T Nation

Question on T-dawg, 4AD-EC, losing BF, and gaining LBM


this is a PM I sent to Tampa Terry. Terry asked I post this on the forum so everyone can benefit from the advice and analysis.

I first wanted to start off by thanking you for your advice on T-dawg.

I do have a few questions though.

Since I have seriously started tracking progress with T-Dawg, 4AD-EC and hot-rox supplementation, I have notice my BF has been decreasing, but my body weight actually increased.

In a weeks time my body fat seems to have changed about 1-1.5% but I have gained close to 3 pounds.

Now this is great, if I wasn't 283 lbs right now.

So my question is, although I'm getting great results in gaining LBM and losing BF, would it be safe to lower my total calories so I continue to lose the BF, but keep the LBM? Right now I really don't want to gain too much LBM and just lose the BF.

Here is some infomation that will help in giving me advice.

Even on low carb diets, my body is very efficent in putting on muscle. If I keep my protein intake above 250 grams per day, my body will basically pack on mass pretty easily. I've never had any problems with gaining LBM. My problem is my fat %. I've always somewhat struggled with losing fat, reason I'm using T-dawg and an EDT exercise program to lose.

More info...
avg around 2100 total cals per day, avg around 280 grams protein, 70 grams of fat (mostly flax and fish oils), and around 50 grams carbs on none workout days and 85-100 on work out days.

I lift monday, tuesday, thursday and sat with EDT training (I work out at home and due to my total BW, cannot do all the exercise, nor do I have all the equipment).

I started working out and adjusting my diet about 4 weeks ago. I started at 292 lbs and 36.5% BF. I'm currently at 283lbs and 33.5% BF. In the last week I went from 280 lbs to 283lbs, 1-1.5% BF loss and 3 lbs gained. I attribute this (gaining LBM while losing fat) to the 4AD-EC cycle and the Hot-Rox I started a week ago.

So my question would be, should I decrease my total cals so I can lose BF and keep LBM? Or should I adjust another way?

any help would be greatly appreciated.


its all about your goals bro. if losing fat is your primary goal and loss of lbm isnt much of an issue go for it.

imo at that high of a bf, lbm loss will probabaly not be a problem, generally you dont start losing lbm until you get way lower on the bf%.

however 2100, cals for a 280 lb dude is already pretty low, i dont think i would drop anymore. be patient, forget about the scale, and keep training your results will come.


So you are roughly 186 pound LBM underneath that layer of fat.

Looking at it that way I don't think I would drop much lower than the 2100 calories you are at now, unless you supplement somehow to retain the lbm.

You may gain LBM fairly easily, although by the looks of it you also gain fat rather easily too. Losing LBM isn't really a good option since it will lower your abilities in most areas. I guess I could see it if you wanted to become a long distance runner or something, otherwise though I don't see a benefit for doing so.


Hi, Ragn!!! The real value of T-Mag is in the diversity of experience in those that frequent its hallowed halls. I've always wanted as many opinions as possible when trying to work through a problem.

But on to the subject at hand. For purposes of calculations, I'm going to use 283 pounds @ 33.5%. You're currently eating 2100 calories per day, which is LBM x 11. That's an extremely low multiple and an extremely low caloric intake for a person with your LBM. 188 pounds of LBM is AWESOME; it's just a case of stripping a little fat off so all that muscle shows. I don't know whether you read the article about Christian T's transformation, but if you haven't, check out www.t-mag.com/nation_articles/256beast2.html. CT had almost exactly the same LBM you did, just a little less BF. Whatever you do (or whatever WE do), let's try and hold on to that LBM, but drop the fat.

Since the multiple for calculating caloric intake is so darn low, I'm not terribly inclined to drop calories on you. Doing so is just going to shut down your metabolism and thyroid production. The correct answer is to increase your level of activity. It's a lot to ask, I know, but you need to add in some longer duration, moderate intensity cardio rather than cutting calories. Work up to at least six days a week of cardio. What's going to be really important, though, is that you choose a low-impact form of cardio and that you support joint health while doing so. You also need to invest in a heart rate monitor. Once again, the cardio you do should be longer duration, easy to moderate intensity (65 to 75% of MHR). Start at the lower, easier end of the scale and work your way up. Longer duration means working up to 45 minutes.

A good joint protection protocol would be increased levels of Vitamin C, 2-4g per day, divided among 4 or more meals, MSM at about 5g x 2 or 3 meals per day, flaxseed oil, bromelain and Wobenzyme.

So repeating, my preference is to keep calories at 2100 (eventually increasing them) and to keep stimulating your metabolism.

Another way to stimulate your metabolism is to eat green veggie carbs as a general rule, limited amounts, saving your carb allotment for PWO and taking them in as starchier carbs (sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal). Don't forget your Surge!

