T Nation

Faining Muscle Vs. Losing Fat

Venting Time!My best friend called last as he was on his way home from the gym. So we’re talking and he tells me that he saw an acquaintance of ours that he had not seen in a while and explained that considering his gains recently he was pretty sure he was on the sauce.No big deal buddy’s choice whatever.These two have a common tie in that both of them have lost a lot of weight recently .Anyways my friend proceeded to tell me that I had no idea what it was like for them and what you go through being overweight. I disagreed and explained that due to some overzealous bulking in the past that I had an idea.I was 5’9 212 at about 20% bodyfat.I also added that since neither of us was obese that he had no idea what is was like to be a toothpick and that is its just as bad if not worse then being a little overweight. So he tells me that it was different because I wasnt heavy that long and I would have lost the weight by doing nothing! I guess he meant nothing like five months of cardio, dieting and meltdown training.That not what pissed me off though.First a little background info.

I always been a avid weight trainer and fitness enthusiast(sp) but I didnt really start getting serious till I was about 23 when I did a zone diet and was nice and rippped at a buck forty. He started traing seriously about six months ago with a qulified trainer(the guy is good)and lost about 30 pounds. We’re 29 now.Anyways the little cocksucker tells me that its much easier to get bigger and all I had to do was eat more!AAAARGGH!If I was Bruce Banner things would have been getting ugly very shortly.Hulk smash…Anyways I guess in way he had a point but he failed to mention there was also the money wasted on shitty supplements,the hours in the gym,the hours online reading T-mag,the trial and error etc etc. So Im just wondering what you peoples thoughts and feelings are on the subject. In the end I know I will be vindicated because my friend has about twenty pounds or so to lose still and then he’ll see what a long road ahead he has when he tries putting some lean mass back on.


There are really two answers to your question. Definitely, gaining LM is harder to DO, but being fat is harder to BE. I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum, and for me anyway, fat was definitely worse. Ultra lean gets you envied by many, even (stupidly enough) by people who think you’re anorexic. And, putting on LM may be hard, but it?s a fun experiment, an adventure in learning how your body works. On the other hand, anyone who?s ever had to diet down, even just 15lbs, knows how hard it can be. When there?s more to lose it does come off faster, at least at first, but you have to live with the fat until it?s gone. And let me tell you, obesity subjects you to ridicule, inability to find clothes that fit, and a whole lot of self-loathing. It may be different for men, since the societal expectations about appearance are rather different, but since I’ve never been one, I can’t really say.

For some perspective - I’m a big woman - 5’10", with a 6 1/2" wrist size at the right BF% and hands big enough to palm a basketball. I shot up to this size at the age of 12 from 5’3" in the space of about 4 months. I was growing so quickly that not only was I in almost constant pain, but no matter how much I ate I couldn’t put on any weight. I ended up at my final height, with my massive (for a woman, anyway) frame size, at 95 lbs. The average anorexic fashion model, with a much smaller frame than me, weighed more. Yes, some people (girls only) were envious of my ultra flat, concave between the hipbones stomach, but most people assumed that I had an eating disorder or was seriously ill. I wasn’t, just growing absurdly quickly. Once I stopped growing, I found it quite easy to fill out with a healthy amount of muscle. Then again, I have parents who are very health/nutrition conscious, which was a huge plus. And, I have a medical condition that causes me to produce way more Test. than the average girl, so that may explain why adding muscle came easily.

Years later, after a mountain biking blowout, a forced sedentary lifestyle while waiting for surgery and rehab, getting a full-time sit-on-my-ass job and marrying a non-exerciser, I started putting on some weight. As a newlywed, I didn?t want to ?abandon? my husband while I went to the gym, so I tried to lose it through diet alone. Not to go into self-absorbed whining detail, but I have PCOS, which causes fairly severe insulin resistance. So, because I was trying to lose weight by eating typical low-fat, high-carb diet food, even at 1200 cal/day, I was gaining weight fast enough to cause stretch marks. My high-carb ?diet? and progressively worsening health combined to blow me up to an alarming 270 lbs of blob-woman.

Luckily, I found a young, open-minded doctor who, rather than medicating me for life or telling me to get some self control, actually took the time to do tests and find out what was really wrong. After explaining how PCOS worked he told me to adopt an extremely low carb diet, and kicked my ass into the gym. It?s been just over a year now, and I?ve lost a ton of fat, which came off quickly. Lucky me, I was out of the gym so long I?ve been making newbie gains and packed on a fair bit of LM too!

