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Training/Diet Query


I've been training very hard and diet is very good (lots of protein and clean/whole foods - no processed stuff or sugar)... however I don't seem to be shifting much fat, instead I seem to be gaining muscle (my pr on lifts has been steadily increasing each month)...unfortunately although I love the the gains in strength...

my priority is shifting the fat.... although I have only been training for 1.5 years I would have assumed (based upon what I have read) that added muscle helps get rid of fat... Am I incorrect to assume that? Or am I being impatient???

I have seem some good results previously... but have been disillusioned by lack of results (in terms of fat loss) not strength/muscle gains.



weight, height, approx bf?
Major lifts?

Yes, having extra muscle means that you burn more calories, by way of increasing your BMR.

What sort of training are you doing?
Are you doing cardio?
What type of cardio, how long, how many days a week?

Chances are it's a diet thing. What's your diet actually look like? You may think it's good, but obviously the scales/mirror say otherwise.

Post the additional info and people will be able to give you more specific advice.


female; 78kg; 165cm; bf... last time measured 28%

Deadlifts (romanian/sumo); cleans (power/squat); snatch; back/front/overhead squat; bench press; push press; military press; I try mix it up

Crossfit 4 times (short w/outs) / Weights (3-4 times per week heavy) / Circuit Training (3-4 times per week... usually as a fat burning post training w/out)

RPM/Spin (twice a week) Running (5km twice a week) 25 -30km bike ride once a week (up and down hills)

I try to do fasted cardio am and weights/circuit training pm

Diet is as follows... i have changed it a bit... but this is the go for the past 6 weeks with limited results:

Am - 6 days a week fasted cardio

Meal 1
Protein pancakes (30g oats; 100g cottage cheese; 3 egg whites)
60g raspberries
6 1000mg fish oil supps

Meal 2
Vegetable sticks (carrot, cucumber, capsicum, celery)

Meal 3
100g cottage cheese
4 oatcakes

Meal 4 (this is usually an hour before workout)
Piece of fruit (apple or banana)
200g Natural low fat yogurt
30g nuts
50g dried beef/ sliced turkey

(4-5 times per week
Meal 5
100g-150g turkey/chicken/beef/fish/salmon
20g nuts

Additions: every now and again i'll have a coffee with Meal 1.... no sugar, little no-fat milk

Nb. i usually do 3-4 quite challenging weight sessions (pm) and will consume a protein shake (1 scoop + water) after that and then have Meal 5.

Clearly at the high bf% that I have - I know it is mainly just Calorie in vs. Calorie out... (I try and stick to around 1500 calories including vegetables) and i don't need to be too concerned about macros



Thanks for posting the extra info. I'm sure others will be able to help you more than will.

I'm not much of an expert on diet- but on a simple calorie in, calorie out- on a 1500 calorie diet, with that much physical activity, you should be dropping weight.

How long have you been on a 1500 calorie diet for?
Have you tried any other sort of diet- carb cycling or similar? Have you considered the V-Diet, I'm not a big fan but it seems like people get good results.

I'm not a fan of fasted cardio, by the way, I don't see/haven't seen any real evidence that it does anything worthwhile. I don't think it would be doing any harm though :wink:

Sorry I couldn't help more, I'm sure someone else will be able to give you good advice r.e. your diet, or whatever else might be holding you back.


So here's a couple of things you probably already know, but they bear repeating.

1) If that's what you're eating on a daily basis, that's pretty good. As in, I wouldn't make any drastic changes. Well done, you've done your homework.

2) If you're cheating significantly on your diet (or not significantly) it could explain your lack of results. I'll assume you've consumed the above meal plan every day for the last six weeks without significant variation, because if the reason you're not seeing results is because you're not actually eating what you say you are, it should be a quick fix.

Here's a couple of things that come out of my experience, that may or may not help.

3) The best kind of diet is the boring kind with little or planned variation, because it allows you to measure your total calorie and protein count so you have real data to work from. That way, when fat loss slows, you know that if you decrease kcals by 2-300 you should start seeing results again.

4) The best kind of lifting program for a cut is one that gradually increases the reps/sets or decreases rest time- in any case, one that involves steady progression- in order to continue soliciting a training effect, and keep the body guessing/responding to new stimuli/preventing stagnation.

5) Brute-force plateau breakers are a) adding more cardio b) subtracting calories. These work up to the point where you no longer have time to perform them or your stress levels prevent them from doing any good.

