T Nation

Training to Lose Weight


#1

Hi all, this will be my first post so please pardon any improper etiquette!
I've begun working out steadily again after a couple years off, and was looking for some opinions and pointers on certain matters. Some background may be useful..

I'm 21, 5'10", 230 pounds, ~25-30% Body fat. I have experience in powerlifting and competed for 2 years at 220 and 198. I began working out a month ago, going 3-4 times a week alternating upper and lower body. Most workouts consist roughly of a 5x5 bench/squat/deadlift followed by 3-5 auxiliary workouts and then 10-20 minutes of cardio via cycle or elliptical.

Over the next 4 months I would like to drop as much as 40 pounds and 10% body fat.

I currently am trying to stay at 50-100 g of carbs and 200 g protein daily, but it's difficult and I'm hungry often. I'm having good workouts, but my progress is slow as I got the newbie gains out of the way years ago.

I'm sort of at a loss as to how work out to lose fat, so I was hoping for training advice to compliment a low-carb diet. Should I eat more than three times a day? is 50-100 g carbs too low for good workouts? Should I exercise differently if I want to lose weight effectively? What about gear like Winnie? Any input is appreciated.


#2

Alrighty lets take some quick bullet points to address your questions.

First: losing fat is about diet. NOT your workout. The routine is a very minimal variable when it comes to losing weight. What you eat and how much is way, way more important.

  1. 40 lbs in 4 months is pretty lofty. For reference, the standard goal for most people dieting to lose weight is about 1.5-2 pounds a week.

  2. You really don’t need to change how you lift, unless you’re not seeing results or are just really bored. If you’ve competed in powerlifting in the past, I’m going to assume you have the basics down at the minimum and understand how to progress and push yourself. That’s really all you need.

  3. Don’t use Winnie. Nothing against it, just really not for you right now.

  4. Eat more than 3 times a day if you want. Eat 6 times if you want. Really, total calories in versus calories out is what is going to make or break your progress. Eat as frequently as you like and is convenient. Consistency >>>>>>> number of daily meals.

  5. 50-100 g of carbs is not necessarily too low. Though jumping straight into a diet with 50-100 g carbs, 200 g protein, I’m assuming you’re not taking in 150-200 g of fat so I also assume you’re basically setting yourself up to make this incredibly more difficult than it needs to be about 2 months from now.

Post a standard day of eating for you, what you’re doing for training, and what your current plan is right now.


#3

Also: cardio on off days? Even just low intensity stuff like walking / hiking in the morning, or 20 min of intervals, can make a difference.


#4

[quote]staystrong wrote:
Alrighty lets take some quick bullet points to address your questions.

First: losing fat is about diet. NOT your workout. The routine is a very minimal variable when it comes to losing weight. What you eat and how much is way, way more important.

  1. 40 lbs in 4 months is pretty lofty. For reference, the standard goal for most people dieting to lose weight is about 1.5-2 pounds a week.

  2. You really don’t need to change how you lift, unless you’re not seeing results or are just really bored. If you’ve competed in powerlifting in the past, I’m going to assume you have the basics down at the minimum and understand how to progress and push yourself. That’s really all you need.

  3. Don’t use Winnie. Nothing against it, just really not for you right now.

  4. Eat more than 3 times a day if you want. Eat 6 times if you want. Really, total calories in versus calories out is what is going to make or break your progress. Eat as frequently as you like and is convenient. Consistency >>>>>>> number of daily meals.

  5. 50-100 g of carbs is not necessarily too low. Though jumping straight into a diet with 50-100 g carbs, 200 g protein, I’m assuming you’re not taking in 150-200 g of fat so I also assume you’re basically setting yourself up to make this incredibly more difficult than it needs to be about 2 months from now.

Post a standard day of eating for you, what you’re doing for training, and what your current plan is right now.[/quote]

OP, this is a first-rate response to your post. Take it to heart.


#5

[quote]staystrong wrote:
Alrighty lets take some quick bullet points to address your questions.

