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Old 07-30-2013, 11:46 AM   #1
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Default Questions about weight loss and muscle gain

If you're training with weights as you diet, and you're losing weight and gaining muscle, if you continue with your fitness and diet regime but stop gaining muscle, should you see your weight decrease faster?

I've been at a sort of plateau for the last month, but I've lost inches, so I know that I'm still losing fat and gaining muscle. However, I'm wondering if I'll break my plateau when I stop gaining muscle but (hopefully) continue to lose fat?

I'm also wondering...I don't want to go down on my calories; I feel comfortable eating at the level I currently eat at. However, I know that the lower your weight goes, the fewer calories you must eat to continue losing. However, I also know that if you're more muscular, you naturally burn more calories...So I guess I'm asking, by building muscle, am I eliminating the need to go down on my calories?

Thanks!!
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Old 07-30-2013, 12:03 PM   #2
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It's a tricky question but I tend to incline towards a yes to your question. By having muscles your body consumes more calories, also, if you're training, you need a higher calorie intake than if you're not training, to be able to sustain your efforts and "feed" the muscles.
So basically, if you train, you can/should eat more than if you don't. If you really feel comfortable eating at the level you eat now, it's a great thing and you shouldn't drastically alter it. You didn't mention the ammount of calories you're eating, but I'll have to guess it's low enough. Going any lower would not benefit you.

Building muscles contributes a lot to shaping your body, so I don't see anything wrong with that, as long as it's a reasonable amount of muscle.

Also, the close you are to your goal weight, the harder you lose. So I guess you should be patient and keep doing what you're doing now and expect losing at a slower pace, cause that's normal. Don't rush into changing your lifestyle if you know it's a good one and that it keeps you happy.
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Old 07-30-2013, 12:07 PM   #3
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Thanks for your response! =)

It's hard for me to estimate how many calories I eat....but here's my daily breakdown:

Breakfast: big bowl of frozen mixed veggies with regular pasta sauce (1/2 cup) and herbs + 2 eggs in a little olive oil

Lunch: nonfat great yogurt (about 1 cup), 1 whole fruit (like a peach), and 1/4 cup homemade granola (with oats and nuts)

Dinner: frozen bean burrito (280 calories) with a little salsa, side of steamed veggies

Snacks: Bananas, pistachios (not more than 1 serving total per day), 2 servings (120 calories total) Fiber 1, 1 can low-sodium V8 (80 calories?)
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Old 07-30-2013, 12:49 PM   #4
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I don't have links or anything to back myself up with, so you can take my opinion with a grain of salt if you like.

However, my thoughts would be that no, the added muscles does not offset the lower caloric requirements. From what little I've read on the topic, I get the sense that even building measurable amounts of muscle does not add very much to your daily calorie burn - I'd ballpark at <100 kcal. At my age/weight/height/activity level, my daily calorie requirements drop ~100 kcal when I lose 10 more pounds. As I see it, there are only two ways to offset those calories: eat 100 less calories every day or burn 100 more calories through movement (or some combination of both options.)

Also, not to burst your bubble - you're maintaining, if not losing, and that's a huge accomplishment! - but I'm a little concerned that you're justifying a plateau as gaining muscle. See this article.

Wishing you the best on your weight loss journey!
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Old 07-30-2013, 12:55 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Chronostasis View Post
I don't have links or anything to back myself up with, so you can take my opinion with a grain of salt if you like.

However, my thoughts would be that no, the added muscles does not offset the lower caloric requirements. From what little I've read on the topic, I get the sense that even building measurable amounts of muscle does not add very much to your daily calorie burn - I'd ballpark at <100 kcal. At my age/weight/height/activity level, my daily calorie requirements drop ~100 kcal when I lose 10 more pounds. As I see it, there are only two ways to offset those calories: eat 100 less calories every day or burn 100 more calories through movement (or some combination of both options.)

Also, not to burst your bubble - you're maintaining, if not losing, and that's a huge accomplishment! - but I'm a little concerned that you're justifying a plateau as gaining muscle. See this article.

Wishing you the best on your weight loss journey!
Thanks Chrono! =)

I skimmed the article; one thing that I disagree with is the assertion that muscle is not heavier than fat. Everything I've read says that if you weigh *equal volumes* of fat and muscle, the muscle weighs more than the fat. So if after a month your measurements have stayed the same but your weight has gone up, or if your measurements have gone down but your weight has stayed the same, you've gained muscle.

I believe I'm eating at a calorie deficit, but I'm not sure, and I guess my main concern is, in order to get to my goal weight, will I *have* to cut my calories no matter what (especially since I don't do a lot of cardio, maybe 30 minutes at target heart rate per day).

Speaking of goal weight, I might make it 125 instead of 120...I want to be at he same size I was when I was 120 four years ago, but I have more muscle now than I did then...
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:01 PM   #6
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It's very hard to gain muscle at a calorie deficiet and certainly not with the little bite of protein you are eating.
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:04 PM   #7
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There are many benefits to lifting while dieting. For a short period of time when you're a novice you can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. For a woman, the amount of muscle one will gain is quite small. When this period is over - lifting will allow you to better retain muscle as you're dieting. Also, lifting weights promotes fat burning through glycogen depletion as more carbs go towards refilling glycogen stores and less towards energy. Finally, weight lifting increases insulin sensativity.

