T Nation

New Here! Cutting Down My Fat

So I was referred to this site about 4 years ago by a trainer at the gym I went too. I decided to give it a try again and its nice to see the sites doing so well. anyways I have been in the gym at least 5 times a week for the last 5 months. I have noticed some gains in the areas I want but I feel like I’m not seeing what I want in the last 3 weeks. my diet is pretty good, I eat roughly 12 to 20 eggs a day with at least one avocado and a couple potatoes in the morning.

I think I’m around 15% body fat so I have been trying to stay away from bread, pasta, and beer (the last ones kind of hard). I spend about an hour to an hour and a half in the gym when I go and my work outs are pretty basic. I was really seeing results and now I seem to hit my peak. I’m 24 years old and work as a server while in school. I eat at least 4 to 5 times a day. I don’t do cardio due to my heart issues (double heart murmur).

my questions are:
I want to continue to get big or at least keep my current muscle mass, but I also want to cut my fat down. what should I do toward that?

Is it easier to put mass on while you have my body fat percentage, or should I go down and then bulk up?

I have a couple others but I feel I can better ask them when I’ve had some feedback.

Keep your workouts short but intense with heavy (80%-90%) weights…side question: If bulking can I still drink beer?

[quote]chobbs wrote:
side question: If bulking can I still drink beer?[/quote]
You’re 19, so no.

You eat 12-20 eggs per day? Jesus. Any specific reason (price of meat, vegetarian, access, or the like), or do you just REALLY like eggs.

[quote]chobbs wrote:
Keep your workouts short but intense with heavy (80%-90%) weights…side question: If bulking can I still drink beer?[/quote]

I’d say it’s probably a better time to drink beer than while cutting. But keep in mind alcohol isn’t going to do you any favours as far as nutrient absorption, protein synthesis, hormone balance, and quality sleep goes. CAN you drink? Absolutely. Is it a good idea? Probably not. But it’s your life, so up to you. I like moderation, personally.

I was afraid of these answers

[quote]chobbs wrote:
Keep your workouts short but intense with heavy (80%-90%) weights…side question: If bulking can I still drink beer?[/quote] So are you saying less reps with less time in the gym, or less reps but same amount of time in the gym? I always find new ways to lift for a curtain muscle group so should I just do more workouts to replace that time? I know that theres a point where it becomes cardio (or at least I was told), but sometimes I have to work a little harder to actually feel it in my muscles.

[quote]Apoklyps wrote:
I’d say it’s probably a better time to drink beer than while cutting. But keep in mind alcohol isn’t going to do you any favours as far as nutrient absorption, protein synthesis, hormone balance, and quality sleep goes. CAN you drink? Absolutely. Is it a good idea? Probably not. But it’s your life, so up to you. I like moderation, personally.[/quote] Yeah it makes sense to drink right now more then when cutting, and when I do I usually drink a lot so I only drink like once a week. It ends up messing up my sleep, performance in the gym, and mental game so I decided not to drink.

[quote]JT91 wrote:
You eat 12-20 eggs per day? Jesus. Any specific reason (price of meat, vegetarian, access, or the like), or do you just REALLY like eggs.[/quote]
Protein! I mean I work at Denny’s so everything there is shit, so I get an obscene amount of eggs for cheap. at home, I make five eggs in the morning with half an avocado. sometimes eggs is easier then cooking a big meal. Eggs are also the only thing that I really never get sick of.

I was also wondering. Should I start cutting and then go back to bulking, or if it’s easier to bulk while I have a little fat on already? Like I said I feel that I’m at about 15% body fat but its mainly in my gut.

[quote]Apoklyps wrote:
I’d say it’s probably a better time to drink beer than while cutting. But keep in mind alcohol isn’t going to do you any favours as far as nutrient absorption, protein synthesis, hormone balance, and quality sleep goes. CAN you drink? Absolutely. Is it a good idea? Probably not. But it’s your life, so up to you. I like moderation, personally.[/quote] I have decided to cut out drinking. All it does is mess up my mind set and makes me lazy. Instead of drinking once a week, I’m making it two weeks.

[quote]JT91 wrote:
You eat 12-20 eggs per day? Jesus. Any specific reason (price of meat, vegetarian, access, or the like), or do you just REALLY like eggs.[/quote]
I never get sick of them, it’s awesome. I also work at Denny’s and most of our stuff is no good to eat so I just eat a bunch of eggs. Six in the morning, Six for lunch, and sometimes six at night. I try to eat random things in between to curve my hunger, but I usually eat two big meals and then like 3 small ones.