First: losing fat is about diet. NOT your workout. The routine is a very minimal variable when it comes to losing weight. What you eat and how much is way, way more important.

  1. 40 lbs in 4 months is pretty lofty. For reference, the standard goal for most people dieting to lose weight is about 1.5-2 pounds a week.

  2. You really don’t need to change how you lift, unless you’re not seeing results or are just really bored. If you’ve competed in powerlifting in the past, I’m going to assume you have the basics down at the minimum and understand how to progress and push yourself. That’s really all you need.

  3. Don’t use Winnie. Nothing against it, just really not for you right now.

  4. Eat more than 3 times a day if you want. Eat 6 times if you want. Really, total calories in versus calories out is what is going to make or break your progress. Eat as frequently as you like and is convenient. Consistency >>>>>>> number of daily meals.

  5. 50-100 g of carbs is not necessarily too low. Though jumping straight into a diet with 50-100 g carbs, 200 g protein, I’m assuming you’re not taking in 150-200 g of fat so I also assume you’re basically setting yourself up to make this incredibly more difficult than it needs to be about 2 months from now.

Post a standard day of eating for you, what you’re doing for training, and what your current plan is right now.[/quote]

All of this is gold.

All I’ll add is that most people feel fuller after a meal with protein and fat


#6

[quote]staystrong wrote:

First: losing fat is about diet. NOT your workout. The routine is a very minimal variable when it comes to losing weight. What you eat and how much is way, way more important.[/quote]


#7

[quote]staystrong wrote:
Alrighty lets take some quick bullet points to address your questions.

First: losing fat is about diet. NOT your workout. The routine is a very minimal variable when it comes to losing weight. What you eat and how much is way, way more important.

  1. 40 lbs in 4 months is pretty lofty. For reference, the standard goal for most people dieting to lose weight is about 1.5-2 pounds a week.

  2. You really don’t need to change how you lift, unless you’re not seeing results or are just really bored. If you’ve competed in powerlifting in the past, I’m going to assume you have the basics down at the minimum and understand how to progress and push yourself. That’s really all you need.

  3. Don’t use Winnie. Nothing against it, just really not for you right now.

  4. Eat more than 3 times a day if you want. Eat 6 times if you want. Really, total calories in versus calories out is what is going to make or break your progress. Eat as frequently as you like and is convenient. Consistency >>>>>>> number of daily meals.

  5. 50-100 g of carbs is not necessarily too low. Though jumping straight into a diet with 50-100 g carbs, 200 g protein, I’m assuming you’re not taking in 150-200 g of fat so I also assume you’re basically setting yourself up to make this incredibly more difficult than it needs to be about 2 months from now.

Post a standard day of eating for you, what you’re doing for training, and what your current plan is right now.[/quote]

Thanks for the responses, really. I’m sort of disappointed that working out differently won’t do much, ah well.
Also I figured 40 was high, but if it was 30 I’d still be excited. 2 lb./week would be 34 pounds or so.

I usually eat 3 times a day right now, 4 sometimes. My diet today will be as follows:

6:30 - 3 eggs, 3 turkey sausage links, cup of coffee light on sugar.
12:00 - baked chicken breast with Rosemary and basil, baked mushrooms & cucumbers
~7:00 - pan cooked shrimp and asparagus, maybe cucumber
I might munch on peanuts or eat a can of tuna for protein, as well. I’m having trouble hitting 200 g.

So 150-200 g fat would be safe for weight loss? I’m trying to stay around 100 right now, also challenging. If it would help me feel fuller it’d be worth it either way

My last workout (upper body):
Bench: 135x10, 185x6, 195x5, 205x5x3
Strict curls: 50x10x3
Tri pushdown: 110x10, 120x12, 140x12
Flies: 35x10x3
Chest press: 90x10, 140x10, 160x6
Cardio: 15 min on elliptical, moderate resistance

Most workouts look like this, with varying compound and auxiliary lifts.

