T Nation

Somebody Help the Noob


Bf:approx 20%

Well,I just started hitting the gym about 3 weeks ago.Used to go to the gym in my apartment where there are no trainers.Lost about 11lbs(to get to 176) in about 2 weeks by restricting calories(cut out all my junk food) and doing a bit of cardio and working on different muscle groups each day.(Biceps+back,chest+triceps,legs+abs+shoulders)
Approx 15*3 of most exercises.

Now it's been a week since I've started going to this other gym with my friend where there are trainers who tell us what to do.Been doing more cardio than before,the trainer makes me do 15*2 of each and I'm not losing any weight AND I'm confused when I see people talking about eating more to grow whereas here I'm trying to eat less to cut the fat and get lean.I want to put on some muscle too,but I'm just worried eating more is just going to be counter-productive to my fat-loss goal.
Some help please?


I'm a noob too but let me tell you a few things.

  1. If you lost 11 pounds in 2 weeks you are losing weight too fast. At that rate you will be losing muscle mass along with fat. Calculate your BMR(Basal Metabolic Rate) and your TDEE(Total Daily Energy Expenditure). These calculations can be found online easily by searching google.

  2. When you know your TDEE, aim to eat about 10% less calories, no more.

  3. Weigh your food portions on a kitchen scale and calculate the calories in everything you eat. If you try to guess you will be WAY off.

  4. You don't need to eat more than your TDEE to gain muscle mass as a beginner. What's important is that you get enough protein. How much is enough? Try to get up to 1 gram of protein for each lbs of bodyweight a day spread evenly over the day. 6 small meals a day is best. Also, make sure you get enough fruit/vegetables and enough carbohydrates(complex carbs are better because they break down slowly providing your body with a sustained release of glucose so you won't get blood sugar spikes and lows). A good ratio for fat loss/muscle gain is: 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fats.

  5. Fats are also essential for muscle growth. Eat stuff like Salmon(not farmed), tuna, olives/olive oil, avocado, almonds. Take Omega 3 fatty acid capsules(cod liver oil is the best) to help meet your fat requirements.

  6. Read as much as you can about fat loss/muscle gain. Don't take my word for it.

  7. Each time you lose 2kg recalculate your TDEE as you will no longer require as many calories.

  8. Of course you will also need a good weight training program that is tailored to your goal. Decide what your goal is and find a program designed to meet that goal. i.e. Strength training program, hypertrophy(big muscles) program, type 3 hybrid muscle(all round performance) program.

That's a lot of info above and you're probably confused so read the beginners' sticky threads on this site and try to learn as much as you can. Good luck.


Thanks for all the input,I'm sure it'll come handy. :slightly_smiling:

About the losing too much weight,I too was worried/bewildered about how that happened till I came across this-"Too fast, too soon only leads to muscle loss and loss of strength. So what you want to do is lose no more than 2 lbs per Week. The first Week will be the exception as typically anywhere between 5-10lbs can be lost due to extra glycogen and water that the body is getting rid off. After the first Week however, only 2 lbs should be the max amount."

And I'm really confused on how to measure my calories because of the weird diet we Indians have. :S
My breakfast is normally 4 slices of brown bread with 2 egg whites.
Lunch is mostly rice with some vegetables/chicken.
And then I try to squeeze in two meals to substitute dinner so as to not load on too much just before sleeping.
These meals are generally just milk,fruits,some meat etc.
And sometimes something we call a "roti" which is a wheat based bread like thingy.Can't really explain,and some more vegetables.
And I'm really confused about what protein supplements I should be taking and IF I should be taking them considering how what I want to do is get lean.


That's not a weird diet. I used to get roti or naan bread with my curry at the local Indian restaurant here in Sydney. You can find the calories of just about anything online.

Calories in Roti bread:

RE Protein: what matters is that you are eating below your TDEE(Total Daily Energy Expenditure) i.e. you are eating less calories than your body is burning up. The fact that a lot of the calories you eat are protein just helps you to maintain/build muscle.

RE Eggs: Egg whites are great and an excellent source of protein but the yolks are just bad fat and cholesterol. You don't want to cut cholesterol out completely but limit it. I make scrambled eggs from 1 whole egg and 5 egg whites. Try having two slices of wholegrain bread instead of four. Brown bread is often really just unbleached white bread which is a simple carbohydrate. Go for very dark bread like Rye/Pumperknickel or wholegrain. Have another small meal before lunch if you're still hungry.