I've been in your position a couple of times, and there were two things that got me out of it, and neither were easy.

The first time I was lifting heavy 3x/week, following the T-dawg diet pretty solidly, and doing HIIT once or twice a week, when I could find the time. I felt that I should be making really solid progress, but the scale never really went down and I never visibly lost fat, and it seemed like everyone recommended using visual cues to measure fat loss irrespective of weight loss. After a month of no results, I stopped.

Lesson: Have an objective way of measuring fat loss. Now when I'm cutting, I use a scale, but I also make sure to measure the circumference about my belly-button. If my weight stays the same but my waist decreases, I'm fine. Waist stays the same, but my weight decreases, something's wrong.

FWIW, I'd use bodyfat calipers, but I suck with them, and I don't know anyone who legitimately knows how to use them. If you do, use that. Otherwise, tape measure works in a pinch.

The second time I was in your position, I was lifting heavy 4x/week, following t-dawg diet, doing HIIT 3x/week religiously, downing HOT-ROX like it was going out of style (well, the max prescribed) and biking on a shitty bike through Austin hills an hour a day (to and from school). It worked great for about a month, and then stopped. Everything just stopped. I kept working at it, but I couldn't drop any fat. Eventually, I cycled off of cutting.

Lesson: Plan progression. Doing everything at the beginning leads to great fat-loss, but if you don't leave yourself any place to go, you're screwed as soon as your body adjusts to it's current routine. Now when I plan for a cut, every four weeks I make sure to either a) increase the amount of exercise b) decrease the total calories or c) add in more thermogenics. Or d) make some other change that I think will cause me to continue dropping fat.

The last time wasn't that long ago. I started on a program at a caloric level that I knew should have allowed me to drop a couple pounds a week, and it didn't. So I added some fish-oil. The next week, I started dropping fat.

(In reality, since I hadn't been taking any fish oil supp or eating fish, I super-dosed Flameout for about a week- 3 servings/day- and then went back to the regular dose once a day. I believe fish-oil can be loaded, but that's just me)

So, advice for you.

I advise adding fish oil. If that works, great, you're fixed. If it doesn't keep using the fish-oil (it's just all-around good for you, and great for your health, and probably the most cost-effective supplement known to man) and add some HOT-ROX (this assumes you a) respond well to stimulants b) are not currently taking an ECA or other stimulant/fat-loss supplement and c) can afford it). If that doesn't work, your thyroid is probably shot from dieting for a long period of time (or a short period of time extremely intensely) and you should slowly add calories and decrease exercise back to your metabolic baseline, hang out there for a while, and then intentionally plan a cut with a steady progressions built into the system. And then do it.

Cliff notes:
1) Maybe you're losing fat and aren't noticing it. Start measuring your bellybutton circumference in addition to the scale.
2) Maybe you're cheating on your diet. If so, stop it.
3) Maybe you went too hard too fast. The only place to go now is onwards and upwards, so cut calories or add exercise, but next time make sure to plan progressions into your cut.
4) Maybe you could benefit from supps. I recommend fish oil first, and a thermogenic (Biotest's HOT-ROX works well. Ephedra and Caffeine also works if you're not in the US, but do more research because Ephedra can be nasty)
5) Maybe your thyroid is shot and you should cycle off for a month before trying to cut again to increase your metabolism to the point where you can lose fat again.


Thanks no probs.... the following post has gone above and beyond :slight_smile:


Thanks again for all your suggestions... I guess I may have to suck it up and just reduce those calories again and up the cardio to get rid of the excess.....



Yeah Otep's a legend, props to him for always taking the time to help out us beginners, always patient, clear, comprehensive and knowledgeable.


Great post Otep. The cliffnotes, very nice.


Variation that small isn't likely to throw you off. So that's probably not the gig.

Out of curiosity, who recommended you raise your calories? It was probably good advice (In all honesty, I have no idea how to work out how much women should eat. Women v. Men is like day and night). If you have a trainer who can see your progress in person, sometimes that resource is invaluable.

I believe you. FWIW, it works best in a planned, systematic fashion, but you understand the principle, so you're probably taking care to slowly ramp up the intensity of your workouts. Cool.

