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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 4:46 pm 
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I have been working on getting myself back in shape, and shedding some weight that I acquired over the last few months. I am primarily a runner, but have gotten started over the last year with resistance training with free-weights.

My weight has been coming down nicely -- I've come down from 159 to 152 -- but my body fat % is still over 20% and hasn't responded as well. I am planning on dropping to around 145 (I'm 5'8" and have a small build, 140-145 is where I feel best). Is it reasonable to think that if I drop my weight and hold it there, but continue my training that I'll add muscle and lose fat? As recently as three years ago, I was around 145 with ~14% body fat. That's my ideal goal...

As for workouts, I'm doing an hour of resistance training about 3 times a week, working upper and lower body. I try to keep it fairly intense, and I'm pretty worn out by the end. I also do about an hour of cardio each day, either running or non-impact on the machines at the gym. I do my cardio based on heart rate -- so I aim for about 145-150 bpm during most workouts ("pure" aerobic), with one or two workouts of 30 minutes in the 165-170 range a week (lactate threshold).

While searching the forums, I came across the SIT/HIIT pages. I am familiar with intervals from a running context, for speed and power gains, but have never paid attention to them as a fat loss workout. (those were the days!) Are they an obvious addition that would help me? I get a lot of benefit from my 145-150bpm workouts -- as my resting HR starts to dip into the high 40s again -- but I don't usually interval train unless I have a race coming up.

I'd love some advice -- I am encouraged by the weight loss, but in the end I'd rather be 155 and 14% body fat, than 145 and 20%!

Thanks,
Jeff


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 5:26 pm 
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Jeff R wrote:
My weight has been coming down nicely -- I've come down from 159 to 152 -- but my body fat % is still over 20% and hasn't responded as well. I am planning on dropping to around 145 (I'm 5'8" and have a small build, 140-145 is where I feel best). Is it reasonable to think that if I drop my weight and hold it there, but continue my training that I'll add muscle and lose fat? As recently as three years ago, I was around 145 with ~14% body fat. That's my ideal goal...


Weight loss is going to come from two primary sources: muscle and fat. Which one do you want to lose? Or do you want to lose both? Based on what you're saying, right now it appears that you are primarily losing muscle, with only a little bit of fat loss. And losing muscle is okay if that's part of your goal; but I think, in general, fat loss comes easier the more muscle mass you have. It is never reasonable to expect that you can add muscle and lose fat at the same time, since one requires a caloric surplus and the other a caloric deficit.

If you're looking to reverse the trend (maintain muscle mass and lose primarily the fat), then the first thing I would suggest is to look at your diet. Your diet should be sufficiently packed with protein and the overall daily caloric intake should only be a few hundred (say, 200-400) calories short of your daily expense. (And considering how much exercise you're doing, that might be fairly high.)

The next thing to look at would be your training. I'm not a cardio expert but I would think you might want to limit that to maybe 30 mins a day, 3 times a week. Or perhaps move over to a HIIT program. I would keep the resistance training.

Hope that helps.
John


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 6:52 pm 
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Quote:
Weight loss is going to come from two primary sources: muscle and fat. Which one do you want to lose? Or do you want to lose both? Based on what you're saying, right now it appears that you are primarily losing muscle, with only a little bit of fat loss. And losing muscle is okay if that's part of your goal; but I think, in general, fat loss comes easier the more muscle mass you have. It is never reasonable to expect that you can add muscle and lose fat at the same time, since one requires a caloric surplus and the other a caloric deficit.


What I want is to know what to realistically to expect. I have no problem with dropping the weight first and then working on body composition, or doing it the other way round. Somehow I expected that by doing this by exercise, instead of diet, that it might happen concurrently.

Quote:
If you're looking to reverse the trend (maintain muscle mass and lose primarily the fat), then the first thing I would suggest is to look at your diet. Your diet should be sufficiently packed with protein and the overall daily caloric intake should only be a few hundred (say, 200-400) calories short of your daily expense.


I find that confusing. Why would muscle be metabolized before fat? Isn't that what fat is for? I thought that the activity level I'm maintaining would keep a high enough demand on my muscles to preserve them. (I'm not trying to be argumentative, but it seems counter-intuitive!)


