Burn fat and gain LBM on a reduced-calorie diet?
After a recent DXA scan, I've decided I want to lose about 32 pounds of fat and gain about 20 pounds of LBM. I was 215 and 8% bf back in law school, so, I'm assuming it's possible for me to regain the atrophied muscle over time.
I've been monitoring caloric input and output with a Bodybugg. On average, I expend 3,200 - 3,600 calories per day and I aim for an 800 - 1,200 calorie deficit daily (with a goal of losing 1.5 - 2 pounds per week). Initially, I dropped about 5 pounds, down to 191. Over the past couple of weeks, I've gained weight again, back up to 198.
I started on Paleo, then moved to Zone (thinking about going back to Paleo). I've been lifting weights 1 day on and 2 days off, and running 4.5 miles/day, 3-5 days per week. I *think* I look leaner, but, the mirror is deceiving and the body fat analyzer on my scale is horribly inaccurate. Is it possible that I'm losing fat and gaining muscle, despite the caloric deficit? My weights have gone up a bit each lift.
I'm starting at a CrossFit box on Monday and I plan to add CrossFit Endurance and tighten-up the Paleo. I'm probably asking questions that only I can answer with trial-and-error and some time, but, I'm going to ask anyway, am I barking up the right tree? Given how fat I was (am?), it seems like I should be seeing some progress by now.
Thanks in advance for any advice.
Wait, so you want to end up in the 188-190 range give or take, with 20 more pounds of muscle and 32 pounds less fat?
There are a few things that are likely to happen. A reoccurrence of "newbie" gains. Noobs often lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. This is likely happening for you right now.
It will stop though. And likely soon.
Losing 32 lbs of fat, at the current deficit you have running will take at least 16 weeks. That's assuming that: you will not get sick or injured, your metabolic rate won't slow down, you will not become overtrained or overreach, and that your fat loss will be linear.
For that drastic of a shift in body composition (20+ lbs of muscle, 32 lbs lost of fat), you're looking at making your activity and caloric intake a lifestyle for years. Assuming hormones, age, lifestyle etc. will even allow it.
In general, muscular gains happen at about one-half the rate of fat loss. Nobody ever just puts on muscle, unless they are willing to drag the process out even longer with some sort of a recomposition protocol (UD 2.0 "bulk", Lean Gains, Alternate Day Refeeds and a bunch of other stuff).
Best advice I can give you. Don't do CF Endurance. Seriously. Lean out first for health, focus on a long, slow, steady road towards increased LBM, possibly and hopefully increased lifespan at a higher quality.
Thanks for the advice, Derek.
I was planning to give myself 6 months, or 26 weeks to lose 25+ pounds of fat. 32 is the ultimate goal, but, if I could lose 25 pounds in six months without losing much muscle (maybe gaining?) I'd be happy.
I thought that since I'd developed a LBM of 190 pounds or so when I was younger, it would be easier to put the muscle back on. Is that no longer current thinking? (I'm thinking of the Colorado Experiment with Casey Viator, so, my knowledge is dated at about 1998).
If not CF Endurance, should I be doing regular cardio -- 4 - 5 mile runs several times a week? Or, have I misunderstood?
25 + lbs of fat in 6 months would be completely doable. 1 lb/week, consistently over 24 weeks gets you right in the neighborhood. What method did you use to figure out your BMR?
Like I was saying in my post, you can certainly gain a little muscle back while you first get restarted. It's sometimes called "the newbie affect". For scientific reasons I can't really go into, new athletes or athletes getting back into training often lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously. Then it stops, they get frustrated and stop.
Casey Viator is not an example to look to.
Take what I say with a grain of salt. I'm not a professional, and can only suggest ideas:
What I would suggest would be this: work out, and walk or do some sort of metabolic work often, up to 5 or 6 days/week. The higher the volume, the lower the overall intensity should be. If you are going to do this, sacrifice intensity with your cardio stuff, not in the weight room. As you get better conditioned, work in more steady state jogging and running to push the heart rate.
Run a moderate deficit of around 500 cals/day. Some suggest a smaller deficit, I look and see that most people end up with tag along calories in the form of extra proteins, fats, carbs etc that aren't usually calculated.
Running a high deficit like you are is going to catch up to you. Decide on slow and steady, or get off with a fat loss war doing something like the V-Diet, or some other PSMF. I'm not recommending these approaches but you may want to look at them and make up your own mind.
I recommend against CFE, more than any other CF "variation" because a) I've never met anyone who actually did well following the program. b) 3/1 scheduling is brutal for anyone, and is generally poor thinking when combining lifting, metabolic work and sprint/interval work with endurance work for anyone other than actual elite athletes who are possibly on drugs. Unfortunately, there aren't many around here who are elite athletes.
