T Nation

Question on FAT

I read Scrawny to Brawny (S2B), and think that this book is amazing. I want to start the program so badly but I have “analysis paralysis” (John Berardi’s quote I think). I’m not sure the book covers my concerns. I have been working out for months before coming across S2B, and was eating roughly 5-6 meals per day. I am the classic ectomorph, and it took me 6 months to gain 10 pounds. I definitely gained muscle mass, but I’ve noticed fat around my midsection (whereas everywhere else I have virtually no fat). I want to get rid of it. I guess have a fat phobia.

Now my first question is this: Should I do a cardio program to burn the fat first and then begin S2B? I understand that as I do the S2B program, I will gain some fat. But what about the fat that’s already there? If I gain fat on top my other fat…well you know. Or should I just jump into the program anyway? S2B calls for huge calorie intakes, and I just don’t see how I could ever lose the fat by always eating more calories than I burn. Is that what the HIIT is for? Will that burn the fat away? But even then I will still be overeating, and it seems that HIIT is only for cardio not fatburning.

I’m so confused because I want to gain muscle mass, but keep the fat off. If I want to lose fat, I must eat less calories than I’m eating. This is in complete opposition to what the program says!! So how does the fat come off?

I know some people are probably going to say to just start the program, and to live with the fat, and that it could be taken off later after the program finishes. So if that’s the case, how would I go about doing that? Do I cut back on calories, but still eat a lot of protein? I don’t want to burn muscle while doing cardio. Do I actually go into calorie deficits in my diet? Just how precisely do I burn the fat and maintain the muscle I worked so hard to get as far as diet and exercise are concerned? Sorry for the long question, but I just can’t figure this out and I want to be confident jumping into the program.

Most people have a sweet spot where the cardio, the weightlifting, and the diet all work in harmony to throw slabs of muscles on your body with minimal fat gain. For some people (who are FFBs), this point can be as low as 250kcal above maintenence.

Generally ectomorphs have excellent metabolisms. In this context, having an excellent metabolism means that your body easily upregulates its processes to metabolize the increased kilo calorie surplus generated by a greater food intake. This means that some ectomorphs can’t even gain weight on diets that exceed their maintenance intake by 2000 kcal. Dr. Berardi is a prime example of this phenomenon.

In essence, the book is written for ectomorphs but can be used by anyone. If it was me, I would start with JB’s recommendations. Follow them strictly for 2 weeks, and reevaluate. You can use the program without following the exact meal plans outlined in the book.

For example, say you follow the program in the book that has you packing away 4000kcal, and you’re gaining too much fat for your tastes. Simply depress your caloric intake for the next 2 week cycle by 250kcal. See if you’re still putting on too much fat for your tastes. If you are, try adding in some non-exercise energy expenditure activities. Continually readjust until you find your magic set point. Keep in mind, this set point can and will adjust on a weekly basis as you continue to put on muscle. Your body will increase its maintenance kcal baseline as it has more lean body mass to feed.

The more you read JB’s material, the more apparent it becomes that he is trying to teach you to fish, and not merely catch them for you. He gives you all the theory and the scientific foundations to develop the ideal diet program for you. I would start the program ASAP. Even eating in such a caloric surplus for two weeks will, at the minimum, ramp up your metabolism if you decide to cut down on intake in the following two weeks.

Just as you guessed, I am going to recommend you get brawny before trying to melt away the fat. Unfortunately unless you are a newbie to the iron game or posses superior genetics/ “medical help”… You just wont gain muscle without fat.

The typical way to go about this is to “bulk up” (which, as the name suggests, will add some extra bulk to you). When you reach your goals, or you feel you would like to shed some fat before continuing to bulk, then you go on a cutting phase.

From a guy who has been there, let me jsut say this… EAT MORE FOOD. Seriously though. I gained 22 pounds in 9 months this year after I found out the “secret” of food. I even gained around 20 pounds of fat with that, but I don’t really look that much “fatter”. Just dive into the program and see how it works!

Okay, thanks for the tips. I will start the program today and see how it goes in a few weeks. I gotta go now and load up on serious groceries!!