T Nation

Adjusting a Fat Loss Diet


#1

Hey guys,

I would appreciate a little help adjusting my fat loss diet. I went into it confidently because I thought I had a good grasp of how my body works because of previous dieting experiences. But I did run into some problems.

I’ve been dieting for two weeks now and progress has been almost non-existent or very very slow. I am a bit baffled because I expected some quick losses in at least the first week. I have seen the initial quick losses in my past two diets.

• I started at 189 pounds and dropped my intake to 2300 kcals

• my maintanenance is ~3000 kcals, so I should really have been in a big deficit

• my macros are ~50% carbs, ~30% proteins, ~20% fats

• after one week my weight didn’t change --> I did a refeed day of 3000 kcals at the start of week two because I thought the deficit would be too big and I would maybe get a “whoosh”

• in the second week I started walking to work 3 times a week in hopes of speeding things up (one way takes 15 mins, so 30 mins a day)

• after two weeks my average weight has only decreased by 0.4 pounds; waist and ass circumference have changed minimally, but I guess this is rather due to measurement error

My thoughts:

Eating / Metabolism:
3000 has been my maintenance calories in like forever. The thing is that I have been sick over christmas. Bedridden for a week + feeling tired and having low appetite for almost a week after that. So my calories have been pretty low and I didn’t train for almost 3 weeks. But after that I started training again and ate 3000 calories for a week. Although my metabolism must have been running really low, I didn’t gain any weight in that time. So I guess that when I started training and eating it sped up quickly again. This would go hand in hand with past experiences.

It might be that it hasn’t fully recovered though. In my past diets when I have come from mainteanance calories I was always able to drop fat/weight pretty quickly and consistently eating 2500 calories, especially in the first week. So maybe my metabolism is still running quite low because I am not losing weight even while eating only 2300 calories (which is like 12 x bodyweight for me)…

Training / Cardio:

I still have the same desk job I did in my previous diets. So I don’t really move around any more or less than before. I never really had to do any cardio at all or maybe just at the end of my diet.

BUT a point to consider is that I did high frequency training in my previous diets. I trained pretty much every day (1 push, pull and leg movement). This time I came from doing a 4-day split routine. So maybe the HFT pushed my metaboslim way more than I thought and that’s the reason I am not losing fat as efficiently right now?

To offset that a bit I added the walking in the second week and changed to a full body routine (every other day) too. It didn’t help until now. It’s maybe still not as metabolically demanding as the daily training back then and the walking maybe isn’t helping that much at all.

Water retention:

I thought that my deficit was too high, which probably isn’t the case at all. To maybe counteract some ongoing water retention I did a refeed day at the start of the first week. It didn’t change anything though. I didn’t really expect it though because I never had any specific issues with water retention in past diets. Whenever I stalled progress picked up again as soon as I reduced calories again.

So, what do I do now?

My guess is that because of the points I mentioned I am just not in a big calorie deficit, if at all (obviously). What would you guys do in my case? Decrease calories and see if progress starts because I maybe overestimated my deficit by far? Increase calories because maybe my metabolic rate still isn’t up to par?

Thanks to everyone who read the rather long text. I might be overthinking things, but I am just trying to understand the game and especially my own body better.


#2

Two full weeks?

From 3000 to 2300 calories is not small changes.

Carbs are too high.

189 and your height?


#3

[quote=“JFG, post:2, topic:225957, full:true”]
Two full weeks?[/quote]
Tomorrow it will be two full weeks, if you want to be precise. I’m not expecting to be lean overnight, I am just wondering why progress is so slow in the initial stages compared to my previous diets.

I know and I didn’t try to imply that.

I thought about that. I am keeping them high because I’m trying to keep my performance in the gym. I thought it shoudln’t be much of a problem if the deficit is there. Maybe I’m wrong. Would you decrease carbs and increase fats or rather eat even more protein?

~70.4 inches


#4

15x body weight for total calories.

Protein, 1g per lbs

Fat, 20% of total calories

Rest is carbs. Keep this before and during work out.

