Can anyone clarify this for me please?

My story is this, I’ve lost about 64lbs in the last 8 months, but still weigh about 220lbs. this was done mostly through cardio and eating less rubbish.

I have now started doing weight training which i really enjoy. my query is this, is it possible to lose FAT (not just weight) yet at LEAST maintain lbm if not even increase my muscle?

I have spent countless hours on many websites and reading many magazines but I always seem to get contrasting opinions.

I have cut my carb intake down to about 40-50g per day.

so is it posible or do i just have to accept that to lose more fat I will also lose some muscle??

Any replies would be greatly appreciated because as I say, I just can’t find a definite answer anywhere.

Cheers in advance guys!

Keeping your carbs low means bumping up the protein intake. Shoot for about 1-1.5 grams per pound of body weight. Losing some muscle is will happen, but this should keep any loss to a minimum. What is your training/Diet/Cardo like now? If you are not already, concentrate on the major lifts(squat/DL/Bench/Dip/pullup/row) This will give you “more bang for your buck” in the gym, plus you are expending a lot more energy with large muscle group lifts. Try doing interval training or some type of High intensity activity first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Your blood glucose levels will be low, so fat will be your primary fuel source. Lastly, make sure to comsume some carbs post workout(immediately) to replenish glycogen store and preserve Muscle! Hope this helps a little!

Fat intake should also be increased as carbs are lowered. The bulk of your calories will be coming from fat. Make sure you readjust how much you’re eating as you progress. And don’t go to low that you stall out. Post work out meals are of course very important.

Welcome to T-Mag, big laddie, and major, serious congrats on your weight loss.

In answer to your question, yes, it is possible to drop BF and maintain (or build) LBM. However, it is rare. To do so your diet, cardio and weight training need to be precisely and perfectly dialed in. Most people trying to diet look at the scale or their rate of progress (or lack thereof) and make changes/decisions based on emotion, which results in less fat loss and more LBM loss.

My recommendation is that you start reading the archived articles and the Training & Nutrtion forum. Use the search engine (capable of searching the forum or the articles by changing the default in the drop-down window) for items of interest; i.e., nutrition, fat loss, Berardi (our resident guru! in that regard), etc.

Figuring out your body and what it’s going to take to achieve those goals is not going to come quickly, but it will be a heckuva lotta fun! (grin)

Since you just started weight training your body will try to adapt regardless of your diet, so I think you’ll gain muscle even while dieting. Just keep protein up. Use Hot-Rox is you want to speed things up and guarantee no muscle loss.

Just to add to what others have said, I’ll throw in a couple things. But first, congratulations on your tremendous progress!! Good for you for taking the initiative and striving to take better care of yourself!

Since it sounds like you’re new to the lifting game, then it very well may be easier for you to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. We call this “newbie gains”. This is why it is important for you to monitor you body FAT levels, not just your body weight. For illustration, you could very well lose three pounds of fat and gain two pounds of muscle, but that would only show a net difference of one pound on the scale when, in fact, you’ve made tremendous progress. And while losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time is very hard to do, it is not impossible especially for someone new to this… so take advantage of it while you can! :slight_smile:

I, too, believe you should go back and start reading T-mag from the beginning. However, let me offer one word of caution: implement any changes slowly and do not let yourself get overwhelmed with all the info. I think a lot of newbies are exposed to so much info in such a short amount of time that it gets overbearing and all they can do is focus on what they’re doing wrong; they get frustrated, then quit. So if you find that happening to you, go back to what you know works for you and then try to implement one new thing at a time. Best of luck!!

Damn it, I posted a really long response to this, and it still hasn’t gone up.

Luckily, I saved it.

Here it is again, in all its glory:

The answer is yes, there are things you can do to maintain LBM while dieting.

Good things to look into:

  1. Heavy, low volume lifting (i.e. 5x5). Keeps testosterone levels high and helps preserve muscle mass. (Ripped, Rugged and Dense by Joel Marion is a good place to start reading)

  2. Hard, brief intervals eat up calories without wasting your muscles. (Running Man by Christian Thibeadeau is a good place to start reading)

  3. Keeping fat and protein intake relatively high–as mentioned by the previous two posters. They nailed it, I’d just add that you want your fats on the “clean” side. This isn’t so much of a state as it is a ratio for the most part. (Fat Roundtable parts I & II are good places to start reading)

  4. Doing moderate levels of other cardio (i.e. walking, not hard running) can be useful to burn a few extra calories without getting too catabolic. (check out Urban Ranger for more info.)

