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  1. #1
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    an interesting video I saw on maximum rate of fat loss before sacrificing muscle

    [Edit: please note that the video linked below contains inaccuracies, as written below by Heisman2. I suggest disregarding this post, though I am leaving it up with this edit.]


    Here is an interesting video that summarizes research into the maximum rate of fat loss before sacrificing muscle:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTiOH6ecktE

    the bottom line is 31 Calories per lb of body fat (or 69 Cal per kg of body fat.)

    So for me, I'm at 184 lbs and about 16.6% bodyfat, which means I'm carrying about 30 lbs of fat at the moment. The maximum amount of fat loss I can achieve (on a very aggressive program, such as one I'm doing) is 30 * 31 = 930 Calories per day, before I would start to sacrifice muscle. Later, this will be even less, as my bodyfat amount continues to shrink. This equates to 1.86 lbs per week for me at the moment.

    This was surprising for me, as I didn't think there was a maximum like this. Since fat loss is so important for me at the moment, I am considering exceeding this limit, but it will be good to know that scientifically speaking I am definitely going to be sacrificing muscles in order to do that.

    My current goal is to get to 10%-12% bodyfat within 30-45 days (I'm on day 8) of my current program, and it seems that this requires exceeding this limit and would come at a cost of muscle loss.
    Last edited by peterm28; 12-10-2019 at 10:58 PM.
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    That's a theoretical maximum based on a research review. It's not an actual proven number. I'm not saying it's wrong but it's not the gospel truth that people seem to like to think it is
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    sort of hard to really buy into that vid. for one thing its talking about maximum daily deficit. So thats assuming that all people weighing 220 have the same exact maintenance calories? so all people have the same exact metabolism?

    im way heaver and fatter than the examples given and im only losing about 1.3lbs per week but I almost guarantee im slightly losing muscle mass along with fat.

    id say the vid takes the words "theoretical" and "hypothetical" to new limits

    in any case, u may enjoy this vid as well https://youtu.be/BhLIsFFsPAA?t=1529
    Last edited by John Prophet; 12-10-2019 at 04:24 AM.
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    Manlets gonna make it Natty1980's Avatar
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    Didn't watch the video but if it states that there is a number good for all, it's wrong.
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    it states the maximum that a given numer of lbs of fat can metabolize per day without also canibalizing muscle, based on a review of literature. It claims that each pound of pure fat that a person has on them can contribute maximum 31 Calories in a day, and that if you withdraw more Calories (greater deficit) than that you start to lose muscle in 100% of cases.

    this seems pretty surprising and quite low to me (since the full pound of fat contains 3500 Calories - so the body is willing to give up just 1% of that before starting to sacrifice muscle too?) But it doesn't mean people can't go well over that limit, at the expense of some muscle loss.

    Originally Posted by John Prophet View Post
    im way heaver and fatter than the examples given and im only losing about 1.3lbs per week but I almost guarantee im slightly losing muscle mass along with fat.
    why are you losing muscle mass? are you lifitng and eating enough protein? I assume you don't actually want to be losing muscle mass.

    how much fat is on your body, if you don't mind my asking? (your body weight multiplied by your bodyfat percentage.) Based on what I've been reading, 1.3 lbs per week should be possible without muscle loss unless you have very little fat on your body. of course maybe all that is just theoretical - so it's always good to look at real world examples such as yours.
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    It's a theoretical maximum.

    In reality, it's not going to be an on off switch between losing 0 muscle for every calorie under that limit - to losing all muscle for every calorie over. Nature doesn't work like that, there will be muscle loss before the limit is reached and it will accelerate after it.

    Now throw in
    1. individual variation and idiosyncrasies in hormonal response, genetics etc.
    2. the fact that measuring your BF% is extremely error prone (both in terms of calculating the limit and measuring results)
    3. the fact that measuring your TDEE is extremely error prone.
    4. the fact that measuring your intake is very error prone.

    Now what's the theory worth?
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    Originally Posted by peterm28 View Post
    Here is an interesting video that summarizes research into the maximum rate of fat loss before sacrificing excessive muscle:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTiOH6ecktE
    Fify.

