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  1. #1
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    Stuck and need some ideas on this body fat issue

    I'm going to try and make this as quick as possible with some basics. I'm 35 years old and have been lifting for about 15 years. My diet used to be crap from the get go and has gotten better. I used to to weigh about 250 when I was about 19 and i'm 5'10. I didn't do anything physical so it was fat. Around 20 i started exercising and lost about 70 lbs and started weight lifting. I have gotten up as high as 235 with some "help" as well as just eating everything in sight. I did that for years and years. The last about 2 years I have had a lot of trouble getting past 212 and /or losing belly fat no matter how much I eat, what " diet " I try or what I take ( I understand to the fullest extent of what i'm doing with the "help" so I don't need any flack or opinions. plus, I take what I take for medical reasons ). So lately, I Have really tried to get into nutrition and hammer down. At least for me, I consider it hammering down compared to the last 14 years. Anyways, I have been eating 4100 calories per day for 3 months and am currently at 217. So I have gained 5 lbs in 3 months. I have a sedentary job ( in my opinion and from what I used to do ) and walk about 10000-11000 steps per day but sometimes its a lot higher. It just depends on the day. Workouts are usually about an hr, mostly weight lifting and not much cardio if any. I have tried all sorts of combos for macros. Anywhere from Keto, to every macro percentage combo you possibly read about. My current macros are 20% F, 45% C AND 35% P. I have adjusted these anywhere from 5-15% just to see what would happen and zero change. I usually wait about 2 weeks each time I change them. My diet consists of brown rice, chicken breast, shrimp, salmon, 93/7 ground beef, 15 G of cheese, 2% greek plain yogurt, bananas, blueberries, kashi cereal, asparagus and other vegetables, olive oil, natural peanut butter, steel cut oats, granola,sweet potatoes, scoop of gold standard protein and half of a large protein bar. I eat that every single day to hit my macros. One cheat MEAL per week and still do not go crazy. So in a nutshell, I cant lose belly fat and I cant gain the amount of muscle I feel like I should be with the time, energy, nutrition and abuse I put my body through. I'm basically stuck in this general area. A couple things i'm 99% sure that are affecting me are sleep and my anxiety. I know with stress and anxiety comes cortisol and that's a huge problem. I have just in the last couple days started taking some vitamins to attempt to help this. With the anxiety comes lack of sleep. When i say lack of sleep, i am talking like 3-4 hrs of sleep maximum. Its been like that for years and I cant control it. I am not looking to be in a show or anything like that but it would be nice to be comfortable with my shirt off eventually. Especially with all I have put my body through. I have never even came remotely close to thinking about abs nor do I really care. Its just the fact that i have been doing this for so long and have the stomach of a Dad bod. Any tips or some insight would be great.
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    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    You're eating too many calories. It really is that simple.

    You need to estimate what your TDEE is. If you are eating 4100 now and not gaining weight - then try 3500 calories for 1 month and see what happens.

    If you are gaining weight on 4100 then you'll have to go lower.
    TBH, anything over 3000 calories seems incredibly high so unless you are very active, that's your entire problem right there.

    Your calorie counting should of course average in your cheat meal...
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    Registered User Kclay34's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    You're eating too many calories. It really is that simple.

    You need to estimate what your TDEE is. If you are eating 4100 now and not gaining weight - then try 3500 calories for 1 month and see what happens.

    If you are gaining weight on 4100 then you'll have to go lower.
    TBH, anything over 3000 calories seems incredibly high so unless you are very active, that's your entire problem right there.

    Your calorie counting should of course average in your cheat meal...
    Im not sure how accurate they are but I do use A fit bit. It seems to be very close. when it said i was burning 3600-3800 and i was eating that, I wasn't gaining weight. If my calories were way too high then wouldn't I be gaining a ton of weight and not just 5 lbs in 3 months? The weight I am gaining does seem to be muscle as I have taken shape but my stomach has not changed at all. Also with that said, with taking some other supplements, there should be no reason that if I was eating massive surplus of food ( especially good food in my opinion) i should only be gaining such a small amount of weight and not losing much in my mid section. I do watch the scale but I also look at myself in the mirror as well. I have taken more shape in my chest, arms and back but again, stomach has not changed. I truly think a big issue is the stress / anxiety but obviously, I am not a doctor.
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    So maybe your TDEE is around 3800 - a 5 lbs gain in 3 months would compute to around a 200 calories surplus which seems to tally with what you've said.

    If you want to actively lose fat however, you need a good sized deficit so I'd run 3200-3300 and see how that goes.