I plan to stick to my diet 6 days a week, allowing 200-250 g carbs once a week. I plan to work out 4 days a week

Also, I live in midtown and walk many places, so 20 minutes of walking is a common occurrence for me. Would doing it specifically on my off days be significant?


#8

Try this article out for size:

http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/7_steps_to_a_flexible_diet


#9

[quote]jacobcapra wrote:

[quote]staystrong wrote:
Alrighty lets take some quick bullet points to address your questions.

First: losing fat is about diet. NOT your workout. The routine is a very minimal variable when it comes to losing weight. What you eat and how much is way, way more important.

  1. 40 lbs in 4 months is pretty lofty. For reference, the standard goal for most people dieting to lose weight is about 1.5-2 pounds a week.

  2. You really don’t need to change how you lift, unless you’re not seeing results or are just really bored. If you’ve competed in powerlifting in the past, I’m going to assume you have the basics down at the minimum and understand how to progress and push yourself. That’s really all you need.

  3. Don’t use Winnie. Nothing against it, just really not for you right now.

  4. Eat more than 3 times a day if you want. Eat 6 times if you want. Really, total calories in versus calories out is what is going to make or break your progress. Eat as frequently as you like and is convenient. Consistency >>>>>>> number of daily meals.

  5. 50-100 g of carbs is not necessarily too low. Though jumping straight into a diet with 50-100 g carbs, 200 g protein, I’m assuming you’re not taking in 150-200 g of fat so I also assume you’re basically setting yourself up to make this incredibly more difficult than it needs to be about 2 months from now.

Post a standard day of eating for you, what you’re doing for training, and what your current plan is right now.[/quote]

Thanks for the responses, really. I’m sort of disappointed that working out differently won’t do much, ah well.
Also I figured 40 was high, but if it was 30 I’d still be excited. 2 lb./week would be 34 pounds or so.

I usually eat 3 times a day right now, 4 sometimes. My diet today will be as follows:

6:30 - 3 eggs, 3 turkey sausage links, cup of coffee light on sugar.
12:00 - baked chicken breast with Rosemary and basil, baked mushrooms & cucumbers
~7:00 - pan cooked shrimp and asparagus, maybe cucumber
I might munch on peanuts or eat a can of tuna for protein, as well. I’m having trouble hitting 200 g.

So 150-200 g fat would be safe for weight loss? I’m trying to stay around 100 right now, also challenging. If it would help me feel fuller it’d be worth it either way

My last workout (upper body):
Bench: 135x10, 185x6, 195x5, 205x5x3
Strict curls: 50x10x3
Tri pushdown: 110x10, 120x12, 140x12
Flies: 35x10x3
Chest press: 90x10, 140x10, 160x6
Cardio: 15 min on elliptical, moderate resistance

Most workouts look like this, with varying compound and auxiliary lifts.

I plan to stick to my diet 6 days a week, allowing 200-250 g carbs once a week. I plan to work out 4 days a week

Also, I live in midtown and walk many places, so 20 minutes of walking is a common occurrence for me. Would doing it specifically on my off days be significant?
[/quote]

That doesn’t look like many calories. Try weighing your food for a few days so you can calculate your calories/macros. Cutting at too much of a calorie deficit will stall your progress significantly in a few months.


#10

[quote]dagill2 wrote:
Try this article out for size:

http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/7_steps_to_a_flexible_diet[/quote]

^^ pretty good stuff, I’m doing most of this already. My biggest takeaway from reading is that I should be counting calories and not just macronutrients. I mean, I bet I’m not breaking the calorie recommendation anyway, 10-12x BW (2300-2750 for me) is pretty easy to stay below.

Also, I should maybe supplement vitamins I guess, as my diet is very caveman-esque and may leave me low on micronutrients besides iron and vitamin B.

Things like this are what I need to learn, thanks for the article.


