll with butter. Snacks are usually protein bars in day and berries at night.
My trainer is measureing my body fat percentage and he has come up with 27% taking caliper measurements in 3 areas.
I lost 10 pounds last year from increasing my physical activity, but I have worked out my whole life and have generally been fit. I just got a bug to want to look and feel like I want to, and this has lit my fire to drop some fat.
My trainer workouts I call stability training because they always involve lifting weights but also incorporating a ball or bosu, etc. For instance, I would do bicep curls sitting on a ball lifting one leg up. other times, I will do walking lunges while also doing bicep curl. or may do a bench step up with one leg balance while doing a shoulder press. He works me until almost failure doing moderately heavy weights and about 18 reps. I typcially do 3 sets for each muscle group. Each time we work out we hit the whole body in different ways.
Thanks for the help and any insight!
10-20-2005, 06:31 PM
I am not sure that you really can add muscle while severely restricting your diet, although you can certainly get stronger by making your muscles more efficient.
Don't bodybuilders end up losing lean bodymass along with fat as they cut up for competition? I am just trying to hang onto the muscle I have while I drop my final 50#. Then I will try to put some muscle on.
10-20-2005, 09:17 PM
For a 132 pound woman, 1500 calories isn't a severe caloric restriction. For me, that's maintenance level or a slight gain.
Like Meg, I don't know the exact science, either, but I've seen it happen and it happened to me. When I first started lifting heavy, my body fat was 27% and my weight was 135. Three months later my weight was still 135, but my body fat was 21% and my jeans were two sizes smaller.
From what I've read, personally experienced and seen with my clients, it's possible to build muscle mass and lose body fat for about the first six months of training. After that, you have to seriously feed to get muscle growth. Yes, most body builders do lose a bit of mass when they lean out for a comp, but the strategy is designed to maintain as much mass as possible.
stuckinTexas- I'd jiggle those macronutrient ratios to something more like 40/40/30 or 45P/35C/20F if your goal is muscle growth and fatloss. Also look at the quality of your food. Make sure you are eating the least processed, complex carbs possible. Rolls and butter are tasty, but they are kind of low on the quality carb scale ;)
Robert, 1500 calories seems really low for you! Can you really get through the day on that? Are you sure you are maintaining muscle mass?
10-20-2005, 09:31 PM
Stuck -- I'm glad you asked that question here where Mel and Meg where able to answer, and as USUAL M & M answered it very well ... I was sort of trying to explain the same, over at the other thread where you asked why you were stuck with your weight loss... I explained that with my weight loss over the years my body has changed a lot in inches but not on the scale therefore my body fat composition changed too... Am I making any sense?? :lol: ... Great answers Mel and Meg or is that Meg and Mel?? :rofl:...
10-20-2005, 11:17 PM
Great advice. So to recap...I should try backing down on calories a bit and juggle ratios to 40/40/30 or so. I will do the math to figure that out and take my calories down next week -- Thinking around 1350 or so for now so it's not too severe. One more question...I have been scared by people telling me not to take my calories down too low because that will mean I will mess up my metabolism. Any truth in that?
10-21-2005, 06:19 AM
Stuck - I think that 40/40/30 is a typo ... it would take quite a bit of math juggling to get those ratios to work! :lol: I think Mel meant 40/40/20, which are the BFL ratios. But feel free to play with the numbers to find out what works best for YOU.
One other thought (which I'm a little hesitant to post because I don't want to appear to be second-guessing your trainer) -- 18 rep sets are usually considered to be good for muscle endurance, but not for muscle growth. I've always heard that you don't want to go over 12 - or at the most 15 - reps if you're looking to add muscle. People usually stay somewhere in the 8 - 12 rep range if their goal is muscle building.
I may be way out of line here if you and your trainer have decided that your goal is NOT to add muscle, but you might want to consider talking with him about the rep scheme that he's using. BTW, just out of curiousity, would you mind asking him if he has a NASM certification? I'm inquiring only because I do myself and the kind of exercises that you're describing are exactly what we were taught in our certification course! (and it was a terrific course :) )
Keep posting and let us know how things are going for you!
10-21-2005, 08:11 AM
yep, sorry, typing after brain has gone to bed...40/40/20. In any case, my suggestion is to up the protein and lower the rep count for muscle growth. And I second Meg's suggestion: not only talk to your trainer about what he sees as your goals, but think about them for yourself, too.
Wasn't advocating that you need to go much lower in claories. I don't know your body. But you say progress is glacially slow at 1500. I think at your bodyweight, any progress other than muscle and strength bulding is going to be glacially slow. I was responding to RobertW's comment about being in "severe" caloric deprivation. For him, that's severe. For you, it's not. :)
10-21-2005, 10:09 AM
Thanks for the input. My trainer does have NASM certs and does lots of continuing education. He has me at high reps because I don't want to put on a lot of muscle just keep what I have. He lets me go basically until my muscles almost won't lift for another rep. I think I should up my protein and go lower on calories. That is what my intuition says too. When my trainer took the body gem, my basal metabolic rate was 1300 so I can't go lower than that. Somewhere in the 1350-1450 range should keep me in calorie deficit both with eating and exercise.