RE Calorie counting: It's a pain in the arse at first but once you know how many calories are in the things you eat regularly it's much easier.

Your lunch sounds good but brown rice should be substituted if possible. Why not have your vegetables at dinner time and fruit at lunch time? Most fruit is high in fructose/glucose so you want it earlier in the day so your body has time to use it up. But even so, remember it's the total number of calories consumed that really matters for weight loss.

RE Protein supplements. First, you will only need 1 protein supplement. A protein shake powder. They come either with carbs or without(actually just much lower carb content). There are literally thousands of brands. Just make sure it's 'Whey protein isolate' and 'low carbs'. I use 'Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein' but there are many others just as good. Only drink it when you need it i.e. if the meal you are eating does not have enough protein in it. For a 176 lbs guy eating 6 meals a day you will want to try to get 30 grams of protein in each meal. Don't worry if you can't get this much. Just try to get as close as possible.


Ok, HaveIron, you need to shut the hell up sometimes. A newb leading a Newb is a recipe for disaster. You talk too much and listen too little. I respect the fact that you are enthusiastic about this iron life, and that you are reading and researching a ton. Both are traits that I had when I was just starting out in weight training. And those are both skills that you will need to succeed long term in this lifestyle, and they will put you ahead of the competition. However, you need really STFU and do some serious work before you start handing out advice in the authoritative tone of "facts". Yes, I saw you type #6. That's well and good, but you need to listen more and talk less ok? It is ok to share your personal experiences and what you learned through them. It is NOT cool to start giving out advice like you are teaching. You haven't put enough time in or gotten enough results yet. And yeah, I got my ass chewed like this early on too. I was out of line, and I listened up and improved a lot faster for it.

1) He is NOT losing fat too fast if the only thing he has done with his diet is cut out the candy and soda pop and add a bit of cardio in! This is typical in early transformation stages for people with a) bad diets and b) not a lot of training experience. That "lose 1-2 pounds a week" crap is not a universal rule and it does not apply to all situations even though it is a good rule of thumb for many people. OP, if you have cut your calories all over, BESIDES just stopping candy and junk, then you might want to reconsider a little. On the other hand if you are not ragingly hungry all the time it is not a worry at all because your body still has the fuel it needs.

2) OP, you need take what the trainers say with a grain of salt. a) because your goals are not the goals you are being told to go for. At 20% bodyfat I would suggest losing a bit of fat before going on a "bulk". There is no need to get to a magical 10% or something before doing that, but you need to stay focused on YOUR goals, not somebody who is not listening to your goals. and b) because you were doing more total work before on your own than what the trainers are having you do.

Fat loss is both a function of diet (eating slightly less and eating better things. Less processed things) and workload. The more overall physical work you do the more weight you lose, all other things being equal (although they usually are not equal). So, any trainer that is telling you to do less than you have been doing is not doing you any favors in your current state. By the way, the same is also true for muscle gain. Need more details on your weight training routine and cardio.

3) You are new to this and haven't given us a whole lot of details with the diet, so all I can give you are general guidelines. If during the 2 weeks you were losing weight you were not really starving, felt pretty good and felt like you were eating enough, then that is about right. If you are ravenously hungry all the time, you need to eat some more--keep it healthy with lean protein, veggies, and some fruit though. A constant gnawing hunger is indicative of you having cut calories too far too fast, ALTHOUGH from what you have posted so far I do not think that is the case and I think you are fine. On ANY good diet you will be hungry sometimes, that is the fact of losing fat and you should accept it. Need more details to be more certain though.

It is very very essential to keep a food log! Track a) what foods you eat b) calories, fat, protein, carbs and c) the time of day you eat it. This will give you the baseline you need to MEASURE how much to add or subtract when you make changes to your diet. Without a baseline to tell you where you are you will have a very hard time telling how what you are eating is affecting your fat % and weight. This is a huuuuuge key to long-term success with your goals.


And HaveIron, for what it is worth I agree with your post on his diet for the most part.

Fruit earlier in the day, and he needs more protein in his breakfast. More than two egg whites.

