T Nation

Advice on Leaning Out While Retaining Muscle


#1


I've been a long term follower on T-Nation but have really never post. I've been bodybuilding for 6+ years and have been fairly consistent throughout those years with maybe a few weeks of falling out a year. I began lifting in highschool when I was 6'2" about 170lbs. I'll never forget the first week of lifting class we did 1RM for the big lifts, IIRC, my bench was 90lbs, squat - 125lbs, and dead - 185lbs.

Anyways, throughout the years my goal was always lean mass. I was in my best shape when I was about 6'4", 230lbs and 10% BF roughly a year and a half ago. One really difficult semester of college , I only made it to the gym ~3x a week, diet completely fell off and I was eating only 2-3 times a day. This led me to about 250lbs and around 14-15% BF. Seeing my entire lifting career has been devoted to gaining lean mass and correct proportions, I'm new to anything fatloss related, and here is where I am stuck.

I would like to drop 10lbs of this BF and put myself back around 10-11% BF in the next 6 weeks. The majority of the fat is lying in the midsection, glutes, and upper legs. I'll lay out my regime and feel free to criticize and give any feedback advice.

Stats:
6'4"
250lbs
14-15% BF

Squat: 425lbs
Dead: 525lbs
Bench: 315lbs
Military DB: 105x8
Hang Snatch: 250

Workout:

Monday:
Squat - 4x10
Legpress - 3x12
BB Lunges - 3x8
Leg Ext. - 3x12
Ham Curl - 3x12
Calve Raises - 4x20
15-30 Mins of Cardio (Basketball or Stairs)

Tuesday:
DB Bench - 4x12,10,10,8
BB Incline - 4x12,10,10,8
Incline Flys - 3x12
Decline Cable Flys - 3x12
Cable Bench/Machine Flat bench - 4x15
4x10 burpees

Wednesday
Hammer Curl - 3x12
BB curl - 4x12
Skullcrusher - 3x10
CG Bench - 3x12,10,8
Alternating DB Curl - 4x12
Cable Pushdowns - 3x12
Leg Raises - 3x12
Decline Situps - 3x12

Thurs - OFF

Friday
Pullups or Lat pulldowns - 4x12
BB Row - 3x10
Machine rows - 3x12
Hammer Strength Pullovers - 3x12

Saturday
DB Military - 4x12,10,10,8
DB Lateral Raises - 3x12
Shrugs - 3x15
Reverse Flys - 6x15
Hammer Strength Military - 3x8

Sunday - OFF

Note: Some times I do random cardio like run the stairs every other weeks for 20 mins or play basketball for 30-60mins.

Diet:

Wakeup: 10am
Protein Shake
20g P 200mg Caffiene

Meal 1: 12:00pm
1 Chicken Breast
1 Cup Br. Rice/Qinoua

Snack: 3:00pm
Blueberry/Banana/Pineapple/Greens Smoothie

Meal 2: Pre Workout 4:00pm
Turkey/Cheese/Avo/Tomato Sandwich on Wheat
2 Scoops ON PRE

Post Workout: 5:30pm
30g Protein Shake, 2g L-carnitine, 5g BCAA's

Meal 3: 7pm
3-4 Ground Turkey Tacos
(Avo, Greek Yogurt, Salsa, Lettuce, Cheese, Corn torillas)

Snack before bead: 9-10pm (I always have sweet cravings at this time)

PB2 or Nutz & More Almond Butter & Jelly on wheat

I usually have a cheat meal of whatever I want Wednesday night and usually 2 cheat meals on Sundays. Most Likely Pasta Alfredo, Hotdogs, cookies, ect; All the garbage I crave throughout the week

This midsection fat is really stubborn. I'm ready to introduce some fatburners and extra cardio/ab work into the regime. Just looking for the most effective way and any critique on my normal program.

Attached a pic from when I was about 235lbs and 11-12% BF but still lean in the midsection (All 6 abs showing). Again, I'm now 250lbs, Still fairly lean but barely vascular and only have about 2 abs visible for reference.


#2

You have been coming here for 6 years and use ON Pre? Plazma lad, or something similar. Please, do not mention cost. Lost of better options.

