Is my diet working?
OK, I hit 43 years old and had to reverse some trends my body was making!
I managed to cut 40 pounds in 18 months with diet and exercise, but now I sort of need to build back up with muscle instead of fat. Just so you know, I've always been somewhat overweight for my height, even when I was a state level runner and soccer player, I was always thicker compared to height than my competitors. That's just always been the way it was for me. So there we go.
I'm now 46, 5'8" about 190 lb (today) and am on a 5x5 full body weightlifting program. 3x week (I was 185, but now have built up to 190, hopefully muscle)
I keep a food diary, and have for over a year, so I know I average about 2500 calories a day, with about 150 of those being protein.
Seems like a good thing overall, except I still have about 10 pounds of stubborn belly fat that just won't go away, and hasn't for over 5 months now.
So, my question is, should I:
acccept that I am an inherently thick person with no hope?
Eat more protein, less carbs?
Cut calories overall?
Your thoughts in general would be helpful. I know myself, I think I know what I am doing with my diet and exercise.
But obviously, I would not be here unless I needed some help, so no thoughts are unwelcome. You never know what might strike a bell.
It sounds to me like you are looking for the much-maligned 'clean bulk'.
Speaking purely from experience, it can be done, but conditions typically have to be optimal for it to work; at least in a satisfactory time frame.
By this I mean your age will make it tough - very tough. But still do-able. And don't expect it to happen quickly.
2. More protein!
4. Work harder.
...and you may have to address total calories too, but I'm far from an expert when it comes to caloric intake and bodyweight/composition etc.
But it can be done mate.
Its all in educating yourself..........on YOU, and then educating yourself on what you want to accomplish. And then setting out in being consistent in its application, and being able to adjust/manipulate where applicable as you learn.
The first order of business (IMO), is calculating your maintenance level of calories at your current age, weight, and height, (with all approximated activities included), and then selecting a “reasonable” calorie target (a surplus or deficit in calories) dependent on your personal goal.
Remember as your weight increases or decreases (again dependent on goal) adjust your calories (likewise macros), because your calorie needs change as your weight changes over time and adaptions are taking place (some can forget this important factor).
Next, is maligning your macronutrients adjoined with your approximated calorie allotment and personal goals. What you due from here, depends on what your previous personal history has taught you.
At this point, I have a couple of questions:
When you were 43 years old, and training regularly, and tissue loss was your primary personal goal, what sort of calorie/macro nutrient manipulation were you following? Training routine? You say you have kept a dietary log, correct? How thorough was this log?
I ask this because it can have a lot to do with what you do today (though 3 years older).
Obviously, the calorie/macronutrient combination you were following allowed for approximately 40 pounds of unwanted fat tissue (when body fat was relatively high).
Is it safe to assume you just calculated/ran a calorie deficit without manipulating macro nutrients (or macros were relatively normal) for the calorie amount you allowed? If this is true, then we know that calorie deficits (alone) work quite well (without inducing macro manipulations into the dietary mixture)---when your body fat was HIGH, overall body weight dropping over time, AND the body was introduced to a NEW calorie deficit—it has not experienced in its past trend history
Your tissue loss here under these personal circumstances, do not surprise me.
Let’s see what the body has told you thus far:
1. Body fat HIGH, running calorie deficits (no macro manipulation), you lose tissue
2. Training is the same on the above.
3. Body fat LOW (wanting to lose last 10 pounds), calorie deficits are NOT nearly as effective (absent macro manipulation) as body has made some internal metabolic adjustment, and you are getting down toward what the body would prefer to keep around.
In addition you are 40 pounds lighter as compared to when you started (muscle v. fat Ratio unknown)
In an ideal world, we all want to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. BRO, this isn’t going to happen, unless you are a rare genetically gifted individual, a NOOB to training (just starting), or on ROIDS.
At 46 years old? Forget it, bro. In my opinion, it has to be one way or the other. Meaning, you want to add muscle—while limiting the addition of fat accumulation or get lean while minimizing muscle/strength loss.
You have to choose, brother. And, how the diet is structured, depends on which you choose, and what your personal history has taught you in the process.
