T Nation

41 YO, 220lbs, Seeking Fat Loss Advice

Hello everyone. I’m a 41 YO man, 5’11", 220lbs. As you can see from the pics, I obviously need to lose some fat. Here are my struggles and my questions:

Current State:

  1. I have struggled with weight for the last 10 years of my life. I was as high as 260, got down to 200, and am back at 220. I dropped the 60 pounds with weight watchers - took me 3 years. In the last 3 years, I’ve added back the 20.
  2. I definitely struggle with appetite - I’m well aware that so much of it is mental - I’m an anxious eater.
  3. I was diagnosed with low T about 2 years ago. After finally finding the right doc, I do more frequent injections - currently doing 25mg EOD IM. This definitely helps with energy overall, but has done nothing for weight loss. When my T gets high (600+ or so) I retain water.
  4. I enjoy lifting weights, but usually retain water/get bloated when doing so - and pretty quickly. I also do the same with HIIT training. It seems like the harder I train, the harder it is to lose weight.

Desired State and Questions:

  1. I’d like to get down to 180 lbs. I fully realize that body composition is more important than weight, but I weighed 165 when I got out of college and was pretty ripped. I think 180 is attainable. To be clear my goal is fat loss.
  2. Weight Watchers was helpful for losing weight - I know I lost a lot of muscle on it. Further, it’s changed since i did it and don’t think it’s really meant for men - if it ever was. Also, at 200 lbs, I was still pretty much skinny fat.
  3. What do you recommend in terms of diet? Judging by what I’ve said above, do you think I’m simply eating too little or too much?
  4. What do you recommend in terms of training plan?


Well, if you would like to lose weight and haven’t been, the answer is too much.

Are you training right now? If you think HIIT makes it harder to reach your goals, then perhaps it isn’t for you. How do you feel with LISS? Do you lift?

As to diet, you stated you are hungry a lot. Do you drink any calories? Those don’t fill you up much. Do you eat a lot of foods that contain a lot of calories, but don’t fill you up much? When I think back to my times I was the most ripped, I was eating more veg, fruit, and not soda, dressings or french fries. I know that sounds simple, but I found it hard to eat too much when not eating junk (you certainly can get fat while eating clean, it is just physically harder). Some stuff that is “healthy” isn’t the best for losing weight too. Stuff like peanut butter or nuts are healthy, but not great if your goal is to be lean.

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sign up for my fitness pal.
weigh, track, and measure every single thing you eat and drink.
start with 2500 calories per day. Pro-200 grams Carb-200 grams Fat-100 grams
do not eat back any exercise calories
weigh yourself every morning, record weight in MFP.

take 10,000 steps every day.
download stronglifts 5x5 app. follow it.

report back in 2 weeks.

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ok ejones1. I appreciate the advice. I’m going to follow it. Why the 2500 calories? Did you plug that into a calculator or is it a starting point?

I’m doing very light training right now. I forgot to mention that my job is sedentary. I have lifted in the past and should start again. What’s LISS?

I don’t drink any calories - very few anyway - almond milk in my coffee and maybe 1 glass of wine/2 weeks. I agree in terms of veg, fruit, etc., but unfortunately have IBS and can’t eat a lot of that stuff…

random place to get started. after 2 weeks of daily morning weights, a trend will emerge and adjustments can be made.

don’t cut out your almond milk and wine just log it. more likely to stick with it and comply if some of the things you enjoy are in there.

LISS low impact steady state = the 10k steps

thank you sir

I doubt very much if this is the result of water retention or ‘bloat.’ More likely, what’s going on is the strenuous exercise is making you hungry, to which you respond by eating more. (This is the main reason most people are unable to exercise their way to significant weight loss–put simply, you can’t out-train a bad diet.) Thus, I agree that you should drop HIIT in favor of LISS. I’m a fan of the 10K steps/day approach, as it allows you to get your exercise in throughout the day. (I carry a pedometer myself.)

On the other hand, I don’t think you should give up weightlifting–it’s too important for promoting good body composition. Let’s see how you do weight-wise with just avoiding HIIT.

I think that’s a good and reasonable goal for a 5’11" man.

Hmm…As WW allows unlimited portions of good protein (eg, chicken breast), I don’t think we can blame muscle loss on it, sorry.

Counting calories as suggested above is a foolproof, guaranteed method to reach your goal–provided you can stick to it. (Many people end up chafing at the tediousness of it.) If you’re willing to give it a go, by all means do. I agree that 2500 cals/d is a reasonable starting point; you can always titrate it up or down based on how you respond.

That said, note that counting calories and counting points–ie, WW–are fundamentally the same thing.

++Get 10K steps/day, come hell or high water. (On occasion, I have had to walk in circles around my living room to do so.)
++As for weightlifting, do whatever sort of program you enjoy the most. Do you like lifting heavy, with long rest breaks? Do it. Prefer faster, pump-style training? Do it. The point being, you are vastly more likely to stick with the lifting program you enjoy than you are with the one that is ‘best.’

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Here is my 2 cents for what its worth. Take a week of tracking your current food intake. After you have a rough caloric idea cut out 500 calories and go from there.

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This is good advice. For me at least, knowing I have to put something (usually dessert) into the tracking app makes me think twice about eating it. Just the act of tracking itself has me make better food choices.

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@EyeDentist- sincerely appreciate your thoughtful and thorough response!

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I like all the above advice.

I’m much older than you; I’m only using creatine. An endocrinologist advised I should reduce calories by 200/day, and intermitent fasting twice weekly from 8 pm until noon next day. Some black coffee ok in early am. After 4 weeks my waist has reduced from 45 to 42, on my way hopefully to 38. I’m not “jiggly fat” just big. Amazingly I am not getting hungry, which I’ve struggled with since my 30s. I attributed that to the fasting, but I have read recently that sugar may contribute to hunger so I’ve cut it completely. Think processed foods.

I think defeating the foregoing bold part is your best weapon. If you fast, keep the protein intake up so to not lose much muscle. Good luck and lift weights regularly.

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I’m gonna chime in here and say that @biker is onto something with Intermittent Fasting - especially from the hunger control aspect. I switched to IF 5 days per week mid-November to try and drop some weight so that my blood pressure stays in control and have had no struggles with hunger. I also did 16/8 IF all the way through college and for the first two years after. It teaches you what actual hunger is instead of bored eating. I have IBS as well and struggled with certain “healthy” foods, but have noticed they do much less damage since I started fasting.

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For me, the biggest thing that helps me lose weight is not to measure what I have eaten but instead plan what I’m going to eat.

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@ejones1 - I’m assuming with the 5x5 workouts, I should be lifting heavy, correct?

Only lift heavy if you can do it with acceptable form. I have done stronglifts in the past. I believe you start with only the bar, and work technique for a while until the 5 lb increase per workout catches up to you. Then it becomes hard quickly. I found it to be one of the most brutal programs I have ever done once I got to that point. Doing 5X5 or trying to do 5X5 with 90% of 1RM is brutal, and you do it 3X a week.

Once you stall a time or two, look to something less aggressive. Maybe 5/3/1. I was stubborn, and probably stalled out 5-6 times before moving on.

It starts with an empty barbell and teaches proper form. Download the app and take a look.

If your main goal is fat loss, I really don’t think it matters too much what program you follow. Just pick one that motivates you.

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Yep. The best program is the one that makes you consistent.

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Sure and just do something isn’t specific actionable advice.

Can’t go wrong with an app complete with videos on how to perform the movements, telling you what to lift on what day, while incorporating progressive overload, for free.

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