    Second of all, as researcher Dr. Albert points out, even if you’re under this 31 calorie/lb limit I outlined it doesn’t mean that you won’t lose muscle mass. It simply represents a threshold value past which the rate of muscle loss starts to become exponentially large.
    Last edited by TolerantLactose; 12-10-2019 at 09:07 AM.
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    Originally Posted by peterm28 View Post
    it states the maximum that a given numer of lbs of fat can metabolize per day without also canibalizing muscle, based on a review of literature. It claims that each pound of pure fat that a person has on them can contribute maximum 31 Calories in a day, and that if you withdraw more Calories (greater deficit) than that you start to lose muscle in 100% of cases.

    this seems pretty surprising and quite low to me (since the full pound of fat contains 3500 Calories - so the body is willing to give up just 1% of that before starting to sacrifice muscle too?) But it doesn't mean people can't go well over that limit, at the expense of some muscle loss.



    why are you losing muscle mass? are you lifitng and eating enough protein? I assume you don't actually want to be losing muscle mass.

    how much fat is on your body, if you don't mind my asking? (your body weight multiplied by your bodyfat percentage.) Based on what I've been reading, 1.3 lbs per week should be possible without muscle loss unless you have very little fat on your body. of course maybe all that is just theoretical - so it's always good to look at real world examples such as yours.
    well firstly, as Suffolk pointed out, pretty much no one on Earth knows EXACTLY what their bodyfat % is. None of the methods to test it are THAT accurate.

    That being said, I use a handheld BIA meter every morning when I weigh in. yes, it does vary quite a bit from day to day, and no, im not losing sleep over it....but there does seem to be a very small loss of muscle mass over time as I cut.

    the morning I started my cut I had these stats: 10-11-19 Fri 241.2lbs 32.7% 162.3 lean 78.9lbs fat

    in the few months before I started my cut I occasionally had lean mass as high as 165 and several readings of 164. Mainly it would show 162-163.

    during my cut I had one rare day where I got great numbers for mass while also showing the fat loss: 11-24-19 Sun 235.4lbs 30.0% 164.8 lean 70.6lbs fat

    But since that anamalous reading, I havent seen my lean mass show as high as 162 again. now it hanging more like 158-160.


    So 2 days ago i finally dipped below 30% bodyfat with this nice reading: 12-9-19 Mon 230.6lbs 29.9% 161.7 lean 68.9lbs fat

    But then this morning I had this clunker. felt a little sickness in my stomach seeing my lean mass this low: 12-10-19 Tue 228.8lbs 31.5% 156.7 lean 72.1lbs fat


    Ill post those again for comparison:

    10-11-19 Fri 241.2lbs 32.7% 162.3 lean 78.9lbs fat
    11-24-19 Sun 235.4lbs 30.0% 164.8 lean 70.6lbs fat
    12-9-19 Mon 230.6lbs 29.9% 161.7 lean 68.9lbs fat
    12-10-19 Tue 228.8lbs 31.5% 156.7 lean 72.1lbs fat

    yes im fully aware that I didnt lose 5 lbs of lean mass in a day etc etc, but I also do see it trending somewhat lower as I lose weight. Gone are the 162, 163 lean mass days and now the avg has been 158-159.

    and the bad thing is, im not cutting THAT aggressively. I havent even really been hungry yet.


    I have seen in Layne Norton vids where he says about the best we can hope for is to lose 80%fat while also losing 20% lean mass. of course there is muscle memory and all that so hopefully we can easily regain our lean mass. In any case I think it is foolish to think we can lose tons of fat and the body doesnt touch our lean mass at all

