T Nation

LBM Loss/Gains While Dieting?


Hi all,

Ok, I've been on the site for about 9 months, and as usual the information here is the best.

I started out by dropping body fat and then bulked up. I had virtually no muscle mass to start off with, so once I got to a certain point the fat wouldn't come off any more.

I then bulked up for 4 months and put on some decent muscle, as well as fat. Now I want to cut again to my leaaest yet. I'm probably at mid 20's body fat wise.

My question is, when dropping body fat I know you lose/maaintain strength and might lose some muscle, but how much muscle do you actually lose in the real world, not in theory, and can you/have you put on muscle while dieting?

I know many people do put on muscle regardless of diet. I also believe FREQUENCY is key, my cousin put on a ridiculous amount of muscle in 2 months by training heavy every day for 2 months. Please don't miss-interpret that statement, I know it takes a long time to get big, but his training is big proof that you need to just lift heavy often to get big, regardless of diet(within reason). His parameters were 10*10 for a month, then 8*10 for another.

Granted I'm fat ennough to not lose muscle initially, but I need to get thin before I bulk up again so I don't get to fat, again.

My stats are 1,83cm tall(6'0 I think), 185lbs. My diet is good - I believe I know enough about dieting to get into good shape as I've read tons of articles on this and had good results when putting them into practice.

Any comments appreciated..


10x10 isn't "lifting heavy"


How much LBM you lose is generally related to how severe a caloric restriction you put yourself on.

Beginners can of course put on LBM simply by starting to work out, but if you've been training a while, don't expect to increase LBM and lose fat, though some will argue how they have done so.

Eating frequently and having protein with every meal (which you probably do since you've been here a while) is one way to keep aminos entering the bloodstream, so muscles can be spared.

Anyway, I don't have a definitive answer, just some rambling in case it points you in a useful direction.


You all are just going to skip over the fact that he only worked on building muscle for 4 months and is now ready to "cut"? This site is getting stupid. I am sure you HEEEEEYYOOOGE after 4 WHOLE months of building muscle. How did you last through it all?


Prof, I have great respect for you and your posts, but where did I say I'm huge? I just bulked up a bit after I lost some fat because I had trouble losing any more.

I can post pics of my progress but I'm still small so it might be pointless.


If you are that small, why would "being ripped" be the highest priority?


He should not try to get ripped. But he did say he is in the mid 20s % bodyfat. That's a lot of fat to be carrying, particularly for someone that doesn't have much muscle. (Are you sure you are in the mid-twenties; if so, you are pretty soft). I don't think bulking is in order either, irrepective of amount of time training when that's where you're at. Guy, you should just eat healthy for hunger, and lift hard. What's your current diet and training look like? Don't be chasing abs. That's counter-productive if you want to add a lot more size. But you shouldn't be eating to the point you are continuing to add fat if you're really in the mid-twenties.


Are you sure you're 25%? That's what most women who aren't truly overweight but don't work out and could stand to lose a few lbs and get in shape are.


I don't know man, it's almost summer, everyone is going to want to cut, especially all the young lads trying to impress the young ladies.

Hopefully at some point they'll realize that a bit of serious mass would be nice... but in the mean time, you may as well try to push back the ocean when the tide is rising.


I dunno that I would try a strict cutting phase at this point. If you are indeed in the 20s as far as bodyfat then yeah you may want to lose some but if you've only been lifting seriously for 9 months then your still pretty much a beginner. I would eat at around maintenance for a few weeks and toss in a little cardio and see if ya drop a few pounds. If thats you in your avatar,cutting at this point is a huge mistake as you have nothing to cut too.


These pics are about 3 months apart and the more recent one is from about 1? months back. I dont have a recent pic from the front, but I'm hoping you'll be able to tell that I've put on at least some muscle.

1st Pic

2nd Pic


Not something you can easily tell from a front shot and then a back shot. But you are not 25% bodyfat. It's these ridiculously off bodyfat assumptions that cause people to not know what kind of advice to give. You should post your diet and training. I think you should be able to to gain muscle and lose fat for some time yet with proper attention to both. And you'll soon be leaner and ready to start a full-on bulk.


Why would the word "cut" be anywhere in your vocabulary at this point? From what I can tell, you are about 4-5 years away from when you should be working on losing weight as the primary goal. If the problem is that you are confused by the word "bulk", take that as working on gaining muscle for a few years.


I will post better picture at some stage, but I am actually carrying around more fat than it appears, although it may not be in the mid 20's.

It wasn't the point of my post to post pictres of myself - I'm actually happy with the way my training is going.

My diet is good, carbs in the morning & PWO, fats in evening, eating often and keeping protein high. My food is also of very good quality and I get plenty of rest.

My training is 5 days a week, split between Chest & back, Arms & Shoulders and Lower body. Parameters usually 4x6, 10x3, 3x8 & 8x8.