So I’m kind of fishing for an answer as to if I should cut before I bulk. I think I’m around 15% body fat (at the most). Is it easier to bulk right now or after I cut. I just stopped seeing such fast results in the last month so I didn’t know if it’s time to switch it up.

If I was to cut on 5/3/1, I’d hit the prescribed reps, do 2 or so sets of assisstance 3-5 sets 6-10 reps, then conditioning.

I prefer to drink every 2-3 weeks. Preferably on off days, but I’m not too fussy. Can be hard to avoid when you’re in school.

As far as the bulking/cutting thing goes, I’d say it really depends on where you’re at now. Height? Weight? Strength on main lifts? If in doubt, a clean bulk is probably a safe option if you’re not fat (which you’re not). On the other hand, I’ve seen many people cut too early (or are just too concerned about losing their abs) who don’t have a good base in terms of size and strength and end up back where they started. Really depends on circumstance.

"Can be hard to avoid when you’re in school. " x 2

[quote]Apoklyps wrote:
I prefer to drink every 2-3 weeks. Preferably on off days, but I’m not too fussy. Can be hard to avoid when you’re in school.

As far as the bulking/cutting thing goes, I’d say it really depends on where you’re at now. Height? Weight? Strength on main lifts? If in doubt, a clean bulk is probably a safe option if you’re not fat (which you’re not). On the other hand, I’ve seen many people cut too early (or are just too concerned about losing their abs) who don’t have a good base in terms of size and strength and end up back where they started. Really depends on circumstance.[/quote]
Uh my lifts are pretty weak considering I just started actually getting serious about the gym. My work ethic is great and I get good results. Lately it feels like I hit a plateau. I could always cut but I would honestly turn into a twig (which might be good idk). I already lost my abs so and it’s winter so I’m fine with that.

So when it comes to cutting time which I think I’ll do in a month. What should I do toward my workouts and my diet?

[quote]chobbs wrote:
If I was to cut on 5/3/1, I’d hit the prescribed reps, do 2 or so sets of assisstance 3-5 sets 6-10 reps, then conditioning. [/quote]
What’s a 5/3/1?

Also is it bad to go to the gym twice a day? I didn’t know if it messed up bulking or was more for cutting. I just never hear of anyone doing it.

Read up on 5/3/1. It’s a solid, no-nonsense program for developing slow, but very steady, strength gains for trainees of just about any level with just 3 short workouts a week. You may have heard of its creator: Jim Wendler.

I wouldn’t worry about going twice a day. It’s not worth it unless it’s employed intelligently at the right time by someone who really knows what they’re doing. Unless you mean splitting up conditioning and weights or something like that. That’s a good idea if you have time.

Working hard is good, but working smart is better. Do your research and tweak your protocol slowly, and you will learn what works for you and what doesn’t. Seeing your lifts, routine, and diet (say, what you ate yesterday) would be most helpful, but if your lifts are pretty lacking as you say, I would focus on strength work. Find a program that focuses on heavy compound lifts 3-4 days a week with compound assistance work. Eat a metric fuckton. The scale and mirror are your friends here, as they will give you indications about whether you’re gaining weight at a proper pace and not gaining fat too fast. And cutting in the winter sucks. Avoid it at all costs if you can, it ain’t fun and is damn cold.

[quote]Apoklyps wrote:
Read up on 5/3/1. It’s a solid, no-nonsense program for developing slow, but very steady, strength gains for trainees of just about any level with just 3 short workouts a week. You may have heard of its creator: Jim Wendler.

I wouldn’t worry about going twice a day. It’s not worth it unless it’s employed intelligently at the right time by someone who really knows what they’re doing. Unless you mean splitting up conditioning and weights or something like that. That’s a good idea if you have time.