Your comment "but remember, it's the total calories consumed that really matters for weight loss" is mostly true, but partially false--you can switch the timing of nutrient intake around to get better fat loss without changing calories. That is the entire idea behind nutrient timing, peri-workout nutrition (beyond the scope of this thread OP, you shouldn't worry about that right now), and lots of other things. Granted there's only so much you can do with that and at some point yeah the calories matter the most. But it bears repeating that What you eat and When you eat it matter a great deal. And the bottom line is, if you don't have to cut calories as drastically to lose the fat, then you feel less miserable :).

The biggest thing I have an issue with is your comment on the egg yolks. Egg yolk is very valuable and has gotten completely vilified in the past 15-20 years or so. The best eggs to eat are of course Omega 3 eggs. But the yolk is far from useless and furthermore the correlation between the cholesterol in the egg and overall bad cholesterol blood levels is spurious at best. You are missing all the fat soluble vitamins when you ditch the egg yolk--a ton of good stuff is in there. There are many ways to limit cholesterol without even considering eggs. Sometimes limiting the yolk intake is needed, but many times it is not.


I saw his request for help go unanswered for 24 hours. Seems to me that you're just confusing him with information not needed at this stage/information that is debatable/controversial. This thread isn't supposed to be a debate about the merits of egg yolks or noobs who 'need to shut up' because they're noobs. It's about providing someone with the basic info they have requested.


First I just want to correct something. His request didn't go unanswered for 24 hours. You responded about 40 minutes after the thread was created. Don't believe me? Check the time stamps.

Very true. However, when you are providing incorrect information because you really don't know that much, you are doing more damage than you are good.

Great post Aragorn.


Ah,thank you guys for all the help,I was pretty lost with all the articles I've been reading online and what people keep saying without even being sure about what's true and what's not.
I'm sure this'll help a lot. ^_^

Havelron,I have white rice for lunch. :S
And I've been trying to look for the same,100% Whey Protein here and it's not proving to be really easy to lay my hands on them.Can you tell me a few other brands which are good,so that I can look for them if I don't manage to get the same thing?

Aragorn,no I don't feel ragingly hungry all the time,I feel pretty good actually,so I guess I don't have to worry too much about that.
So what do you think I should do,reduce the weight training and concentrate on just cardio,to lose fat?
And yes,I think I really should keep track of the food I eat and I'll try out the site that Havelron suggested.
And yes,I'll add more eggs and try to switch the fruits and vegetables to ensure optimum use.

Again guys,thanks for all the input,don't know how lost I'd be without it.


This is what I gathered from that website.


AND this.
Sorry,don't know how to put in two pictures in one post.




Will somebody help this guy, I'm not allowed.


Ok, sorry for letting this go, I have been pretty busy lately. I will try to post more detail later today (am on my phone now and its a pain to type one thumb at a time).

No, I definitely do not think you should lessen the weight training! You can do cardio and lift at the same time and do fine, especially just beginning like you are. Weight training has a very pronounced effect on metabolism, much more so than just doing cardio by itself. Doing both is the fastest way to lean out if your diet is good. Somehow people never seem to realize this, or maybe it's because many of them are conditioned to think running leans you out magically. There's nothing magical about it.

I think you should find a good upper/lower body routine, that has already been written out, and go with it. Or a whole body routine. The more muscles you work at one time, both in one exercise and in one workout, the better the fat loss will be all other things being equal. That doesn't mean do tons isolation exercises--it means compound exercises, bang for your buck exercises.

keep up with the food log--you need t see exactly how much you are eating to see what you need to do in the future. I would suggest finding a quality multivitamin and some vitamin D as well.


I will say you definitely need more protein in your lunch and dinner. Too little! Also try dailyplate.com for nutrition logs, see which you like better. I don't see fat, carbs, or protein tracking on the photo you linked in so I don't know if that is just not shown or if the website you used doesn't have it. You need to track grams of protein, fat, carbs as well as overall calories.

Are you currently still losing weight?


No,I put on like half a pound and I'm stuck there.

And this is my routine.

1st day-Chest,Triceps,Shoulder.
10 mins treadmill(Warm up)Pushups,Dumbbell Press,Incline Dumbbell Press,Pec Fly,Dumbbell Shoulder Press,Side Dumbbell Shoulder Raises,Tricep Ext,Pulley Pull Down.
The 10 min warm up is a daily thing.

2nd day-Back,Biceps
Lat pull down?Seated Back Row,Close Grip pull down?(Not really sure what they're called,trainer asks me to do it. :S)Dumbbell Bicep Curls,Hammer Curls?,Pulley Bicep Curls,Forearm extensions.