#11

It seems like you’re open to advice and genuinely want to learn about how to do this, so that’s already a great start. Some things that are important for you to know:

  1. Your calories look really, really low for the start of a diet. I roughly calculated it to be around 1400-1800 calories maybe? Here’s my rough estimates:

Breakfast: 200 + 200 + 50-100 (coffee and sugar) = 500. I really have no idea about the sausage, how big they are, and haven’t ate sausage in a long time so it’s a really rough estimate.
Lunch: Maybe 400? I don’t think rosemary, basil, cucumbers have many calories and I don’t think mushrooms do either.
Dinner: No idea, but it’s same as lunch. Only calories are really from the meat (shrimp), so even if you eat a lot maybe 500?
Snack: Say you have a couple handfuls of peanuts that day. 400 calories
Total: 1800, and that’s honestly probably a high estimate. Really no carbs, moderate (maybe 50 g?) fat, rest from protein.

The weighing food/counting calorie suggestion is a good one. Really useful.

  1. Going off of that, there’s something else you should know. Your body adapts to what it’s given. Meaning, you can start with 1800 calories and you’ll lose fat for sure (and possibly muscle), but what happens in 4 weeks when your metabolism slows down a bit? You’re going to drop to 1300 calories? Then what? 800? A succcessful diet starts as high calorie as possible and gradually lowers as needed throughout the diet.

  2. You’re really not trying to “stay below” the 10-12xBW calculation. You’re trying to stay IN it. If a calorie deficit of 500 calories is good, 1000 is not necessarily better.Better to start higher, so start with 12xBW. See point 2.

  3. 150-200g of fat is ok for weight loss in certain situations. The way it works is, you have the 3 main macros (fat, carbs, protein). You need energy, these give energy. Usually, carbs and fats are relatively inverse to each other. So if you want lower carbs (50-100g is pretty low), then fat has to be higher to compensate. Typically, people set their protein goal (say 200g, usually 1-1.5xBW) then fill the rest of calories with fats and carbs. If you decide that 100 g carbs is what you want, then you would need 120-170 grams of fat (assuming the 10-12xBW calorie requirement).

Eating fat does not make you fat. Eating more calories than you burn makes you fat. Likewise, eating fat does not prevent you from losing fat. There are hormones and other factors involved but for a simplified version this basic knowledge works.

EDIT: Oh, and you NEED a basic level of fat for hormone production and other important health things. Do not make it your goal to eliminate fat from your diet for long lengths of time. The level of needed fat isn’t that high, but don’t go and try for 5g a day. For just a general guideline, at least above 35g on most days. If you’re doing the low carb approach, you’ll likely be getting well over double that.

  1. Cardio. Natural reaction when someone wants to lose weight is very similar to what you’ve done here. Drop calories pretty low, start 4-5x a week cardio session, make progress, become miserable as you feel like your starving and burning out then drop the diet. Or keep going but then you stall and try dropping even MORE calories, doing MORE cardio, and just feeling awful and not get results.

For cardio, same as diet. Try to get by with as little as possible, only increasing as you need it. If you want to do it now, start with 2-3 times a week 15 minutes, after a few weeks add a 3rd day, after a few more weeks add 5 minutes or a 4th day, after a few more weeks 5 minutes.

Though you can also drop plenty of weight without ever doing cardio. The 2nd time I dieted I dropped 40 pounds by lifting 3x a week and incline walking 20 minutes 3x a week. Cardio is a TOOL for HELPING weight loss, not the cause of the weight loss. You can’t out-train a crappy diet.

  1. Working out differently can have some effect (sprints, complexes, rest periods, things like that), but not a huge amount and like cardio and dieting should be added only when necessary when progress stalls (hint: progress does not stall just because you haven’t lost any weight the past 2 days). Train like you’re attempting to grow as much muscle as possible. That’s the best way to train, whether trying to gain weight or lose it.

