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  1. #1
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    Need to lose body fat, not weight, stuck at 15.5%

    Hello all!

    I am male 29, 5'7", 136 pounds and ~15.5% body fat. My #1 goal is to lose body fat, my #2 goal is to increase muscle.

    I have been trying low calorie (1500 cal a day) and even unhealthy low calorie (<1000 a day) and have been stuck at the ~15.5% for over 6 months.

    I have also tried for one month a low calorie and < 20 carbs which hasn't made any difference at all either.

    Now I question if low calorie plus high cardio/medium weights will ever get me any lower than 15.5% body fat. Would I be better off eating high calorie foods that have high carbs and protien (protien shakes also) and doing high weights and medium cardio?

    Which would be better for losing body fat (not weight) past 15.5%, or give me a better working example:

    Food:
    1. 2500-3000 calories a day, high protien, high carbs.
    2. 2500-3000 calories a day, high protien, low carbs/no carbs.
    3. 1500 calories a day, low carbs < 20 (current stuck at 15% with this)

    Exercise/Weights:
    1. 6 days a week of 80% weights 20% cardio (1-2 hours a day)
    2. 6 days a week of 50% weights 50% cardio (1-2 hours a day)
    3. 6 days a week of 20% weights 80% cardio (1-2 hours a day) - (currently stuck at 15.5% with this)

    Thanks!
    Last edited by pcm2a; August 5th, 2008 at 05:04 AM.

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  3. #2
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    Are you male or female? If female, how are you going about assessing your body fat?

  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve View Post
    Are you male or female? If female, how are you going about assessing your body fat?
    Lol, I guess that makes a pretty big difference. I am male. I have been assessing my body fat with a crappy weight scale (foot) that also reads body fat. Before I started losing weight I was ~ 24% body fat and 186 pounds. That has came all the way down to the current.

    I have also used the body fat device at the golds gym, that the personal trainers use, a couple times. You hold it in your hands out in front of you. It reads similar in the 15-16% range.

  5. #4
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    Do you see any difference in the mirror?

    BIA is not the most accurate form of body fat measurement, so don't get too discouraged by the numbers if your atleast seeing improvements in your physique

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigMOFO View Post
    Do you see any difference in the mirror?

    BIA is not the most accurate form of body fat measurement, so don't get too discouraged by the numbers if your atleast seeing improvements in your physique
    Not really. For the past > 6 months where I have been stuck at 136 and 15.5%, my arms and chest have gotten more toned (not bigger) and if I suck my gut in you can see a nice 4 pack. I still have the same amount of gut hanging over my pants and about the same amout around my neck (those are the only two places left).

    From what I can read the body fat needs to go down for those final areas of fat to be gone. I know for certain that more cardio, weights and low calorie or carb isn't going to change anything anymore unless I go starve in the desert maybe.

    I just wondered if some high calorie protein diet along with tons of weights and less cardio would be the key to get the rest of the fat gone. Hard to imagine more calories and protien = less fat, but I know you can't build muscle without it (since my muscles are stronger and toner but not bigger).

  7. #6
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    I have been reading all I can find about losing body fat and gaining muscle and I have come up with a kind of hodge-podge of information that if implemented might help me or do nothing at all.

    1. eat low calorie (which I've been doing forever now) and low carbs one week
    2. eat low calorie and high carbs the next week (rice, potatoes, veggies not mcdonalds and chips)
    3. pick up some creatine, whey protein, and glutamine.
    4. twice a week (4 day rest between) do a full body weight workout, and drink all of #3 before and after the workout
    5. all other days do low intensity cardio, not running, just walking, bike, etc
    6. 1-2 days a week do abs hardcore (already do this)

    On the above would I build any muscle, even though I am still on a calorie deficit? I do not want to take in massive calories in order to build muscle with the side affect of gaining the fat that I am trying so hard to lose.

  8. #7
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    I don't think you get it.

    Building muscle takes excess energy. You need the excess to facilitate the growth. If the excess isn't there, what are you going to build muscle from?

    Some novices and overly fat people can certainly gain muscle while losing fat. Given that you've dieted for a while now and lost a good bit of weight, I wouldn't expect to be adding any appreciable muscle mass while dieting.

    It's just not how the body works, more often than not.

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcm2a View Post
    1. eat low calorie (which I've been doing forever now) and low carbs one week
    2. eat low calorie and high carbs the next week (rice, potatoes, veggies not mcdonalds and chips)
    So low calorie always. What's low calorie in your world? And again, how does low calorie lead to muscle growth?

    In addition, what do you think the point is of rotating your carb intake?

    3. pick up some creatine, whey protein, and glutamine.
    Why?

    6. 1-2 days a week do abs hardcore (already do this)
    Why?

    On the above would I build any muscle, even though I am still on a calorie deficit?
    Probably not.

    I do not want to take in massive calories in order to build muscle with the side affect of gaining the fat that I am trying so hard to lose.
    I want to own a yacht, a dozen homes, and a couple of exotic cars too... all while not working.