Can you break the macros? It seems very low, even for cutting. Probably why you get cravings before bed. And seriously. Lettuce, tomatoes and avocados on your sandwich is your veggies? And lettuce on a taco? Broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, etc. Add some nutrition.

Why are you up so late? Just curious.


#3

Too many cheat meals for your level of leanness. Have one per week (at most).


#4

[quote]EyeDentist wrote:
Too many cheat meals for your level of leanness. Have one per week (at most).[/quote]

Really? At this point for him? If he’s doing 3 a week now, doesn’t seem unreasonable to do 2 a week for a few weeks then move down to 1 a week for a few weeks.


#5

[quote]MinusTheColon wrote:

[quote]EyeDentist wrote:
Too many cheat meals for your level of leanness. Have one per week (at most).[/quote]

Really? At this point for him? If he’s doing 3 a week now, doesn’t seem unreasonable to do 2 a week for a few weeks then move down to 1 a week for a few weeks. [/quote]

He’s doing 3/week, and he’s not losing weight. The simple truth is, he’s taking in too many calories. And the obvious place to cut cals in his circumstance is/are the cheat meals.

TBH, from a metabolic standpoint I strongly doubt he needs ANY cheat meals at this juncture, and certainly not two in one day (quite frankly OP, your Sunday eating sound more akin to a binge day than a cheat meal).


#6

[quote]JFG wrote:
You have been coming here for 6 years and use ON Pre? Plazma lad, or something similar. Please, do not mention cost. Lost of better options.

Can you break the macros? It seems very low, even for cutting. Probably why you get cravings before bed. And seriously. Lettuce, tomatoes and avocados on your sandwich is your veggies? And lettuce on a taco? Broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, etc. Add some nutrition.

Why are you up so late? Just curious.

[/quote]

Very good point on the pre workout, I used to order from Biotest but have been ignorant in the supplement subject lately.

I dont necessarily breakdown my macros but I would estimate 250P/250C/75F. I do put 1/3 cup spinach on my sandwich, about 1 cup Kale/Spinach in a smoothie but I’ll admit thats where is stops. Occasionally, I replace my rice, quinoa, and chicken for chicken stir fry with green beans, asparagus, and peppers. But I’ll agree, I can step up the nutrition.

During the week I’m in bed around 11-12pm and up at 8-9am for school. During the weekends I work at a nightclub and work from 10pm - 3am or 4am depending on the night. Only time I can eat is before or after and if I eat after I try to stray from carbs.


#7

[quote]EyeDentist wrote:

[quote]MinusTheColon wrote:

[quote]EyeDentist wrote:
Too many cheat meals for your level of leanness. Have one per week (at most).[/quote]

Really? At this point for him? If he’s doing 3 a week now, doesn’t seem unreasonable to do 2 a week for a few weeks then move down to 1 a week for a few weeks. [/quote]

He’s doing 3/week, and he’s not losing weight. The simple truth is, he’s taking in too many calories. And the obvious place to cut cals in his circumstance is/are the cheat meals.

TBH, from a metabolic standpoint I strongly doubt he needs ANY cheat meals at this juncture, and certainly not two in one day (quite frankly OP, your Sunday eating sound more akin to a binge day than a cheat meal). [/quote]

Most of the time what happens is I will go out to eat and get a cheat meal at around 5pm and usually binge way beyond the capacity of my stomach, so I take the left overs and end up eating the left overs 2-3 hours later.

I honestly love food just as much as I like to bodybuild so it takes a lot of self control for me to avoid shitty food, I would guess more-so than the average person. I can cut down the cheat meals to 2 strict, planned meals a week.

My question is would it be beneficial to add extra cardio?
I try to eat carbs only early in the morning, before and immediately after my workout. Is carb cycling worth trying?
Obviously diet is key, but are there any legit fat-burning supplements that actually aid in fat loss?


#8

[quote]bmbweber wrote:

[quote]EyeDentist wrote:

[quote]MinusTheColon wrote:

[quote]EyeDentist wrote:
Too many cheat meals for your level of leanness. Have one per week (at most).[/quote]

Really? At this point for him? If he’s doing 3 a week now, doesn’t seem unreasonable to do 2 a week for a few weeks then move down to 1 a week for a few weeks. [/quote]

He’s doing 3/week, and he’s not losing weight. The simple truth is, he’s taking in too many calories. And the obvious place to cut cals in his circumstance is/are the cheat meals.

