T Nation

Maintain the Muscle Lose the Fat


I have a question about the optimal caloric intake for myself.
I'm 31, 182 lbs, about 17%bf and mostly trying to lose fat (down to 10%) before I start building mass--hopefully without gaining much fat back using Carbolin 19 in a couple months when I'll go up to 3500 or 3700 cals per day. I've read through all the nutrition and supplement threads and have really learned a lot. My maintenance intake is around 3100 or 3200 cals a day and I'm currently consuming 2100-2200. I lift 3 days a week and run 5 days a week--on lifting days 1 mile before I lift and 3 miles after--the other 2 days I run 5 miles. Currently I'm taking Maximum Strength HOT-ROX, Low-Carb Grow! and Surge with 2.5 g creatine before during and after lifting. I'm eating 5 or 6 times daily and on reduced carb--about a 20/50/30 split. Usually 100 to 120 g carbs, 250 to 275 protein and about 70 g fat--pretty much T-Dawg 2.0. Being that I'm a good 1000 cals below maintenance now, I'm wondering when I should up the ante to 500 below--when I hit 15%, 12%...? I'm a little scared I'm losing lean muscle but can't really tell because I just started lifting--I'm just itching to add some weight to the bar--it's rather pathetic right now.

I'd like to lose over at least 1 1/2 pounds per week but I know at a certain point one pound is better to avoid losing muscle. At what bf % should I raise my caloric intake to say, 2600 cals per day?
Thanks very much for all your help--in the last month I've become an avid T-Nation reader and Biotest customer--Grow! is the best protein MRP out and the Power Drive gets me through the rough spots. I can only assume Surge is doing it's job on lift days.



This is just a mess man

I've never understood the concept of leaning down before you bulk up. If you are in relatively good shape at a reasonable weight and bf, why go down and then up? And down to 10%! Holy Shneikies.
Anyways, that's just my opinion.
Your caloric level is to low to maintain that weight and workout. For craps sake, you're running 20+ miles per week. That is no way to maintain muscle mass. You're catabolizing your body. You have nothing there for your weight workout--trust me. You are going backwards.
My belief here is you are trying to accomplish too much, too soon. Slow down and take a look.
First, how can you run 4-5 miles a day on 100g carbs. What do you think your body is using for fuel?
Second, you're trying to lose fat and keep muscle yet your caloric intake is such that your body is going to hold onto every ounce of fat it can. According to your own #'s-you are running at a 1000 cal. deficit per day.
And that's just off of maint. Now factor in your running and lifting.

Here's what I'd do.

Take you cals to 3000. Do this with carbs and fat. Invest immediately in fish oil caps and some good grain carbs.
Keep your carb and oil intake limited to early in the day and shortly after workout. If you want to run that much, after your workout would be a great time to carb load. 50g right after. Simple, easily digested. Then 50 1 hour later mixed with some good whole food protein.

Stop runnibg on lifting days. It's just hurting your cause. I know what you're thinking here, but trust me, you'll feel and see the difference shortly if you are able to put more effort into your lifting as opposed to splitting the energy up with the cardio.

One day a week must be completely away from gym.

Start drinking water. ALOT of water. Minimum of 6 qts a day--minimum.

Sleep. Get your rest. ZMA would be a quality addition to your supps.

Tweak your program slightly to higher weights/less reps. Shorten your rest period to 60-90 secs between sets. 40-50 minutes is plenty of weight time.

Make at least one day a week interval type cardio. Forget the 5 mile runs. Go short. Go intense. Go for bursts. It may surprise you to know you could do more for your goals with a 25 minute TOTAL cardio workout than you can from 5 miles. This includes a 3-5 min warmup and cool down.

This is where I would start


I honestly didnt read the whole thing I stopped at the maint of 3000-3100 and you have allready dropped k/cakls to 2000. Good lord you need to eat more. Where will you drop it from there. I feel you as an average sized male should never have to drop K/cals under 2000 to cut fat. I would start at a simple 500 below maint and ride that as long as you can. You dont want to lose that LBM.

