T Nation

Calories and Body Composition

I just recently finished a cut and have been eating between 16 and 18 calories per pound of body weight. I am still doing some cardio everyday (reduced amount and intensity) and recently started practicing for MMA (1 hour a day, exhausting). I also weight train about 3 days a week, but I changed my workout to a circuit style full body split. Since I want to get into MMA and extra muscle could hinder my cardio, my main goal right now is to maintain all my muscle while still losing fat at a SLOW pace.

The thing is, my cut was between 10-12 calories per pound, however, I feel that I am not gaining any weight in the form of fat although I also feel as if I am gorging myself (which is awesome, but makes me feel guilty as hell). I have seen many threads stating that the GI of a carb does not have an effect on body composition and that what does have an effect is the total grams of carbs ingested.

Does this also apply to protein and fat?

If I eat at least 1 gram of protein per pound, and eat as many carbs and fats as I want while staying around maintenance will I still maintain all my muscle and body composition?

Does fat and carb intake really matter as long as protein requirements are met and total caloric expenditure and consumption are taken into account?

Is a calorie really a calorie?

<-- Avatar I was around 12%, I am sitting on 9% and eat mostly healthy foods (eggs whites, oatmeal, chicken, turkey, spinach, lowfat milk, bananas, brown rice, beans, almonds, olive oil, etc…), however, at least once a day I have a cheat “snack” per se. To put this into perspective, I just ate an ice cream and a microwave popcorn. Will this have an effect on body composition as long as I keep exercising and eat around maintenance?

Stats:
192 lb
8-9% body fat
6’1

Thanks, I appreciate the time you took to read this!

[quote]faus1991 wrote:
Thanks, I appreciate the time you took to read this![/quote]

General Comments:
Looks like a nice job on your cut…what did you weigh to start with? How long did you go at 10-12 calories per pound? I would be more concerned about the ‘low BF’ hindering the conditioning/cardio training than any potential muscle that may be added. It is difficult to say if changing your resistance work to full-body circuits will be adequate to maintain your existing LBM. Many people turn circuit training into an additional cardio session; make sure that doesn’t happen.

  • I do believe the GI rating/load matters; but not as much as the total daily starch/sugar load.
  • I’m not sure what “as many carbohydrates and fats as I want as long as I stay around maitenance” means…insufficient fats in your diet will cause a host of performance problems and make body comp. appear inconsistant. An athlete should ‘earn’ their carbohydrates.
    *Does fat and carb intake really matter as long as protein requirements are met and total caloric expenditure and consumption are taken into account? see answer above
  • A calorie is not always a calorie…IMO
  • If you do something everyday it is not a cheat, it’s part of your routine. My only concern would be the blood sugar spike from things like popcorn, etc., others may feel differently.
    (the issue with things like ice crean isn’t the cream, milk, eggs, or cane sugar; it’s the other fifteen lines of ingredients)

I get the idea you are pleased with your recent results, and you should be. The desire to maintain is understandable, but doesn’t work IMO. Everyday you are either better or worse than you were the day before. Even if your increase/decrease is split 3/4 days every week eventually you notice the decline, or improvement when the split is the +. Keep in mind that if you have done this once you can do it again, don’t be intimidated to try something new.

[quote]BlueCollarTr8n wrote:

[quote]faus1991 wrote:
Thanks, I appreciate the time you took to read this![/quote]

General Comments:
Looks like a nice job on your cut…what did you weigh to start with? How long did you go at 10-12 calories per pound? I would be more concerned about the ‘low BF’ hindering the conditioning/cardio training than any potential muscle that may be added. It is difficult to say if changing your resistance work to full-body circuits will be adequate to maintain your existing LBM. Many people turn circuit training into an additional cardio session; make sure that doesn’t happen.

  • I do believe the GI rating/load matters; but not as much as the total daily starch/sugar load.
  • I’m not sure what “as many carbohydrates and fats as I want as long as I stay around maitenance” means…insufficient fats in your diet will cause a host of performance problems and make body comp. appear inconsistant. An athlete should ‘earn’ their carbohydrates.
    *Does fat and carb intake really matter as long as protein requirements are met and total caloric expenditure and consumption are taken into account? see answer above
  • A calorie is not always a calorie…IMO
  • If you do something everyday it is not a cheat, it’s part of your routine. My only concern would be the blood sugar spike from things like popcorn, etc., others may feel differently.
    (the issue with things like ice crean isn’t the cream, milk, eggs, or cane sugar; it’s the other fifteen lines of ingredients)

I get the idea you are pleased with your recent results, and you should be. The desire to maintain is understandable, but doesn’t work IMO. Everyday you are either better or worse than you were the day before. Even if your increase/decrease is split 3/4 days every week eventually you notice the decline, or improvement when the split is the +. Keep in mind that if you have done this once you can do it again, don’t be intimidated to try something new.

