T Nation

High Body Fat - Bulk Anyway?

I have been lurking around here for a few weeks, and I am a little bit afraid to post this, that you will just give me bad advice because you think I am lying about my measurements, etc. due to the troll known as friedrice. The thing is, my situation is similar to his.

But the difference is that there is no psychological problem with me, and that I actually am fat, by which I mean, my body fat percentage is actually high, rather than it just being me worrying about an extra pound or two of fat.

To condense the explanation but still clearly describe my situation, I will say this:
I am 16 years old, 5’7’’, about 175 lbs, was anorexic for about a year and a half, lost a lot of weight, am still fat (around 27% body fat, apparently), have little muscle, and want to make some kind of notable progress soon but am afraid that I am stuck somehow.

Here is my long explanation, which may be necessary to read to understand:

About two years ago I was very very fat, in fact I have been fat all of my life, but my fattest was probably the end of being 14 and beginning of 15 years old. I would say I weighed at least 220 lbs around then. About a year and half ago, I started to become basically anorexic.

I am not sure if it really is anorexia, because there was nothing psychologically wrong with me. I had no “fat phobia,” and did not want to become skin and bones, I just wanted to stop being so fat, and I was one of those ignorant people who thinks “Well, if I eat less, I will lose fat right? And the less I eat, the faster I will lose it!” and knew nothing about the body going into starvation mode or that starving myself would cause muscle loss, etc.

It did work, it worked well in fact. I lost a lot of weight, which was my goal, but I should have had clearer goals. Here is how my anorexia went:

Around the summer of 2005 I started eating about half of what I normally ate (in calories). I am not actually sure, because I made no effort to eat healthier foods, I just ate less. So eating half of the calories I ate before was probably not so bad, because my whole life I was a pig and had a terrible diet.

But after about a month of that, I went lower, and lower, and about around September of that year I was probably eating around 1000 calories per day, and around the end of September through to the end of October I ate literally no more than what I thought I needed to survive.

I ate the same thing daily so it is pretty easy for me to calculate my caloric intake: somewhere between 250-400 calories per day. My daily diet during this time literally looked like this:

Breakfast: 1 piece of beef jerky (I always have loved beef jerky)
Lunch: A slice of cheese
Dinner: 1 bite of whatever my family ate the night before (leftovers were always available, if not, I would just find something like a piece of bread and take 1 bite of that)

I ate a bit more during November, around 500-700 calories per day I think. I ate a bit more around December (plus a bunch of large meals, you know, family gatherings during the holidays.) Then it was back down to 500-700.

Around March of this year I started going to the gym, thinking it could only help me lose weight faster (I was surprised at this point that I still had fat left, since I ate so little for so long. I am not surprised now, knowing what I know.)

But recently I have found that apparently, blasting my muscle at the gym, then giving my body so few calories to rebuild with, only whittled my muscle away at a faster rate. This is not a good thing. Around May I started eating normally, well, what I considered normal then. I would say it was 1200 calories per day at the most. During the summer I ate a bit more, then less after summer.

This leads to now. Or, recently anyway. Around the middle of October this year, I was frustrated that I had not lost really any fat for a few months, nor had I EVER had any muscle gains despite working out at the gym, and I started reading places like this on the internet about fitness.

So, I upped my calories gradually to about 1800 near the end of October to keep cutting, but then I decided cutting may not be the best thing to do since I had so little muscle and I knew my metabolism was messed up from eating so little for so long.

So I started to bulk. This started the last week of October. I ate around maintenance level for about a week and went much heavier on my lifting (I had lately been going easy on myself, from feeling exhausted I guess).

Even just eating at maintenance level, I was able to go up in weight for some exercises after only a week; newbie gains I suppose. The next week I was up to about 2900-3000 calories per day, and the next week about 3100-3500 calories per day, until the end of my bulk. I stopped bulking on Thanksgiving (or, I guess, after Thanksgiving…since I ate like a beast on Thanksgiving anyway.)

I ate slightly under maintenance level for about three days after, then down to about 2000 calories for a few days, and now I am eating about 1800 calories per day (my limit, to keep from making the same mistake again).