Working hard is good, but working smart is better. Do your research and tweak your protocol slowly, and you will learn what works for you and what doesn’t. Seeing your lifts, routine, and diet (say, what you ate yesterday) would be most helpful, but if your lifts are pretty lacking as you say, I would focus on strength work. Find a program that focuses on heavy compound lifts 3-4 days a week with compound assistance work. Eat a metric fuckton. The scale and mirror are your friends here, as they will give you indications about whether you’re gaining weight at a proper pace and not gaining fat too fast. And cutting in the winter sucks. Avoid it at all costs if you can, it ain’t fun and is damn cold.[/quote]

I will look into the 5/3/1 for sure. It might be more convenient for me. I usually do what feels right that day, I haven’t really been setting myself to one schedule since sometimes the workout isn’t enough and I see myself doing more reps. As for my diet, I literally ate 17 eggs and two medium size potatoes. I drank nothing but water and I drank my pre-workout (jacked and concrete) with a post work out shake followed by three scoops of peanut butter. I try to not eat at least an hour before I go to sleep. Sometimes I try to eat at least 5 times a day (two big meals and three small ones). I will most likely try to wait on cutting till at least mid march.

I also have another issue I keep forgetting about. I know I can put of more weight then I have been. the only issue I keep running into is that my left elbow starts hurting really bad when I press anything too high. I have a metal plate in my left arm and have been working toward strengthening that arm but I still run into this. I have notices it kind of messing with what muscles are doing the work as well. seems like sometimes my left chest is bigger then my right.

any ideas on how to go bigger without seriously hurting my left arm?

Scheduling is good, especially when you’re new.

Calorie-wise, large eggs are about 90 apiece, so you’re looking at 1530. Also depends on how they’re prepared too, I suppose. Overall, the downside is you’re probably not consuming as much numerically as it would seem (not even 3000). That’s common. The macro and micro balance could definitely be better, but amount is the first thing to fix.

Don’t worry about eating perfect just yet. Just count your cals and get it in the right ballpark. Taters are quite starchy carbs and aren’t the best choice (on that note, I don’t think more complex carbs would hurt at all). Adding some fruits and veggies might be nice too, but focus on getting used to the amount first, then tweak the specifics.

Liquid calories (i.e. shakes) are a great help when you have trouble stuffing it down. I (and many others) really like taking a hefty shake right before bed when I’m trying to gain weight (and PWO of course). Best times for it. This is, of course, assuming you have decided to gain weight. The downside is you will gain some fat (and lose the abs), and people will bitch about you letting yourself go.

The first bulk is the most annoying, even if it is fairly clean, as most regular people do not understand that this is part of a long-term process. If you want a clean bulk, aim for about 1lb of mass per week and let the scale guide your efforts. If you aren’t gaining after a few weeks, up the cals. If you’re gaining too fast, drop them and/or add more conditioning work.

I am hesitant to say much regarding your injured area. If an exercise causes pain, especially hurting “really bad”, stop immediately. There may be form issues affecting it, or you may need to look for alternate exercises. But I would consult a physio or someone qualified in this area to get an accurate assessment of what’s going on. There’s nothing worse than getting hurt.

EDIT: Stronglifts is also a nice program for putting on a good strength base for newbies. Also, Starting Strength and many more. If you look at the programs, you’ll get the gist of what they’re like. Research some good programs and pick something that YOU like because most importantly, you have to like it enough to stick with it.

My advice to any beginners deciding whether to cut or not is to not cut. This may save you years of spinning your wheels. Unless your excessively fat or are playing a sport that requires you to be in a certain weight class there’s no point cutting until you’ve trained solidly for at least five years. By the you’ll have enough mass to shed the fat quickly and will look good when you’re done.

By this I’m not implying that you should bulk excessively either, unless you have the genetics / metabolism to handle it - just eat enough to keep increasing your weight and strength slowly.

Btw 15%bf is no where near even close to being considered fat.

[quote]Apoklyps wrote:
Scheduling is good, especially when you’re new.

Calorie-wise, large eggs are about 90 apiece, so you’re looking at 1530. Also depends on how they’re prepared too, I suppose. Overall, the downside is you’re probably not consuming as much numerically as it would seem (not even 3000). That’s common. The macro and micro balance could definitely be better, but amount is the first thing to fix.

Don’t worry about eating perfect just yet. Just count your cals and get it in the right ballpark. Taters are quite starchy carbs and aren’t the best choice (on that note, I don’t think more complex carbs would hurt at all). Adding some fruits and veggies might be nice too, but focus on getting used to the amount first, then tweak the specifics.

Liquid calories (i.e. shakes) are a great help when you have trouble stuffing it down. I (and many others) really like taking a hefty shake right before bed when I’m trying to gain weight (and PWO of course). Best times for it. This is, of course, assuming you have decided to gain weight. The downside is you will gain some fat (and lose the abs), and people will bitch about you letting yourself go.