  2. Weight loss is not linear. You will have some days you weigh the same as yesterday, 2, 3 days ago. Sometimes, you’ll even GAIN a pound out of nowhere. Then 4 days later drop 3 pounds. DO NOT FREAK OUT because the scale hasn’t moved in a couple days (if you weigh yourself daily). Your body is complex, you won’t always understand why you gained that pound but it’s temporary. Trust the process. If after 2 weeks you haven’t lost any weight, then make an adjustment (add cardio or lower calories by 300)

  3. Measure your progress. Weigh yourself either daily, or once a week, at the same time wearing the same clothes. In the morning naked works pretty well honestly. Take pictures every 2 weeks, or every 1 month, and save them on your computer. You will likely not see large changes every 2 weeks, but it’s pretty motivating and cool to look back 2-3 months later and see you’ve actually made some cool progress. It’s motivating.

This post dragged on, I feel like I rambled and I’m sure I didn’t explain some of the things enough but ask for clarification if you want. I’m by no means the only person here qualified to help you, but I hope my ramblings help.


#12

Staystrong, thanks for taking the time to math my caloric intake, and don’t sweat a lengthy post. Believe me when I said any input is appreciated. It’s all just helping me dial in on my diet.

So, I’m going to start measuring & counting calories aiming for 2750. I’m going to up my fat intake to about 150g daily, and I’ll wane down both slightly every month if I start stalling. The shrimp are small and 50 calories per serving so dinner was barely 200 calories and my daily is closer to 1500. I added two tablespoons of peanut butter, a cup of milk and 5 chicken wings (not fried without sauce). I also ate tuna as a snack instead, and added mayo.

I’m going to do some looking into supplementing vitamins as well, and maybe invest in some protein shakes to keep calories and protein up.

As for working out, I’ll just keep busting ass. I may even try something intense like smolov as I’ve had good results with it. On workout days I’ll eat slightly more carbs and slightly less fat, if I can manage. I plan on doing cardio in upper body days only now since it’s easier, and keep it at 10-15 minutes.

A couple more questions, since I’m just full of em. Is dairy ok on a diet like this? And what about light beer? In moderation of course. Also I’ve read about things like green tea extract to promote alpha receptor activation in stubborn fat cells, which I definitely have (minor gynecomastia and some serious love handles). Uh, whatsup with that? Seems like an easy and helpful thing to do.


#13

Also if anyone sees anything out of line with changes to my regimen feel free to point out


#14

[quote]jacobcapra wrote:
Staystrong, thanks for taking the time to math my caloric intake, and don’t sweat a lengthy post. Believe me when I said any input is appreciated. It’s all just helping me dial in on my diet.

So, I’m going to start measuring & counting calories aiming for 2750. I’m going to up my fat intake to about 150g daily, and I’ll wane down both slightly every month if I start stalling. The shrimp are small and 50 calories per serving so dinner was barely 200 calories and my daily is closer to 1500. I added two tablespoons of peanut butter, a cup of milk and 5 chicken wings (not fried without sauce). I also ate tuna as a snack instead, and added mayo.

I’m going to do some looking into supplementing vitamins as well, and maybe invest in some protein shakes to keep calories and protein up.

As for working out, I’ll just keep busting ass. I may even try something intense like smolov as I’ve had good results with it. On workout days I’ll eat slightly more carbs and slightly less fat, if I can manage. I plan on doing cardio in upper body days only now since it’s easier, and keep it at 10-15 minutes.

A couple more questions, since I’m just full of em. Is dairy ok on a diet like this? And what about light beer? In moderation of course. Also I’ve read about things like green tea extract to promote alpha receptor activation in stubborn fat cells, which I definitely have (minor gynecomastia and some serious love handles). Uh, whatsup with that? Seems like an easy and helpful thing to do.

[/quote]

Sounds good. Start at the 2750 area, see what happens over the next 2 weeks. You may have to drop or add some calories. When you start a diet you figure out, as best you can, what seems like a reasonable starting point and then you do it. If you don’t lose any weight (or even gain) over the next 2 weeks, adjust by lowering the calories. Usually 300ish calories daily are typical adjustments

Some people avoid dairy, some love it, some claim it’s horrible for you, some chug milk like water. Given your starting point and no known history of dairy issues, eat it if you want. I love yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese. I don’t eat a ton of it, but I don’t have digestion issues with it and for the average person not looking to diet down to competition level leanness it helps to eat as “normal” as possible and eat foods you enjoy as long as they fit into your calorie needs.