TBH, from a metabolic standpoint I strongly doubt he needs ANY cheat meals at this juncture, and certainly not two in one day (quite frankly OP, your Sunday eating sound more akin to a binge day than a cheat meal). [/quote]

Most of the time what happens is I will go out to eat and get a cheat meal at around 5pm and usually binge way beyond the capacity of my stomach, so I take the left overs and end up eating the left overs 2-3 hours later.

I honestly love food just as much as I like to bodybuild so it takes a lot of self control for me to avoid shitty food, I would guess more-so than the average person. I can cut down the cheat meals to 2 strict, planned meals a week. [/quote]

As a former fat boy (270+) who would eat junk food all day every day, I can relate. What it boils down to is this: You need to ask yourself whether you truly want to shed the fat. (There’s no shame if the answer to that is ‘no,’ BTW.) If the answer is ‘yes,’ you’re going to have to do what I (and many others) have done–suck it up. There are very few people in this world who can eat poorly and look lean and muscular. I ain’t one, and neither, apparently, are you.

You can try, but IMO it’s not likely to work. Clearly, your weight problem is of the ‘eats too much’ variety, not the ‘exercises too little’ sort. In fact, a significant increase in cardio may leave you feeling even hungrier, which (given your current portion control issue) will just cause you to eat more.

It’s cliche, but it’s true: You can’t outtrain a bad diet. Get your diet on-point. Once the fat loss slows down (as it inevitably will), that’s when the judicious addition of cardio can do the most good.

I have had great success with carb cycling. Coupled with carb backloading, I feel it provides a definite psychological benefit, and a possible metabolic one to boot. There’s a thread here in BSL entitled ‘EyeDentist, how do you train?’ in which I talk about my approach to dieting.

IMO, you’re not at a point where you should be considering these.


#9

[quote]EyeDentist wrote:

[quote]bmbweber wrote:

[quote]EyeDentist wrote:

[quote]MinusTheColon wrote:

[quote]EyeDentist wrote:
Too many cheat meals for your level of leanness. Have one per week (at most).[/quote]

Really? At this point for him? If he’s doing 3 a week now, doesn’t seem unreasonable to do 2 a week for a few weeks then move down to 1 a week for a few weeks. [/quote]

He’s doing 3/week, and he’s not losing weight. The simple truth is, he’s taking in too many calories. And the obvious place to cut cals in his circumstance is/are the cheat meals.

TBH, from a metabolic standpoint I strongly doubt he needs ANY cheat meals at this juncture, and certainly not two in one day (quite frankly OP, your Sunday eating sound more akin to a binge day than a cheat meal). [/quote]

Most of the time what happens is I will go out to eat and get a cheat meal at around 5pm and usually binge way beyond the capacity of my stomach, so I take the left overs and end up eating the left overs 2-3 hours later.

I honestly love food just as much as I like to bodybuild so it takes a lot of self control for me to avoid shitty food, I would guess more-so than the average person. I can cut down the cheat meals to 2 strict, planned meals a week. [/quote]

As a former fat boy (270+) who would eat junk food all day every day, I can relate. What it boils down to is this: You need to ask yourself whether you truly want to shed the fat. (There’s no shame if the answer to that is ‘no,’ BTW.) If the answer is ‘yes,’ you’re going to have to do what I (and many others) have done–suck it up. There are very few people in this world who can eat poorly and look lean and muscular. I ain’t one, and neither, apparently, are you.

You can try, but IMO it’s not likely to work. Clearly, your weight problem is of the ‘eats too much’ variety, not the ‘exercises too little’ sort. In fact, a significant increase in cardio may leave you feeling even hungrier, which (given your current portion control issue) will just cause you to eat more.

It’s cliche, but it’s true: You can’t outtrain a bad diet. Get your diet on-point. Once the fat loss slows down (as it inevitably will), that’s when the judicious addition of cardio can do the most good.

I have had great success with carb cycling. Coupled with carb backloading, I feel it provides a definite psychological benefit, and a possible metabolic one to boot. There’s a thread here in BSL entitled ‘EyeDentist, how do you train?’ in which I talk about my approach to dieting.