The first bulk is the most annoying, even if it is fairly clean, as most regular people do not understand that this is part of a long-term process. If you want a clean bulk, aim for about 1lb of mass per week and let the scale guide your efforts. If you aren’t gaining after a few weeks, up the cals. If you’re gaining too fast, drop them and/or add more conditioning work.

I am hesitant to say much regarding your injured area. If an exercise causes pain, especially hurting “really bad”, stop immediately. There may be form issues affecting it, or you may need to look for alternate exercises. But I would consult a physio or someone qualified in this area to get an accurate assessment of what’s going on. There’s nothing worse than getting hurt.

EDIT: Stronglifts is also a nice program for putting on a good strength base for newbies. Also, Starting Strength and many more. If you look at the programs, you’ll get the gist of what they’re like. Research some good programs and pick something that YOU like because most importantly, you have to like it enough to stick with it.[/quote]
I will focus more on eating more cals for sure. I figured this whole time that I could just use my extra body fat as making up for the calories but clearly I was way wrong. I can tell that its too early to cut cause I would actually be close to the same muscle % as when I started, and no one wants that. So if I’m taking creatine, should I be taking it on my off days? this question is all in regards to anything else I am taking.

As for my lifting, I have been doing quite well with form and concentration during my reps. If I go up in my weights (trying 5-8 reps instead of 10-12), that’s when I start hurting due to my injury.

[quote]Huh? wrote:
My advice to any beginners deciding whether to cut or not is to not cut. This may save you years of spinning your wheels. Unless your excessively fat or are playing a sport that requires you to be in a certain weight class there’s no point cutting until you’ve trained solidly for at least five years. By the you’ll have enough mass to shed the fat quickly and will look good when you’re done.

By this I’m not implying that you should bulk excessively either, unless you have the genetics / metabolism to handle it - just eat enough to keep increasing your weight and strength slowly.

Btw 15%bf is no where near even close to being considered fat.

[/quote]
I feel this way all the time. I can drop or go up, there’s no limit for me. I realize that 15% isn’t fat at all. I just didn’t know if I should of cut first or something. Thanks for the positive information though!

Take the creatine on off days. I like to dose heavier post-WO, but I don’t think creatine makes a huge difference anyway. Protein, fish oil, and a multivit are all you really need, though they aren’t the most glamorous supps out there. Creatine is cheap enough and a nice extra, I suppose.

Just noticed something, i.e. your heart condition. If cardio is an issue, are you sure lifting isn’t a concern? Lifting will significantly elevate your heart rate, and especially your BP. I can recall one particularly punishing lower body workout being cut a little short because my BP was elevated enough to cause an explosive nosebleed. Also, holding a lot of mass (if that’s your goal) may not be the most heart healthy option. In your case, I would be sure to check with a doctor as to what will be healthy before making any significant changes to your training protocol. No sense taking an unnecessary risk. Assuming the doc gives you the okay, happy lifting!

[quote]Apoklyps wrote:
Take the creatine on off days. I like to dose heavier post-WO, but I don’t think creatine makes a huge difference anyway. Protein, fish oil, and a multivit are all you really need, though they aren’t the most glamorous supps out there. Creatine is cheap enough and a nice extra, I suppose.

Just noticed something, i.e. your heart condition. If cardio is an issue, are you sure lifting isn’t a concern? Lifting will significantly elevate your heart rate, and especially your BP. I can recall one particularly punishing lower body workout being cut a little short because my BP was elevated enough to cause an explosive nosebleed. Also, holding a lot of mass (if that’s your goal) may not be the most heart healthy option. In your case, I would be sure to check with a doctor as to what will be healthy before making any significant changes to your training protocol. No sense taking an unnecessary risk. Assuming the doc gives you the okay, happy lifting![/quote]

Great post! thanks for the top portion. I am about to re-up on my supps and this info helps. For my heart condition, I haven’t been to a doctor in a while. I got checked out about a year ago and the physician could tell right away when I bent over that I had a heart murmur. I was told when I was younger not to run around and play sport. I have my whole life.

As for lifting, I can breath hard, push myself, and do what ever reps I want. I take a 30 second rest and go to my next set. It’s when I start running for more then 5 minutes I get out of breath and get dizzy. I play basketball for two hours and have no issues, but right when I do cardio straight, I can’t go hard. It sucks.