Light beer isn’t a great choice, but I don’t think anyone ever claims it is lol. Again, you have a long way to go to reach your goals and your goal isn’t to step on a stage in 4 months. If you want to have a couple of beers, it won’t kill your progress. I usually just count them in as calories/carbs for the day. Meaning if I plan on drinking Friday night, I’ll save like 500 calories for the night. If I have an extra drink or 2 I don’t stress out about it. If you’re only planning on drinking a few drinks 1-2 times a week, this works pretty well. If you’re planning on binge drinking or drinking most nights, I have no idea how that will work since I’ve never done it but I assume it won’t be great. Other people have difference approaches, but this has worked for me currently and in the past.

I don’t know much about green tea extract honestly, or have any personal experience with it. Others might. I’ve heard it is helpful, and it won’t hurt so use it if you’d like. If someone gave me some I would use it, I just don’t feel the need to buy it.

However, I will say don’t be so quick to say “stubborn fat cells, which I definitely have (minor gynecomastia and some serious love handles)”. If you are indeed 25-30% fat, you will have man-boobs and love handles. Everyone does! There is no person I’ve ever seen carry a significant amount of fat and NOT store a decent amount on their chest and stomach. For a lot of people, stomach is the last place to lose fat. If you get down to visible six pack leanness and still have them then maybe you do.

For working out, that sounds good. Really, any decent balanced program works. The best program is one you will enjoy doing, work hard at, and will stay consistent with.

Protein shakes are good and useful as well, not a bad idea to have some protein powder around. Same for vitamins.


#15

Since I’m reaching the one month mark, I figured I would post an update. Here is my body weight over the last month:

2/23 - 229.5 lb. 3/10 - 223.5 lb.
2/26 - 228.0 lb. 3/12 - 222.7 lb.
3/1 - 227.0 lb. 3/14 - 221.9 lb.
3/4 - 225.4 lb. 3/18 - 220.5 lb.
3/7 - 223.5 lb. 3/21 - 220.2 lb.

At some point here I started weighing myself in the morning; but after breakfast, the gym, and a shake today I weighed 222.2. Also at some point I began going to the gym 5 days a week.

I have to say dieting is giving me the BIGGEST leg up in the gym. When I powerlifted I just ate whatever I wanted, man I could’ve been so strong if I knew how powerful the diet was! Since I started lifting at the end of January I have put about 40 pounds on all of the comp lifts and am totaling about 1150 now. My arms grown over a quarter-inch to 17", and are beginning to show some vascularity. Plus my energy and mod are through the roof and since I can eat moderate amounts of fat I still enjoy my meals.

It has really been a pretty significant lifestyle change after being basically sedentary for a few years, and it feels sustainable. I’m excited to see long-term results!


#16

day 1 - 229.5 BW


#17

day 26 - 220.5 BW


#18

[quote]staystrong wrote:
First: losing fat is about diet. NOT your workout. The routine is a very minimal variable when it comes to losing weight. What you eat and how much is way, way more important.[/quote]

[quote]
Really, total calories in versus calories out is what is going to make or break your progress. [/quote]

Can you please elaborate on these two points? They strike me as contradictory.

Why would changing a few variables in your daily workout plan to make it more metabolically demanding be negligible?


#19

About 6 weeks since my last post, I thought I would update again. Weight loss has slowed compared to the first 4 weeks, although I’m still seeing moderate composition changes; bodyweight down from 220.2 on march 21st to 213 today on may 15th.

Even still, I guarantee I am also gaining muscle, my squat and deadlift have gained about another 50 pounds each and about 20 on bench! In a powerlifting setting I’m nearly totaling 1300 and have broken into the 500 Deadlift club.

I’ve cut my calories down to around 2000 a day, and my fat intake down as well. Also I go to the gym 5-6 times a week now, with at least 4 of those focused on powerlifting.


#20

I would just like to say that there’s been a ton of good information and tips posted in this thread so thanks people.