T Nation

Should I Worry About Muscle Loss?


I started a cut about 10 weeks ago but fat loss was going very slow so I just decided to make it more restrictive by taking away another 3-400 calories and some carbs on workout days (I'm doing no carbs on cardio days).

I recently measured my arms on saturday because I haven't in awhile and it turns out they were very slightly bigger which reassured me I wasn't losing muscle. Today, 1 week into being more restrictive and they're about 1/4in. smaller than saturday. I know that is not a big deal but I think we can all relate to caring about arm size lol. There was also a little more activity this week.

Should I be worried about muscle loss now? The one thing making me think maybe I shouldn't is that my strength is currently going up even while cutting, most notably in my pressing movements.


I should also add that I've lost 3lb in the last month (pretty slow, I know) and skinfold measurements haven't moved. It didn't bother me at first because like I said my arm/chest/calf measurements were the same but now I'm starting to worry.

And I'm 15% body fat too so I really wanted to continue to lose fat for now


It's most likely glycogen and water levels. Believe me, my #s can change on a daily basis, and it used to freak me out all the time.



Hopefully, but I would expect things with you to fluctuate more with all the prep work.

Should I not be worried since my strength is going up? How likely is it that someone is losing muscle if strength is going up and they have good nutrition but are in a caloric deficit with pretty high activity?

I just don't see any other explanation other than muscle loss if I'm losing weight but skinfold measurements didn't go down and now apparently arm size is slightly down. I guess glycogen would explain that to some degree but last time I checked weight/calipers I hadn't dropped the 50 more grams of carbs. The smaller arm measurement was just 2 days ago though.


Stu's answer was no, you shouldn't be worried and I agree. Glycogen + water loss = shrinkage, like cold water and your junk. Now go meditate or do something to calm down. Your freaking out is making me feel freaked out.


Is it even physically possible to lose 1/4" of muscle on your biceps in a week without getting out a knife? I'm guessing only a complete fast could lead to that kind of muscle catabolism.


I hope your right. Like I said my weight had already dropped without a decrease in caliper measurements before I dropped carbs more but yea it was after reducing carbs (even though it wasn't by much) and slightly increasing activity that my arms actually went down. It still sucks but if you guys are right it should come back if I increase carbs again

Well I don't know exactly what was lost but it was 1/4in.


Worrying increases cortisol levels.


yup just measured exactly one week later. It was at it's highest (for the most part) of 15.25 last week, now just shy of actually hitting the 15in. mark


Strength going up + enough protein + not being very lean = minimum/negligible muscle loss


What's your height?


Why are you measuring your arms every week? These things don't happen overnight. It takes months to put real size on your arms, not a week.

Go set your tape measure on fire and don't buy a new one until next year. If your arms haven't grown by then, you're doing it wrong.


This I agree with. Excessive measuring may actually set you back by causing you to think changes need to be made when variable measurements are common depending on many issues.


I like waist measurements once a month TOPS and using the scale/mirror to tell me my progress. Anything beyond that is getting into OCD territory and you will drive yourself bananas with micro adjustments. Eat a lot of salty food the rest of the night and a ton of water... your arms might grow back that 1/4 inch lol.

Do you post under the same name at Iron Addicts?


I generally measure my arms once every 1-2 months, I don't have it scheduled or anything. I just happen to measure them a week ago because I was worried about the weight loss and when I saw they were bigger I was happy so I checked again a week later just to see they were down 1/4in

I agree too, I usually never measure like this. Like I said I was just happy that they were slightly up so when I dropped the weight I wanted to see what happened a few days later with the increased activity/decreased calories.

As for the salt + water, today being saturday is a carb up day for me and I've had a lot of water and salt today...hold on lol

Alright just measured them and they were the basically exact same size as this morning, 15in, even after working out today and eating a lot of carbs, salt, and drinking a lot of water.

I'm not as big of a fan of IronAddicts. The info is definitely good quality, some of the mods are just dicks though and seriously think too highly of themselves.