Honestly, at your LBM, carbs should be higher than 70g on non-workout days and 100g on workout days, but we'll live with it for now. If energy levels start to suffer with increased energy expenditure, you're going to need to pick those numbers up, rather than reduce energy expenditure. Remember, one of our goals is to give your metabolism a serious kick in the butt, and the advice I'm giving you is based on those goals.

Yes, the 4-AD-EC can cause some weight gain. It's part of creating the anabolic environment that allows you to put on muscle. It's not permanent, and it's not fat. Considering how low your caloric is, I'd probably continue taking it.

So let's look at the numbers.

TBW - 292lbs.
BF% - 36.5%
LBM - 185.42lbs.
BF - 106.58lbs.

TBW - 283lbs
BF% - 33.5%.
LBM - 188.2
BF - 94lbs

So, yes, because of 4-AD-EC you might have gained some scale weight, but the numbers that matter (LBM and BF) are both going in the right direction. Pick up the activity a bit and keep monitoring your progress. If the numbers that count keep going the right way, just put on blinders and ignore the scale number.

Fat at the numbers I typically recommend (.5g per pound of LBM or TBW) is really low. I would be comfortable if you dropped protein intake to 1g or 1.25g per pound of LBM and pick up fat to replace protein calories. Good fat, of course; flaxseed and/or high-dose fish oil.

Your fat requirements for the day should be divided among your P+F meals. You should be taking in at least 6 meals a day. I'd like to see you eating P+F meals during the day and eating your 2 P+C meals (Surge being one of those two meals) PWO. PWO means lifting weights, not cardio. On days you don't lift weights, skip the starchy carbs and take in your carbs as green veggie carbs.

When you do pick up calories (and you're going to need to do that somewhere along the way), I'd like to see you add a little more good fat to your P+F meals and just a few more carbs. Changes to your numbers, though, shouldn't be made any more than once a month to see how your body responds.

Don't forget your cheat meal. If you haven't read up on them, start now. It's not a reward or treat for being good. Cheat meals are done to boost thyroid hormone, leptin levels, metabolism, and to keep fat loss in high gear. There will be weight/water gain for about 3 days, but by that time you should be back to normal and ultimately lose BF for the week.

Okay, that's a lot more than you asked for, I know, but what do you think?


I hear you on ignoring the scale weight. I?ll focus on my BF% and measurements as the primary indicator of progress. I?m patient. I know it won?t happen overnight, let alone a few weeks or even a few months. I?ve got 4 set goals right now. I broke everything down into 12 week goals and have 4 plans of attack with sub-cycles for each 12 weeks. I?m bound and determined to get in shape.

Took me over 3 years to gain this fat. So yeah, I can gain fat easily, but it didn?t happen overnight. I let myself go after I had knee surgery to remove a decent amount of torn cartilage. I never said I wanted to lose LBM, just didn?t want to gain a bunch while dieting and losing BF. My game plan includes a slight LBM gain later on in about 6 months, but my main focus is losing this BF and getting strong. LBM doesn?t really concern me as long as I can perform heavy lifts, play some BB and kick my boss? ass, and look good naked.

Again, lots of good information and thanks for your time and effort on this. I?ll address each of your suggestions here.

Definitely want to keep the LBM. If I gain some I?m not going to worry too much about it. The more LBM I have the more calories I burn sitting here posting on these forums!

As far as the energy work goes I am doing about 5 times a week starting Monday. After my upper body workouts I do 30 minutes, but will increase this to 45. I don?t do energy work after my leg workouts. When I?m done with my leg routine (squats, front squats, straight leg dead lifts, dead lifts and other mixed stuff; not all in one workout mind you!) I?m lucky to walk back into the house and sit down. Hell the day after a heavy leg session I?m lucky to walk stairs without the ever present grin/grimace stuck on my face. I love pounding my legs and hitting them hard with heavy loads, lower reps. I used to Oly lift in high school and competed in a few contests in the 185 weight range, so legs are my favorite part to work out. I?ll try waking up early and do some more energy work, but as it is I get up at 4am and head to work. I?d have to get up around 3am to do this. We will see. I do have heart rate monitor and use it frequently to see not just my heart rate when working out, but also in a resting position.

I?ve been taking 1-1.5g of vitamin C a day and some glucosomine. My doc suggested it after the knee surgery as did my mother?s arthritis doc (she has rheumatoid arthritis, fused wrists, pretty bad stuff). I?ll increase the vitamin C to your recommendations as well.

I read that article and think that eventually I will increase my cal intake. I?m making progress right now even with the added muscle (like this is a bad thing). So that will come, just need to let this diet run it?s course before I start switching things up.

