Low carb + 5x5? Trying to lose 5% bodyfat--beginner.

I’ve been reading a lot of stuff. After reading everything, I’ve so far come to the conclusion to do a 5x5 routine, HIIT 3 days a week, with a diet of ~80g fat, 50g carbs–will be more if I have simple carbs postworkout, and ~300g protein. That’s around 2200 calories.

My immediate goal is just to get down to around 5% bodyfat, I don’t know what I’m at now (probably around 10%) but if I lose 5% I know I’ll be where I want to be. I want to gain a little size too, but that’s not my focus yet.

I’m 170lbs, do you think the diet is fine? I was going to lower the cals to around 1800, maybe. I maintain my weight without eating much at all so I’ll probably gain even eating small.

Here’s the routine:

  1. Chest/Abs
  2. HIIT/Back
  3. Legs/Abs
  4. HIIT
  5. Arms
  6. HIIT/Shoulders/Abs
  7. Off

HIIT is done around 12:00PM, weights are done around 3:00 or 4:00.


10:00 - Pre-HIIT/ 40g whey w/ water, Multivitamin
12:00 - 8oz Chicken breast or Turkey Slices, 1/2 Cup brown rice, Vitamin C
2:00 - 2 Turkey slices, Brocolli, 2 tbsp Olive Oil
3:00 - weights
Afterworkout - 40g whey with water, Brocolli, Vitamin C
5:30 - Chicken Breast Or Turkey Slices, 2 tbsp olive oil
8:00 - 2 Turkey Slices
10:00 - 2 Turkey slices
Gal Water/daily

  1. I’ve heard having simple carbs while doing low carb isn’t smart and it doesn’t stop muscle growth at all. Should I have grape juice instead of water or not? If so, how much?

  2. Should I take whey preworkout?

  3. Are the times when I have Olive oil fine or should I change them around?

I eat a lot of turkey lunch meat because I’m not around a microwave or anything during the day really…

  1. Why are you training abs 3 times weekly?

  2. Legs should be trained on two different days, one hip dominant and the other quad dominant.

  3. You may want to consider training more frequently; check out the “New Ripped, Rugged, and Dense Routine” thread.

  4. Move your 5:30 olive oil to the 10pm meal.

  5. Cook chicken or turkey in advance and ditch the lunch meat.


Joel pretty much said it all, but I’ll add: if you’re only 170, why are you dieting? Seems like adding a little mass would be your first priority…

I agree w/ Joel…ditch the lunch meat, its to processed.If you get a chance, read my Challenge essay, it gives a little insight for you. You will findthat on carb depletion diets, you’re better off trainin compound movements early in the week and I think JB touched on it under his pic in to photo forum, that HIIT is a little to much while depleted. Normal “energy systems” work will strip the fat off later in the week. If you’ve never depleted before it will take a few rotations to see what works best fo you.

Guru X

I tend to agree w/ Joel, toss the lunch meat, it’s high in sodium low in nutritional value. A few other points I would change are as follows;
1)do HIIT on an empty stomach, have a shake after.
2)have your “olive oil” meal after the HIIT instead of the rice. You shouldn’t need the glycogen replacement yet, having a protien/fat meal will help to continue w/ burn fat.
3)have your “rice” meal 1.5-2hrs post weights instead of olive oil, you will now need glycogen replenishment.
4)add dextrose to your post w/o shake, and add flax oil to your post HIIT shake.
5)try dropping cal. to 1750-2500, mix daily cal. between these numbers to keep your body from adapting. Protein intake seems a little high ( for a natural lifter) @ 300g,try doing 250g and see how your body reacts. Excess protien can be stored as b/f.
6)try doing 5x20 w/ squats using a weight that would normaly allow you to do 10-12 reps, when they start to get difficult rest in the top position (do not lock your knees) and take 4-5 deep breaths - keep going until you get 20. This will definately stripe the fat. 5x5 is great everywhere else, just remember to give your joints a rest every 4-6wks.

Northern Dawg,

  1. The reason I said “can the lunch meat” is certainly not because of the sodium content, it is because it is processed garbage. Sodium is not bad; it is actually very beneficial to the bodybuilder. Everyone in this game should be sure to eat plenty of foods high in sodium, and foods that aren’t; add salt.

  2. No reason to do HIIT on an empty stomach; plenty of studies have shown that eating a carbohydrate containing meal prior to exercise has no impact on substrate utilization either during or after exercise. Also, a P/C meal after HIIT is best as it helps to shut down muscle protein catabolism and again does not have any substantial impact on RER or EPOC.

  3. Nothing wrong w/ consuming 300 grams of protein daily especially while dieting. Check out Berardi’s “protein predjudice” article.

  4. 20-rep squats are primarily a mass gaining tool, not one to be used while dieting, certainly not a lower-carb diet. Yes, they will provide some energy expenditure, but HIIT is plenty, and weight training during a fat loss phase is better used to up ones poundages, especially in the core lifts like the squat. Also, even when on a mass phase, a trainee would only perform 1-2 sets of 20 rep squats; 5 is overkill.

  5. Not sure what the “give your joints a rest comment meant” but unless the original poster has some sort of joint pain that I am unaware of, this too is not neccesary.


char-dawg: I’m “dieting” down because my long term goal isn’t to be an onstage bodybuilder. I just want to be in the 190-200 range. I want to get to a low bodyfat so when I do “bulk” my bodyfat doesn’t get over 12%. Also right now, I don’t eat much food at all and I still maintain my weight, so I think I can gain while eating very clean.