You are probably wondering, why even cut? You were anorexic for so long, and need some muscle. Well, yes, both of those things are true. It is also true, as you might guess, that much of what I lost while anorexic was not actually fat, and I had a LOT of fat to lose.

Now, my body fat % is…well, according to http://www.he.net/~zone/prothd2.html I still have 27% body fat. I know that the site should probably not be trusted too much compared to a mirror, but when I look in the mirror, I look pretty flabby as well.

When I look in the mirror I do not look fat in the same way I used to. I look skinny fat, but to an extreme level. The skinny parts of me are quite skinny, and the fat parts are quite fat. I can just grab a whole handful of fat on my thigh or gut, but around my shoulders for example, there is nothing.

So because of being skinny fat, there is more reason to believe that the body fat % measurement is incorrect. Also, the fat is not really “surrounding” me as it normally does a fat person, it is more like it is hanging off of me.

I have no moobs anymore, like I did, my chest looks pretty lean, but my gut has this blob of fat just hanging off of it, and despite it I also have some loose skin there. And I can just grab a handful of fat on my thigh and pull it up, like I am moving my whole leg or something. It is truly weird.

But, now you are maybe thinking the opposite. You are thinking, why even consider bulking, 25% is a bit too much. I agree completely, being that fat sucks. But I am wanting to make real progress as soon as possible. I feel like if I try to cut down to say 15% before bulking, it would take a long time because I went so long without eating, so maybe even after a month of bulking, my metabolism will just quickly adapt to 1800 calories.

But I am also thinking if I continue bulking, then I may not gain muscle as efficiently as I would normally (although in just the month I bulked, I did get a nice amount of muscle growth…which is to be expected from almost nothing), since my bf% is so high. And if I just maintained, that would not bring any progress.

So, I do not know what to do. My first instinct is to cut, because frankly, I am sick of being fat. I have been fat for the past ten years, which is a long time for me, being only 16, and I have pretty much decided that it sucks. But when I think about it, I am afraid that if I try to cut, my body will just adapt quickly again and I will just waste more time making no progress. So then I should bulk? But I am already very fat and from what I hear, that is not so good.

I can already predict what I am going to be told by you guys, because everyone told this to friedrice over and over, but I want to be sure, since friedrice is a skinny twig with little branch limbs, and I am more of a big marshmallow with four toothpicks sticking out of it.

My body fat% is supposedly 25%, friedrice looked more like 10% in his pic (but it was blurry). I do not have a very hard time believing my bf% was so high, but I want to hear what you guys think.

Also, would bulking for a month be enough to get my metabolism back to a normal state for a long time, after anorexia for a year and a half? It does not sound like it to me, but I do not want to bulk if it is not a good idea.

Someone please give me suggestions, because I feel as if no matter which way I go, it will not have much benefit. Thank you for reading, and thank you for any help.
By the way, sorry for lack of pictures. I have no camera or recent pictures of me.

Hi Friedrice!

Putting your measurements into a calculator over the internet is not a reliable way to know your body fat percentage. Further, no one should be basing their entire routine around whatever percentage they falsely calculate over the internet.

With that said, it is quite possible that you actually are over 27% body fat considering the damage you have done to your metabolism. By eating so little for so long, your metabolism is shit. You have no muscle mass leading your body to simply store whatever it can as body fat because you have starved it for so long.

Bulking is just a term. Apparently it is also a term that very few people even understand yet overuse.

You are nowhere near even “normal” as far as most regular trainers. Your goal should be to repair the damage you’ve done to your metabolism and body, something that will take time (perhaps over a year considering I have heard very few guys claim a food intake of only 500 cals a day for). That means slowly increasing your food intake and actually pushing yourself in the gym. To relate that to “bulking” as it is meant to most people who have not damaged their bodies the way you have is a mistake.

[quote]HoratioSandoval wrote:
Hi Friedrice![/quote]

You’re probably right. For someone to claim that taking in 500cals a day is NOT anorexia is loopy. I also doubt that same person would be over 175lbs after doing so for so long. If it is the same guy, I wasted my time even typing a response.

People should just laugh and point at this thread and move on.