    Stress will affect health and probably muscle gain - but it won't affect your weight gained or lost unless it causes you to eat more or less calories. Losing fat is purely a numbers game.
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    Registered User Kclay34's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    So maybe your TDEE is around 3800 - a 5 lbs gain in 3 months would compute to around a 200 calories surplus which seems to tally with what you've said.

    If you want to actively lose fat however, you need a good sized deficit so I'd run 3200-3300 and see how that goes.

    Stress will affect health and probably muscle gain - but it won't affect your weight gained or lost unless it causes you to eat more or less calories. Losing fat is purely a numbers game.
    Ive read that stress causes an abundant release of cortisol which in return, causes a ton of fat retention. Especially in the stomach area. The fight or flight response so to speak of the body.
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    Originally Posted by Kclay34 View Post
    Ive read that stress causes an abundant release of cortisol which in return, causes a ton of fat retention. Especially in the stomach area. The fight or flight response so to speak of the body.
    There is a lot of confusing nonsense written about cortisol and other hormones. It is vaguely associated with retaining fat in the midsection - but this may only be a loose correlation.

    Certainly, cortisol can't violate the laws of thermodynamics - i.e. calories in vs. calories out.

    It is in fact, a catabolic hormone, you would expect it to rise when fat is being burned. Many people seem to view it as some kind of toxin but it serves useful purposes in the body. And like stress, it's only chronically elevated levels which cause problems - but the underlying problem is not the cortisol. Rather, cortisol is a symptom of an underlying problem (so blaming it is shooting the messenger...)
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    Originally Posted by Kclay34 View Post
    The fight or flight response so to speak of the body.
    Cortisol stimulates the release of fat to power that fight or flight.
    I can tell time. Time cannot tell me.

    Formerly LactoseTolerant. I'm not very imaginative.
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    Registered User Kclay34's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by SuffolkPunch View Post
    There is a lot of confusing nonsense written about cortisol and other hormones. It is vaguely associated with retaining fat in the midsection - but this may only be a loose correlation.

    Certainly, cortisol can't violate the laws of thermodynamics - i.e. calories in vs. calories out.

    It is in fact, a catabolic hormone, you would expect it to rise when fat is being burned. Many people seem to view it as some kind of toxin but it serves useful purposes in the body. And like stress, it's only chronically elevated levels which cause problems - but the underlying problem is not the cortisol. Rather, cortisol is a symptom of an underlying problem (so blaming it is shooting the messenger...)
    So lets say i knocked the calories back, what would be the best way to conserve some of the muscle from going bye bye or even continuing to add some? Raise a certain macro or is it just a possibility?
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    Originally Posted by Kclay34 View Post
    So lets say i knocked the calories back, what would be the best way to conserve some of the muscle from going bye bye or even continuing to add some? Raise a certain macro or is it just a possibility?
    Resistance training at moderate to heavy weights.
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    Originally Posted by Kclay34 View Post
    So lets say i knocked the calories back, what would be the best way to conserve some of the muscle from going bye bye or even continuing to add some?
    Get adequate protein and continue to lift with as much effort as you can muster. ;-)
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    Originally Posted by CommitmentRulz View Post
    Get adequate protein and continue to lift with as much effort as you can muster. ;-)
    when you say adequate, what do you consider adequate? lol. Ive read a million times about the 1, 1.5 g per lb etc. Based on personal experiences, what seems to work? Also, what about other macros? Or do I just follow calories other than the protein?
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    Personal experience is a slippery eel. The reason we have control trials is because of measurement errors (BF% is very hard to measure accurately) and personal biases (if you want something to work for you, chances are you will think it is working) and confounding factors (did you really keep everything else the same during your "test"?).

    So actually, the 'science' is most solid evidence you'll get. It is widely misinterpreted by casual observers however. What it actually says (as a whole) is that the LARGEST amount of protein which has been shown to make a material difference is 1.6 grams per kg of lean body mass.

    But based on the variance of the results, there are likely a range of intakes you could use which would all produce VERY similar results.

