T Nation

Lots of Questions for a Beginner


First, let me give you a little background information. So that those that offer any suggestions have a good feel for my situation.

I used to be 300 pounds. I got down to 180 about 15 years ago, but it crept up and up and up. I put on weight so easily. That, and I own a bakery so . . yeah lol. Last year I was back up to 240 pounds.

But there’s also the Testosterone thing. About 5 years ago, I was diagnosed with low T levels. About 240. Most doctors only wanted to give me the cream you rub on your shoulder which did not do much. Other doctors only cared to get me into the low norm . . . and were happy to get me just under 400. But I still didn’t feel good, and still kept searching.

Finally, I have a doctor that slowly got my numbers up to about 1,000. If I had to guess, I am about 1,200 at peak, and around 800/900 trough. I feel much better. We also upped my vitamin D levels. And I am on an estrogen blocker. I basically take 1cc of Testosterone Cyponate weekly. And I feel great.

Last year, I noticed my body was changing. Just minor things. My legs had become more muscular. Especially in my thigh area. I liked the changes I was seeing and I credited them to the increased T levels - as nothing else had changed. So, this encouraged me to ‘get started’

I bought some weights. I read a lot online. And I began making some changes in my life. I work out at home, 5 nights a week. For about an hour a night. I eat about 200g of protein.

In 8 months I have seen some HUGE changes in my body. People that see me are shocked at how much my body has changed over this time. My arms are getting really big, and I love it. I do a very hard bicep and tricep work out. My . . . man boobs, have shrunk tremendously and the muscle from the chest workouts have started to make man boobs look like pecs lol. It looks and feels great. I do still have a belly - although it has come down in size greatly.

During this time, I have dropped from 240 to 232, but then recently went back up to 240 again. Not much change in my actual weight, but a LOT of change in my body. I am assuming this is because I am gaining muscle weight and losing fat weight at the same time. And this brings me to my questions . . .

I know that most people cut first, then bulk . . because the math. You can’t eat less calories and put on muscle. I get all of that . . in the real world. But what about my world. Can I continue to Cut and Bulk. . . . because my body has extra fat to deal with. So, in theory if I keep my protein levels up, and fat intake low. . .shouldn’t I be able to cut and bulk at the same time . . at least until my body catches up and burns more of the existing fat?

Is 200g of protein too much for me? Too little?

Most of the time, I do 12 reps per set. And I do 4 sets. As a rule, I use a weight that makes me feel burned out by the 12th rep of each set. Is 4 sets of 12 enough ? Should I be doing a lot more?

My end goal is to drop the fat, and bulk up. Strength is great but I an not so much concerned about strength. More of a vanity lifter. My goal is to have the pecs, big guns and look good.

I think I have done a great job for my first 8 months. . . but it’s time to ask for a little guidance.

Recent photo below (Will try to find an old photo of me 8 months ago)


So to summarise what I get from your post you want to know:

  • how to best drop the fat with minimal muscle loss
  • how to train

For diet, this is my go to resource. It’s worked well for me and still is working now.

Training should be based on your goals. You want to build aesthetically pleasing muscle. I’d pick any Chad Waterbury or a Christian Thibaudeau program from this site, both guys tend to produce good programs. I’d give you better advice on the training side but my knowledge is more about strength training.

Specifically in answer to your question about whether 4x12 is enough sets, my only answer is that it depends on various factors like the exercise, when in the session you do it and why you’re doing it.


I’m going to address your nutrition. Carbs are fuel. Protein is for building. I think you could continue to build muscle while in a small deficit as long as the protein is there. You still have to burn the fat though. You don’t magically convert it to muscle. Make sure you hit your protein goals and manipulate fat and carb intake for your weight loss. You can also take BCAAs before, during, or right after your workout to make sure you have the essential amino acids available for building when you stimulate the process by lifting.


And the fat is what?


The fat is pretty much what’s left. Fat is essential and good for you (the right kinds) but I’ve never seen a target number. Once you figure out your carb and protein needs you eat fat to reach your daily goal.

I’ve seen models that say 30% of your calories should be fat but never seen a specific number of grams. Protein is basically 1 gram per pound of body weight. I’ve also seen it as 1.2-1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. Anaerobic athletes need about 5-6 grams of carbs per kg and aerobic athletes need 8-10 per kg of body weight.

Source for that is my Essentials of Strength & Conditioning text book from the NSCA.

These are athlete recommendations. Most of us can get away with less carbs and it won’t hurt to eat that much protein.


In the Paul Carter article I linked it’s 20% of daily calories, that determines specific grams (9 cal/gram for fat, so you just divide 20% of calories by nine and bingo).

In the article again 0.8 to 1 gram protein per pound.