Maybe this post belongs in the Training / Fat Loss forum? I didn't see that one this morning...
I've been using a Bodybugg to calculate calories burned. It claims to be 90% accurate and, based on my two weeks' experience with it, I wouldn't doubt it. It's the most accurate practical tool I could find for the job.
I've been running 4.5 miles most mornings and lifting about 2x / week -- sometimes both of those things happen on the same day. I'm not fast by any means, but, I manage to average about 42 - 45 minutes for the entire ordeal, including hills. Are you suggesting that I scale this back?
What I meant by the Casey Viator story was that one of the criticisms of that experiment was that Casey was just regaining muscle that he'd lost after the car accident -- as if they somehow cheated, since a newbie weightlifter wouldn't be able to do the same thing. (I was a big fan of Ellington Darden).
I do feel like my body reacts better to short duration, high-intensity workouts, which is why I liked Darden and Mentzer, and why CF is appealing to me. Also, NHE recommends short, intense workouts.
I think I should get another body scan next week to see what's really happening and then re-evaluate. I'd be happy with a steady one pound per week fat loss, but, I've got a feeling that's not what's happening...
Read this article, as well as the two articles linked within it on Calorie Partitioning. Be sure to set aside some time.
1 lb/week is completely doable and should be expected. But this is an average. You are likely to get off to a great start, have weight/fat loss stall, accelerate, stall and accelerate a few times.
What's needed is an intelligent approach, adherence to a goal and what's required to reach it.
I'm not an Ellington Darden fan myself, but Martin has some training ideas that are HIT centric, with maybe a little more volume. Short and intense.
CF is a great way to get hurt if done according to main page. I trust you're smarter than that, and don't mean to criticize you since you said you're opening a box.
Something else that would work fine would be 2-3 hard, full body workouts per week, maybe 2 metabolic sessions, and a ton of NEPA stuff, like.... walking, working in the yard, taking the stairs etc.
You're already doing better than most by looking for more information.
Most important thing one can learn from both CrossFit and Nautilus is this: learn to distinguish between marketing copy and science. Everything written about CrossFit is either from CrossFit (marketing copy) or newspaper reporting (unreliable, lazy, just pushes along press releases). Same with Nautilus back in the day.
It's clear that there's some serious anti-main-page-CF sentiment here... I guess I'm behind. I thought I was going to be hanging with all the cool kids doing the hippest workout around.
I'm not opening my own CF, I was planning to join a nearby CF box on Monday, but, you've got me re-thinking things.
10-15 years ago, I tried nearly everything I could find -- 2-day, 3-day, 4-day splits, some crazy Bulgarian workout that came in a black, 3-ring binder that had me lifting 3x / day and an abbreviated form of a Darden / Mentzer workout that had me doing 6-8 compound lifts for a full body workout 2-3x / week. That last one was the one I felt produced the most significant gains. To be honest, I was young then and full of testosterone, and probably just about anything would have produced gains.
In the years since then, whenever I've dabbled with weights, I've gone back to that workout and I haven't kept up the research.
Derek, you mentioned 2-3 full body workouts + 2 metabolic sessions (metcons?). This doesn't seem like the workouts posted on the Catalyst Athletics site. Is Starting Strength a good resource for programming for the 2-3 full body workouts? If not, what would you recommend? Also, where can I learn more about metabolic sessions? Also, I do enjoy the outdoor run -- it's a nice run along the Pacific Ocean and a good time to relax. I'd like to keep doing that a few times a week, unless it's really detrimental. I could make it into more of an interval training by sprinting part of it or sprinting the hills.
I'm sorry if these seem like basic questions. It really isn't that I'm trying to avoid doing my own reading -- I've spent 3-4 hours / day for the past couple of weeks reading books, websites and forums, which is far more time than I have to devote to research. I did read the Body Recomposition links you sent and I may try the Rapid Fat Loss plan. Primarily, I just want to feel lean, strong and healthy again and I'm willing to enjoy the journey (ie, I'm willing to take my time getting to the final result, as long as I can see some results along the way to indicate that I'm on the right path). I'm not trying to enter a powerlifting or bodybuilding competition.
Thanks again for all your help.
These articles from Body Recomposition will probably be helpful:
CF can be good and it can be bad. It's not really anti-CF more like anti-silly shit. The main page WOD and the way it's "programmed" is not optimal and a good way to get hurt like Derek said above. That being said there are some affiliates that do have good coaching and good programming because they don't just focus on the main page WOD. They take all the good elements and toss away the bad.
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