IMO, you’re not at a point where you should be considering these.
[/quote]

Thank you for all the responses.

I just spent some time looking over your thread, and I have to admit your ideology on diet is one that has never crossed my mind. So here are a few questions, I apologize if they were answered but I only made it through about the first 8 pages.

Correct me if I am wrong on any of this…
You said you train primarily around 3pm, and up until about 2:30pm you only consume natty pb and coffee. So in theory, you’re consuming ~40g P / ~70g F / ~0g C up until your pre workout carb-load drink? Then the bulk of your carbs/protein during your post workout meal, and throughout the rest of the night only lean protein?

Also, would you mind sharing your “poor mans plasma” recipe?


Just for reference as well. I wouldn’t necessarily say I fall into the category of “eats too much.” I feel what had happened was I just fell into a horrible 5 month rut of low metabolism, poor nutrition, and sad training which resulted in the excess weight. I’ve always been a fairly lean person and I found it hard to put on weight and mass. My usual day was spent at school from 8am-5pm. We have a a large cafeteria in which is eat as much as you want with several different options. I would never eat breakfast, head to the cafeteria around 11 and sit there and casually eat until 2:30 while I studied. I was stuffing myself with pizza, french fries, beef sandwiches, cookies, and gatorade at least 4 days a week. Then I would head to the gym around 5 for a sad excuse of a workout ~3-4 days a week. Little to no supplementation, and then eat 1 more time in the evening and the day was over. So between 2 meals (consisting of 20% protein, 30% fat, 30% shitty carbs), sitting in a chair for 9 hours, and way less physical activity than I was used to, I think my metabolism crashed and caused me to gain that 10-15lbs of mid section fat.

Once I really realized what happened, I said F that, I can’t let it happen again. Since January I had good consistency and intensity in the gym focusing more so on volume and hypertrophy, thinking the fat loss would follow naturally. It’s been a little bit more stubborn than I thought but I would say some progress has been made, just not as much as I wanted.

On another note, I have never taken progress pics throughout my lifting career which I regret, but after fumbling through my phone I found a few pics that can give you and idea of the condition I was in. Mind you this was not on a very strict diet, I would say something like 75/25 good/bad food ratio.


#10

About 225-230lbs 10% BF


#11

About 10-15lbs less mass but same BF%


#12

[quote]bmbweber wrote:

Thank you for all the responses.

I just spent some time looking over your thread, and I have to admit your ideology on diet is one that has never crossed my mind. So here are a few questions, I apologize if they were answered but I only made it through about the first 8 pages.

Correct me if I am wrong on any of this…
You said you train primarily around 3pm, and up until about 2:30pm you only consume natty pb and coffee. So in theory, you’re consuming ~40g P / ~70g F / ~0g C up until your pre workout carb-load drink? Then the bulk of your carbs/protein during your post workout meal, and throughout the rest of the night only lean protein?
[/quote]

That is correct, except I wouldn’t normally have near that much PB on a lifting day–more like 2-3 tbsp, which works out to be Cals 2-300/Pro 6-9 g/Carbs 2-3 g/Fat 16-24 g.

It’s not that I mind; I just feel like it’s disrespectful to our Biotest hosts.


#13

You look great in those photos. You can look that good again. But for whatever reason, your once revved-up metabolism has slowed, so it’s not going to come as easily as it once did.


#14

My one suggestion would be to make small incremental changes to your diet and exercise routine. Don’t cut too much too fast, and don’t add in too much cardio immediately. Give your body time to adjust. Diet is key before upping the cardio, that’s for sure, But if you wanted to eventually add some high intensity conditioning like hill sprints or track sprint workouts, that could be nice down the road. I personally have found sprint workouts to be great fat blasters without making me ravenously hungry like slow steady state cardio does.


#15

I can relate 100% when you mention you like to go binge beyond your stomach and eat the leftovers over. I am similar, I just love food and especially eating LARGE AMOUNTS of it!

