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Losing Weight while maintaining muscle?

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Old 06-05-2007, 08:36 AM   #1
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Default Losing Weight while maintaining muscle?

I have read conflicting viewpoints, but I'm concerned that I'm not consuming enough calories to maintain my muscles (I've been eating 1100-1400 calories per day of mainly complex carbohydrates and protein). I'm very muscular and I've read that if you take in too few calories (around 1200?), your body will start to eat the muscle. I've been eating in that range, as well as running 5-12 miles per day, swimming half an hour, and doing 1.5-2 hours of cardio per day (or some combination thereof). I have been feeling very healthy and full of energy. However, I've been losing about 10 pounds a week and I'm concerned that is too much weight and that I'm losing muscle weight (I'm very muscular from previous years of bodybuilding and weight training, as well as genetics). I wanted to know if there is a way to slow down the weight loss while still eating healthy and staying active. I don't want to cause any somatic problems.
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220 pounds - 6/15/06 - most recent weight prior to start of diet
Start Date - 5/30/07
200 pounds (20 pounds lost) - 7/2/07
190 pounds (30 pounds lost) - 7/30/07
180 pounds (40 pounds lost) - 9/4/07
Body Fat Percentage: 36.1/28.4/15
= 5 pounds lost
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Old 06-05-2007, 08:47 AM   #2
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Have you consistently been losing ten pounds a week or is it just your first week? Looking at your ticker, it seems like you've just started -- if so, it's entirely natural to lose a ton of water in the beginning. Not to worry, it's not muscle loss.

However, you're wise to be concerned about muscle loss. Studies show that up to 40% of the weight we lose on a traditional diet is muscle, not fat, which lowers our metabolisms (and makes us look floppy and flabby! )

The way to avoid losing muscle along with fat is not to eat more calories - more calories aren't going to protect your muscle, just slow down your weight loss. The way to sustain and protect your muscle mass is to incorporate muscle building exercise into your exercise program. I see that you're doing lots of cardio but you didn't say anything about weightlifting/resistance training. I'd strongly advise you to add that into your progam if you aren't already. You say that you've done it in the past, so it's shouldn't be hard for you to incorporate that into your plan.

Even though my calories were low during the year I was losing weight (started at 1600, ended up at 1200), I was able to maintain my muscle mass and even add on six pounds of muscle. I lifted weights five days a week and know that's the reason why.

If I'm reading you right, you're doing 2 - 2.5 hours of cardio (swimming plus other cardio) plus running 5 - 12 miles a day? I think that's excessive and may be counterproductive. You're going to overtrain at that rate. How about switching some of that cardio time to weights?

Best of luck to you -- it sounds like your off to a great start!
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Old 06-05-2007, 10:16 AM   #3
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I definitely second that you should be weight training if you are concerned of losing muscle mass. During the summer I don't weight train as much as in the winter months, only 2-3 days/week instead of 5-6x/wk in the winter. I only weight train those 2-3 days in the summer because I am biking and running and I just don't have time. In the summer I can definitely feel that I am losing some muslce mass but that's the price I don't mind paying for being outside more in the summer . In the winter though I am at the gym full force so I regain all that muscle
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Old 06-05-2007, 12:26 PM   #4
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Oops, I think I wrote my first post too quickly.

I have been doing 1/2 hour cardio and 1/2 hour muscle lifting and toning in the morning OR jogging 5 miles (10 on the weekends) before work. Then I do 1/2 hour of each in the evening. I inadvertently stated that was all cardio. I have been using 8 and 10 pound dumbells for muscle toning and have been doing squats and other exercises with the barbell.

I also have been swimming laps for half an hour after work.

Yeah, that did sound excessive. I typed that too fast without proofreading.

Anyway, thanks for the advice. I have been reading about that survival response when you eat too few calories and I just want to make sure I maintain my muscles. Since you were able to maintain your muscle, that gives me confidence.

Oh, and I just started two weeks ago and lost at least 11 pounds, but probably more than that, because I hadn't been weighed in a year and likely gained weight since then.

I have never had so much energy and eating good foods is so filling and invigorating!
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220 pounds - 6/15/06 - most recent weight prior to start of diet
Start Date - 5/30/07
200 pounds (20 pounds lost) - 7/2/07
190 pounds (30 pounds lost) - 7/30/07
180 pounds (40 pounds lost) - 9/4/07
Body Fat Percentage: 36.1/28.4/15
= 5 pounds lost
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Old 06-05-2007, 12:45 PM   #5
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Yay! It sounds like you're totally on the right track!! I think you'll do just fine maintaining your muscle mass.
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Old 06-05-2007, 08:39 PM   #6
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Yep, sounds good to me. The last time I lost a bunch I was doing 1000-1200 (not good, but it worked for me at the time) cals a day, running, and strength training, and I definitely gained muscle.

I did lose muscle over several years of illness (especially the three months I was unable to eat without vomiting,) so for me it really took an extreme problem to lose significant muscle.
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