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  1. #1
    NoPrimalFear's Avatar
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    Question regarding sudden protein increase / LBM increase

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    This is my first post, but have to admit I have been “lurking” here for about a month now. My wife and I have been “Primal” for about three weeks now, and we are thrilled with the many changes we’ve noticed so far.

    I do have a question I am anxious to hear some answers to. Hopefully personal experience from someone would be even better.

    First, some boring bio information in case it may shed some light into what I am dealing with (skip below if you want the question only):

    I had been counting calories and following the typical 50c/30p/20f diet for some time. I am a 41 year old, six-foot male who started January 2011 at 247 pounds, dropping to 211 by mid June. Having been a collegiate athlete (lacrosse) as well as coaching at the college level for 12 years I would consider my self somewhat athletic, but in pathetic shape since 2006 when we became self employed business owners. My busy summer work schedule and subsequent lazy fall saw me creep back up to 226 by the end of 2011. January 2nd I started back at it again, and added another round of P90X to go with it. While trying to find a solution to eating less carbs I found a link to this site. Didn’t take long too buy the book as well as a few cookbooks as well. After my wife saw me lose the desire for carbs almost completely she read the book and we have been on board together ever since. I still work out 6 days a week, but I have stopped the P90X and created a shorter (30) minute routine, which contains lifting 3x/week and lighter cardio 3x/week.

    Question: I have not lost scale weight in the past 3 weeks. In fact, I have likely gained a half of a pound instead. I have lingered around the 218 mark for 21 days now. Can a sudden drastic increase in protein intake lead to some considerate LBM increase, even when there is still a calorie deficit?

    According to the “science” of calories in, calories out this is not realistic. If you believe in body types I can assure you I am not a mesomorph. My college degree in Sports and Exercise Science tells me no, gaining muscle with a calorie deficit is not possible. If I say I am “plateauing” or putting my body in “starvation mode”, then why did I just have to put another hole in my belt this week? Overall I feel lighter during the past three weeks, but the scale tells me I have actually gained a half a pound in 21 days. Also, after spending a long time at the same workout weights I have suddenly seen a significant jump in free weight #’s and push up / pull up totals. Shorter workouts account for some of this, but can’t explain all of the strength gain.

    I am hoping for some suggestions on what might be occurring, or why. I am expecting responses such as don’t worry, why do you care what the scale says, etc. I am not in danger of quitting this new lifestyle. I love it. But I would like to know if anyone else has had this occur and what they can share from their knowledge or experience.

    I should also mention that I have stopped counting calories, as I am simply not hungry enough to continue to eat all my exercise calories, and I gave up force-feeding to reach my goals after week number one. I tracked my calories for the first 7-10 days, but realized I now eat fewer calories than before and feel fuller.

    Also, I do have calipers and could track fat %, etc., but I am tired of all the ups and downs that numbers put me through. If I am giving up the notion that I simply MUST work harder and longer during my workouts to burn more calories and get better results, then I don’t want to track every tiny detail to over analyze.

    While we have had a cheat meal or two during the week, those are coming to a quick end. Both of us now feel sick after eating too much sugar or any significant carbs. It has become a very unpleasant situation.

    Again, I love how I feel and that is enough to keep me living and eating the Primal Way. I also think my clothes are fitting loser. That said, I’d love to know what is going on with the scale weight. Our friends are asking about our new lifestyle and the way we eat. I have always felt able to explain the ins and outs of body composition changes (calories in/out). Right now I’m at a loss to explain what is going on. How can I be adding LBM if I still have a calorie deficit to continue losing weight?

    Thanks in advance for any thoughts/advice.

  2. #2
    NoPrimalFear's Avatar
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    Can a sudden drastic increase in protein intake lead to some considerate LBM increase, even when there is still a calorie deficit?