So, the moral of this long, long story? Like I said, gaining LM is harder to DO, but being fat is harder to BE.

Polar Princess has it right in one regard; it is definitely worse to be obese than to be thin. Thin people don’t suffer from health problems like obese people. Thin men don’t suffer from high blood pressure and impotence. (And thin people get laid occasionally.) Thin people don’t get paid 10% less than obese people. The whole world revolves around thin people and reviles obese people.

As much as we despise the Subway guy, do you think he got married (or even laid?) while he weighed in at 400 lbs?

On the other hand, I have to disagree about the ease losing fat. It is extremely difficult to lose fat. Obese people do not even get decent support from the medical establishment because they only know the party line of “carbs good, protein bad”. Most family docs don’t even understand the basic biochemistry of insulin resistance, which is a huge factor in obesity, yet alone other hormonal influences.

To put on LBM, you mainly need good resistance training, extra protein and perseverance. To lose fat, you need proper knowledge, resistance training, aerobic training, a fine tuned diet, and perserverance in the face of ridicule and depression. It ain’t easy by any stretch of the imagination.

“Thin men don’t suffer from high blood pressure and impotence.”

Um, really?

I’m sure you meant that they suffer these at a lower rate than obese people.


I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear. My point was not that it’s easy to lose fat. Obviously it’s not. If it were, me and my fat ass would NOT be sitting at 26%BF after a year of concerted effort in both the gym and the kitchen.

My intention was to respond to the post, which asked whether it was easier to add muscle or to lose fat. I have a medical problem making me produce testosterone like a horny 16 year old boy, which should give me some sort of muscle building advantage over the average woman. However, in my personal experience, I still find it much harder to add muscle than to lose fat.

When I started this transformation odyssey, I lost 65lbs of fat in the first 4 months. I find it hard to imagine adding the same amount of lean mass in the same time frame even with the help of Mag-10 or other supplemental androgens. So, I conclude that, for me at least, it is easier to lose fat. Not easy, simply easier.

I think Yorik was referring to the difficulty of the fat/obese to lose weight in light of the general ignorance of the medical community as well as all the crap spouted online and in magazines. In other words, there’s too much bad advice out there.

Polar Princess remarked that the fat loss was easier for her because she got it right the first time: she lowered the carbs and hit the weights. I think we can agree that any large, sedentary individual who does this with gusto will lose weight, provided they have the knowledge and determination to stick with it.

There were times in my life when I was extremely thin. There were times when I was fairly fat. Now, I’m the thinnest I’ve been since age 12 yet weighing up there amongst the highest healthy weights I’ve ever been. I’ve gone from 165 lbs with 18% BF to 205 lbs and 30% +. I was even 145 lbs for a short period of time. Now I’m 183 lbs and around 7%-. It is hardest to be fat. No one will look at you twice. No one stares at you posistively. No one beleives what you have to say, as if fat makes you stupid. Most people don’t respect you. But, being extremely thin, without muscle, you get some of the same things from people. It’s worse though being fat. Now, being big (not too big yet) and lean, no one is disrespectful. More and more people stare positively. More and more people want my advice on this and that. More and more people are intimidated by me. Even this has its bad points though. Like being stalked by weird women at work, enough to cause me to go out of my way to avoid them. Or having decent people resent you or avoid you because they envy you. Or having people talk shit about you because, “No one changes that much without being on drugs.” All in all this makes me feel better for me. I’m always happy and optimistic. I’m busy with my training and I bairly notice when women are checking me out (good and bad thing). I’m full of energy and physical tasks are effortless. I’m never depressed and my bio-rythems are always perfectly on. My cognitive abilties are further enhanced by my confidence and health. I succeed in things that I previously could not (mainly social things). Life is better.

Obviously, this all hinges mainly on the body type of the person. My workout partner is trying to get bigger (fast as balls metabolism) and I am trying to get lean (turtle metabolism). He eats everything under the sun (very dedicated), and I friggin watch every little thing I throw down my throat. Neither one of us are getting anywhere fast. (possibly something fundamentally wrong)…what I am trying to say…is the grass is always greener on the other side.