Energy levels are fine. I?m rarely tired during the day and am very pumped up by the time I go to work out. I did Atkins induction phase for 2 weeks at the beginning of all this to prime my body for this, so I know how it feels to be depleted.

I have increased my intake of flax and fish oils along with more leafy green veggies since ht Atkins induction phase I did. I?ll push my fat intake up to the .5xLBM over the next few weeks and see how that goes.

As far as cheat meal goes, I do a ?cheat? day. I eat real clean though. In the mornings I?ll typically eat 27g carb or oatmeal and 6 egg whites, whole wheat pasta and 8oz of chicken breast, sometimes a sandwich with whole grain bread and chicken or tuna (lots of veggies), and my final carb uptake meal will typically be something like a sweat potato and 8oz lean steak. The final 3-4 meals of the day are all P+F meals with lots protein and lots of good fats. I find this very refreashign not only to my psyche but also my body. The day after this, although a bit heavier (water weight probably) I feel like stacking the bar and going to town on my workouts. Normally lasts at least 2 days and then it?s only 4-5 days until my next reefed. So I think energy level is there and I find this to be working well.

Anyways thanks again and let me know what you think. Need to run and hit the weights.


Boy, it's obvious you've been reading, studying, strategizing. You're doing great, Ragn!!!

The only thing I have strong feelings about (if you're wanting to get the biggest metabolic bang for the buck) is separating cardio sessions and weight-lifting sessions. Doing so gives you a metabolic kick in the butt TWICE. Another thing is that your workout shouldn't be longer than an hour or an hour and 15 minutes (if you included some cardio PWO). Cardio after a weight bearing session shouldn't be any longer than 30 minutes (so long as you can get out of the gym before 1 to 1.25 hours).

But repeating, what would be idea is an AM cardio session and a PM lifting session. Save the cardio after lifting for down the road when you hit a plateau. I know it's time efficient, but it's not metabolically efficient.

I do AM FS cardio (45 minutes, 70% of MHR) seven days a week. Temporarily I even added in a second PM session on days I don't lift. It sucks a lot of energy out of you, which is why I recommend you increase your cardio time slowly, integrate it into your life and makes sure it's working for you when you balance the results you're getting with your energy levels. Remember, you're in this for the long haul.

Since you're tracking your progress so carefully (good for you!!!), if you find your LBM is increasing faster than you want it to, consider dropping the 4-AD-EC. I'll leave you to make that decision, but there's great LBM protection that comes from using Hot Rox. I use Methoxy also for the same reason.

Re increasing fat, I'd like to see you increase dietary fat SLOWLY. Increase fat grams by 10-15 per week and continue to increase it each week so long as you're seeing positive changes in body composition. If you make major changes to your diet (like doubling your fat intake or altering macronutrient percentages), it takes your body a couple of weeks to stabilize and settle in, and you'll see dramatic fluctuations . . . which causes people to start freaking out and second-guessing the effectiveness of their programs.

Once again, you're doing great, Ragn. I can see you're dedicated, focused and willing to work for your results. Don't kill yourself. Try to avoid extremes (of anything). Sometimes more isn't better (and is even counter-productive). My advice is to continue monitoring results and NOT to make changes as long as you are making progress. If you kick up intensity right now, you have nothing in reserve when you need to break a plateau. In other words, do as little as possible to get acceptable results.


I definately read a lot of articles here and elsewhere. I tend to want o know everything possible before I commit to things as important as this. I was also raised in a house where my father was always analyzing numbers (he's a financial/accoountant consultant), so I was brain washed into thinking that Excel worksheets, graphs, numbers, net and gross gains, were the end all to everything.

I was planning on increasing the fat about 5-10 a week until I got up to your recomended levels. Like you said it's a long haul and I'm prepared to make the changes that are needed and be patient with them.

Finally about how many hours between weight training and energy work should I wait?

Thanks again. I really think I've got a good plan at this point with your help and everyone else who has supported me and advised me (even the ones at work that tell me I'm insane).


Ahhhh, so the truth comes out. Your dad is responsible for your analytical approach and all those good questions. (grin)

Ideally cardio should be separated by weight lifting by as many hours as is possible/convenient if you're looking for the biggest metabolic bang for the buck. 7am cardio and 7pm weight training would be perfect, but even 8 hours of separation would be good.

It's always a balance, Ragn. Do the best you can and tighten up down the road if you really need to.

Good luck to you, and please let me know how things progress.


Yeah it's my dad's fault.

I'll be posting pics of before and after in Dec and then again 3 months later. So you all will see what took place in 6 months time.

I'll also post in the meantime letting you know progress every 3-4 weeks, for those that are interested.