T Nation

Loss of Motivation

I’m not sure if this is the right place to post this, so I apologize if it’s not. I’d like to ask a question for those of you who are really lean but haven’t always been - that is, those who have dieted down to become very lean.

I’ve been dieting since June of last year. It’s been a slow process but I’ve managed to go from somewhere around 20-25% bodyfat to 12-13% (Fat Track II calipers say 10.4% but I don’t believe it). I’m as lean or leaner than I’ve ever been before, but I really want to take it further this time. I’m shooting for maybe 8% or so? I’m going for actually looking like a bodybuilder this time around.

Here’s my problem: I am losing all motivation. Given my size (160 lbs. at 5’6") and activity level, I’m only eating about 1700 cals per day right now and I’m starving all the damn time. I’ve not had a problem with motivation until the last month but I’ve hit a plateau and I can’t get past it. I need some advice on how to get back the hardcore motivation to get past this hunger issue and get back on track. I’m really having trouble with it.

If it matters, I’ve been lifting for about four years, always as a powerlifter until recently. I’m currently following a 5 day split of legs, chest, back, shoulders and arms. Like I said, I’m shooting for 1700 cals per day, following the carb backloading protocol.

Any advice would really be appreciated.

Go back to eating more for a few months? Then start cutting again. 1700 cals doesn’t sound like much.

I think you are eating way too little. You cant even train hard with that calorie amount.

Seriously eat more. I’m cutting at 5’11 205 and I eat about 2300 calories and I feel like I’m starving. I couldn’t imagine working out with 600 less calories.

Why don’t you post up your diet to see if we can help with it and also give us the macro breakdown. I’d suggest incorporating a huge refeed day once a week, google skiploading to see what I’m talking about and how to do it.

ESX - I’ve thought about that and I may end up doing it. It just feels like giving up. I had hoped to hit my goal by april of this year.

NikH - It seems low, I know. I’m pretty small though. My BMR is only 1690, and other than my training sessions I’m at a computer most of the day, so using the Harris-Benedict equation for lightly active, that gives me about 2300 calories per day for maintenance. I lowered it to 1700 because I stalled out at 1800. I don’t know. Maybe my metabolism is just terrible. When I’m able to maintain 1700 per day, it works well, it’s just damn hard to maintain it.

When you diet too hard and for too long you’re metabolism will slow. You’ll be eating ridiculously low amounts of calories and make no progress. That sucks.

This is where re-feeds come in.

This is also where you should be concentrating on eating as much as you can whilst losing weight.

I’m eating about 3000 calories per day sometimes a little more and getting into real good shape. I weigh around 210.

Post you’re diet and yes I’d be glad to help critique it.

Also how much cardio and lifting are you doing?

What everyone else is saying.

Too little calories.

Eat more for a while, then approach the issue again later.

[quote]Iron scholar wrote:
ESX - I’ve thought about that and I may end up doing it. It just feels like giving up. I had hoped to hit my goal by april of this year.

NikH - It seems low, I know. I’m pretty small though. My BMR is only 1690, and other than my training sessions I’m at a computer most of the day, so using the Harris-Benedict equation for lightly active, that gives me about 2300 calories per day for maintenance. I lowered it to 1700 because I stalled out at 1800. I don’t know. Maybe my metabolism is just terrible. When I’m able to maintain 1700 per day, it works well, it’s just damn hard to maintain it. [/quote]

Yeah, but if you wanna listen to this Harris-Benedict equation, then you should also follow that you ‘are moderatly active BMR x 1.55’ since you train 5x days a week at most.
Which already means your calorie intake should be at around 2619 to LOSE weight. If you truly are training 5x a week.

Like austin says, your metabolism is ‘slowing down’, which sucks at all levels. Lower immune system, muscle breakdown, slowed bone renewal etc…

You can keep going with Harris-Benedict if you like but also train hard 5x a week, and you will lose weight, while eating 2619kcal.

You can also try skiploading, it works too.

But if you cant lift properly it’s not good.

But now you should eat.

