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Weight Lifting -> Gaining Muscle = not losing weight

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I am 22 years old with a BMI of about 28.  I want to lose about 10-15 pounds but find it extremely difficult because I'm gaining muscle but not losing the weight.  I'm trying to consume close to 1500 calories a day while my body is naturally burning 2700 per day.  I've been lifting weights for about three weeks and haven't seen any changes in weight although I feel a lot better and am hungry ALL THE TIME.  Should I be eating certain things or am I not eating enough so my body is trying to store the weight?  Any advice would be helpful.

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You're not gaining a considerable amount of muscle in three weeks. If you're new, you're gonna be retaining water for the first 6 weeks or so

And yeah, the whole I'M STARVING thing. That evens out after a while, too. Doesn't sound like you're eating enough, honestly. You shouldn't have more than a 1000 cal deficit

Make sure you are getting enough protein. Aim for 1 gram per pound of lean body mass. It's important to protect your muscles from catabolism as you lose weight and for many people it helps them feel fuller. Seconding spirochete, if your intake of 1500 calories is correct, you definitely need to consume more. Aim for a deficit of 500 calories per day.

I had same frustration first 3 weeks of weight lifting.  Be patient and know the weight will come off more slowly but it will be pure fat, not muscle and water, as long as you're getting enough cals.  It took a good 6-8 weeks before I could tell big changes were happening in my body even though the scale had only gone down 5-7 pounds.  Suddenly I was getting curvy, strong and much leaner.

Spirochete, by the way, I'm a fan.  Whenever I see your pointing finger I think "Yay, there's Spirochete!"  I like your attitude and what you have to say.

Hey, I'm in a similar situation.  I turned 23 in march and am sitting at a BMI of 29ish (down from 34 in january!).  That puts me at 226ish.  I want to go down to 200 and bring my body fat down while maintaining muscle mass.  My body fat is hovering around 27% (meaning I lost just as much muscle as I did fat so far).  Up until now I've been doing primarily cardio along with a 800-1000 calorie deficit from dieting. 

I'm now consuming about 1800 calories a day and my body burnes 2700.  I've lifted for about 1-2 weeks now and my weight loss has pretty much stopped (same weight now as I was 2 weeks ago).

The only advice I can give is to up your protein intake.  This helped me both with hunger and recovery.  I think the general rule is 1-2g per pound of lean body mass.  I aim for about 150g/day.  I started taking 2 servings of whey with skim milk a day and this really helps me meet my protein requirements (and adds 400 calories to my diet - I have a hard time eating healthy and reaching 1800). Also, make sure you're gettiing at least 3 meals a day, if not more.  I generally try to eat something every 2-3 hours from 8 am till 8 pm.  It can be as small as a piece of fruit but I find spacing it out makes me a lot less hungry.  And not to state the obvious, but drink lots of water!

I haven't noticed any changes yet, but I'm going to continue a routine of lifting 3x a week.  I'd rather bring my BMI down by losing just fat that give up my muscle mass as well.


Kind of a long winded post but I hope my experience is useful. 

Cool, it's nice to find people of somewhat similar stats. I'm 22, 192 lbs, BMI of 28. I started at 205 lbs about 3 months ago and was doing a ton of running and minimal lifting of 1-2 days for 30 mins. After doing some reading, research, speaking with a doctor, etc. I now understand that the key to burning more fat lies in the development of muscle. I had a pretty strenuous goal to reach a healthy BMI and weight of 175 lbs by mid-June, but since I have now decided to make lifting my primary form of exercise as opposed to running, I know the weight loss is going to be slower yet I will be burning more fat. Thus, I have decided to change my goal weight to 180 lbs to be more realistic. I don't want to set myself up for failure. I want a goal weight I know I can achieve. Then, after that goal, I can set a new one.