    and yes, I am eating plenty of protein lol
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    Keep in mind that paper is not a research review despite the youtube video claiming that. Rather, it is an analysis of data from the Minnesota Starvation experiment. Additionally, if you read the paper the authors explicitly state that for large amount of activity the numbers don't apply; yet in the youtube video he recommends doing a large amount of activity. The paper also assumes a fairly constant energy density of fat free mass change; this likely is not going to hold true for people engaged in strength training. It is entire plausible in my mind that when engaging in resistance training with a high protein diet and thus upregulating muscle protein synthesis the the body will upregulate fat metabolism pathways to increase the possible energy transfer from fat moreso than seen in the Minnesota Starvation experiment. That doesn't mean I recommend going way faster than what is proposed above (I generally recommend aiming for ~1% bodyweight loss weekly and dropping that down some at the final stages of cutting) but there is certainly reason to think the above number is not a true upper bound in all conditions.
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    pretty sure this can be put to the test. Id imagine there are many transformation vids online where people took Dexas before and after significant weight losses. Do u think there are many who lost, say, 30lbs of fat yet didnt lose any lean mass?

    if lean mass loss while cutting wasnt a thing, people wouldnt fear it so much lol
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    Originally Posted by John Prophet View Post
    well firstly, as Suffolk pointed out, pretty much no one on Earth knows EXACTLY what their bodyfat % is. None of the methods to test it are THAT accurate.

    That being said, I use a handheld BIA meter every morning when I weigh in. yes, it does vary quite a bit from day to day, and no, im not losing sleep over it....but there does seem to be a very small loss of muscle mass over time as I cut.

    the morning I started my cut I had these stats: 10-11-19 Fri 241.2lbs 32.7% 162.3 lean 78.9lbs fat

    in the few months before I started my cut I occasionally had lean mass as high as 165 and several readings of 164. Mainly it would show 162-163.

    during my cut I had one rare day where I got great numbers for mass while also showing the fat loss: 11-24-19 Sun 235.4lbs 30.0% 164.8 lean 70.6lbs fat

    But since that anamalous reading, I havent seen my lean mass show as high as 162 again. now it hanging more like 158-160.


    So 2 days ago i finally dipped below 30% bodyfat with this nice reading: 12-9-19 Mon 230.6lbs 29.9% 161.7 lean 68.9lbs fat

    But then this morning I had this clunker. felt a little sickness in my stomach seeing my lean mass this low: 12-10-19 Tue 228.8lbs 31.5% 156.7 lean 72.1lbs fat


    Ill post those again for comparison:

    10-11-19 Fri 241.2lbs 32.7% 162.3 lean 78.9lbs fat
    11-24-19 Sun 235.4lbs 30.0% 164.8 lean 70.6lbs fat
    12-9-19 Mon 230.6lbs 29.9% 161.7 lean 68.9lbs fat
    12-10-19 Tue 228.8lbs 31.5% 156.7 lean 72.1lbs fat

    yes im fully aware that I didnt lose 5 lbs of lean mass in a day etc etc, but I also do see it trending somewhat lower as I lose weight. Gone are the 162, 163 lean mass days and now the avg has been 158-159.

    and the bad thing is, im not cutting THAT aggressively. I havent even really been hungry yet.


    I have seen in Layne Norton vids where he says about the best we can hope for is to lose 80%fat while also losing 20% lean mass. of course there is muscle memory and all that so hopefully we can easily regain our lean mass. In any case I think it is foolish to think we can lose tons of fat and the body doesnt touch our lean mass at all

    and yes, I am eating plenty of protein lol
    I'm not an expert, but the way I am doing it I am just measuring my weight and bodyfat once per week at most. Not day to day. Maybe even just once per month. In addition I think this should normalize the amount of food or your level of hydration. (Do it in a similarly hydrated state, at a similar time of day.)

    Yes, I have heard similar figures regarding the amount of muscle and weight loss.

    How strong are you? Are you lifting a lot? According to most of what I've heard in this forum, people at such a "large" bodyfat percentage (such as you around 30%) can put on a lot of muscle while losing a lot of fat.

    The figure from the research study I linked in this thread would support that: if we take your bodyfat to be 30% then you are carrying at least 30% * 228.8 lbs = 68.64 lbs of fat. So that means you do not have to worry about muscle loss, if you are eating enough protein, until you are at a deficit of 68.64 * 31 = 2127 Calories which it is extremely unlikely that you would reach if you are eating a decent amount to support your muscle growth.