And, there are many, many ways you can go with your dietary requirements within the personal goal you desire. Dieting can be difficult, when its decided what you want to do, ensure you have a plan to maintain what you worked so hard to accomplish, until you select another personal goal after you accomplish this one.
IMO, I believe one should start with the most easiest dietary approach (when leaning down), until it is proven with the personal track history that a more difficult approach is necessary or TIME is an issue.
So what is it? Do you want to add more good weight while keeping fat accumulation to a minimum, or do you want to focus on taking off that last 10pounds?
The bare truth is if you want to gain good muscle weight, at a base of about 10lbs of fat, the 10lbs of fat will go up slightly (water retention accounted for), even being careful with calories and manipulating macros—because of the way partitioning of calories go. This is just the way it is.
My advice will be based on your answers to my questions and your choice on what you want to do.
Wish you the best,
We have 3 issues at play here:
1) You want to lose a bit more fat.
2) You want to build up some muscle.
3) You are unsure about your diet.
Most individuals that can cut fat and gain muscle at the same time are young men. Very rarely can it happen effectively for 90% of the population. Those that can re-comp at a later age either have amazing genetics and a great diet, or they are lucky.
Since you are not a bodybuilder, my advice is to shed the 10 pounds of fat and go from their. Re-assess your physique at that time. 10 pounds can be knocked off in 5-7 weeks easily.
Right now your belly fat is stubborn. Most likely, you are insulin sensitive and your body has a hard time processing too many carbs. Your metabolism appears to be slowing because of it.
My suggestion is to take a more aggressive approach and try a Paleo lifestyle for 6-8 weeks. If you do this, don't "diet", but rather eat until you are satisfied. You will lose weight, and your will help to regulate your insulin levels which can only help in the long run.
If you do not want to try Paleo, then my second suggestion would be to lose the weight using a form of carb cycling. During this time you would keep your protein levels about 160-200 grams per day, keep fats at 20-30% of your overall daily calories, and cycle your carbs on a low, medium and high rotation.
Exercise generally won't help. Going cardio crazy isn't a wise thing when you are starting a more aggressive cut. I would get the weight loss to a consistent rate, then possibly add some mild cardio.
Great answers, thanks!
Consensus seems to be that my goals are conflicting, which is true. My main goal is to see how strong I can get, secondarily, I'd like to see my abs, which I'm not actually sure I ever have since around the time Nixon was still President.
Now what seems so hard for me to understand is why I can work out so hard so regularly, yet still look a little barrel shaped. Why can't I just eat sensibly, gain strength, and still look more like Mark Wahlberg or LL Cool J instead of Hagrid? (Joke, I tend toward hyperbole in case you haven't noticed).
Vitality, you pegged it pretty good in that I lost weight pretty easily with calorie deficits, but that is not really working any more. I'm quite certain I can cut calories even more and lose the weight (I don't really have no hope! I just meant that going to extreme measures to cut weight isn't going to happen with me right now). But, I do not want to do that if it is going to affect my primary goal. So, I might be stuck into a few extra pounds at the moment. We'll see.
As for Paleo, that diet really does intrigue me BtB. I lost huge chunks of weight doing Atkins and some other low carb diets from time to time, but I simply cannot stick to them longer than a few weeks. At some point I'm going to ravage a bag of chips or a whole loaf of bread, simple as that. Then the "gains" on those diets are lost within weeks. I do happen to eat more protein than carbs, and "cylcling" carbs is something I have done and can maybe try to do better, but for now, I'm going to keep carbs in the diet.
Now, something else you said intrigues me even more. You talked about cardio, and one correlation I have noticed over the past 18 months or so is that the more cardio I did (I worked up to doing 45-60 min every day, and did 45 min of weights too) the more I tended to have a few binge meals, or simply be just outright ravenous and unable to think rationally about food.
Since I have started to do this 5x5 program two months ago, I have not had any huge meals or felt the need to satify a craving, like eating a whole bucket of chicken or something equally idiotic.
However, since I added in 60 min of cardio two days a week, I noticed my calorie count creeping up more towards the high side of my average than the low side, and the more likley I would just grab a handful of goldfish in passing 25 times a day, or finish my daughter's PB sandwich she leaves half eaten every day, etc.
Now, I'm thinking maybe I should cut back some cardio. Maybe only 30 minute sessions.
How weird is that?
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