SO, what are we to do? Eat LOTS OF CLEAN FOOD. Have a big portion of lean high quality meat and crazy amounts of vegetables, make them taste good. Take 3 cups of broccoli in the pan with the garlic, salt and pepper, lots of salad greens, sprouts or something, just lots of veggies. I can guarantee you if you’re eating 3 cheat meals a week, that’s what preventing you from your goal.

If you’re eating a huge mean, THEN eating the leftovers a couple hours later, THAT’S ANOTHER CHEAT MEAL. So are you maybe in reality eating 6 cheat meals a week instead of 3? You stated you’re eating pasta alfredo, cookies, hot dogs, etc., don’t expect to eat that stuff and get super lean, that would be unrealistic. You’re eating too much junk at once for it to burn, so it’s getting stored as fat. It sounds like Sunday you eat junk all day, so that’s an all day body fat storage fiesta.

If you really want to get down to 10% you should be at one cheat meal per week, and that’s one meal, one sitting. Or, better yet, try no cheat meals for a couple weeks, then have one. Despite the popular bodybuilding belief that cheat meals are part of the lifestyle, they don’t need to be, it’s just an excuse to eat crap. If you’re very strict (this doesn’t mean under eating by any means, it just means strict) then one cheat meal per week is good.

Just my belief. Maybe if you’re an assisted lifter you can get away with a little more, but as a natural, in my experience I really have to dial in to get down to 10%. I am very strict with nutrition, but never feel underfed or under nourished.

I haven’t had a “cheat meal” in a long time, I guess easter dinner with the family was the last one, and before that I don’t remember. I’m talking about blatantly unhealthy crap. I am always very happy with what I cook and make sure it tastes good and that I eat enough to fill me up, so I rarely crave a cheat meal. But again I have a TON of veggies with all my meals, so I can eat as much as I want without worrying about it.

Good luck!


#16

I’d start at least keeping track of protein and total daily calories. If you like a meal plan, go for it, and maybe restricting your cheat meals to a day or two makes you feel better. But at least if you have an idea of the calories you’re eating, maybe you can (for now) fit in some cookies, some pizza, whatever, daily, and so then you won’t feel like you need a weekly binge.

I’ve been cutting for 15-16 weeks now, have only had 1 ‘free’ meal in that time, and yet I easily had some cheesecake and a candy bar before bed last night to satisfy a sweet tooth, because I count my macros/cals daily. I too use a Carbbackloading approach like EyeDentist, and count my macros under the Pwolves watch. I’ve dropped 20+ lbs in that time, and haven’t suffered really, simply because I’m able to eat what I want, just slightly smaller portions of it and more distributed through the week.


#17

Compliance is king. Stick to a non-stupid diet and you’ll get there. So basically find a non-stupid diet that you can live with the easiest and do it.


#18

Thanks everyone for your responses.

So basically what I’m hearing is to keep track of my macros fairly carefully and try to spread them out throughout 4-5 meals with a few snacks, keeping if fairly lean at the end of the day and inflate carbs before and after my lift?

Based of the proposed, my day would look like:
250lbs x 14 = 3,500 cal/day
250g P = 1,000 cal from protein
140g F = 1,260 cal from fat
310g C = 1,240 cal from carbs

Snack 1: 9am
35P/40C/15F

Meal 1: 11am
45P/50C/30F

Snack 2: 2pm
20P/20C/10F

Meal 2: Preworkout 4pm
30P/60C/15F

Post Workout Shake: 6pm
25P/25C/0F

Meal 3: Postworkout 6:30pm
45P/60C/25F

Meal 4: 8:30pm
50P/20C/25F

The protein intake seems about what I’m doing now, but the carbs and fat seem rather high?
Does this seem correct?


#19

Personal preference and results on how many carbs vs fats you take in once you hit minimums. IF you feel and look better with higher fats, go for that. I’d personally lower the fats a bit and up the carbs, but that’s just what I respond better to.

Distribute your macros however you want. There’s evidence/science to back carb frontloading, backloading, fasted workouts, intra WO carbs, fats before bed, carbs before bed, carb/fat cut offs, evenly distributed macros through the day, 6 meals a day, 3 meals a day, 1 feast a day. Just do whatever works and makes you feel comfortable and adds the least stress to your life while allowing high performance in the gym.


#20

Cut the accesory/isolation work in half and replace with these…