    By the way I don't think you should cut your diet extremely drastically. Here is a 90 day transformation that I think turned out awful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVpbfB5_Nko

    I don't want to look like that guy at the end.

    at the end the guy still has no abs, even though he had 90 days to build them! He looks skinny fat. So don't just eat salad and stuff, don't try to starve yourself to 1200 calories. Eat enough Calories to support muscle growth.

    You have a ton of fat on your body, which is more than enough to support muscle growth even if you are in a deficit.

    In my case I have little fat on my body, so as I drastically try to cut I am likely to lose muscle growth.

    For you, I would say try to get stronger, and don't try to starve yourself. After you're stronger try to cut. However, from your avatar it seems like you know more about building muscle than I do!
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    Originally Posted by John Prophet View Post
    pretty sure this can be put to the test. Id imagine there are many transformation vids online where people took Dexas before and after significant weight losses. Do u think there are many who lost, say, 30lbs of fat yet didnt lose any lean mass?

    if lean mass loss while cutting wasnt a thing, people wouldnt fear it so much lol
    There are a ton of videos where the person clearly got a ton stronger, waaaaaaay bigger muscles, while losing more than 30 lbs of fat. However, they didn't do it very quickly in most cases. From what I've read, muscle growth is quite slow even in the best case scenario.
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    Originally Posted by Heisman2 View Post
    Keep in mind that paper is not a research review despite the youtube video claiming that. Rather, it is an analysis of data from the Minnesota Starvation experiment. Additionally, if you read the paper the authors explicitly state that for large amount of activity the numbers don't apply; yet in the youtube video he recommends doing a large amount of activity. The paper also assumes a fairly constant energy density of fat free mass change; this likely is not going to hold true for people engaged in strength training. It is entire plausible in my mind that when engaging in resistance training with a high protein diet and thus upregulating muscle protein synthesis the the body will upregulate fat metabolism pathways to increase the possible energy transfer from fat moreso than seen in the Minnesota Starvation experiment. That doesn't mean I recommend going way faster than what is proposed above (I generally recommend aiming for ~1% bodyweight loss weekly and dropping that down some at the final stages of cutting) but there is certainly reason to think the above number is not a true upper bound in all conditions.
    wait, you are basically saying that the youtube video that I shared to open this thread ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTiOH6ecktE ) is completely inaccurate because it does not adequately interpret the paper that it claims, correct? And in particular according to the paper that it is trying to interpret, the paper does not apply to a large amount of energy expenditure?

    If so I will add an edit at the top saying that it is likely inaccurate.
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    Originally Posted by peterm28 View Post
    wait, you are basically saying that the youtube video that I shared to open this thread ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTiOH6ecktE ) is completely inaccurate because it does not adequately interpret the paper that it claims, correct? And in particular according to the paper that it is trying to interpret, the paper does not apply to a large amount of energy expenditure?

    If so I will add an edit at the top saying that it is likely inaccurate.
    You can just edit it and say there are some inaccuracies as described in my post. A lot of people on YouTube do not interpret literature accurately.
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    Originally Posted by peterm28 View Post
    Here is an interesting video that summarizes research into the maximum rate of fat loss before sacrificing muscle:

    the bottom line is 31 Calories per lb of body fat (or 69 Cal per kg of body fat.)

    .
    Okay so for me with 115lbs of fat on me I could have a deficit of 3499. With a TDEE of 3600 (error prone), I am looking at eating 101 calories a day. I find it extremely hard to believe that I could eat 101 calories and not have significant muscle loss. I used my mom's TDEE with her excess wait and she could have a NEGATIVE DEFICIT!

    I will stick to my 1% a week which is doable, cutting calories a little less than half and losing 3-4lbs a week.
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    Regardless of if 31 calories is the magic number what it DOES illustrate that a deficit size is based on overall bodyfat amount. Not percent but amount. Those are 2 vastly different things
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