Thats my take ,


Thanks Sasquatch (and Phil, at least you read the first part:),
Thanks for your time and all your advise. Luckily I haven't been doing this for long so hopefully I didn't do much damage. I laughed out loud when you said my whole approach was a mess. I'm glad I asked.
I think it was Cy's opinion that you trim down before bulking up and I like the idea of getting rid of the love handles (I've already dropped a few percentage points in the last couple months)I'd a least like to get down to 12% or so but I definitely don't want to lose the little muscle I have.
Here's what I'm thinking of doing for now as a happy medium (since weight loss is my priority for the next couple months before I start some massive eating or something).
I'm gonna raise my caloric intake to 2700 (30/40/30) with 800g carbs, 1100g protein and 800g fat. I'm cutting out the running because I'm too paranoid of running my muscle off. I'll focus on the weight training and go from three days to four per week. I'm thinking of warming up with a mile before and after lifting (about 8 minutes each) unless that's a bad idea. I usually have Surge during and after lifting but I can throw in a couple scoops of Grow! after my cool-down run if necessary.
I've been taking fish and flax oil but just ordered some Udo's and planned to use that for my good fats (in addition to plenty of fish and meat). The ZMA is a great suggestion, thanks for that. I also need to always remind myself the keep drinking LOTS of water. What do you think of adding Methoxy-7 into the mix? Would it be pointless unless I'm ramping up the cals? Sasquatch? Phil? Anyone?
Berardi's calorie calculator had me around 3500 or so, so you were probably right on with the 3000 suggestion. I just wanted to cut fat a bit faster. If 2700 is too catabolic let me know and I'll do the 3000 like you originally suggested (but I figured I could do less since that included all the running I'm mostly nixing for now). I guess I'll try 2700 or so for a few weeks anyway, see what happens.
What do you all think?


You might rethink this one that?s 3200 k/cals from carbs, 4400 k/casl from pro. and 7200 k/cals from fat for a grand total of 14800 k/cals. Good Lord that?s some intake. LOL

As for your plan I like it MUCH better all around. More emphasis one the weights I would still keep some low intensity cardio in even just brisk walks pre breakfast and pre bed can do HUGE things to both shed fat and relax you and boost serotonin while hypocaloric. Also keeps that ticker in check. You might consider once a week or so adding in some HIIT or a sprint session.

The Calories. I think 2700 would be an AWESOME starting place to see what you need to do. If you are not losing weight OR having a positive body transformation then switch it up. Or if you are losing to much then add some. I just think to many people drop the k/cals to damn low when they could get better results by keeping the QUALITY intake a bit higher and reap the benefit of the extra energy and productive w/os that creates to shed the fat and build / maintain muscle.

I Think you would like the Methoxy-7. It really is more of a visual aid IMO but its Sweet to get the dry vascular look and it just may aid in you being in more of a state of anabolism. Another option or addition would be Alpha Male instead. Keeping those T levels up and estrogen under control. These can both be a problem when you are in an under fed state.

Let us Know how it goes,


I guess I meant calories not grams:) I was up a little late last night. You also read my mind with the HIIT training--something else I started thinking about later. I suppose it's just the higher intensity/longer period cardio that eats muscle--unfortunately distance running is my favorite--but I'll sacrifice it for now until I get some more muscle going. Is it ever OK to run 5 to 7 miles at a time? I'd hate to have to suck on those gels or something as I ran. With the HIIT should I just do a half hour or so with carbs and protein before and protein after?
I had read about Alpha Male. I'll have to re-read some stuff to see if you can take it with Methoxy-7 (I can't remember)--I also saw M was an estrogen limiter. More money well spent (I need more Grow! anyway).
I'm very appreciative of your help supporting a "newbie". It feels great to be arming myself with the best info (for the first time) and to take a healthy and measured (and slow) approach to body composition and fitness. I'll let you guys know how it goes.


LOL. Just giving you some S%&T man.

Sounds like a plan. As for the HIIT yes 30 is plenty 5 warm up 5 cool down and 20 mins of intervals is what I like. Or I will simply do sled sprints and various gpp.

As for distance running. I am, NOT a fan. Sure you can go back to it. It will be damn hard to keep large amounts of mass if that is your goal. It is also HORRID on the kness feet ankles etc. I prefer low/moderate. Like long hikes with and xvest with light jogging down hills etc. Bike rides. Then throw in HIIT and GPP stuff and once a week I will do 15 minutes of HORRID hjogging just to say I did it. LOL

Thats just me though. If running long distance is a goal for you dont let me talk you out of it.

As for the Alpha Male Methoxy-7 Its a GREAT combo IMO and the Alpha Male now has the main ingredient from M in it.


I know. Sarcasm is lost on my new friends (I'm in California) btw I grew up in DC--so I get the irony.
I'll take your advise on the Alpha Male and Methoxy. I noticed lots of guys around here HATE jogging. I used to hate it until I hit my stride. I hate doing abs:)
Thanks man-