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  • Muscle loss from fewer daily calories?

    I think I know the answer to this question, but thought I'd ask: will you lose a bit of muscle mass if your daily calorie intake drops?

    It seems as though I've lost a little muscle definition, but my strength is up. I've been eating about one and a half meals a day for about a week. I just haven't been hungry. I find the more walking I do, the less hungry I am and the more energy I have (which is awesome if weird). So this week, I'd say my average daily calories come to around 1500 or so, if that. Some days it's like 850 and some very rare days up to around 2100.

    Yet this morning I did 6 pull-ups without issue when I normally do about 3 or 4 (from totally relaxed position). Then I switched hand positions without a break and did another 3.

    It just seems counter-intuitive. In the last two or three weeks, I've dropped 1% BF and my weight is down 3 lb or so but my strength is up and desire for food down (yet energy is up also)?

    Am I... am I a... *gulp* Am I a cyborg?! If so, when can I start collecting a nice paycheque from Skynet and going back in time to say snazzy one-liners? I hear their dental plan is awesome.
    Last edited by Patrick; 02-21-2011, 10:49 AM. Reason: bad wording
    August 2010: 207 lb, 37" waist, 25+% BF | Currently: 177 lb, 33" waist, ~15% BF

    I have a new site up and will soon be blogging at The Wayward Mind. (My journal is semi-retired at this point)

  • #2
    I am fairly new to all of this, but since no one has answered and I hate to see unanswered posts, I will leave a few comments.

    Am I understanding correctly that you dropped TO 1% body fat, or did you LOSE 1%? If you are at 1% body fat, is that healthy? From what I understand, men need 3-5% just for essential body functions....

    If you are in calorie deficit and don't have much body fat to burn, I would assume that yes you are going to lose muscle. Not sure why you aren't more hungry, but on the days you aren't hungry maybe try to incorporate calorie dense foods like almond butters, almonds and macademias, cheese if you eat dairy, etc. I am a 126 lb. woman with way more bf than you and I am losing weight on around 1500-1700 calories/day, so I imagine you would need way more calories to keep your muscles mass up.
    Last edited by sanepsycho; 02-21-2011, 10:45 AM.

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    • #3
      I'm thinking that your metabolism may be getting more efficient. If you are adjusting to your genetically optimal size, it makes sense to me. If you are feeling good, don't worry about it. If you feel like you are losing too much weight, then add some starchy carbs, which will probably up your appetite a bit.
      Ancestral Nutrition Coaching
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      • #4
        Originally posted by sanepsycho View Post
        Am I understanding correctly that you dropped TO 1% body fat, or did you LOSE 1%?
        lol Sorry. I dropped 1%; I didn't drop down TO 1%. Fixed that above. Thanks for the catch and reply! I actually took nuts out of my diet in December, but yeah... might need to reincorporate a handful a day or something. I'm not feeling that's right for me, but it might need to be.

        Originally posted by Dragonfly View Post
        I'm thinking that your metabolism may be getting more efficient. If you are adjusting to your genetically optimal size, it makes sense to me. If you are feeling good, don't worry about it. If you feel like you are losing too much weight, then add some starchy carbs, which will probably up your appetite a bit.
        This is my hope, Dragonfly. Spoke to my mom on the phone not too long ago and she conveyed some concern. I kinda laughed and said, "I know it's weird, but can it really be bad when I'm showing greater strength, want to run around the block a few times and just generally feel kick-ass? I'm not about to start eating 'just because.' "

        You're right in that it's about feeling good. I certainly do, but it also felt like quite a shift (hence this post). Then again, these last few weeks (since the beginning of January, really) have seen some fairly radical changes in how my body is responding and shifting. It's just ramping up at a rate I wasn't expecting, I guess. Sep - Nov was a fairly linear progression for me with a plateau through most of December. Now it just seems like things are into overdrive. Maybe my body's anticipating an end to this fucking ice age we call winter in Ottawa.

        You guessed right in that I'm also coming close to my optimal weight/size (I think). I'm almost at a 32" waist (and that was my waist in high-school!) and I'm at 178 lb. I think 165/170 lb or so will be my lower limit, or at least at 6' tall and being broad-shouldered I kinda hope so.

        I really ought to hit the doctor's office and just get a reliable BF% test done. I'm tired of Internet calculator guesswork. Back in October or November (when I was at 24% BF) I had set a goal of 15% BF for the end of March. It'd be cool if I could upgrade that goal this early in what I expected the progression to be. Maybe my next goal could be something a little less number'y: "Make men angry with envy and women swoon by mid June." Yeah, that sounds about right.
        August 2010: 207 lb, 37" waist, 25+% BF | Currently: 177 lb, 33" waist, ~15% BF

        I have a new site up and will soon be blogging at The Wayward Mind. (My journal is semi-retired at this point)

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        • #5
          Patrick - what internet site do you use to calculate BF%? Just curious. I haven't found one I like yet so just looking for another option to try.