(Also FWIW, in post above, 3-5 aren't just based on my experience. Most of them were intended to be 'things you already know', I just forgot to delete the line. Sometimes I don't type so good)

Short answer: Yes.
Long Answer: Yes, but it has less to do with your stress levels and more to do with how you deal with them. So you work 10-12 hour days as a social worker, constantly seeing a shifting, shapeless mass of teenage angst and poor parenting barrage itself through your office, you are demanded to improve the lives of people who resent your authority, you have difficulty finding time throughout the day to eat, and you have difficulty getting to sleep each night despite the bitter hollowness of fatigue rotating behind your eyes from the moment you get up in the (too early) morning to the moment you collapse onto your rusty second-hand camp bed. What do you do?

Well, it's not like you're going to change professions for the sake of your fat loss (I mean... it isn't, is it?). And no matter how many people say 'don't let it get to you', it's not like you have a way of 'not letting it get to you', because if you did, you'd be doing it, and it wouldn't be 'getting to you'. So what can you do?

Books have been written about stress management. Not knowing your particular predicament, I'll advise you to look into it, along with this obnoxiously general advice:
1) Have an evening ritual before you go to bed, and get enough sleep. The former, IME, is highly conducive to the latter.
2) Take high volumes of Vitamin C (like, a gram) along with your PWO shake. Don't take it at other times (vitamin C has some anti-cortisol properties, and while you need periodically high levels of cortisol/stress to function like a human being, elevated cortisol PWO can undue the benefits of the exercise you just performed. Vit C helps lower cortisol through a mechanism I do not fully understand but have seen used intelligently by people more intelligent than me. Mega-dosing is good because Vit C is cheap, and there is virtually no known toxicity).

LOL. How long of a period are we talking about here? in 6 weeks, your hips have decreased 4cm?

Well, far be it for me to advise you against your better judgement, but protein powder is about as natural as Amaranth Flakes. Wheat has to be first domesticated (wheat grows wild, but it was selectively bred for large, plentiful grains), then picked, threshed, sifted, pressed, and baked in order to go from the wild plant to the cereal poured out of a plastic sack in a cardboard box and served with milk. Protein powder is typically either mechanically or chemically seperated from the water, fat and sugar in milk, dehydrated, and packaged. It's probably more natural than cheese, because I don't think they treat it with lab-grown bacteria.

As far as thermogenics go... Biotest's HOT-ROX has a bunch of hippie plants in it (Forskolin, Yohimbe, and something vaguely extracted from rasberries... yeah, go figure), and a metric fuck-ton of caffeine. Once you stop taking them, your body's metabolism goes back to... where it would have been without it. Most of the time, that's back to baseline. After prolonged usage (I'd guess about 4 months of constant use) you run the risk of harming yourself. But, put into perspective, it's a lot like coffee. You use coffee to wake up in the morning, after a couple of months of half a pot a day, you find it difficult to stay awake without it. The point is to use it when it is beneficial, and sparingly- so you use it when progress slows on a cut, and not before. As time goes on, you periodically up the dose, until you're done, at which point you cycle back to maintenance. Key words are 'safe' and 'effective', and there's a bunch of people here and in the Supps forum who'll attest to that.


If you don't feel comfortable using thermogenics or protein powder, that's fine. Really. You can get similar results by adding more cardio and chicken tenders, respectively.

Yeah, that looks like the jist of it. If all your ducks are in a row, the only thing you can really do is use the brute-force method. Good luck. Post back with results/problems.


Thanks again for all your help and information. Sorry for the delay in my reply, but I have been travelling for work.

As of tomorrow I will actually have a new trainer who will supervise and coordinate my training/nutritional programme (According to my trainer my nutrition needs a little work and apparently my training is all over the place)... so together with your advice and his expertise I'm hoping by summer time (i'm in the southern hemisphere)I might see some decent change!

Many thanks again.


And although these people all are more experienced than I am, from a relative newbie to another, I'll ask this quick and easy question...

How are you measuring your bodyfat that you know you're NOT losing bodyfat?

Some methods are relatively worthless or enough that you won't notice changes unless over months.

For a while I was using a scale with a bodyfat percentage monitor and thought I wasn't making progress. It was off by enough randomly and it varied enough based on training that day and time of day of measurement that I couldn't see any changes. However even with this bad tool after 3-4 months and recording it I noticed it trending down reasonably well.

Realize that the tools I had were so bad that I had thought I was barely making progress until I had to go buy pants and realized my 38-40 pants needed to be replaced with 34's...

So confirm (caliper or better method) if you are actually losing bodyfat or not.



Try HIIT? It worked well for me, also dont forget your fish oil, and instead of cutting overall calories try dropping carbs after, say 6pm? see if that works first