T Nation

Beginner Results - Losing Fat and Muscle


#1

This January I decided to get in shape. I’m 6’ and as of January I weighed 235lbs at approximately 30% body fat. I started some basic cardio and body weight exercises and by April I was down to 223lbs and 27.5%, not great but progress.

Beginning in April I met with a dietitian, signed up for myfitness pal, started tracking macros and calories and totally cleaned up my diet. I began eating at a deficit and also began weight training following Stronglifts 5x5. April 1st to today, 12 weeks, I have lost another 18lbs, average 1.5lbs a week, and currently weigh 205lbs.

My concern is the 18lbs I lost represents 12lbs of fat and 6lbs muscle. Also, my body fat % has only decreased from 27.5% to 24.5%. During this time I’ve been 100% committed to my diet, and haven’t missed a single workout.

I read posts where people drop double digit body fat in weeks, or somehow build muscle while losing fat. I’m busting my ass doing Stronglifts…weights are definitely getting heavy for me. Still eating super clean and at a deficit, but my body fat just doesn’t seem to budge quickly as I thought it would. I’m starting to feel defeated and have no idea how I’m ever going to get to 20% let alone lower which I’d like (15%).

What am I doing wrong, and how can I improve? I’m not giving up, but want to make sure I’m doing the best I possibly can to reach my goals. Any advice and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your time!


#2

Sounds to me like your on the right track. Since April is a very short time frame.

How are you coming up with the fat vs muscle lost figures?

What the mirror saying?


#3

So I’m not a dietitian, nor am I someone that is great at weight loss, but I’ll throw my two cents in. If you’re eating a deficit amount of calories, your body is probably not going to build anything. By definition, you are not taking in enough calories to maintain your current metabolic needs. Since muscle burns calories, your body is likely to shed some. You can tone and look better overall, but you’re still probably going to lose lbm. My recommendation would be to do the following:

  1. Buy Wendler’s 5 3 1 book.
  2. Read it for both the workout and the nutrition.
  3. Pick one of the routines and stick with it.

I’m not going to step all over SL 5x5, but having read both I’ll tell you Wendler’s program is much more thoughtful and sustainable.


#4

Thanks KD.

I measure my loses based on % change of body fat. Measuring body fat at home is not always accurate therefore I average the results from 3 different measurement types: 1 - digital scale, 2 - single site Accumeasure caliper, and 3 - 3 site Trimcal 4000 caliper.

My goal is measurement consistency so I take multiple measurements with the calipers, average those, then calculate a total average with the scale reading. Interestingly the scale and Trimcal are usually dead on with each other or no more than a 2% variance.

The mirror says I’ve made progress…30 pounds lighter looks a whole lot different. I guess my main concern is muscle loss. I don’t want to get skinny fat, and would like to maintain as much muscle mass as possible. 1.5lbs a week feels excruciatingly slow, especially when you read how so many people have exponentially better results. Maybe I need to cut a little slower…still lose a bit of fat while preserving the most muscle as possible?


#5

I appreciate the insight, and agree with your comments. From my brief experience I don’t know how I could ever possibly cut and gain muscle…so jealous of all those mesomorphs out there.

Definitely getting 5/3/1.


#6

Remember though that there will be weight lost through water and glycogen, especially if your lowering your carbs. You may not have lost any actual muscle mass.

Keep getting stronger in a variety of rep ranges, you could maybe switch routines but I think for now diet will be key.

Sounds to me like your doing great, slow and steady. Building muscle is a slow process so don’t expect to be seeing massive changes in that department, especially in a deficit.

Do you trust your dietition?


#7

Good points on water and glycogen.

I do trust my dietitian…think I got lucky. She put together a well rounded plan that does lean protein heavy, but with ample carbs and fat. On the carb front the big learning for me was the type of carb (simple vs complex) and timing to each which type.

I’ll keep plugging along. One day I hope to look like you! Looks like you invested lifetime of hard work.


#8

Thanks for the complement. I had the opposite challenge, i was a stick man struggling to gain weight!

I recently took part in the transformation competition on here with goal of getting really lean and learnt a lot about how the scale and being depleted can really confuse you. Weight fluctuates, muscle fullness fluctuates, confidence fluctuates making you see a different you in the mirror depending on your mood. Hence I know that it’s hard to see your own progress and the constant worry of having no muscle at the end of it all!