For the most part, I'm tired of my fat, not the number that pops up on the scale. Yet, it's difficult to see weekly progress in fat burning and easier to see scale differences. So, in order to make sure I'm doing things right in the short term, I'll count on the scale. For long term progress tracking, I'll take body measurements.

Cheers to muscles! Cool

EDIT: Oh yeah, and about the protein, I too have begun to switch from mainly-carbos (energy for running) to mainly-protein (fuel for muscles.) I zig zag a bit and eat 1900 some days and 1700 other days. So, avg 1800 daily.

Well, looking at my notes from the Journal of clinical nutrition and some of Lyle Macdonalds recommendations it seems like the bodybuilder rule of thumb of 1g/lbs lean mass is roughly correct as a guideline.

 The JACN research overview pegs needs at 1.8g/kg, Lyle is slightly more agressive at 2.0g/kg for optimal athletic performance and since 1kg=2.2lbs, that's 2.0g/2.2lbs or about 0.9g/lbs. Since both JACN and Lyle thinks neglecting fat mass/lean mass and working off total bodyweight makes sense in light of the difficulty of accurately measuring either, you wind up with 1g/lbs being in the roughly right neighbourhood.

 That's for strength sports with supporting endurance training. Your absolute protein needs are going to be somewhat lower (1.2-1.4g/kg) if your primary mode of exercise is endurance with supporting strength training.

 One thing to keep in mind - at 1500kcal/ with an excpenditure of 2700kcal/d your deficit is above recommended limits. While you can have much larger deficits than baseline recommended if you've got considerable fat mass, you're not in that position. The maximum allowable deficit is 31kcal/d/lbs fat mass so unless you have 38lbs of fat (1200kcald:/31kcal/d/lbs fat mass) to lose you're running a deficit that your body can't possibly compensate for by liberating energy from fat stores. Which leaves muscle tissue and downregulation of your metabolism to something your fat stores can support (the dreaded starvation mode) as the only options it has.

 Not, one presumes, what you have in mind.

 Also, when doing lots of lifting, it's helpful to program in recovery workouts on your off days - basically, take a walk. The slightly increased energy expenditure from it is vaguely helpful for dieting purposes, but more important is the increased blood flow and better nutrient partitioning to your muscles that it promotes. Move around a little more, and you'll recover faster and better than if you don't ;)

I was having the same problem - I was trying to eat less and was eating around 1700-1800 calories on average ever day (some days ended up as low at 1500 calories, which is too low), and I was absoutely starving the second or third week (the first week or two went fine, oddly enough). I started eating around 300-400 calories every three hours or so during the day, and that seemed to help a lot.

I like 1/2 c. lowfat cottage cheese and 1 c. fat -free greek yogurt (it's got a lot more protein than regular yogurt and has no added sugar), with some frozen strawberries mixed in. The greek yogurt is more substantial than regular yogurt and with the cottage cheese and strawberries, it seems like it will stick by me for the three hours I need. I also like hummus and tabouli and spinach greens wrapped in high-fiber whole wheat tortilla. That too sticks by me well. I also make smoothies at home - 30 grams of protein from whey or soy protein powder, a cup of water, blueberries or strawberries or whatever berries I have around, and enough ice to make it thick. The extra water from ice seems to help make me more full or maybe fool my body into thinking it had enough to eat.

I've found that, for me, eating too little causes me to lose strength at the gym. I'm going to have to up my calories a little bit because I'm losing strength at the gym - I can do fewer reps with weight "x" than I could before.

I also give myself a "cheat" day once a week where I can eat more if want too. "Body for Life" recommends a cheat day once a week, and a book written by some ex- pro bodybuilder who is not "juicing" (he said he did for a few years but gave it up), and he says he eats a cheat meal every week too. That way, yoy can tell yourself, "if I can just stick with it until my cheat day, then I can eat until I'm not hungry" (but don't stuff yourself or you're lose any gains you've made that week!).

Lastly, give it time. It takes awhile for your body/mind/appetite to adjust to eating less and/or eating less food more often.

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