3rd day-Legs
Free squats,Leg Press,Leg curls,Leg extensions,Standing calf raises.

4th day-Cardio,abs
About 30-45 mins cardio including the cycle,the treadmill and the elliptical.
Leg raises(Starting from 90 degrees to about 45,close to the chest)3*20

I repeat Day I on the 5th day and it goes like that.
The exercises are all in the 15*3 rep range.

Any advice?


I've seen other noobs like me get flamed for giving advice, but I'll give it a try here anyways:

I lost fat pretty well with a high-fiber, high-protein diet by the Slow-Carb Diet in "The Four-Hour Body". I also read in a spill somewhere that 100 grams of carbs a day is optimal for burning fat without going into ketosis, but I haven't ever tried that.

It's also better if you have short, intense bouts of cardio throughout the week than a whole cardio day, in my opinion. With one cardio day, you pace yourself throughout the workout and burn less calories per minute. If you split up the cardio, you can make each session more intensive, less mentally stressful and boring, and have more post-workout high-metabolism periods of time where your body continues to destroy fat even after the workout.

And did you say you eat white rice but your goal is fat loss? I think if you just eat smart, not even necessarily less, you'll get the fat off pretty well.

Edit: You mentioned whey protein - I use NNW - you can buy it in the "health food" section at Hy-Vee. Get the cinnamon bun flavor!


Well I have definitely see worse workouts in terms of what they have you do exercise wise. However, there's no deadlifts, no lunges, and not step-ups. And all of those burn infinitely more calories and build infinitely more strength than leg extensions and curls. And there is exactly ZERO reason to include calf raises when your goal is fat loss. They are all but useless for this purpose. They don't work anywhere near enough muscle groups, and they're not strenuous enough to force systemic adaptation in the rest of your body like big exercises. Your leg day should be revamped

Also, from what you wrote it looks like entirely too much bicep work and not enough back work on "back" day. You are doing 4 arm exercises and only 3 back exercises!! And only 1 rowing exercise!!

This violates rule number one of weight lifting for fat loss and strength gaining--the more muscles a single exercise works the more useful it is for both purposes. Same thing as with the calf raises. Always, always put the majority of your work on the stuff that takes the most muscle groups, and always do it first in the workout when you are fresh.

Your back day needs to be revamped. 1 or 2 bicep exercises are more than enough during fat loss. And ditch the forearm extensions. They are equally as useless as calf raises for fat loss, if not more so.

Legs option 1: free squat, deadlift, leg press, weighted high step ups, leg curl

2: free squat, lunges, leg press, weighted high step-ups

3: free squat, deadlift, lunges, step-ups, leg press

Back #1: chin ups or assisted chin ups, dumbbell row, t-bar row, lat pull down, close grip pull down (trainers thing), bicep curls

2: chin ups, t-bar row, lat pulldown, cable row, close pulldown, 1-2 biceps exercises

3: chin ups, barbell row, dumbbell row, lat pulldown, biceps, close pulldown

4: chin ups, barbell row, dumbbell row, lat pulldown, cable row, 1-2 biceps exercises

Are you increasing the weight from week to week on your exercises?

Are still tracking your food intake? Are you eating the same or more?

How often do you run/do cardio? Is it only on day 4?


Ok, what i'm about to say might sound kind of weird, but don't panic that you aren't losing weight yet--give it 2 weeks. First, fat loss tends to slow down after the initial quick weight loss of the first couple weeks or month. That doesn't necessarily mean you are doing anything wrong, it is natural. Annoying and frustrating, but a natural response from the body. Second, lots of things could affect your weigh in, from water consumption to salt to beer. For example, if you have lost a pound but were bloated when you got on the scale it may not register any weight loss, or you might even be heavier with water weight.

Now I suspect there's probably something that can be done about your situation, but I need answers to the questions in my last post first :).


Oh,I'll add your suggestions to my routine and see how they work,I guess you're right about the calves and forearms not playing a big role in helping fat-loss. :S

And yeah,I'm increasing the weights.7.5 to 10 to 15 now.And the food I'm eating is pretty much the same,no big difference.

The prescribed routine has only one day of cardio in it,but I play soccer and cricket here and there a day or two a week.Been trying to get myself to wake up early in the morning and go for a jog everyday but I'm too lazy.Could you guys give me a few other options for cardio?