Make small adjustments. Once progress stalls for a full week, move to 14x bw while keeping protein and fats as above.

Look up Paul Carter’s article how to stay strong while dieting.


#5

I appreciate your effort to keep things simple. But…

I know the article. My macros are pretty much what you/Paul suggest. Fats 20%, like I said above. Protein sits pretty much at 1 lb per pound. The rest is carbs, yes.

I know the basic way of adjusting and moving forward. But in the past I have always had to drop calories to at least 13 x bodyweight to start losing weight. I wanted to do a faster cut this time and skip the slow adjusting at the beginning. So I jumped right to where I am now, which is about 12 x bodyweight in calories.

I am just wondering why I don’t lose effectively with this. I can’t imagine that my body is so stressed by the calorie reduction that it shuts down fat burning completely or has some massive water retention or something. Otherwise I would probably be way more stressed and tired which I am not.


#6

Use the right tools for the right job. The above is slow steady and consistent.

If you want to go faster, use a different approach. Vdiet, pulse fasts, etc.

Don’t change slow and steady to suit your needs. And no, rapid calories drop does not constitute rapid weight drop. Ask anyone that starves themselves.

Shocking your system to loose weight faster puts your body in defensive mode. Slow and steady or use a better system.


#7

Fair enough. But c’mon, 2300 calories is hardly starvation level. I know, that’s not what you said exactly, but I highly doubt that any body would put itself in starvation mode at 2300 calories - maybe a behemoth IFBB bodybuilder who is used to eating double the amount and cuts his intake in half or something.

To me 2300 calories is just a slightly more aggressive deficit. After all it’s only 200 calories less than what I dieted with in previous fat loss phases at the same bodyweight (which yielded moderate weight loss of about 1 pound per week and not even every week). I find it highly unlikely that just a bit less calories would suddenly put my body in starvation mode - especially not at 12 calories per pound of bodyweight.

Of course I don’t know for sure. But still, the more I think about it, I think I am underestimating how many calories I burn. After all I am pretty much only training half as often as in previous fat loss phases - and there I squatted or deadlifted every day.
Regardless of the effect on muscle retention I think that it maybe had a cumulative effect on metabolic rate and burned more calories than I thought.

I will probably try to reduce my intake to 11 x calories per lbs next week and report back.
We’ll see if that is a good idea.


#8

It’s low enough though, and 0.2 lbs a week is not a bad average and also very sustainable. It’ll average out at about a pound a month.

You’re sitting about 350 calories below your low end maintenance based on scale weight. Let’s say you’re at around 20 per cent body fat, so your LBM is 151 lbs which puts 2300 cal/day in the middle of your LBM maintenance calories. You’re where you need to be. Drop calories lower and you’re not leaving yourself anywhere to go when your progress stalls.

Just stick it out, be patient. If after six weeks you haven’t gone down at all, then look at what you need to change.


#9

Just change when you have your carbs then. All around your work out only.


#10

Guys, thanks for your help so far!

To be honest I felt like crap on the weekend. I’ve been super stressed since Friday and I kinda still am. Work is stressful at the moment. Couple that with a seemlingly high deficit and you’re in for a disaster, haha.

It pretty much was the same after the first week. I felt like crap at the weekend which led to a refeed / cheat day on last Monday where I ate ~3000 calories. I kept going the rest of the week and here I am again cheating today. I am keeping calories somewhat in check though.

It seems like I have to accept that my body doesn’t work the exact same way it did 2 years ago and that I probably really am in a big deficit + super stressed from work. At the weekend I was frustrated and wanted to drop calories even further, like I said, but it would probably really make things worse and not leave me anywhere to go, like MarkKO said.

The weird thing is that my weight didn’t change that much, but my waist measurement is down almost 2 inches now. I don’t know how much of that is due to measurement error or just reduced bloat. That said, I feel like I definitely look and feel a bit leaner, especially around the upper stomach (which might not reflect in my measurement around the navel that much).

At the moment I’m inclined to either continue like before after my cheat day today - or even increase calories to like 2500 or even more. I’m still unsure about that.

