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Calories Burned vs Calories In


So I understand that when you lift weights, you are mainly burning muscle glycogen and liver glycogen and this needs to be replenished through carbs and protein for protein synthesis. Now on the other hand, when I go out and run for an hour, I'm probably burning 60 percent fats and 40 percent carbohydrates. (this is a rough estimate on an average day).

So if more than half of the calories I am burning is fat, then do I need to account for those calories in my diet? So for example if I burn 1,000 calories in total with 600 being fat, should I only eat 400 extra calories or the total 1,000 if I am trying to minimize fat gain and keep and or gain muscle. I hope this makes sense.


Nothing is that precise. The energy demands of the human body are hugely variable due to any number of factors. Short of planning and scheduling EVERYTHING you do, down to every single breath, you aren't going to be able to control anything that strictly. Your best bet is to get a decent idea of where your maintenance is on an average day and then work to create a weekly deficit that will have you losing fat/weight at an acceptable pace. Set protein at a high enough intake to maintain muscle mass and maximize satiety while still leaving enough room to eat more than just protein sources. 1.5g/lb is a good place to start. Comprise the rest of your allotted calories with carbs or fat, depending on however you can best maintain compliance.


This ^

Plus the fact that your metabolism changes too (slows down over time, speeds up over time).

Trial and error is the key until you get that "sweet point".


Have you found that there actually is a sweet point? Where you are gaining some muscle but getting leaner?


I'm willing to bet that will be highly specific to the individual.

Why not do as suggested and start with 1000kcal and then work your way down from there? by a 100kcal every few weeks.


Well yes and no. That's not the definition I meant, I meant sweet spot as in losing fat while retaining muscle (and this phase should last some time without being too restrictive). You can lose fat and gain a little muscle if you are new to lifting, but that's only because your body's "highly sensitive". After the first 30lbs or so of gains, you need to slightly over-eat to get muscle (and the opposite is true for fat loss). Don't try to do both at the same time.

This is the sweet spot:

Say 2000 cals per day has been keeping your bodyweight steady/at maintenance (you've monitored intake over a week or 2), you'd simply keep reducing calories until fat loss happens. If week 2 or 3 = not getting leaner, reduce calories by 250-500 cals. Repeat until fat loss happens.

You'd never just suddenly drop calories otherwise your metabolism will drastically slow. You find that sweet spot where just a base amount of exercise (e.g. 5x/week) is sufficient for drops in fat. The sweet spot always happens from a high calorie intake first (not a sudden drop from say 3000 cals to 1000 cals).

The sweet spot is where the bodies "alarm system" doesn't ring (putting a halt to fat loss), and you lose fat little by little each week without too much restrictiveness (e.g. starving 24/7 and exercising every day/twice a day).


Honestly, I was just interested to see what people think. I run alot and lift so I'm just having trouble understanding exactly what the body needs. I feel like if I undereat, I lose strength and dont look better and if I overeat a little bit I maintain strength and dont look much better. I dont know, I think I just burn too many calories and dont control my intake as well as I should to see the results I'd like. I guess I'm just bitching!


Well, if you have played with over and under eating and haven't had much luck (or aren't satisfied with the results) I would look at you macro ratio's next.


If your sole goal was to replenish glycogen (to say, be ready for your next workout), then you might need to eat more carbs if you burn 300 calories with intense activity vs. low intensity acitivy (jogging).

However, if your goal was to maintain weight, then you'd need to eat 300 calories, from basically any source.

If you have trouble with maintaining strength and recovery while losing fat, maybe you should run less.




As has been said, running often is a killer for building up. It's difficult to add appreciable amounts of muscle while running miles every week...even when over-eating (building muscle depends on more than just food intake - recovery is a big issue too).

You are probably either going to extreme with the dieting (cutting too much too quickly), or not doing it for long enough to see results other than "flatter muscles". If you were doing it like I outlined, you shouldn't be losing strength unless you're already close to being ripped. That says to me that you dropped calories by too much, and/or you were doing too much exercise (running) at the time.

Also, when bulking, it's important to be eating enough protein (e.g. 1.5g/lbs in bodyweight).

Consistency's another thing.