Wow, what a story…

In my opinion I think you just need to try and get on track and regulate yourself for a while. You seem to think that everything needs to be done in extremes. Personally in your situation I would just eat at slightly above maintenance for the next year or so to give your body a break from all these extremes.

Being a beginner and being young should give you the ability to lose fat while putting on a bit of muscle.
You should just aim for a gradual “body recomposition”, at least for awhile to get back on track.

Good luck

Wow it would suck to be you, or who your pretending to be.

Just in case you are serious and are who you say you are I’ll give you my advice. But you should know that I’m no expert. I would tell you to bulk it up man. Eat like a beast, run like a beast, and lift like a beast. Lift heavy one day, do HIIT the next, then lift again. All the while eating tons of HEALTHY foods.

Stop stuffing your face with crap. Make sure to eat fruits and healthy meats with lots of protein and all that good stuff. When your done if your still fat at least you will have some muscle on you and your matabolism will be all better. That should help you when its time to loose the fat.

And dont loose it by not eating anorexia boy. Just diet the healthy way.

[quote]Deadend66 wrote:
Just in case you are serious and are who you say you are I’ll give you my advice. But you should know that I’m no expert. I would tell you to bulk it up man. Eat like a beast, run like a beast, and lift like a beast. Lift heavy one day, do HIIT the next, then lift again. All the while eating tons of HEALTHY foods.

Stop stuffing your face with crap. Make sure to eat fruits and healthy meats with lots of protein and all that good stuff. When your done if your still fat at least you will have some muscle on you and your matabolism will be all better. That should help you when its time to loose the fat.

And dont loose it by not eating anorexia boy. Just diet the healthy way.[/quote]

In all politeness, this is not a good way to go about fixing your metabolism. Simply bulking with mass quantities of food (even good food) may exacerbate the yo-yo effects of your previous anorexia.

Take Prof’s advice and stick the long painful road of thoroughly fixing your metabolism before attempting any sort of bulk/cut. Then, and only then, do it RIGHT. Gradually, with good food.

In the meantime, work hard in the gym as you try to fix your metabolism. It ain’t hopeless, it’s just a long road.

Ahem Work hard in the gym, with weights. Some cardio may be in order, but let’s not go the extreme route, ok? Good luck

[quote]Professor X wrote:
HoratioSandoval wrote:
Hi Friedrice!

You’re probably right. For someone to claim that taking in 500cals a day is NOT anorexia is loopy. I also doubt that same person would be over 175lbs after doing so for so long. If it is the same guy, I wasted my time even typing a response.

People should just laugh and point at this thread and move on.[/quote]

Actually, I weighed about 150 at my lowest, but around the months I started eating closer to normal amounts, around 1600-1800, I actually gained some back (which I have read easily happens after starving). I am still suprised I weighed that much after starving for so long myself, but not that suprised considering how overweight I was to begin with.

[quote]Deadend66 wrote:
Just in case you are serious and are who you say you are I’ll give you my advice. But you should know that I’m no expert. I would tell you to bulk it up man. Eat like a beast, run like a beast, and lift like a beast. Lift heavy one day, do HIIT the next, then lift again. All the while eating tons of HEALTHY foods.

Stop stuffing your face with crap. Make sure to eat fruits and healthy meats with lots of protein and all that good stuff. When your done if your still fat at least you will have some muscle on you and your matabolism will be all better. That should help you when its time to loose the fat.

And dont loose it by not eating anorexia boy. Just diet the healthy way.[/quote]

Just to be clear, I have been eating almost 100% clean since I started reading about all this, including when I was trying to bulk for the past month.

Alright, so what everyone seems to be saying is that I should not quite bulk, but eat a bit over maintenance to, over time, regulate my metabolism. It is somewhat disappointing that this is what is best, because from what you are saying, it sounds as though it will take a while. This is bad, because I dislike waiting, which is why I starved myself in the first place a year and a half ago. But if it is what I need to do, then I am sure I will manage.

Only a few people have responded with this advice, but I am going to go with it. This is because 1) It is pretty hard to find other situations quite like mine on the internet, and 2) It just sounds like good advice to me. But if anyone else has any more comments, suggestions, or whatever, please tell me.