  3. #3
    paleo-bunny's Avatar
    paleo-bunny is offline Senior Member
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    I gained about 10 lbs of muscle while losing around 21 lbs of fat over 6 months. So yes, I've gained muscle on a calorie deficit. I wasn't deliberately using calorie cycling, but others do. I create the bulk of my calorie deficit through exercise - I believe that's important. Also I eat the bulk of my carbs post-workout, with plenty of protein and moderate fat (low fat is even better) which creates an insulin spike that promotes building muscle.

    Men can achieve much better lean gains than that, especially when they follow a strict protocol, which I haven't been doing.
    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.

  4. #4
    yodiewan's Avatar
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    paleo-bunny hit the nail on the head. You are very likely re-comping. You can't gain muscle and lose fat in the same moment, but you can over the course of a day(and by extension weeks, months). This is the principle behind Leangains, a method of fasting, diet, and exercise that many of us here follow. I like to think of it as really closely spaced bulking and cutting.

    Anyway, if you have a fair amount of body fat, it is totally possible to gain muscle and lose fat basically at the same time. As you get leaner, it gets harder, but it still possible.

  5. #5
    Knifegill's Avatar
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    Your body may also be adding bone, ligament and other connective tissue. Just stay the course. Sometimes I've plateaued, too. But in a week or so it picks up again. I lost about a pound a week until recently. I'm on those last five pounds to toy with now. But I can see my abs and my health is awesome since losing those 50 pounds.

    Tidbits that have helped me:
    Keep nuts rare, no dairy, no nightshades (your mileage may vary, think rosacea and inflammation) small amounts of fruit on non-ketosis days are fine, get into mild ketosis or at least a fasted state one or two days a week, all grains are honestly worthless next to a sweet potato, get your liver and greens and bone broth, make or get grass-fed beef or mutton tallow to cook in. And anything coconut is the shizzle.


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  6. #6
    NoPrimalFear's Avatar
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    Thanks for the responses. While I said that I was not discouraged due to how much better I feel, I have to admit it is good to have other possible reasons for this plateau (scale wise) to consider.

    Today did bring some good news, as I did drop 1.5 from my last weigh in. Hope it continues!

    Thanks again for taking the time to read and for the replies.

  7. #7
    tfarny's Avatar
    tfarny is offline Senior Member
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    One thing that is clear is that, regardless of your composition changing, you are not really eating "at a deficit" if you gain a pound over three weeks. You may be eating at a slight surplus or slight deficit, who knows, water weight fluctuates, but you are very likely to NOT be eating at a deficit if your scale weight does not decrease in the long term. In other words, you are eating more than you think or burning less than you think, or both. I think the composition change is the more useful way to look at things though. I gained 30 lb while NOT going up in jeans size, think about how great that is for health compared to losing a 30 lb mix of muscle, gristle, brain, water, and fat.
    If you are new to the PB - please ignore ALL of this stuff, until you've read the book, or at least http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-blueprint-101/ and this (personal fave): http://www.archevore.com/get-started/

  8. #8
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    I agree with Yodiwan, body re-comp seems a plausible explanation.

    I've been primal since Jan 2nd and have been calorie deficit everyday since.
    My full body comp gets done every few weeks, and at 7th Feb I had lost 7.1kg's of fat and gained 2.6kg's of lean weight.

    Keep it going, sounds like you are doing OK
    Commenced PB Jan 2nd 2012.
    86.1kg, 23% bodyfat
    Last assessment January 26, 2014 - 79.4kgs & 14.6% bodyfat

    My goal is to:
    Maintain PB lifestyle of diet and exercise.
    Maintain weight of around 80kgs and 15% bodyfat.

  9. #9
    otzi's Avatar
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    After driving myself nuts with the scale, I started weighing myself on the 1st of the month only and logging it on a spreadsheet. Weighing daily gets to you, seeing those 2-3lb gains and losses which can really just be a good crap. If you are truly at a deficit, you will lose weight over the course of a month. At your size and stage, you have a lot more fat to lose than muscle to gain. If you go 2 months without losing any fat, as judged by scale or tape, you really need to examine your diet.

    I would venture to say it's 'impossible' to lose 10lbs of fat while simultaneously gaining 10lbs of muscle in a 1 month period.

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