@JFG: I thought about the nutrient timing thing, but I doubt it would really make a difference, if calories are the same…(?) Also, would it maybe be better to replace some carbs with protein or fat when doing that? Otherwise I would eat next to nothing for 2/3 of the day and 2 huge meals with mostly carbs in the evening before and after training.


#11

My mirror and my scale have often had different ideas about my progress. But the scale can’t tell the difference between fat and muscle, so if you are getting thinner but the scale says you’ve stayed the same, I think you probably have made progress. You just lost fat and gained muscle at roughly the same rate. I remember when I did a 21 day squat challenge I gained 7 pounds and people complimented me on losing weight, because I had gained muscle faster than I lost fat.

So I think you need to calm down. Body transformation is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re better off with a healthy diet you can maintain forever than a weight loss diets that you can’t.


#12

I said “around”. 200g of carbs for two meals and peri, voilà. Around 500.

And never underestimate the power of cortisol. It will wreck everything.

I would seriously up the calories a bit and take care of that stress thing. Enjoy the process.


#13

Well, seeing that I have been training for over 9 years and am at the tail end of a 2 year “bulking” phase I really doubt that this would be the case for me. I probably won’t have gained any new muscle tissue at such a fast rate.
But still, you do have a point. Of course, one situation in which simultaneous fat loss and muscle gain happens is after a layoff. I always assumed that my lost muscle would return in like a week or something, seeing that my weight always shoots up to normal in a couple of days. But it could well be that at first I even gained some fat after my training break because the 3000 calories were too much for my still slow metabolism - and that regaining wasn’t as quick as I thought. So maybe this is really what happened when I started my diet the week after that: I regained the rest of my muscle mass and lost some fat. I guess I will never know for sure.

I probably should quit whining and be happy. A shrinking waist with almost the same bodyweight is like a dream come true, haha. :grinning:

@JFG:
Well, you said “around your workout”, not “around 500 carbs”. I might try to keep most of my carbs around my workout, although I still doubt it will make a difference, if calories are the same. But I’m open to try it and see for myself.

As for the stress thing, luckily today most of my work and private issues of the last days cleared itself up. Things can only get better now.


#14

enThat’s good things are clearing up. Cortisol is the pain of fat loss.

Try it, don’t try it. Doesn’t matter. I’m just relaying what has worked for me a at least 12 dozen people I trained.

I had to convince this girl to eat more to loose fat once. She couldn’t get her head around it so I increas d her carbs around her work out. Worked like a charm.


#15

If you ask any of the pro bodybuilders on this site, every one will tell you that nutrient timing and carb sources are important.


#16

So…The third week is nearing its end and this is what happend:

On Monday I did another high calorie day with 3000 calories. I planned to increase calories, but not every day. Instead I wanted to eat like 3000 on training days and 2000 on rest days (lower carb). Reason being that I find it easier to eat really low one day and higher on others - I’ve done this in the past and the last two weeks reminded me of that fact.

Regardless of this being a good idea or not, things didn’t really go as planned. I ate 2000 calories on Tuesday and planned to train and eat 3000 again on Wednesday. But I felt tired and had somewhat of a runny nose. So I canned training - the way I felt, if I trained hard that day, I would very probably be sick now…

I ate 2000 calories on Wednesday, but the last two days I ate 2800-3000 calories. Yesterday was my first light training sessions since Monday. I just felt like it was time for some deloading and eating more!

So here’s the good news:

My weight and waist / butt measurements have all hit a new low today. Like suddenly 2 pounds less and half an inch less.

My guess is that all the stress was still messing with my body and mind and I still had quite some accumulated fatigue from training and excessive dieting. Hence my deloading and eating more may really be bringing things back to healthy levels right now and my body might really be flushing some water.

I’ll take the weekend off and see, if I can pick things back up on Monday again. My plan is to try 3000 calories on training days and 2000 on rest days, training 3-4 days a week. That way my calories would be ~2500 on average. Also I’m willing to play around with the nutrient timing thing.


#17

Yeah nothing melts fat better than eating a lot and taking days off training