[/quote]

I started out weighing around 206.
10-12 calories for max 3 weeks, the other 5 weeks were slightly higher calories, but still at a deficit with cardio and diet on check.
Wouldn’t a low body fat percentage help me out with my cardio?
As for my training, I go hard in parts I want to improve (upper chest, delts, lower abs, calves and legs), and just enough to get a pump on all other parts. My circuit is not like a cardio, and I never treat it as such.
Oh and by the way I don’t cheat, (maybe once every ten days at most). I just bought a pack of ice-pops for the first time in years, they’re only 60 calories each and I ate that with a low fat popcorn (230 calories) and I stayed slightly under maintenance (around 15-17x). I just stated that I cheated because everything that does not contribute to either greater muscle mass or fat loss is setting me back, therefore I consider it a “cheat”.

Should I continue to circuit while focusing hard on my weak points or should I stick to the split that got me where I am now?

Appreciate the response, BlueCollarTr8n, thanks!

[quote]faus1991 wrote:

[quote]BlueCollarTr8n wrote:

[quote]faus1991 wrote:
Thanks, I appreciate the time you took to read this![/quote]

General Comments:
Looks like a nice job on your cut…what did you weigh to start with? How long did you go at 10-12 calories per pound? I would be more concerned about the ‘low BF’ hindering the conditioning/cardio training than any potential muscle that may be added. It is difficult to say if changing your resistance work to full-body circuits will be adequate to maintain your existing LBM. Many people turn circuit training into an additional cardio session; make sure that doesn’t happen.

  • I do believe the GI rating/load matters; but not as much as the total daily starch/sugar load.
  • I’m not sure what “as many carbohydrates and fats as I want as long as I stay around maitenance” means…insufficient fats in your diet will cause a host of performance problems and make body comp. appear inconsistant. An athlete should ‘earn’ their carbohydrates.
    *Does fat and carb intake really matter as long as protein requirements are met and total caloric expenditure and consumption are taken into account? see answer above
  • A calorie is not always a calorie…IMO
  • If you do something everyday it is not a cheat, it’s part of your routine. My only concern would be the blood sugar spike from things like popcorn, etc., others may feel differently.
    (the issue with things like ice crean isn’t the cream, milk, eggs, or cane sugar; it’s the other fifteen lines of ingredients)

I get the idea you are pleased with your recent results, and you should be. The desire to maintain is understandable, but doesn’t work IMO. Everyday you are either better or worse than you were the day before. Even if your increase/decrease is split 3/4 days every week eventually you notice the decline, or improvement when the split is the +. Keep in mind that if you have done this once you can do it again, don’t be intimidated to try something new.

[/quote]

I started out weighing around 206.
10-12 calories for max 3 weeks, the other 5 weeks were slightly higher calories, but still at a deficit with cardio and diet on check.
Wouldn’t a low body fat percentage help me out with my cardio?
As for my training, I go hard in parts I want to improve (upper chest, delts, lower abs, calves and legs), and just enough to get a pump on all other parts. My circuit is not like a cardio, and I never treat it as such.
Oh and by the way I don’t cheat, (maybe once every ten days at most). I just bought a pack of ice-pops for the first time in years, they’re only 60 calories each and I ate that with a low fat popcorn (230 calories) and I stayed slightly under maintenance (around 15-17x). I just stated that I cheated because everything that does not contribute to either greater muscle mass or fat loss is setting me back, therefore I consider it a “cheat”.

Should I continue to circuit while focusing hard on my weak points or should I stick to the split that got me where I am now?

Appreciate the response, BlueCollarTr8n, thanks!
[/quote]

…help w/cardio? Yes; up to a point if you are properly fueled. IMO there will be a point of diminishing returns. Your basic genetics will be the biggest determining factor here.
…split or circuit? I beleive in staying with a program until progression stalls. I also believe the split will allow training at higher intensity levels which will encourage the body to maintain LBM. I’m going to omit the advice I would normally include about balanced total body training and injury avoidance.
…if you are in a calorie deficit any thing you eat contributes to fuel or muscle building stores. (this may not be absolute, but is the way to look at it IMO).
…what are your daily fat grams. I generally avoid anything that has been modified to ‘fat free’ or has ‘light’ on the label. Are these decisions based on daily macros or total daily calorie limits?