I know it seems low but I can testify that for me at least it works. I dropped two per cent bodyfat with no muscle loss at all in three months using that (seven per cent over nine months and one kilo muscle lost in total so far). You probably need to train in a way to make your body want to hold on to muscle though - so higher reps often on at least a few things to cover your body.

I can definitely say my fat loss took off when I upped carbs and dropped protein.


Great job with where you’ve come from. Some solid advice so far. However, I’m not a big fan of the article about cutting / staying strong - just my opinion. Looks good on paper, but maybe not the best advice for your average guy.

I don’t think it’s as hard to recomp as is often made out to be. Especially it you’re dialed in TRT wise and can put on muscle easy. I would almost say keep doing what you’re doing (minus the gloves, don’t lift with gloves). Don’t fix what’s not broken. Be patient and keep at it making subtle adjustments by trial and error. Best of luck my man.s


A others have alluded to fat is not the devil. Its carbs you need to watch especially if around a bakery, -sugary stuff/cakes/fast carbs doubly so


Thanks MarkKO

Sorry it took so long for me to check back in, I had some issues.

I will look into the Chad W, and Christian T programs. Thanks!


Thanks Jmaier31

I read (maybe even on this site, not sure), that Protein is like the bricks to build a house, and carbs and fat are the workers that move the bricks.

I am 240 pounds. Solid arms. Solid legs and a big belly. My pecs have grown significantly which is helping to equal out my boob factor. The saggy side boob (Thanks to Peter from Family Guy for the side boob) has gotten much smaller, while my pecs are getting bigger and bigger.

I am just trying to figure out how to use my own stored fat to reduce my “fat weight” while still gaining muscle.

I am thinking timing is pretty critical. Like to stay on high protein all day, but include a small amount of carbs after a work out, but stay low fat all around, so that my body uses its own fat?


Thanks for the tip on the glvoes, AliveAgain36! I never would of guessed that would be more damaging than helpful. After reading your comment, I did some research and was surprised. No more gloves for me :slight_smile:


Hi RampantBadger!

The bakery is not really an issue anymore. Over the years, I indulged so much, and have baked so much that just the smell of the stuff turns my stomach. It’s funny how you can grow to hate cookies LOL.

I do try to watch my carbs but wow the cravings kick in late at night for carbs. But I resist 90% of the time and fall off the wagon about 10%.

I usually try to keep fat and carbs to a minimum. I eat oatmeal for breakfast, and a protein shake (RTD MET-RX 51g) mid morning. Maybe a lean ham on whole wheat for lunch. Protein bar mid afternoon. I drink another 51g shake during the second half of my work out, and then follow it with dinner - where I include high protein and a small amount of fat and carbs. Dinner is usually later like 8pm, because I get home around 6:30 and work out. So, I don’t eat much after dinner . . . except weekends that I might stay up much later.

Am I even close to being on the right path?


Just wanted to say a general Thank you for all the good information here. Sorry it took me so long to check back in. I spilled a glass of wine on my MacBook Pro, and it fried. Spent days cleaning the logic board with alcohol, and drying it out. Got it working, but it takes about 5 minutes to load a web page, so I gave up. finally went and bought a new one. It wasn’t so much abut the computer, but it had sentimental value. The computer was my moms . . .she only had it a few months before she passed away in Nov. So it meant more to me, emotionally than materialistic.

Anyway . . . I have a new laptop now, and wanted to apologize for the silence, after so many people took the time to respond.


To long didn’t read: put more carbs until 1g/pound /// put carbs only pre-after workout just enough to don’t feel dizzy (glycemia for lower glucose) /// end up puting the fat to fill the calories.

I had this doubt about bulk or cut after 6 months of training.
At this phase things started to slow down and I needed to think more about what should I do.
I learned that using calculations, looking for fat carb and fat in some scientific researches wasn’t working, I needed to do trial and error.
For the protein was easy, first I did the 1g / pound (in your case it would be 240g of protein / day). And it felt like to much protein, my stomach wasn’t happy with that amount of meat. I lowered it a few bits until I found that if I ate less than 180g of protein / day; I started to feel weak at the gym. Now I eat 230 because my body kinda get used to the protein and it just feels perfect, I’m having growth in size and strenght.
For the carbs was a lot harder, carbs is the fuel as said, and I love to eat carbs all day (Italian blood I guess), I basically tried to put as lower carbs as possible without having problems because of it, I have insulin resistance and wanted to lose fat. I ended up eating fat only before and after my workouts (I do 4 meals/day). I eat just enough that I don’t feel dizzy on the gym (glycemia because of low carbs) and don’t feel wasted in the rest of the day after the workout.
After that was just put the fat to feel the calories.


Get in more good fats in the day, especially with breakfast and/or preworkout meal and this will help mitigate cravings as well as allow you to train harder. Also can add pretty much unlimited green veg to dinner (and any meals actually) and will only do good things.

A bit more clean carbs here and there like rice, sweet potato etc fine also.