[quote]Iron scholar wrote:
My BMR is only 1690, and other than my training sessions I’m at a computer most of the day, so using the Harris-Benedict equation for lightly active, that gives me about 2300 calories per day for maintenance. I lowered it to 1700 because I stalled out at 1800. [/quote]

Gotta be something off here. My wife is about 5’2, 119 lbs, and she’s dieting on about 1700-1800 cals on most days. I think you seriously tanked your matabolic rate here. I would NOT even consider lowering it again,… like ever, until you can build some momentum via caloric manipulation and some well throught out training.

I understand having a somewhat sedentary lifestyle outside of the gym (I do too), but that just means that you have to be smart with things, not just keep dropping #s whenever things slow a bit.

S

Hmmm…Some interesting food for thought here (no pun intended). I knew that my calories were low, but didn’t think they were quite as low as everyone is thinking.

Okay, let me give some more information on training: I am training five days per week, generally 45-60min per session, although quicker on the arm day because I don’t do a ton of direct arm work. I try to fit cardio in when I can but it’s infrequent because of my schedule. I work full time, go to school full time and have an eight month old daughter. I’m pretty busy.

As far as my diet, like I said, I’m carb backloading right now, so a typical day looks like this:

9:00AM - 6-8oz meat, depending on the calorie content of the meat, and some veggie. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, asparagus, etc.

12:00PM - Same as first meal.

3:30PM Pre-workout. Generally coffee and a scoop of whey and maybe a tablespoon of peanut butter.

5:00PM Post-workout. Another scoop of whey and 100-200 cals of some sugary carb. Cereal or something.

6:30-7:00PM Dinner. This is where most of my calories come in. Generally this will be 8-12 oz of meat, again depending on the meat, some type of veggie and some starchy carbs - potatoes, bread, etc.

8:00PM Some kind of small snack. Depending on what I’m doing the next day, this could be sugar-free jello with cool whip, or another carb. This is also where I really fall apart. I’ll be hungry all day but busy enough to ignore it. Will power fades hard and fast in the evening.

So that’s it. I’ve been trying to hit 1700 calories with about 160g Protein, 70g fat, and 100 or so grams of carbs.

I’m always in bed by 9:00 and back up to work on school work at 4:00AM. Long days but pretty sedentary. I’m an IT major so that requires a lot of computer work, as does my job. I don’t know, guys. I guess what I’m hearing is that I jsut really need to up my calories and get my metabolism back in order. I didn’t think it was as bad as it seems. I just hate setting a goal and giving up on it.

Here’s a couple pretty awesome videos to watch on the subject, lots to learn (both are pretty long but worth it):

First Layne Norton talking about metabolic damage, tanking metabolisms, how to help it (seriously great vid): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHHzie6XRGk

And John Gorman talking about reverse dieting (getting your metabolism back up to snuff): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3ZekciEBu4

Don’t think of it as giving up on your goal, think of it as taking an extra step or two to ensure you accomplish it.

[quote]Gmoore17 wrote:
Here’s a couple pretty awesome videos to watch on the subject, lots to learn (both are pretty long but worth it):

First Layne Norton talking about metabolic damage, tanking metabolisms, how to help it (seriously great vid): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QHHzie6XRGk

And John Gorman talking about reverse dieting (getting your metabolism back up to snuff): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3ZekciEBu4

Don’t think of it as giving up on your goal, think of it as taking an extra step or two to ensure you accomplish it.[/quote]
That log 9 Video by Layne is Golden. He is dead on about how your metabolism takes a crap after being on a low calorie diet for too long. (Mentally)… it was tough for me to up my calories thinking that I was gonna get fat, but it was actually quite the opposite. Funny how our metabolism works!

Although your training for aesthetics now, full body or Upper/Lower routines are going to put you in a much bigger caloric deficit…thus allowing you a bit more food for the day. Heresy to BBers, I know, I know.

But basically that’s how I leaned up from 20% to 12-14% or where ever I’m at now… Barbell complexes and Full body routines. See that arms day you have alone proly doesn’t even burn 300 kcals.

I am the sort of guy you are seeking feedback/advice from. I went from 270# and ~30% BF a few years ago, to 190# and 8%. The last 25# were by far the toughest, and that’s where you are now (not saying you need to lose 25#, just that you’re in the home stretch of your weight-loss journey). The approach I used successfully in my home stretch was carb cycling. It works. There are several good carb cycling articles here on TN and over at BB.com; I strongly suggest you give them a look. I’ll be happy to provide more details re what I did if you want–just let me know. Good luck.