    Hint: Conflicting goals will leave you frustrated as hell. Pick a goal and stick with it.

  10. #9
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    Hint: Conflicting goals will leave you frustrated as hell. Pick a goal and stick with it.
    I love this! See - I had a clear goal - I wanted to lose 5 lbs. of fat. But what I was doing was building muscle instead. Which is totally cool. But I still want to lose the fat - but I don't want to lose the muscle I've gained. It's enough to make your head spin!

  11. #10
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    Well, my main goal for over two years now has been to lose all of my weight and have a flat stomach. I have done what I felt is everything humaly possible and have gotten close but have not made a single bit of progress over the past 6 months.

    So low calorie always. What's low calorie in your world?
    When I said low calorie, I didn't mean some lame diet plan or "eating better". For over a year I have done hard core calorie counting. I have eaten between 1000 and 1500 calories a day (counted and calculated) except for once or twice a week I will eat a bad meal, like mexican, where I am going over that but probably not over 2500-3000 calories.

    For two years now (wasn't doing the hardcore calorie the first year) I have been going to the gym 5-6 days a week. I do all body weights (including free weights, and cable machines) ~twice a week and the other days I do cardio (bike, elliptical, treadmill) and I through in a hard abs workout for 30 minutes once a week.

    Also, for the past 4 weeks, to give it a try I have done the same low calories but I have cut out the carbs to < 20 a day. Hasn't really made a difference, except in my amount of happiness.

    So now I'm stuck in a rut for 6 months with no weight loss (dont care about less weight) or body fat loss (15.5%) and a gut still hanging over. The rules of the calorie deficit = body fat loss seem to no longer apply to me.

    In addition, what do you think the point is of rotating your carb intake?
    I read one article that said once you are stuck in a rut, try rotating that carb intake to get things moving again. That is the only reason I brought it up. But since lots of carbs and no carbs hasn't done me any good, rotating them probably wouldn't either.

    Whats the key that I'm missing here?

    If I try to have a calorie surplus to build muscle, I am certain I will start gaining body fat insted of losing it.

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Susan V View Post
    I love this! See - I had a clear goal - I wanted to lose 5 lbs. of fat. But what I was doing was building muscle instead. Which is totally cool. But I still want to lose the fat - but I don't want to lose the muscle I've gained. It's enough to make your head spin!
    My weight amount doesn't bother me as much as the body fat and gut hanging over. I would even be willing to compromise the muscle I have for less body fat and gut. I would actually like to weight more, but not by the addition of fat.

    I've talked to a few personal trainers but they seem to be more experience in initial weight loss, or "bulking up" neither of which helps me.

  13. #12
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    Common goals are build muscle or lose fat.

    When the goal is to build muscle, you really need to be in a caloric surplus. That's not to say it's impossible to build muscle while dieting... but chances are good you won't. Especially if you're not overly fat or completely new to training. Just b/c you need a caloric surplus, however, doesn't mean you need to pack on slabs of fat. The secret is eating just enough to trigger hypertrophy while not so much that you're storing a ton of the excess to fat. Some fat gain is inevitable. But that should not be cause for concern.

    When the goal is to lose fat, you need to be in a caloric deficit. When you're eating under maintenance, you're providing less energy than is required to maintain your body. The body needs that energy, so it gets it from the only choice it has: the existing tissues. In a perfect world, this is fat. In the real world, it's fat and muscle. And that's where a lot of people go wrong. When you aren't carrying a ton of fat, losing muscle while you lose fat is a very real risk. Too many people solely focus on the scale and not more important metrics such as measurements, bf%, pictures, reflection, etc. To stave off muscle loss, you really need to ensure adequate protein is consumed and a well balanced weight training program is in place.

    Muscle building is a very intensive process, energetically speaking. Muscle itself is a very metabolically-expensive tissue. The body, already not getting enough energy to support what it has, is not going to make that situation worse by adding more. The best that most of us are going to do is lose fat and maintain the muscle we have. This is what leaves us with the nice, toned look that most are going for.

    In general though, it's a constant process. For instance, I've gone through dozens of cycles where I'm either bulking up or I'm cutting down. I could stop and be happy with where I'm at but I like the 'chase.' I like the continual progress. So I'll bulk up by eating a caloric surplus sufficient enough to trigger muscle gain. I'll continue doing this until I'm either a) bored or b) uncomfortable with my weight gain. At this point, I'll revert to a caloric deficit (while doing all the right things to preserve my old and new muscle) to shed body fat down to lean levels.

    The net result is an improved physique, assuming your 'improved' is the same as mine.

    Where some go wrong is they want the best of both worlds now. Unfortunately we are all governed by the physiological laws that dictate what is and is not possible. Without drugs, you aren't going to be able to accomplish what a caloric surplus (bulk) and a caloric deficit (cut) simultaneously.

    You might lose some fat and gain some muscle but it's a very inefficient road, IME. You'll much better serve your purpose/goal by focusing on one thing at a time using sane methodology and enjoy the ride.