My question is if training is of a high enough frequency and weight is heavy enough, would it not be possible to put on good muscle and lose weight on a maintenance diet plan? Does anyone actually have some first hand experience on this and what they did to achieve it?


Dude, the chances of you making much progress without any change in body weight are not great. I am not sure why that would even be your goal when you are SKINNY. You need some more muscle on you. You just need to stop going overboard on calories and learn to gain less fat and more muscle. While strict beginners may make progress simply because they are now active where they were once inactive, it is not optimal for someone like you to expect some kind of massive body composition change when you are the size that you are.

If you are expecting someone to become your own personal trainer, you may find yourself wanting. I would work on GAINING. If you are gaining too much body fat, add 2-3 cardio sessions a week. No one can map out for you some perfect program because there is no perfect program. What we can do is help you see that your perception seems a bit off. I didn't see much muscle at all in your pictures. Why would you attempt to remain at the same body weight?


If your diet was good, then you wouldn't be at mid 20's bodyfat.

6 foot and 185lbs is really skinny. How skinny? It would still be skinny if you were in competition shape at 5% bodyfat and dry. Which you clearly aren't.

Have you stabilised your weight at 185lbs? You will want to spend some time at your new body weight for your body to get used to it.

Dude, I personally think that you should gain another 40-50lbs of lbm and THEN maybe think about "cutting". You should tidy up your diet and stabilise your weight here and there if you are getting too sloppy around the middle, but apart from that, "cutting" shouldn't be in your vocabulary until then.


I'm definitely not looking for a personal trainer - just some thoughts on my question.

Ok maybe I'm not as fat as I thought I was so I'll just keep training as I am and up my calories a bit to maintenance and see how it goes from there. The difference between those photos is 18lbs, which I gained in the 3 months. I added over 2 inches to my arms and legs, and I think I've widened up my back too.

Thanks for the replies Prof, I guess I may have become a bit cynical about the fat I gained and should just tighten up my diet and keep lifting heavy often.


You asked for an answer so I'll give you one even though I think a serious diet phase will wreak havoc on your physique.

First to answer your initial question. It has to be either 100% cut or 100% bulk but doing both at the same time and you'll reach niether goal.

" He who chases 2 rabbits will lose both"

So if your goal is to cut up then focus strictly on that. Yes muscle will be lost. It is physiologically impossibly to do both and preserve all lean mass. With high protein intake and super strict macronutrient timing you can cut losses to a minimum. Not to offend you but I don't think your knowledge of nutrition or training is adequate so you will probably lose quite a bit(also a reason not to cut). If your cardio is too high you will lose gains. If it is too low you won't lose shit and keep that gut. Just by looking at your pics I can tell you went about the bulking cycle the wrong way. Too many people gain fat in an attempt to gain anything. THE PURPOSE OF A GAIN PHASE IS TO GAIN MUSCLE. Don't feel bad I had to learn this the hard way too. Yes fat gain is inevitable but if you're gaining large amounts of fat that tells you your calories are in excess(which is the whole purpose). So if you're gaining fat at 5,000 cals a day then there's no need for 5,500. This is common sense but it amazes me how many fuck it up. So to sum this novel up. If you're gonna cut then cut. Don't sweat losing some muscle but do everything you know to keep loses to a minimum. You have A LOT to learn and I suggest you read as much as possible. Good luck.


Fuck I knew I shouldn't have put pictures cause I dont need to be told I have very little muscle cause I know I do - I think I just wanted a guesstimation on my fat level. Now I feel like the infamous elite_balla.

Yes my weight has been stable for about a month and a half and I put on a little size muscle wise as well. My arms were 32cm and i'm up to 38cm now in 4 months. I got lazy in my diet but cleaned it up 2 weeks ago so I'll just up my calories again and then continue working on size.

I moved to the UK from South Africa 2 weeks ago so I'm now training in a gym instead of at home, but it's lovely. It's empty almost all the time and my partner I can do whatever exercises we want.


Again thank you guys for the replies, I know chasing 2 goals at once is pointless E-man, and so I have been getting side tracked.

Couple more questions.

I know this is probably a stupid question but if I don't ask I won't know for sure.

I know you can't build muscle on calories below maintenance, and lose fat on calories above maintenance, but
assume one's maintenance is 3000cal and they were able to build muscle on 3800cal. If you took in 3800cal, trained heavy and then burnt off enough calories by cardio later on in the day to fall below maintenance calories, would it not then possibly build muscle and lose fat at the same time to a certain extent? Maybe taking a nap in between the lifting and cardio sessions and spacing them out?

I know this would mean that you're below maintenance for the day, but the calories have passed through you and may have been used for building muscle during the day/nap. Crazy idea that would be pointless practice or what?