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Thread: Fat loss only - no more muscle please! page

  1. #1
    paleo-bunny's Avatar
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    Fat loss only - no more muscle please!

    Apologies for the long post, but I'm now at that stage in my journey of needing to lose those pesky last 20 odd lbs so please bear with me!

    I'm 41, female, 5 foot 3, weight 161 lbs, ~29% body fat, UK size 12 (=size 8-9 in US?). I've lost 35 lbs so far, the last 21 since I went primal.

    To reach my target weight of ~145 lbs I need to shed another 16 lbs. If I lost this exclusively as fat, without gaining more muscle, that'd take me to ~20% body fat.

    I don't want to go sub 20%, which I expect would be difficult as between ages 13-30 my weight fluctuated between 130-147 lbs with estimated % body fat approx 23-30%. Most of my weight gain happened during my late 30s.

    Muscle gain (~ 10 lbs during the past 7 months) has been mostly in abs, pecs, bum, arms and quadriceps. Fat loss has been a steady 2-3 lbs a month.

    Could all this muscle prevent me reaching my target weight given my percentage body fat history? If I have to lose some muscle, so be it. My health is good and I'm very motivated. My leptin and thyroid function feel solid, and I'm not insulin resistant.

    Currently doing weekly: 3-4 strength sessions of 30-45 minutes; ~5 hours of cardio at the gym, mostly intervals, which incorporate sprinting; walking ~15 km a week.

    Daily intake ~2500 cals (not strictly counting/allocating); ~ 150-170 g of carbs and ~110 g of protein. Eating the bulk of carbs in evening meals and post-workout. IFing at weekends. Not keen to cut calories much as that lowers basal metabolic rate.

    So... the plan, starting from today:
    (1) Cut strength training to 1 hour a week, focusing on the abs and whole body strength exercises.
    (2) Keep low level cardio at the gym at ~5 hours weekly, and walk at least 25 km a week.
    (3) Eat more fat with my post-workout evening meal to prevent more muscle gain, and reduce protein intake to ~80 g a day? Reduce cheese intake (150 g a day) as that's very anabolic, and carry on eating similar amount of eggs and fish (I don't eat meat).
    (4) If fat loss stalls, try carb-up days. Am curious enough to give those a shot.

    Any comments, tips, or experience from fellow Groks or Grokettas would be much appreciated.

    (Have put this in Fitness, but appreciate it covers Nutrition too.)
    F 5 ft 3. HW: 196 lbs. Primal SW (May 2011): 182 lbs (42% BF)... W June '12: 160 lbs (29% BF) (UK size 12, US size 8). GW: ~24% BF - have ditched the scales til I fit into a pair of UK size 10 bootcut jeans. Currently aligning towards 'The Perfect Health Diet' having swapped some fat for potatoes.

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    Owly's Avatar
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    Um, why do you care so much about goal weight over mirror appearance and body fat percentage? I'm thinking you're better off keeping up the exercise and aiming for 20% bodyfat, whether that comes at 145 or 150 or whatever, instead of aiming for 145 no matter what and winding up skinny fat. Muscle is more metabolically active and is more likely to help than to hinder your fat loss. I'd keep your protein intake consistent, but cut the cheese intake and get your protein more from other sources. Yes, I know this means a lot of fish and eggs to replace it.

    This just seems so illogical to me. Losing muscle mass is going to hurt you in terms of your body fat goals, not help.
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    Simply reduce calories below maintenance on off days (4 days off except walking). It's not complicated. All that other shit you are trying to do with macros isn't going to do anything. You aren't packing on muscle from eating cheese, forget anabolic/catabolic. Maintain protein level, there is no need to drop it. This will maintain muscle while you reduce calories and keep you full. Strength train 3x a week, eat some tubers on these days. Unless you like spending 5 hours a week on cardio, i would minimize that as well and just walk.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Owly View Post
    Um, why do you care so much about goal weight over mirror appearance and body fat percentage? I'm thinking you're better off keeping up the exercise and aiming for 20% bodyfat, whether that comes at 145 or 150 or whatever, instead of aiming for 145 no matter what and winding up skinny fat. Muscle is more metabolically active and is more likely to help than to hinder your fat loss. I'd keep your protein intake consistent, but cut the cheese intake and get your protein more from other sources. Yes, I know this means a lot of fish and eggs to replace it.

    This just seems so illogical to me. Losing muscle mass is going to hurt you in terms of your body fat goals, not help.
    What Owly said!

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    Analog6's Avatar
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    Throw something new in the mix, eg some road cycling or swimming or a dance/aerobics class, to use some different muscles.
    Odille
    F 58 / 170cms / SW 131.5 kgs / Current 112.4/ GW 65
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    Yes, losing muscle is exactly what you don't want! Weight numbers mean nothing. Get to the 20% or so that you seek. The number on the scale is then meaningless. You want to have a tight body, not a flabby yet skinny body. Build muscle!!

