T Nation

Reason for Muscle Loss?

Hey all,

I’ve only been working out heavily for 2 months, and have been losing weight fairly rapidly in this time period. For the first month things were great - lost 6 lbs of fat and only .5lb of lean mass. But this month things were a little different and I lost equal quantities of lean mass and fat (3 lbs fat, 3 lbs leans mass). Obviously this isn’t good and I want to stop losing this much muscle. Is this an overreaction and are those numbers too small to mean anything?

To give you an idea of what i’m doing - i’m working out 3 days a week and doing cardio another 3 days a week. But I figure diet is more likely the culprit here. I’m eating for weight loss right now, about 2600 calories daily and light on the carbs. Drinking Surge shakes before/after workout, Metabolic Drive shakes at other times.

I did just realize that I probably am not getting enough protein - I thought I was getting plenty since I was eating around 150 grams a day which seems like a lot since I hadnt really been eating any two months ago. However (as I learned reading this site) I weigh 200 lbs so i’d be below the 200 grams I should be eating.

What do you guys think? The lack of protein? Maybe I need to eat more calories in general? Other possible causes? Way too early for me to tell?

I think the culprit for your lost muscle mass is the fact that you’re using an electrical impedence mode on a weight scale, and then doing the math.

Electrical impedence is bad. It’s good for a snapshot, but it’s not good to track progress. I have the same problem with mine. I use it, but I don’t give it too much credibility.

Tape measure around your stomach (belly button). If this number is going down, you’re losing fat. Otherwise don’t worry about it.

It would be a good idea for you to increase your protein though.

Your diet is a good amount, you probably don’t need to eat more.

Most newbies read articles that talk about the fear of muscle loss and think it applies to them. Unless you spent some time bulking before you dieted (and you may have, at which point much of what I say here can be discarded) you probably don’t have much muscle mass to lose. The steps you’ve taken to ensure you keep your LBM (eating a lot of protein, lifting heavy) will work at your stage.

If you weighed 300lbs at 20% BF, yeah, you should be concerned about losing LBM… because you’ve got a BUNCH to lose.

You… not so much.

I’m getting BF tested using calipers at 9 sites, with the same person doing it each time. Not using electrical impedence. Not perfect, I know, but it should at least be more accurate than that.

I guess you’re probably right though about not having much LBM to lose, i’ve never bulked before.

Hmm… call me a liar, will you?
(kidding :slight_smile:

Caliper testing by someone who knows what they’re doing is usually pretty accurate. I would still chalk it up to personal fluctuations before blaming your training or diet (because they both look pretty decent).

Personal fluctuations meaning
a) the amount of glycogen in your muscles
b) the amount of water in your system
c) the amount of food in your bowels

I wouldn’t worry about it. The general trend is downward, and you’re doing enough to keep muscle mass. You should be alright.

I usually get a good idea of what’s going on from the skinfold data.

You could have lost a few pounds of fluid and glycogen in your muscles if you’ve been low carb enough and high-enough intensity cardio.

If this is the case and you carb-up just right, you gain a few pounds while skinfolds stay the same or go down, magically gaining a few pounds of muscle overnight.

If you are the type of person who loses muscle easily, you may need more protein as well as heavier lifting on your lifting days. You might not be digesting your protein well. If you’re new to lifting (I don’t know exactly what you meant by only working out heavily for 2 months), I’d think you could GAIN a few pounds of muscle while losing fat.

I have a similar prob… Came from putting on a buncha muscle from physical labor when i was 18 with lots of testosterone then just slowly putting on layers of fat while the muscle never went away or got used.

If you dont have enough raw strength or a whole lot of testosterone I dont think there’s anyway to convince your body to keep that useless muscle. 15 years later im weak as a kitten and my body doesnt view useless muscle any different from useless fat.

Increase your strength. There’s only so much diet can do if you cant activate more than 10% of those fibers at any given time due to poor training or have the testosterone level of a woman.

[quote]andersons wrote:
I usually get a good idea of what’s going on from the skinfold data.

You could have lost a few pounds of fluid and glycogen in your muscles if you’ve been low carb enough and high-enough intensity cardio.

If this is the case and you carb-up just right, you gain a few pounds while skinfolds stay the same or go down, magically gaining a few pounds of muscle overnight.
[/quote]

Bingo.

Thanks for the advice everyone.

I won’t get worked up about it, since it sounds like it’s nothing - I just wanted to make sure I lose as little muscle as possible and to stop any potential bad trends before they really got going.

Anyways, i’m just gonna eat more protein and keep on going.

[quote]nowakc wrote:

Anyways, i’m just gonna eat more protein and keep on going.[/quote]

Holy crap. Write this on your wall, it’s the best decision you’ll ever make.

-Sab

Hmmm…everyone’s metabolism is different, but that amount of calories doesn’t seem to be an excessive deficit that should result in a 3 lb loss of lean mass in a month. Try upping the protein as you said. Maybe incorporate a supplement like HRX or Carbolin 19 to aid in preserving mass.