T Nation

Finish What You Started or Adapt?


I've been dieting since I found this site. I started, learned how to weigh my food and did it for a couple months, got off it and started eating closer to maintenance not weighing anything and just eating clean when I was hungry. Now, I am a carb cycling diet 2000/2200/2400 calories depending on the day. I chart my fiber and everything, just got some Surge, and eat really clean. I really have learned a lot about nutrition.

I'm down about 4% body fat, my abs are starting to poke through, but I'm still not lean. I was out of shape before from eating crap and drinking too much, and my primary motivation was to lose fat and get back in shape. I've been going to the gym for a couple months now, doing total body workouts and some jump rope intervals and I am in better shape and leaner. My goals are starting to evolve and now I want to start adding more weight to the bar and putting on some more muscle. I still want to finish what I started to do, which was to get down to an athletic level of body fat and go from there, but it is killing me that I'm pretty much lifting not too lose muscle instead of lifting to put it on.

Would it be unreasonable to assume, that now my diet is cleaned up and I am training regularly, that I can manage a slight calorie surplus and still lose some fat? I'm not going to go into a huge bulking phase, but I'd like to eat at a level conducive to strength gains and perhaps some slow lbm gains. I'm thinking keep the carb cycling, and go for about a 400-500 calorie surplus and just cut back on the carbs on rest days.

Should I just stick with my current plan for the next month, push my intervals a little harder and maybe throw some EDT sessions into my total body training to just get where my initial goal was to be. This means going from about 160-155. Originally, I was thinking 150 but I think if I see my self at 155 I'll pretty much say that is good enough. My arms are already looking pretty small and my legs could use the extra calories, but I'm seeing muscles on my back I don't know the names of.

I'm pretty much wondering what you would do. Finish what you started or adapt to the changing motivations? Can I expect improved body composition from a slight calorie surplus with adequate training? Would eating closer to a maintenance level be a better idea? Should I just shut up, finish the task at hand and then move on? This turned into a pretty long post, so if you read it thanks, and please give me your opinion.


I say stick it out. I mean, you know you're skinny, you know you'll need to start eating more, but you also need to prove to yourself that you can achieve this goal.


I think 4% might be a typo since you would be at your essential levels and had no visible bodyfat whatsoever.

Back to topic, it is absolutely possible to lose fat while gaining muscle mass at a moderate pace.

Problem is that gaining lean mass is a very slow process, even under optimal (natural) conditions, so prolonging it even further or slowing it down by restricting your caloric intake may not be a wise choice in the long run.

The truth is, unless you're extremely weak-minded and lack any form of self-discipline, losing fat is very easy.

I have little respect for people that chose 'dieting down' as their 'goal'. It's easy, fast and takes very little effort, compared to the other things your body is capable of if pushed hard enough.

Chose your goal (may it be a performance or aesthetics or whatever) and chose the fastest, most efficient way to achieve it.

In your case, unless you want to look like one of those starving kids from Ethiopia, it would be gaining lean mass.

I don't know where why or when this 'bulking = massive gain of bodyfat' assumption was started.

I know that losing bodyfat is so easy that most experienced people don't care about it and want to gain as much mass as fast as possible since they are going to diet it off in a few weeks afterwards anyway, but if you don't want to you don't really have to get 'fat', at least not at your level.


You've set your goal, now acheive it. Lose the last ten pounds in the fastest way possible. It will probably take you 8-10 weeks, if you bust ass.

You may not even want it anymore, but you will when you acheive it. Besides, acheiving a long-sought goal has more powerful repercussions than just losing 10 lbs of fat. It means you set a goal and acheived it, even when things got tough and you got distracted. Proving that you can acheive is worth more than 10 weeks of growth, because it sets you up for a pattern of success.

That pattern of success is invaluable.


4% bf is a typo right?

id say keep going!


I'm going to keep going. I'm down 4% from when I started, and really just got back on a solid diet plan about 2 weeks ago. I'm not at 4%, I'm just down from about 19.5% to about 15% according to Tanita, and I might even be a little lower. Its a good progress monitor, regardless of the accuracy.

I was just letting a bunch of people whose goals and opinions are different than mine, get to me.

Thanks for setting me straight.

...and I guess I get to look forward to buying new pants.


When I tried to loose body fat before I got into body building, I at least would try to burn 500 calories a day, didn't really pay attention to my diet at that time [ I was ignorant ] lost about 10 pounds of fat in about two months 500 x 7 days a week = 3500 calories; 1 lb of body fat [ Assuming your diet is healthy ].

I also did a fairly low carb approach eating clean and what not. I'd try cutting your bf down to a level you feel comfortable at, then bulk at a moderate pace. Try to keep in some cardio to break even.


Wow man, where'd you dig this up from. I'm about 180 lbs now and I think in that picture I was about to break 160 going down.

Those pants still fit, simply because my ass legs and midsection have grown a bit and I'm a little fatter.

I'm still not happy with my numbers, but I'm getting stronger.

I still want to cut down, but I think I want to get to about 160 lbs lbm first. I'll still be a pretty small guy, but at 5'7" I don't think I'll be doing that bad.

Thanks for the bump. Seeing the progress is a nice little motivator.