T Nation

Fat Loss / Muscle Gain

Its sad. Im 6’5", and weigh in at 199 with around 20% body fat (the absolute joy of having an overweight mom and a non-muscular dad). I have been reading all of these articles about gaining mass, losing fat, blah, blah, blah. Hell, I even went to a nutritionist at Kaiser Permanente, she told me to check out T-mag (mad props). Now here is the question–> I have read things that state that the body is more efficient at gaining muscle when body fat % is lower (around 6%ish) and is more efficient at losing fat at higher BFPs (my current situation). I desperately want to drop the BFP down to around 8% while putting on lots of lean mass. Would the place to start be in cutting BFP or building muscle? The myostat sounds fun, too. But also, I dont know about eating 5000 calories a day if Im trying to cut fat. Talk to me boys.

Hi Tim,

My understanding is that you should try to lose fat and then build muscles. I heard that it's very difficult to do both at the same time. And where did you get the 5000 calories/day? (I'm guessing John Berardi's formula, but I may be wrong.) :)

Good luck!

good on you for coming to t-mag for advice. this site and these guys KNOW what they’re talking about!!
being an avid t-mag reader/biotest customer, my two cents is this:
yes, i agree that those with higher BF%'s are better off pursuing a Fat Loss regimen first and foremost. Then, after your BF% levels are down to something more reasonable (considering your current state, i’d guess you should strive to get down to about 10-12% BF, which means you have to lose about 8% of BF, or 15 lbs of fat!). Trust me. After you’ve achieved this lower BF% you’ll notice you’re actually looking more muscular! Then you can strive on gaining more lean body mass without the extra blubber covering your muscularity. It’s my opinion that muscle covered in blubber is almost as gross as having no muscle at all, ya know? So lose the fat first. And a comforting thought: those with higher BF%'s generally have more LBM to begin with, when compared to their skinny counterparts! Cool huh?
Now, look up the following nutritional protocols for fat loss, and follow ONE of them:

  • JB’s Dont-Diet Diet (good long-term diet)
  • T-Dawg Diet (good short-to-medium term diet)
  • Fat Fast (great short-term diet if you’re in a hurry, or else dont do this one)

Then, select ONE of my 3 favorite Fat Loss routines from T-Mag:

  • Meltdown Training Phase 1 (then 2)
  • EDT
  • JB’s ‘The Winning Formula Part 2’

That’s all she wrote! You should be good to go, my friend. Good luck.


bro don’t blame your dat or your mom… unless you are like below 18 or somethin… if that is the case then you will be 18 soon I reckon… anywho blame yourself, you are a man, you are responsible for your own actions… sure perhaps your parent’s are the best rolemodels but hell they gave you a roof over your head, not to mention life. I found that by blaming myself I can empower myself to change it… saying damn genes made me overweight… well what are ya gonna do change your genes? change your parents? nah but saying damn weak will power made me over weight… then you can do something about it. good luck

Best to lose fat THEN you build. Anywhoos - welcome to the forum and here’s where you should be looking FIRST: the FAQ section. The answer for alot of what you are asking is right there. Oh and then read Chris Shugart’s “Heirarchy of Needs”.

We need to know a little more about your situation. In particular, are you working out? If so, how long have you been doing so?

Personally, it sounds to me like you’re (a) a severe ectomorph and (b) haven’t started exercising yet. (Or else haven’t started doing it right.) 6’5" and 199 at 20%BF means you’ve got all of 160 lbs. of Lean Body Mass at 6’5" tall - and I have a hard time believing that that’s the case for someone who’s been hitting the iron for any length of time. (Of course, it would help to know how old you are…)

So my advice is going to be a little different from what’s been given above. I think that you should, first and foremost, get yourself into a gym regularly, hit the weights hard for at least six months, and then start worrying about LOSING weight.

In the meantime, concentrate on eating the foods that appear in the “Foods That Make You Look Good Naked” article so as to get yourself into the habit of making the right food choices. In addition to having bad genes (and I totally agree with what Freebie said above), more than likely you’re not eating as well as you should be.

Finally, changing your body takes time. Don’t think that you can suddenly drop 12% BF and gain LBM at the same time. Consistency, planning and periodic changes in workout and diet win this race. Good luck.

Chardawg’s advice is very good. You don’t need to go on an all out cutting cycle yet. You first need to get used to lifting and eating like a bodybuilder.

You need to use compound movements as the foundation of your workouts. Squats, Deads, Power Cleans, bench press, overhead press, rows, chins and lots of ab work (I like a combination of traditional movements and the more obscure stuff that Coach Davies wrote about in the latest issues).

As for diet, get used to eating good foods and logging calories and macronutrients.

You've come to the right place for help. Now go to the gym, lift, eat, sleep and repeat indefinately for maximal success. Good Luck!

Tim, try this.

Start working out. Keep with your current diet. If you have not worked out before, then go two or three weeks with just weights. If you have been working out then skip it and go to a combo of weights and cardio. I recommend not doing both on the same day. Go to a six day routine. It is like the Body for Life way. Lift light weight with higher reps. This is in an effort to lose some of that fat. You should be maintaing a relatively low calorie diet. Eat five times daily. But small portions. No more than 2500 cals.,maybe even lower. You will need protien, around 150-200 grams a day. Low fat and moderate carbs. Try to make your fat from flax or olive oil.
I would drop down to about 185, and when you get there that is when I would work on bulking up. You will build lean mass while losing weight, and you will have a better foundation to build on. When you go to bulk up, double your cals to 4000-5000 daily. Eat and eat till it hurts, don’t throw up though, defeats the purpose. Cut out all the cardio. Increase all your intakes on protien, carbs,fats. Lift heavy weights. Don’t spend all day in the gym either. an hour is sufficient.Concentrate on one or two body parts a day. Do this for 8-12 weeks, and then start back with your cutting phase. Do this till satisfied.