It would be worth checking that thread out, some good weight loss in there and a helpful bunch.

Best of luck.


#9

I think you should increase the amount of protein you are eating compared to carbs. I also had great results with making squats the basic exercise around which all other exercises are organized. I once did a 21 day squat challenge, doing to the gym every day, alternating heavy and light back squats, and fitting in other exercises where I could. I gained weight and was complimented on getting thinner. Nowadays I only go to the gym three days a week, but I do as many leg exercises as all other muscle groups combined and am losing a steady pound a week without losing strength.


#10

If eating very clean can move your calories up to maintenance or very small deficit (will bring up your metabolism and allow you to train harder) and get on a program off this site with more volume and metabolic work.

Either of these work great…


#11

I’m going to give this a shot. I keep adding weight to my lifts and end up very fatigued. A few more calories will probably help me power through.

Also going to reassess protein vs carbs as suggested and will check out the programs mentioned too.


#12

You’re where I was several months ago. I’m also 6’ and got down to 188 at about 20% bf (using the navy tape measure method). Then I started lifting and was a lot hungrier, ate more, and went back up to 200. Now I’m at 195 and 20% bf again. I’ve definitely put on some muscle, but I couldn’t continue losing weight when I started lifting, that was too much. I’m finally starting to lose again. I think the whole process just takes a long time. You might want to check out the fitness blogger physiqonomics.com. He has some good articles on the reality of the fitness journey.


#13

Just thought I’d post my results. Unfortunately I’m still stuck and my body fat % is frozen. With the exception of an amazing vacation both workouts and diet have been consistent.

Regarding diet, I’ve measured my maintenance level to be ~2,700 calories. I’m currently eating at a 20% deficit resulting in a ~2,100 calories per day. Macros = 40% protien (200g), 30% carbs, 30% fat. If I miss calories it’s by a small amount, usually under, however I do everything possible to get 100% of my protein in.

Other factors are in play such as low T, which I’m treating under Dr. supervision with clomid, and potentially some form of hypothyroidism. Regardless, I’m still hopeful I can get some positive results given enough time.

Progress:
image


#14

How is it already the 7th of august where you are?


#15

You’re befuddled because you’re more focused on superficial shit rather than your health.

You’ve been adjusting your lifestyle, and your body is doing the same. It takes a shit lifestyle and painstaking neglect to get into a 30% + bf range. Give your body some time will ya?

Focus on getting healthy and watch your entire perspective change.


#16

Ha. Typo…need to adjust for my vacation.


#17

I hear what you’re saying, but I think I’m befuddled because I am focused on my health. Specifically my desire to drop my body fat % to healthy levels, which it appears I may have faulty expectations.

As a beginner it seems to me that losing weight is a very easy process. Consume less calories than you expend. The arithmetic works, I’ve lost 18lbs, however the body fat drop seems excruciatingly slow.

Is 3 months a reasonable time frame to drop 3% body fat…basically 1% a month? Maybe I’m looking at this incorrect and should be encouraged by the progress.

Should I be concerned about losing muscle? 5lbs muscle loss over 3 months reasonable?

I’m giving my body time to adjust, and understand this is a long process, just not sure if I’m heading in the best direction possible.


#18

i would say forget all the % stuff. Did you lose muscle tissue? Water? Glycogen? All three? Two of the three?

Your baseing your progress off % and numbers that are in no way accurate.

You lost a good amount of weight in a short time, what was you expecting in such a short time frame?

Forget the numbers, keep body weight moving downwards whilst maintaining your strenght, keep eating well and moving lots. Seems you done okay to me.


#19

I don’t think you do hear what I’m saying.
I don’t doubt you’re doing it for health, but the ‘markers’ your focusing on will only contribute to your detriment… which is you trying to intellectualize something that need not.
Especially because you’re a beginner.
Just like a white belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu doesn’t have to concern himself with learning a flying arm bar, you don’t need to be be calculating your LBM every week.

The probable reason you’re getting shit results is because your workout and diet sucks balls.
And that’s mostly because you spend too much time contemplating calories and how much body fat you’ve lost this week… rather than moving, sweating, and enjoying your journey. The absolute quickest way to bum yourself out is to look at a piece of paper with a number on it that tells you you’re not good enough and or not doing well enough. Sound familiar?


#20

Crystal clear. Thanks for the perspective.