Post your lifting routine...


How much is "running a lot"? Are we talking something absolutely minimal like 20mpw, or are we talking 70-100+?

I've been bulking, and during the first 30 pounds I was running (40mpw, which isn't a lot for me). Honestly, having done it, I don't recommend it for a couple of reasons:

-You will have to eat an absolute shitload. At 155lbs, I was eating 5k calories/day or so consistently just to gain. Right now, I'm 187 and having to eat in that neighborhood still, and I'm not running at the moment. I suspect that the only reason I could even eat that much clean food at 155 was because I've been much heavier in the past, and my body has basically been begging for me to give it this fuel for years.

-Probably more important, be very careful with how much you run. I'm having a bit of achilles tendonitis right now, and I strongly suspect that it's because of the increased stress due to the gradual weight gain.

-I can't comment upon how it's impacted my actual lifting, since I haven't ever lifted without running. My squat is not where it should be, but a lot of that is simply because I've only been really training it balls hard for a couple of months.

As far as 'gaining muscle while getting leaner,' assuming that you're starting out as skinny as I was at 155, you just shouldn't worry about it. From 155-182 or so, I didn't put any inches on my waist and gained all that weight pretty quickly (ha, my students asked if I was juicing). Right now, I feel like I've put on a little bit of noticeable fat, but then again I also know that I'm probably overly sensitive to that sort of thing, and it doesn't bother me.

Lean out when you've built some muscle. Personally, I'm 5'10 and I don't think I'm going to stop gaining until I either hit a point where I'm uncomfortable with the fat I have on me or I hit 225 or so, which would be a ways down the road.


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Good article

I do often wonder why some people are obsessed with jogging vs. short high intensity interval training.

Moderate intensity, high volume cardio is one of the greatest ways of increasing stress/recovery demands with little return.


To speak for myself, I really enjoy jogging just as an activity in and of itself. I ran long distance (half marathon to marathon) seriously for a couple of years, but now I think of jogging (jogging being anything over 7min/mile pace) as just an enjoyable activity.

I agree that the article posted is a good one, but I also think that runners get a really bad rap on here. I would honestly put any elite marathoner up against any elite lifter as far as work ethic, drive, intensity, and pain tolerance are concerned. I think that the real problem is that "marathoner" is used as a catch-all term, when really the divide between someone running a sub-2:50 to 3hr marathon and everyone else is like the difference between a bro who only does arm work in the gym and a truly competitive powerlifter.

I did not have very big muscles as a marathon runner, but I certainly wasn't "skinny fat" either, and I don't know any serious distance runners who are skinny fat themselves. If you're running 14 miles a day or more, then your body just isn't going to keep the fat on--but at the same time, it won't keep any muscle on that it doesn't need either. The human body is an amazing thing, really.

However, I think that for me, my big shift in thinking over the past few weeks is that I needed to begin thinking of jogging as something that isn't just a fun activity, but as something that's decidedly inconsistent with my goals--even running a relatively small amount (40 miles a week).

In a way, I am beginning to think of running as akin to the candy bar for someone who is starting lifting with a sh***y diet. That person can eat candy bars and other crap, but it's likely going to interfere with his or her goals. Same with me for running. I could keep doing it, but I don't think that I can get to the point of lifting heavy weights while still running.


While 40 miles a week is more than I would ever consider running, I wouldn't draw the conclusion out-of-hand that jogging is antithetical to your goals. Note that the Chinese National Weightlifting team, among the world's best, includes a fair amount of jogging as general conditioning work. They are also squatting daily at high intensities for tons of volume, and the roadwork helps with recovery and maintenance of the conditioning base. The key is, you have to be well adapted to the running, and then do it in a way that isn't taxing. If you're used to logging 40 miles a week, 20-25 a week at a casual pace is not going to be catabolic for you.

If you consider squatting more than once a week to be pushing your recovery envelope, then you are probably not conditioned enough to benefit directly from jogging. If you are conditioned for it, and are squatting frequently for a ton of volume, it can help your recovery, help you keep and extend a wide conditioning base, and help you relax and improve mood for the rest of the day. This final point is often overlooked for serious strength athletes. A high volume of heavy work has to be met with aggressive restoration. And restoration for the conditioned strength athlete is not sitting around watching tv. It's doing low-intensity physical activity with no neural drain. Like jogging if you are conditioned for it.