    Also the weight you were at a certain point in life doesn't matter. You are different now. Bones grow a bit, you've added muscle. To get back to that weight, you would likely look and soon feel sickly. It's just not realistic. The good news is that you can have an even better overall physique now!
    Last edited by Forever Young; 02-21-2012 at 02:56 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Owly View Post
    Um, why do you care so much about goal weight over mirror appearance and body fat percentage? I'm thinking you're better off keeping up the exercise and aiming for 20% bodyfat, whether that comes at 145 or 150 or whatever, instead of aiming for 145 no matter what and winding up skinny fat. Muscle is more metabolically active and is more likely to help than to hinder your fat loss. I'd keep your protein intake consistent, but cut the cheese intake and get your protein more from other sources. Yes, I know this means a lot of fish and eggs to replace it.

    This just seems so illogical to me. Losing muscle mass is going to hurt you in terms of your body fat goals, not help.
    Thanks for the wise words, Owly. To clarify, I'm not fixated on a particular goal weight, more a goal size which is UK size 10. So I'm extrapolating how much weight I need to lose to get there. I do care about mirror appearance (yes I am a bit vain, also single) and about body fat percentage. I like being muscular, and I think it's healthy to muscle up during middle age for the reason that you state - that's why I've worked hard to gain muscle. My arms especially look their best and least wobbly ever. On the other hand, I don't want to lose healthy curves, so I think my ideal is UK size 10 at 20-24% body fat.

    I won't make any drastic changes and will keep reviewing my goal based on how I look and feel.
    F 5 ft 3. HW: 196 lbs. Primal SW (May 2011): 182 lbs (42% BF)... W June '12: 160 lbs (29% BF) (UK size 12, US size 8). GW: ~24% BF - have ditched the scales til I fit into a pair of UK size 10 bootcut jeans. Currently aligning towards 'The Perfect Health Diet' having swapped some fat for potatoes.

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    paleo-bunny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Analog6 View Post
    Throw something new in the mix, eg some road cycling or swimming or a dance/aerobics class, to use some different muscles.
    Excellent ideas. Sadly, I had to give up swimming (which I found so relaxing) as the chlorine makes my eczema flare up, and I'm very sensitive to traffic fumes too, so no road cycling for me. However, there are various dance/aerobic classes at my gym that I plan to try. Also, I will get back to fitness hula hooping in the park again as the weather improves.

    Quote Originally Posted by Forever Young View Post
    Yes, losing muscle is exactly what you don't want! Weight numbers mean nothing. Get to the 20% or so that you seek. The number on the scale is then meaningless. You want to have a tight body, not a flabby yet skinny body. Build muscle!!
    Also the weight you were at a certain point in life doesn't matter. You are different now. Bones grow a bit, you've added muscle. To get back to that weight, you would likely look and soon feel sickly. It's just not realistic. The good news is that you can have an even better overall physique now!
    Thanks. Yes I do feel much healthier now. My upper body is so much stronger which gives a better balance, as I have naturally muscular legs. I think I used to be celiac and not absorbing protein properly (hence getting protein cravings). I gave up wheat about 11 years ago and all gluten grains about 5 years ago and that was a reason for fat gain because it cured my irritable bowel. Prior to that I could eat around 3000 calories a day and not get much overweight, hence I still have a big appetite. Now that I've gone completely wholegrain free (I cut out whole corn when going paleo/primal), my body gains muscle much more readily.
    F 5 ft 3. HW: 196 lbs. Primal SW (May 2011): 182 lbs (42% BF)... W June '12: 160 lbs (29% BF) (UK size 12, US size 8). GW: ~24% BF - have ditched the scales til I fit into a pair of UK size 10 bootcut jeans. Currently aligning towards 'The Perfect Health Diet' having swapped some fat for potatoes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fernaldo View Post
    Simply reduce calories below maintenance on off days (4 days off except walking). It's not complicated. All that other shit you are trying to do with macros isn't going to do anything. You aren't packing on muscle from eating cheese, forget anabolic/catabolic. Maintain protein level, there is no need to drop it. This will maintain muscle while you reduce calories and keep you full. Strength train 3x a week, eat some tubers on these days. Unless you like spending 5 hours a week on cardio, i would minimize that as well and just walk.
    Most body builders rate whey powder and cottage cheese for body building so that's why I'm thinking of reducing cheese intake. I don't want to have to drop protein intake overall, as my current intake makes me feel good.

    I do plan to walk more - that's why I've joined the Slow Movement Challenge. I expect I'll cut back on the cardio as I walk more during the summer. I don't get bored with cardio on cross-trainers at the gym as they each have their own TV screen with a good choice of channels.
    F 5 ft 3. HW: 196 lbs. Primal SW (May 2011): 182 lbs (42% BF)... W June '12: 160 lbs (29% BF) (UK size 12, US size 8). GW: ~24% BF - have ditched the scales til I fit into a pair of UK size 10 bootcut jeans. Currently aligning towards 'The Perfect Health Diet' having swapped some fat for potatoes.

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