  14. #13
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    3. pick up some creatine, whey protein, and glutamine.
    Why?
    Twice a week I do a real solid weight workout. Currently I do nothing different during the workout days than my calorie deficit diet. The thought was maybe drinking that garbage would help my muscles build a little bigger rather than current just getting stronger but not bigger. From what you are saying I assume that my body will just burn off the drink rather than doing anything useful with it?


    6. 1-2 days a week do abs hardcore (already do this)
    Why?
    Just like I do a full body workout to strengthen/tone my arms, chest, back, etc, I do a good workout (with weights) for my abs to do the same to them. If I suck in my belly fat you can clearly see a beautiful 4 pack, and starting on the 6. Without the guy sucked in you can't see them at all. Took a long time with the abs to get them to this point.

    You mention in your post going by pictures, relection, etc. I have done this as well and over the 6 months my waist size is the same, pants fit the same, felections (waste wise) is the same, body fat the same. My face, arms, chest is better than it was 6 months ago, but minimally so since there wasnt much to improve on there.

    The problem here is that every site in the world says to lose that extra bit of belly fat, just do a calorie deficit diet. Well, what do you do when that doesn't work? Do an even greater deficit? At 1500 calories a day (3 meals 2 snacks) I think it is already considered an unhealthy amount (I am never hungry, always content), doing 1000 or less would be very unhealthy I would think.

    I read one site that site if you get stuck in a rut, eat REAL bad for one week and then start the diet again. Seems questionable though. I appretiate all of your comments and sugguestions!
    Last edited by pcm2a; August 5th, 2008 at 09:33 PM.

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcm2a View Post
    When I said low calorie, I didn't mean some lame diet plan or "eating better". For over a year I have done hard core calorie counting. I have eaten between 1000 and 1500 calories a day (counted and calculated) except for once or twice a week I will eat a bad meal, like mexican, where I am going over that but probably not over 2500-3000 calories.
    1000 is pretty low given your stats.

    How many times did you take breaks from dieting and/or training during this time period?

    For two years now (wasn't doing the hardcore calorie the first year) I have been going to the gym 5-6 days a week. I do all body weights (including free weights, and cable machines) ~twice a week and the [/quote]

    I'd be interested and seeing what this workout consists of, although I doubt it's making much a difference.

    other days I do cardio (bike, elliptical, treadmill) and
    How do you go about your cardio? Do you just go at an intensity you feel comfortable, do you time it, do you shoot for a certain HR?

    I through in a hard abs workout for 30 minutes once a week.
    Why?

    Also, for the past 4 weeks, to give it a try I have done the same low calories but I have cut out the carbs to < 20 a day. Hasn't really made a difference, except in my amount of happiness.
    That's probably the last thing you need, to be honest.

    So now I'm stuck in a rut for 6 months with no weight loss (dont care about less weight) or body fat loss (15.5%) and a gut still hanging over. The rules of the calorie deficit = body fat loss seem to no longer apply to me.
    Thermodynamics still apply, don't be fooled.

    It's probably simply a case of punishing your body without adequate recovery to a point that it's finally fighting back. What should be a caloric deficit isn't any longer.

    That doesn't mean thermodynamics don't apply to you.

    I read one article that said once you are stuck in a rut, try rotating that carb intake to get things moving again. That is the only reason I brought it up. But since lots of carbs and no carbs hasn't done me any good, rotating them probably wouldn't either.
    Yea, I wouldn't suggest it at this point.

    if I try to have a calorie surplus to build muscle, I am certain I will start gaining body fat insted of losing it.
    Acute evil for a chronic fix

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by pcm2a View Post
    Twice a week I do a real solid weight workout. Currently I do nothing different during the workout days than my calorie deficit diet. The thought was maybe drinking that garbage would help my muscles build a little bigger rather than current just getting stronger but not bigger. From what you are saying I assume that my body will just burn off the drink rather than doing anything useful with it?
    Creatine doesn't make you bigger. It helps with recovery.

    Protein is protein. If you're in a caloric deficit, it's not going to magically build muscle.

    Glutamine: Don't waste your money.

    Just like I do a full body workout to strengthen/tone my arms, chest, back, etc, I do a good workout (with weights) for my abs to do the same to them.
    How long does your total body workout last?

    We know that each of your ab workouts last 30 minutes.

    Assume each of your total body workouts last an hour. This is 3 hours of total resistance training per week.

    1/3 of that is for your abs.

    That's silly.

    If I suck in my belly fat you can clearly see a beautiful 4 pack, and starting on the 6. Without the guy sucked in you can't see them at all. Took a long time with the abs to get them to this point.
    You see your abs b/c you've reduced your body fat sufficiently.

    Not b/c you've done an hour of abs per week.

    You mention in your post going by pictures, relection, etc. I have done this as well and over the 6 months my waist size is the same, pants fit the same, felections (waste wise) is the same, body fat the same. My face, arms, chest is better than it was 6 months ago, but minimally so since there wasnt much to improve on there.
    See my above post.

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