I am going to go higher on the amount of weight I use so that I can't do so many reps. My primary goal is to lose fat which I belive is why he is doing higher reps.
Thanks for the help!
10-21-2005, 03:03 PM
Robert, 1500 calories seems really low for you! Can you really get through the day on that? Are you sure you are maintaining muscle mass?
It takes some getting used to eating 500 Cal for breakfast, 1,000 for lunch and zero for dinner. I eat more on weekends, often going completely off plan for a day.
My strength levels initially tanked but then they came back up to 90-95% of my pre-diet levels. The low calories do make high reps very difficult, so I have been training using more sets in the 3-5 rep range (5x5 or 6x3). I did manage to eke out 20 push-ups (PR for me) the other day, so I must have a decent amount of phospho-creatine or what ever it is you need to do higher rep work. I am definitely more prone to little nagging injuries on the low calorie diet.
Popular wisdom among powerlifters is that I should be losing 1# muscle for every 1# of fat on this severe diet, but I doubt it is anywhere near that bad. IIRC, gastric bypass patients follow even more restrictive diets and lose something like 1#muscle per 3# of fat, and probably don't really lift weights.
I think I have lost some muscle in places i wasn't really training (like pecs) so I am trying to balance out my workouts a bit better. I think my margin of error will get smaller as I get closer to my goal weight, so at some point I am going to start eating and training more like a bodybuilder.
Here is what todays workout looked like:
Dumbell Seated OHP:85#’ers x3x3x3x3x3
I had some trouble with my left hand losing the groove. I had been doing barbell presses until I hurt my wrist two weeks ago.
Cable curl: 100#x5x4x3x3x3
I did these super slow and strict.
Rack pull: 410#x3x3x3
These felt much better as my form has improved. I will start adding more weight.
Cybex Pec-deck: 262.5#x5x5x5
Done very slow.
Cybex Tricep machine: 150#x5 155#x5x5
The last set was pretty close to failure.
I was handling a bit more weight pre-diet, but no more than 5 or 10% more.
10-21-2005, 04:11 PM
It takes some getting used to eating 500 Cal for breakfast, 1,000 for lunch and zero for dinner. I eat more on weekends, often going completely off plan for a day.Robert are you having a difficult time losing weight on this plan? If so I can see why... It's because you have 2/3 of your calories for the one meal and you body is probably hoarding those calories in anticipation of starving for the next 12+ hours. Most food plans these days advocate having 5-6 meals/day to keep your metabolism and your insulin level evenly distributed throughout the day. I thing that if you are not, or having a difficult time in shedding weight, this could be the reason, only 2 meals! You could as a man, have at least 1800/day if you distributed the meals throughout the day...Just MHO...
10-21-2005, 04:30 PM
Wow, that's my opinion, too! I know I read your posts before that you ate 1500 calories, but I must not have been paying attention! I'd be willing to bet that you'd actually lose faster if you started upping your calories and breaking up your meals. I'd start by breaking up that 1000 calorie lunch into 2 meals and adding a 300 calorie protein/compex carb post workout meal, unless one of your meals is already post-workout. In that case, I'd just go for evenly spaced meals. After a few weeks, I'd add a fifth meal. You want you body to be constantly burning fuel and asking for more- not turning down the thermostat because it thinks fuel is a scarce commodity ;)
10-21-2005, 04:36 PM
If I stay on plan (1,500 Cal/day six days, 3-5,000 cal one day each week) I drop 3-5# of solid weight. My water weight shoots up 5-7# after my cheat day, and take about 3 days to get all the way back down.
If my maintainance is (15Cal/#*293#)=4,395Cal, then I should be losing about 4.8#, so it sounds like my metabolism is doing okay.
I am not sure about the timing the meals and what not, but I am pretty sure that from ~2 PM to when i wake up the next AM I am running completely on stored fat.
As I mentioned, i will probably have to change things up as I approach a more normal bodyfat percentage. I think your body doesn't go into "starvation mode" that easily when you are carrying around an extra 50# of fat.
10-21-2005, 04:48 PM
Wow, that's my opinion, too! I know I read your posts before that you ate 1500 calories, but I must not have been paying attention! I'd be willing to bet that you'd actually lose faster if you started upping your calories and breaking up your meals. I'd start by breaking up that 1000 calorie lunch into 2 meals and adding a 300 calorie protein/compex carb post workout meal, unless one of your meals is already post-workout. In that case, I'd just go for evenly spaced meals. After a few weeks, I'd add a fifth meal. You want you body to be constantly burning fuel and asking for more- not turning down the thermostat because it thinks fuel is a scarce commodity
Your advice is sound, although I don't think the timing matters at this point. I am, however, rethinking my protein intake. I was kind of assuming that everything i ate was just getting burned, but there must be some amount of anabolic activity or I wouldn't be healing or properly recovering from my workouts. I may cut back on the carb and fat calories and add a protein drink like you suggest.
If my strength starts tanking or my weightloss plateaus I will up my calories as you suggest. If I can hit 242# and hang onto 90% plus of my current lean bodymass, I will be happy.