Thank you very much for the advice, all of you.

6 steaks a day

Look up the G-flux article by JB, the principles helped me with some body recomp lately.

You may also benefit from having no real meal through the day other then PWO. Jerkey, nuts, veggies, shakes in small qualities every half hour or hour through the day may help bring your metabolism back to center a little more quickly.

Maybe I’m way off base here as well but some HOT-ROX may be in order…I’m 50/50 on this being a correct recommendation.

Maybe check out Berardi’s “The Metabolism Advantage”?

Jesus!!

Whats with these extreme cases?!?!

I’m sorry but there is a big diffrence between someone obese wanting to lose weight and get healthier and a person coming back from the brink of starvation.

How about you start off by seeing a professional nutritionalist and a doctor for a physical.

You know those statements you always see? " Consult your doctor or physician before starting a rigorous exercise routine"

This applies to your situation.

You have mentioned that you have been ‘eating clean’ ever since you started reading this site. If you have, then good job, that’s a start. From your history, you need to make sure you’re eating enough, because you do seem to have done some very serious damage to your metabolism. I’m no expert, not by a long shot, but in your case, here’s what I’d do:

1)Get an accurate measurement of my body fat, just to take the guess work out of things.

2)Calculate my maintenance level of calories.

3)Eat at that level, or slightly above (slightly being no more than 200-300 calories) for a long period of time. In your case, indefinitely, until you’re healthy.

4)Bust my ass on a three day a week, mwf, full body weight lifting plan. One heavy load day, one medium load day, one light load, heavy rep day.

5)In between those lifting days, I would do some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), be it sprints on a track, cycling on a bike or a stationary bike, whatever you can and will do, and do intensely.

6)Make sure I was sleeping at least 9 hours a night.

I’m not a doctor, nor an expert, but if you did those things, and were sure to be eating clean, and in doing so getting enough protein, etc., I’d be stunned if your body composition didn’t change for the better, even considering how you’ve abused it.

It’s not going to be quick, and the longer you waste time looking for quick fixes, the longer you’re going to remain unhappy with your body, and the greater risk you run of doing yourself more harm.

This guy doesn’t need help. He should be annointed the designated trainer for half the guys who’ve been joining here lately.

[quote]b!cep wrote:
Alright, so what everyone seems to be saying is that I should not quite bulk, but eat a bit over maintenance to, over time, regulate my metabolism. It is somewhat disappointing that this is what is best, because from what you are saying, it sounds as though it will take a while. This is bad, because I dislike waiting, which is why I starved myself in the first place a year and a half ago. But if it is what I need to do, then I am sure I will manage.

Only a few people have responded with this advice, but I am going to go with it. This is because 1) It is pretty hard to find other situations quite like mine on the internet, and 2) It just sounds like good advice to me. But if anyone else has any more comments, suggestions, or whatever, please tell me.

Thank you very much for the advice, all of you.[/quote]

No problem. It’s not fun to hear things you don’t want to hear, but what you choose to do after you listen to it is a mark of character. It says somethign that you are willing to acknowledge that you believe this to be sound advice. Prof X is very knowledgeable.

I believe this is going to be the best route. You’ve got to be healthy before you can get to supplementation and crazy workouts. For that reason, HOT-ROX is probably not a good idea just yet. Don’t perturb a system that is already out of equilibrium by adding something new and exogenous, even if the makers are as good as Biotest.

Get all your natural abilities hitting on all cylinders first. It will happen eventually. You might be surprised what simple total body workouts and some mild but regular cardio will do. Don’t sweat the HIIT stuff right now. If you want to do it, do it, but it’s just one tool to use. The big thing is consistency over the long haul.

Nobody’s physique is built, lost, or fixed in a short amount of time. Anybody who tells you different is selling something. None of the contribs on this site will tell you any different.

Here is something to think about–

You’re 16 now. You’re in high school, and unhappy. If you do things right and get yourself healthy while working hard in the gym, you could be a pretty good looking dude come college time.

Yes, you hate to wait, but think about it. All the best fun is in college, as well as a lot more chicks than are in your one little high school, no matter what you feel like thinking now. Worth it?