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 7:49 pm 
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Let's go back to your original question about HIIT (anaerobic cardio) being an obvious good addition for fat loss. In short, yes. Rather than get long winded, see
http://www.cbass.com/FATBURN.HTM on the benefits of HIIT vs standard "target zone" long, slower aerobics.
As to weights, standard fullbody routines, containing 5-7 exercises (the schedules can vary, it certainly doesn't have to be the same routine day in and day out) containing mostly compound movements are best. The key to building some muscle and burning fat is to keep the rest periods minimal. Circuits are good for this; i.e. do exercise 1, then two, and so on until you have finished, Keep rest between exercises just long enough to catch your breath. After the last exercise, rest a few minutes, then repeat exercises. This is the circuit method. It serves several purposes. It builds up work capacity, it really "jacks up" the metabolism, and will not only maintin lean mass, but usually contributes to building a little, even when targeting fat loss. Also, IMO, target the fat loss first, then if you are so inclined, go after building more with a different take on things. This type of weight training is somewhat, as you will see if you try it, somewhat cardio in nature by itself, and when combined with HIIT, should set you right on the path towards your goals
One last point, you are a beginner when it comes to weights. While an experienced lifter may find it hard to loose fat (notice I didn't say "weight") and build muscle at the same time, an unexperienced beginner usually can do just that, up to a point. Don't confuse loss of weight on a scale to loosing fat either. You may find your scale numbers slowing down, while in reality, you are shifting body composition,, keeping the scale numbers up. One last thing, just do it, don't overhink things that might get your attitude down. And, good training.
Tim


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 11:49 pm 
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Jeff R wrote:
What I want is to know what to realistically to expect. I have no problem with dropping the weight first and then working on body composition, or doing it the other way round. Somehow I expected that by doing this by exercise, instead of diet, that it might happen concurrently.


I think that 140-145 at 14% is a realistic goal and can be obtained by concentrating on fat loss while minimizing muscle loss. Afterwards, like Tim says, you can always add more muscle if you want.

You need to wrap your mind around what exactly your goal is and what it means to get there. You say that you're at about 152lbs, 20% bf and want to get to 145lbs, 14% bf. So let's break down the numbers:

At 152lbs, 20% bf, you have:
a) 30lbs of fat
b) 121lbs of lean mass (muscle, bones, water, brains, etc.)

At your goal of 145lbs, 14% bf your composition would be:
a) 20lbs of fat
b) 124lbs of lean mass

So from the numbers we see that to get to your goal you need to primarily concentrate on "fat loss", not just weight loss, while maintaining your lean mass.

Quote:
I find that confusing. Why would muscle be metabolized before fat? Isn't that what fat is for? I thought that the activity level I'm maintaining would keep a high enough demand on my muscles to preserve them. (I'm not trying to be argumentative, but it seems counter-intuitive!)


Yeah, it's insanely complex. But there are times when stored fat isn't the most efficient source of energy. Consumed carbohydrates are usually the first to be used. When those are insufficient the body may use consumed proteins for energy, or break down muscle tissue for those needs.

First thing, with the exercise you're doing (especially the resistance training, which you should maintain), you're going to be breaking down a lot of muscle tissue -- which is fine. But rebuilding that tissue requires sufficient protein intake. If your protein intake is limited, the tissue won't rebuild.

Second, if much of the protein you are ingesting is being used for energy because your overall caloric intake is too low, then you might end up not having enough protein to even maintain your current level of muscle mass, which could result in atrophy.

Third, stored fat is typically catabolized with oxygen (somebody correct me), which is why aerobic exercise helps to burn fat. (And anaerobic exercise like HIIT and weight lifting can do the same; and some studies show it might be more effective.) Your oxygen levels are going to be primarily raised during and after exercise. At other times of the day, stored fat might not be the body's best source of energy.

Therefore I think the best approach for fat loss is to consume a good amount of protein and create only a minor caloric deficit (don't starve yourself), keep the resistance training, and do some cardio or HIIT. If you do choose the cardio, don't go gorilla with it and you should be okay.

A good target is about 1-2lbs of fat loss per week. Anything substantially more than that should raise some eyebrows.

All JMO,
John


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