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          • #6
            Glad it was a 1% loss and not 1% bf - I think 1% may qualify for cyborg!

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            • #7
              Also....If you shed some stored glycogen or water that can make your muscles LOOK less bulked.
              MTA: because it is rare I dont have more to say

              "When I got too tired to run anymore I just pretended I wasnt tired and kept running anyway" - my daughter Age 7

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              • #8
                my understanding is that it takes quite a bit of glucose depletion for your body to start to use its own muscle for fuel. You said that you were just walking a lot and doing some pull ups, I dont think thats enough to lose muscle mass, at least not at any significant rate. You are probably losing some water as you are moving and not eating as much, and muscles can get pumped up, i forget the name for it something related to "vascular" i.e there is more blood, water and glycogen in the muscles so they look bigger. body builders take certain supplements just to get that effect. I notice that my biceps feel bigger after a day off and smaller right after I work out. Besides if your goal is weight loss you will get there pretty fast by adding in the fasting you're doing, and if you're trying to gain muscle you do probably need to eat significantly more.

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                • #9
                  1% body fat:

                  activate the rhythm, the rhythm that has always been within

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by duckmama View Post
                    Patrick - what internet site do you use to calculate BF%? Just curious. I haven't found one I like yet so just looking for another option to try.
                    I'm using this one, which I think is the one Mark recommended. That said, it's not nearly as accurate as measurements done by a doctor or at a gym with the proper equipment. However, it can act as a rough gauge.

                    Nice pic, localad! I'll post that on my wall with a note that reads "Goal: this guy or bust."

                    runnergal, that might be exactly what it is. Can you elaborate a bit? I don't really understand either the glycogen or water weight/retention thing.
                    August 2010: 207 lb, 37" waist, 25+% BF | Currently: 177 lb, 33" waist, ~15% BF

                    I have a new site up and will soon be blogging at The Wayward Mind. (My journal is semi-retired at this point)

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                    • #11
                      "Make men angry with envy and women swoon by mid June." Yeah, that sounds about right.
                      +1000 The only goal worth having in my mind. Numbers don't mean shit.

                      Pics, please!
                      Ancestral Nutrition Coaching
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                      Primal Pregnancy Nutrition Article

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                      • #12
                        Lean gains posted something about optimal size eatting real food/low body fat. He stated in his experience it was Height in CM - 100 = Weight in Kg.

                        Also, body weight exercises are hard to gauge stength gains when losing weight. Being better at the movement and the loss in weight contribute to better numbers with no absolute gain in strength.

                        How are your free weight numbers?
                        If your food is fast, maybe you should fast.

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                        • #13
                          Generally speaking, no matter how low your calories go...relatively speaking....as long as your dietary protein intake is adequate, you should never tap into existing muscle mass for calories....

                          Hence the Protein Sparing Modified fast (PSMF).

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Dragonfly View Post
                            Pics, please!
                            They'll be posted... on a subscription-based site.

                            Seriously, though, I was a pussy and never did a "before" picture when I started out in Sep '10. That said, I'll definitely have pictures this summer.

                            Originally posted by Kaeden View Post
                            How are your free weight numbers?
                            No freakin' idea. I don't do weights, sorry. I'm a SimpleFit + Sandbag Fitness (soon to be, anyway) guy. Weights might (might) enter into the picture down the road. Or kettlebells, mebe.

                            Thanks for the info, UndergroundNutritionist! Good to know. I definitely meet protein requirements and then some. I'm generally at 1.5g protein/lb LBM.
                            August 2010: 207 lb, 37" waist, 25+% BF | Currently: 177 lb, 33" waist, ~15% BF

                            I have a new site up and will soon be blogging at The Wayward Mind. (My journal is semi-retired at this point)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Patrick View Post
                              I'm using this one, which I think is the one Mark recommended. That said, it's not nearly as accurate as measurements done by a doctor or at a gym with the proper equipment. However, it can act as a rough gauge.
                              Not for women I hope! A 162 lb woman with 32 in waist/40in hips comes in at 32%! I'm hoping to get my BF tested via Bod Pod next week, so we'll see how "rough" that gauge is. Honestly - if I'm anywhere near 32%, I'll be really surprised.

                              ETA: Put my ideal numbers in: 140 lbs, 24in waist, 36in hips = 29.8% This calculator is CRAP. At least for women. For one thing - there is no field to enter height. For all they know, I'm a 4 ft midget.
                              Last edited by bokbadok; 02-21-2011, 12:59 PM. Reason: new info
                              42 yo female; 5'8"
                              Oct 2009: 205 lbs
                              Dec 2010: 167 lbs
                              Current weight: 158 lbs (first time under 160 in 17 years!!!)
                              Goal weight: 145 lbs

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