The turkey i’m eating isn’t packaged lunch meat, it’s from a deli. Is it still that bad? I can’t cook enough meat to last me an entire day in the morning, this is the only high protein food I can take with me all day.

I’m gonna move the 5:30 olive oil to the after HIIT meal, then move the brown rice to around 2:00.

IS grape juice good/instead of dextrose for postworkout w/weights?

I’m training abs 3x/week because my abs recover fast and I think it’s best. I’ll probably rotate between 2x and 3x/weekly.

I’ve heard good things about 20 rep squats, I might give this a try.

Guru, I looked for your essay but I couldn’t find it.

Here’s my routine, any comments besides a few will say it’s way too much volume?

2x8-10 incline barbell press
5x5 dips
2x 8-10 WG flat bench to neck
2x15-20 Incline db flyes

2x 6-8 deads
5x5 pullups
2x 6-10 bent over barbell rows
2x8-10 good mornings

2x20 Squat
5x5 Lunges
2x6 hack squat
5x5 straight leg deadlifts
2x20 Seated Calve raises

5x5 incline dumbell curls
2x6-10 standing bb curl w/ wide grip
2x8 Reverse barbell curls
5x5 Lying tricep extensions
2x6-8 close grip bench
2x20 dips for tris
2x6-10 Hammer Curls
2x6-10 Bb wrist curls
2x6-10 Reverse bb wrist curls

2x6-8 Military press (seated)
2x6 Arnold press
5x5 Standing Lateral Raises
5x5 upright rows
4 x 6-15 shrugs
2 x 8-10 Lying rear delt raise

2x15-20 Standing side Crunches
2x15-20 Reverse Crunches
2x15-20 Crunches

Dude, you are dieting; your routine has enough volume for someone on bulking androgen cycle…you are WASTING your time and energy as well as killing your CNS by trying to conduct such a routine while on a diet phase, a low carb one at that. Stick with one exercise per body part and 5-7 sets of 5; you’ll be able to maintain your muscle mass and build strength. Also, forget the high rep ab work and concentrate on building some strength in your core; this will have a lot of carry over to the “big” lifts, such as the squat and the deadlift.


I would cut back on the volume of arms and shoulders, hit abs nomore than 2x a wk if it isn’t getting sore, mix up the movements. As far as big parts ,legs, chest, back, volume is fine.

Arms just looks like a lot of volume because it’s triceps, biceps, and forearms. Might take out a few on arm and shoulder day, but part of the reason why I love weights is the pump I get.

And does anyone do behind the back upright rows? I was thinking of trying them.

My diet isn’t going to be real low carb–like under 30g–but it’s not going to be over 300g carbs like a lot of people. I’m going to aim for 250g+ protein (the more, the better, I’m not gonna limit it), 80g fat, 80g carbs. I might even up the carbs more, but I’m going to start around 80g.

Let me know if you have any questions on the PM I sent you

Glad to read that Joel touched on the sodium issue stated earlier, because I was going to jump all over that.

Behind the back upright rows? Are you double jointed? If you try to do that workout you posted on the 1800cals diet you mentioned, you will definately come down in weight, but your lean mass will be next to nil. You’ll merely be skin and bones. Reduce the volume(reps and sets)big time!

With the stats you listed (170 lbs, 10% BF or so), you should be able to put on lots of mass without gaining much, if any BF in the process.

I know that you don’t want to look like a pro bber, and that’s fine. I don’t either. But if you want some comments, I say gain some weight first. Espeically if you want to keep your “pumping” workout with all that volume in it. You didn’t list your height, but most people at 190-200 with 10% BF would look great.

How many carbs do you think I need then–if I were to go for size right now instead of lower bodyfat?
Something like—~150carbs, ~300Protein, and 80g fat?
I just thought it would be smarter to cut now, then try to gain in the fall/winter.

There are several different places you can look for good advice about how much you should eat to bulk up. The two I would recommend are, in no particular order:

The Growth Surge Project articles. There are three of them, and they contain everything you need - diet, workout, etc. - to make some very good gains.


Check out Marc MacDougal’s “Progress” thread over on the Photo Forum. It has a good discussion about what he ate (i.e., in terms of macronutrient breakdown and supps) to put on some very quality muscle without a lick of fat.

Good luck!

I’ve decided I’m going to stick with that routine and for my diet, I’m going to aim for 300g protein+, 100g carbs, 80g fat.
If I’m feeling really tired, I’ll up my carbs. Since my first weeks will be light, I probably won’t need many carbs anyway. Eventually I’ll probably up the carbs to around 250g or so.
Thanks for the help.


I know you like your program and your diet, but heres some advice from someone who doesn’t even care much about ‘physique building.’ :

Joel M, Thunder, and quite a few other people on this board have the whole dietary concepts/training concepts for physiques down to a science. That means lots of experience, lots of thought, and lots of feedback.

As you stated, you are a relative newbie to the whole lifting thing but do you know what one of the biggest mistakes most new weightlifters make? If you said, “exhausting their CNS with high-volume and high-intensity workouts without the measures in place for adequate recovery,” you’re correct.

Now, you haven’t stated the intensities with which you’ll be working but I have a feeling they aren’t in the ‘conditioning’ range which may be useful for athletic training. Something tells me they are approaching a little closer to your RM strength than they should be for a dieting trainee with such high volume. You should really re-evaluate your workout and take what Joel and others have stated into much more consideration - 2 exercises on 5x5 will get you much better results than you might expect.