If you're a superheavy then the pounding on the joints is probably not worth it. If you're lighter, then it's not much of a concern.

I'd stay away from HIIT but that's just me. All the neural drain of a strength session without stimulating much strength or anabolism. Why not just do more strength work if that's your game?


The3Commandments -

True, they do get a bad rap on here, I think it's just because of the completely different goals. Most bodybuilders couldn't imagine sacrificing muscle mass for a sport. It's kind of like the same sort of bad rap bodybuilders have in many powerlifting circles: powerlifters can't imagine sacrificing strength so that you can wear fake tan, oil and skimpy thongs on stage lol

Ramo -

Only problem with looking at the elite is the fact you're not factoring in genetics and maybe drugs. Not to take away from their hard work, but these guys are the best of the best genetically speaking (not to mention the years of conditioning). Most people just need to stick to the basics rather than experiment with the "exceptions". Not saying don't do what you enjoy, but don't waste your time worrying about how to "serve 2 masters". If it's not working out, do what others in the sport do.


Sorry if this constitutes a digression from the OP, but I do think this is an interesting topic.

See, I think there's a lot more to it than that. The thing is, tons of athletes in all varieties of sport sacrifice muscle mass for their performance. A good example that has been discussed recently around NFL circles is Felix Jones, and one could imagine a running back needing to stay leaner than they might be able to become. That's just one example, but you can see that sort of thing all the time in professional athletes. Randy Moss won't be looking to get jacked pecs anytime soon, haha.

I remember thinking about this point a bit when I first started reading this website, and here's what my read on it is: serious marathon running and serious bodybuilding are considered very odd hobbies because they require the sort of 24/7 dedication that makes them reserved only for people who are regarded by most others as off in some way, either social, personal, whatever. They're both even weirder to people outside the sport because they're both individual--i.e., it's not as if you have a team you're working with--it's all about you and maximizing your own performance. That's weird to a lot of people because they identify sports with socializing. The only real acceptable individual sport is golf, and you usually encounter golf as a social sport.

Despite the fact that both of these sports are considered to be pretty odd, marathoning has become far more mainstream and well-regarded in popular culture than bodybuilding. One could speculate as to whether this is because of bodybuildings connection with AAS and such, but what it really comes down to is that marathoning is an "event" that people can do and feel good about having completed, while competing in bodybuilding is something that can't really be done casually.

I think that it's complicated further by the fact that the benefits of running have been put forward in mass media to a much greater extent, along with the fact that "progressive overload" and strain is not something that's necessary to gain most of these benefits. Running has become a "yuppie" "sport" for the casual upper-middle class athlete. Bodybuilding is still something that would be met with a "huh?" by someone who says they aspire to compete in it.


To compare marathon running, which is a performance-based sporting endeavor, with bodybuilding, which is a pageant, doesn't really work. Attending a bodybuilding pageant would make most people pretty uncomfortable. Shaved and oiled nearly nude grown men prancing around a stage to cheers...if you take a step back it is obvious how bizarre the spectacle is. Seeing men in such an effeminate position is uncomfortable for a lot of people...the way many straight people would be uncomfortable at a gay bar or a drag show.

On the other hand, any kind of respectable performance in one of these pageants takes a lot of natural ability, a lot of discipline over an extended period of time, and years of hard work. Pretty much any schlub, barring serious obesity or other health issues, can train for and complete a marathon in a few months' time, then go back to being a schlub.

As far as just building the body without any competitve bodybuilding aspirations, I'd say there are at least an equal number of people involved in that pursuit as there are in endurance sports. Or at least it's close.

And I will add that for a competitive bodybuilder, distance running probably doesn't do much that can't be accomplished with less intrusive forms of cardio, like a treadmill or elliptical or whatever. Schwarzenegger used to jog a good bit, though, didn't he?


I hate running and have never followed it as a sport nor competed in it. But I know that the average schlub would need to train way way more than a FEW months to be able to complete a full marathon. I mean come on, give the runners some credit.