Gmoore17 - Those are really interesting videos. Thanks for taking the time to post them. The Layne Norton vid really makes me think. Thanks for the words of encouragement too, by the way.

Azcats - I understand exactly how you feel. I guess the hardest part for me, when thinking about raising my calories, is that I’m not in contest ready shape. I’m still pretty fat actually (by bodybuilder standards anyway), and I know how easily I put on fat anyway. I’ve spent a pretty significant portion of my adult life as a fat guy and I have to be very careful or I’ll blow right back up again.

giograves - Yeah, you’re right about the arms day. It’s basically nothing. I just moved it to it’s own day because I was doing back/bis, chest/tris and those two sessions were taking too long. What I’m doing now very nearly is an upper/lower split. It’s very similar to the 5/3/1 bodybuilding template, although I’m not using Wendler’s percentages right now. I did 5/3/1 full body for about six months, and from a strength perspective it was one of the best routines I’ve ever done, but not so much for gaining/maintaining size. I feel like I definitely need more volume than that. Maybe I will go back to a simple upper/lower split though. If you guys are interested, I can post my full routine right now.

Eyedentist - That is incredibly impressive and inspiring. Great job. Did you use Shelby Starnes carb cycling? I leaned out a couple of year ago (to probably about where I am right now actually) by using the template he outlined in one of his articles on this site. You’re right, it did work very well. The only thing I didn’t like was going from low carb days to high carb days. I always felt really hungry on low carb days and full but sluggish on high carb days. There’s no denying the efficacy of it, though. The carb backloading has really just been an experiment. I’d never tried it and I wanted to see how well it worked. I’d be really interested to see how you set up your carb cycling.

Thanks for all the replies, everyone. I’m an intermediate lifter, I suppose, but I’m still very new to some of this and learning all the time. You guys are a big help.

Very informative thread. Lots of good advice in here. Good luck OP!

[quote]giograves wrote:
Although your training for aesthetics now, full body or Upper/Lower routines are going to put you in a much bigger caloric deficit…thus allowing you a bit more food for the day. Heresy to BBers, I know, I know.

But basically that’s how I leaned up from 20% to 12-14% or where ever I’m at now… Barbell complexes and Full body routines. See that arms day you have alone proly doesn’t even burn 300 kcals.

[/quote]

I kind of agree with what your saying, so I’m not posting to argue, just to propose another viewpoint.

My training is usually isolation-focused, working 1 or 2 body parts per session for 50-60 minutes. I use pretty short rest periods and usually throw in “active rest” sets. I generally burn (estimated, according to my HR monitor) around 500-700 calories per session, even on arms day.

I have used this approach to get lean and stay lean, without much cardio, so it can definitely do the trick, just as full-body and complexes can.

Thanks for the replies, everyone. After reading through this thread and a few articles, as well as the videos, here’s my tentative plan. First, I’m going to have a cheat meal tonight. A real one. I might eat an entire pizza. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve had a meal like that and I’m going to enjoy it.

Second, I’m going to take a break for awhile. Not go crazy stupid, because I don’t want to gain back a bunch of fat, but try to eat clean and actually listen to hunger signals for once. Let myself rest and hopefully get my metabolism back up. Then, sometime towards the end of February/beginning of March, I’m going to set some new goals and start on some form of carb cycling. I’m not changing my goals, just the goal date. Giving up a month or so shouldn’t set me back that badly (as long as I’m not stupid for that month).

I may end up going back to 5/3/1 also. I haven’t been taking planned deload weeks and i think that might be hurting me right now as well. I’m starting to feel the fatigue. I’ll probably either do the bodybuilding template or the template that uses the DC principles in the second edition.

Everyone has been really helpful and I appreciate it. Feel free to keep this thread going. I’d still like to hear any advice or stories of how the lean guys got that way.

Thanks all!

As you take a break from dieting, don’t get discouraged that you’re months away from your ideal leanness. You cut the amount of fat your body carries by half! That’s pretty awesome, so definitely pat yourself on the back and enjoy your progress.