5.Other kinds of GPP work can stand in somewhat for intervals or be in brutal combination with the above–kettlebells, clubbells, sledgehammer work, heavy bag work, certain kinds of bodyweight work, and so on. This is nice because it gives you variety while boosting the effectiveness of your program. These are especially effective in a gasp circuit! Circuit training can be quite effective, but it tends to get tossed out with all the stupid machines out there. If YOU design a conditioning circuit, it can be effective. Mike Mahler’s High Octane Cardio is a good place to start looking at some ways to do this, and I think that Don Alessi’s Meltdown Training (despite what he has to say biochemically about it boosting GH) is another example of GPP training.

  1. I would reccomend a general strategy of hitting a heavy GPP phase like Meltdown of HOC for three weeks, and then following it up with a heavy/hard (I’d say 80% + of your 1 RM) cycle of something like 5x5 or some other form of heavy lifting for three weeks(seems like everyone’s jumping on this bandwagon. Chad’s ABBH, OVT, Joel’s got another heavy/hard program). Be willing to adapt the program somewhat (cut back on total volume) if you find your energy waning due to low calorie consumption.

  2. Small, frequent meals work. I know that Berardi has come under a bit of fire as of late here, but you should at least give his dietary reccomendations a shot. (Start reading at The New Diet Manifesto–read Massive Eating part 1 and 2, solving the post workout puzzle, and… there’s a “Don’t Diet” link. Check that out.)

  3. Drinking a lot of water is awesome for everything having to do with fat loss. It kills hunger, escorts all the nasty by-products of fat-metabolism out of your body, and keeps your mouth happy, and you smelling like a rose.

Anyway, congrats on your fat loss so far, here’s to some more fat loss, with as little muscle-loss as possible. It’s probably okay if you overshoot a little bit, you can go on a maintainance diet… then turn around after a couple of weeks and put on a little extra muscle mass. According to Berardi, the leaner you are, the more muscle:fat you put on when you bulk. I’ve found this to be true. So if you overshoot a little, it’s okay.

If you’re having trouble finding the articles, you can use a google advanced search and type in the names with the domain “”. Works a little better than the t-mag search engine. Thanks TT!

Dan “long-winded” McVicker

Thanks very much for the replies guys, very grateful for every one.

I think the answer to my original question is still slightly ambigous, but at least a few of you have said it CAN be done. Thats just what I wanted to hear!

Dan, you recomend lifting heavy, 5x5.
Would i not perhaps benifit more from lifting 3x12 for more of a cardio workout too?

I do drink plenty water, but find it difficuilt to eat 6 meals a day.

One final question, the importance of carbs post workout? I try to avoid carbs from 1pm onwards if at all possible. I usualy finish my workout at 7-8pm wuold I not be better off avoiding carbs from that time? perhaps a protein low carb shake instead?

Cheers again guys!

I was going to reply to this until I got to McVicker’s response. Now it’s unncessary. Nice post Dan.

However, I’ll take exception to this statement made by someone else:

Try doing interval training or some type of High intensity activity first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Your blood glucose levels will be low, so fat will be your primary fuel source. [/quote]

Do not to HIIT in the morning on an empty stomach. You should have something in your stomach prior to HIIT. What you eat prior to intervals will not affect substrate utilization provided the intensity of the exercise is high enough. As well, the benefit of HIIT is not that fat is the primary fuel source, which it isn’t. Fat does not supply a significant amount of energy during HIIT. HIIT is actually more dependent on muscle glycogen, so if you’re carbs are ultra low, be careful with it. It’s also the fact that it dramatically increases the amount of calories burned after you’re done (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). So it’s in this post-HIIT period that you’re going to be burning lots of fat and calories. A morning HIIT session will give your system a jolt for the day, but make sure you at least get something in your system - maybe even something as simple as an MRP.