T Nation

Burn Fat or Build Muscle First?

Hi guys,

I’ve been reading for days now and the more I read, the more I get confused.

This summer I’ve been bulking a little too much. A body fat test showed a whopping 18% BF. Now I want to start losing some of that blubber to get to a decent 10-12%. Lower will be too hard since it’s not my bodytype to be extremely lean.

Lots of articles talk about staying away from cardio since “it will burn hard earned muscle”. But is this true for ppl who are already very lean? My body has plenty of fat to get energy from.

Info about myself:
30y old, 1m83 (6f), 105kg (231,5lbs), training for about 8 years now. I do 4 weight training workout per week and I always keep high intensity, be it by using heavy weights or short rests between sets.

Diet (working day):
7h: 100gr of “brown rice oatmeal” with low fat milk + protein shake
9h30: 150gr of chicken breast + 50gr of cashew nuts
12: tuna sandwich (or salmon)
14u30: 150gr of chicking breast + 50gr of cashew nuts
16: preworkout supp + BCAA
16h30: workout
17u45: BCAA just after workout + dextrose
18: post workout protein shake
19h15: 200gr of lean meat + vegetables
21h30: some nuts or oil if i get cravings
22h30: protein shake before bed

As you see I don’t eat any carbs after 12h and get my fats from the nuts and oil.

Question:

If I do 30min of medium intensity cardio after my workouts (4 times a week) and 1h of cardio on 2 other days (so 1 day is complete rest), do I have to worry about losing muscle mass?

Thanks!

Ewwww, how could you allow that to happen to you?
eww eww eww.

I’ll give a special sermon in my church, in your name and take a collection for your recovery.

May God have mercy on your morbidly obese soul.

[quote]Dahollow wrote:
A body fat test showed a whopping 18% BF.[/quote]

First I would buy a BF-meter from a market and measure your bodyfat%. Then I would keep doing those high intensity workouts and occasionally, maybe once a week, lift max weights to see if any strength is lost during the week. Then I would measure my BF once a week to see if any fat is lost during week training.

Your diet to my eyes looks completely normal. That is why you have to ask yourself if that is a real fat burning diet??? How many calories you eat during the day? Why are you drinking milk if you want to burn fat?
Has this worked before?

And you seem to do a lot of cardio during the day. Do you have a slow metabolism from birth?
Though 20% is a plenty of fat.
If you eat enough protein muscle is never lost.

The actual body fat percentage means nothing Its how you look that matters. I used to think I was fat…at 150 lbs :S

Anyways, put up a pic of yourself so we can see.

[quote]forbes wrote:
The actual body fat percentage means nothing Its how you look that matters. I used to think I was fat…at 150 lbs :S

Anyways, put up a pic of yourself so we can see.[/quote]

I was gonna say the exact same thing. I recently bulked, and have had BIA measurements lately saying that im anywhere from 18-28%. The thing is, I dont look like it at all, and im just at my limit to where I think I would start looking too fat. The fact of the matter is you may have to be “fat” for a while in order to build any appreciable amounts of muscle.

BUT… It depends on teh person. At 230+ and around 18% if you hold muscle and weight very easily, then I would go ahead and do a more inense “cut” for a shorter period of time and then get back to training hard and a slow bulk.

It all depends on YOU.

…pictures.

I think my question was not very clear:

Lots of articles make it seem like you start losing muscles as soon as you do cardio. But someone with a BF of 18%, should he be worried about losing muscle with cardio if his protein intake is sufficient?

Most of my blubber is located around the hips (yeah yeah lovehandles).

I don’t think you should be worried about losing muscle as your protein intake is pretty high and you are doing intense weight training 4 time per week.

I would suggest after your weight training workouts do an interval training session on a treadmill for 20-25min. Its quicker and more benificial than steady state boring cardio.

Start of with a 3.5min walk at around 3.5mph (So comfortable walk) and then running or walking at a higher intensity for 1.30mins depending on how fit you are at running. Obviously someone who has been doing this for a while would be able to progress there interval to shorter time periods and high intensity to sprinting for 40sec with walking intervals of 2 mins. I think you will notice a massive drop in fat weight from your hips and waist in no time. You could also do this on your rest days but ensure you still take in plenty of protein.

Maybe do a kettlebell circuit and repeat 3 times, this will help get rid of stubborn fat.

I lost 7kg of fat in 3 and a half months doing this and I weight train 4/5 day per week, the best aspect is that I lost no muscle weight at all but lost over 5% body fat too.

Hope I helped. :slight_smile:

[quote]ollietoflight wrote:
more benificial than steady state boring cardio.

[/quote]

ORLY?

OP, You can do both at once if you’d like. Here’s what you do. First, clean the shit out of your diet. Eat 1.5-2x lbm in grams of protein, 2-3x lbm in grams of unrefined carbs, and .5-.75x lbm in healthy fats. If you have an inhuman metabolism or your weight starts dropping too quickly, then push these numbers to the upper ends of the spectrum or slightly above until things level off.

Unrefined carbs means if you couldn’t go pick it or dig it up in the condition that it’s in when you buy it, don’t eat it. Whole wheat pasta is not an unrefined carb, and neither is pizza. Brown rice, various potatoes, oats, grits, quinoa, starchy vegetables like squash, beans, etc are all good (and cheap) carb sources. You would be surprised by the number of people who swear up and down that they don’t tolerate ANY carbs, when in fact, they eat nothing but over processed shit and blame them getting fat on the fact that the 5,000 calorie meal they ate at the Olive Garden had carbs in it.

Now, plan to structure your meals so that you are eating more carbs (fuel) on workout days than you are on off days. 1x lbm in carbs is a good amount for an off day, and I prefer to eat them during the first half of the day. Since you are eating fewer carbs, up your protein and fat intakes slightly, which isn’t difficult to do if the last 3 meals on your off days are meat+veggies+healthy fats.

Do 30 minutes of moderate steady state cardio every day. When you do it doesn’t matter very much, just make sure you do it. Lift heavy and work on getting stronger during your workouts. This should not change, regardless of your diet.

This is a simple and effective strategy for those who have become uncomfortable with their current levels of bodyfat but don’t really want to go on a full blown diet and want to continue to make progress in the gym while losing fat. This approach will not be the quickest way to becoming a land monster like PX or Waylander.

[quote]Dahollow wrote:
I think my question was not very clear:

Lots of articles make it seem like you start losing muscles as soon as you do cardio. But someone with a BF of 18%, should he be worried about losing muscle with cardio if his protein intake is sufficient?

Most of my blubber is located around the hips (yeah yeah lovehandles). [/quote]

Contest prep is an excellent example. I started prep for my last contest at over 18% bf (measured by air displacement method). I took it down to around 7% through diet and cardio without loosing any muscle (I even gained a few pounds at the same time, again, measured using bi-weekly bodpod sessions). My experience is anecdotal, but cardio does not absolutely equal muscle loss. The correct diet, the correct type of cardio, and the correct timing of cardio, together with ongoing weight training, can make all the difference.

Back to your point. If your goal is to be bigger, then don’t worry about your estimated 18% bf. If you goal is to have abs, then cardio will help, together with diet, and you needn’t sacrifice muscle to do it.

There are lots of examples on these boards of proper contest conditioning that will allow you to loose BF and keep muscle at the same time.