Muscle does not burn many calories when at rest. Six calories per lb of muscle compared to two calories per lb of fat. (Over a 24 hour period)

Bottom line is that pictures are the best way to judge progress. An arbitrary number on the scale is just that.
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:07 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuilterInVA View Post
It's very hard to gain muscle at a calorie deficiet and certainly not with the little bite of protein you are eating.
Not sure how much muscle I've actually gained, but I certainly feel and see muscle where I didn't before, especially my top half, which had little fat to begin with (so I know that the muscle wasn't just there and covered up with fat).

I'd estimate I eat 75 grams of protein per day.
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:09 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by JohnP View Post
There are many benefits to lifting while dieting. For a short period of time when you're a novice you can gain muscle and lose fat at the same time. For a woman, the amount of muscle one will gain is quite small. When this period is over - lifting will allow you to better retain muscle as you're dieting. Also, lifting weights promotes fat burning through glycogen depletion as more carbs go towards refilling glycogen stores and less towards energy. Finally, weight lifting increases insulin sensativity.

Muscle does not burn many calories when at rest. Six calories per lb of muscle compared to two calories per lb of fat. (Over a 24 hour period)

Bottom line is that pictures are the best way to judge progress. An arbitrary number on the scale is just that.
Thanks! I suspect that I won't be able to gain much more muscle unless I really go at it hard, which I'm not planning to do. My main goal, really, was to prevent muscle loss. That I seem to have gained muscle is just a bonus.

I FINALLY went out and bought a tape measure to take my measurements, as the scale's failure to move much was discouraging. I'm looking forward to measuring myself again at the end of August to see if my measurements have changed!
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:12 PM   #10
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You should eat more protein if you're training a lot, Quilter is right. To be able to sustain weight training, you need more proteins. From what you listed, to me it seems that you're not eating enough calories. I'm not an expert, so I can't say that I can give you specific dieting advice, so don't trust everything I say. But what I do know from everything I read, is the protein thing. I don't know if it would help you or not.

Maybe your body just reached a remodeling point, where the weight loss is just naturally slower, especially given that you're within your healthy weight.

Rather than reducing what you eat, I'd increase that a bit, add a little more protein, and maybe increase your training difficulty/time (if it's reasonable to do so).
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:14 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by snowlilly View Post
You should eat more protein if you're training a lot, Quilter is right. To be able to sustain weight training, you need more proteins. From what you listed, to me it seems that you're not eating enough calories. I'm not an expert, so I can't say that I can give you specific dieting advice, so don't trust everything I say. But what I do know from everything I read, is the protein thing. I don't know if it would help you or not.

Maybe your body just reached a remodeling point, where the weight loss is just naturally slower, especially given that you're within your healthy weight.

Rather than reducing what you eat, I'd increase that a bit, add a little more protein, and maybe increase your training difficulty/time (if it's reasonable to do so).
Eep I had feared that I might be eating too few calories! =/ Good point about protein...hmm....that would be easy to add, I think, thankfully
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:20 PM   #12
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Quote:
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For a woman, the amount of muscle one will gain is quite small.
Expanding on JohnP's great explanation, when he says small it is QUITE small. From what I understand a woman who is seriously trying to gain muscle (without taking hormones) will gain less then 10 pounds of muscle per year... and the norm is closer to 5.

And when I say seriously trying I mean the full on, eating a surplus of calories (lots of protein), lifting heavy on a serious schedule, etc
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Old 07-30-2013, 01:24 PM   #13
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Protein can be easy to add, looking at you diet I would guess you are not eating your guesstimate of 75 grams. You could add some chicken or tuna or lunch meat or ground beef to your breakfast for not too many more calories
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Old 07-30-2013, 02:37 PM   #14
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Yup..In your lunch salad you can add some grilled chicken or revamp it and make it a tuna salad.
You're getting some proteins from the eggs and the beans, but eggs for example are not the best choice of a food to eat daily (unless you have reaaaally great cholesterol levels). So you could switch them up in some days for some lean meat. Otherwise it seems pretty balanced to me. I think it is generally accepted that you should try to keep it around min. 1200 kcal/day for a healthy diet.
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Old 07-30-2013, 04:38 PM   #15
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I have to agree with PPs, always up your protein! Not only does it help you feel fuller but it can help with muscle gain.

I'm not sure if this really answers your question but when I was losing weight and lifting (currently just trying to lose the baby weigh at the moment!) I would have periods of plateaus and losses. There would be a time when I'd see my measurements go down and then following that I'd lose weight. They never seemed to happen at the same time,though!

Eventually, my weight loss slowed down to almost nothing and I saw a nutritionist who helped me get pass a plateau. She had me eating a good deal of protein but also focus on getting in enough fruit/whole grains (something I had been eating very little of previously to that). It worked. I never counted calories during my 80lbs lost so I can't really help you with the amount of calories needed while lifting, I just followed my hunger signs while avoiding junk food.
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