    One corollary to this is that protein intake is thought to be of increased importance when dieting hard

    In summary, take about 1.5 grams per kg give or take, work hard in the gym and you'll be fine

    Other macros? Meh, personal preference. There just isn't any solid evidence of it mattering (in the context of a sane non-extreme diet).
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    Registered User Kclay34's Avatar
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    So basically hit a protein and fat number. Whatever is left, just add to carbs to hit my calorie number ? As far as the previous subject, I just figured that I would be losing more fat and gaining more muscle based on the simple fact I did a complete 180 on my diet.
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    Originally Posted by Kclay34 View Post
    So basically hit a protein and fat number. Whatever is left, just add to carbs to hit my calorie number ? As far as the previous subject, I just figured that I would be losing more fat and gaining more muscle based on the simple fact I did a complete 180 on my diet.
    If you're eating more calories than you need it doesn't matter if they are coming from "clean" sources or processed junk - excess calories are stored as fat, it's just simple math. The best way to hold on to muscle is to lose fat slowly, get your protein in and lift with high intensity but low(ish) volume.
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    Originally Posted by Kclay34 View Post
    Ive read that stress causes an abundant release of cortisol which in return, causes a ton of fat retention. Especially in the stomach area. The fight or flight response so to speak of the body.
    You've read wrong (as it pertains to your situation). The body will seek to preserve fat in times of extreme stress, as one would see with malnutrition (for example). A 200-500-700 calorie deficit isn't extreme stress.
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    Originally Posted by NearlyBigAngus View Post
    If you're eating more calories than you need it doesn't matter if they are coming from "clean" sources or processed junk - excess calories are stored as fat, it's just simple math. The best way to hold on to muscle is to lose fat slowly, get your protein in and lift with high intensity but low(ish) volume.
    Ok I got you. Again, you read so many things that " they " say your head spins. If it doesn't matter what your nutrients come from or doesn't matter what macros you intake then why even bother ? So where do the percentages come from? The minimal amount of fat, Protein, carbs etc? I am trying to understand this before I go into it, thinking too much into it. I mean, if we need a certain amount of protein, how do we not need a certain amount of fat? Also as well as too much protein etc.
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    Originally Posted by Kclay34 View Post
    Ok I got you. Again, you read so many things that " they " say your head spins. If it doesn't matter what your nutrients come from or doesn't matter what macros you intake then why even bother ? So where do the percentages come from? The minimal amount of fat, Protein, carbs etc? I am trying to understand this before I go into it, thinking too much into it. I mean, if we need a certain amount of protein, how do we not need a certain amount of fat? Also as well as too much protein etc.
    These are "fitness" standards that have evolved and are pretty much accepted. The protein minimum is because protein is essential to building and maintaining muscle mass, and the fat minimum is because the body needs a certain amount of fat to function healthily and efficiently. You can google and read plenty about the particular biomechanics and studies that have backed this up.

    Carbs don't have a minimum because, although they are a great source of fuel/energy, they aren't essential for building muscle, burning fat, or healthy body function. Some people do no-carb diets with success, some people go carb heavy with success.

    As to the original question: eat less. If you've been eating around 4000 calories then you have plenty of wiggle room to comfortably lower calories. The cutting "rule" for maintaining muscle is to keep your weight loss at no more than 1% of your body weight every week...so if you weight 212, you can safely lose 2lb/week for a while. Of course while keeping protein high and lifting, as mentioned above.
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    Originally Posted by sunsean View Post
    These are "fitness" standards that have evolved and are pretty much accepted. The protein minimum is because protein is essential to building and maintaining muscle mass, and the fat minimum is because the body needs a certain amount of fat to function healthily and efficiently. You can google and read plenty about the particular biomechanics and studies that have backed this up.

    Carbs don't have a minimum because, although they are a great source of fuel/energy, they aren't essential for building muscle, burning fat, or healthy body function. Some people do no-carb diets with success, some people go carb heavy with success.

    As to the original question: eat less. If you've been eating around 4000 calories then you have plenty of wiggle room to comfortably lower calories. The cutting "rule" for maintaining muscle is to keep your weight loss at no more than 1% of your body weight every week...so if you weight 212, you can safely lose 2lb/week for a while. Of course while keeping protein high and lifting, as mentioned above.

    This is some great info as well as all the other info so far from you all. Reading article after article is one thing but to have some real life experience is the key. Every article you read there seems to be 2 articles that contradict them. From the info I have given you all and of course with your personal experience, where would you start with a maximum fat intake as well as protein intake ? Or would you just say fat should be a minimum of around 20% of your total calorie intake ? If that's the case, what would be the max amount of protein ? I can obviously eat as much as I need too so that part doesn't bother me. I'd like to start at about 3800 calories and go from there since like I said above, my fitbit says around 3600-3800 calories per day dependent on what I do at work that day and that was somewhat verified with the weight gain and calorie intake i stated above. Last thing I want to do is defeat the purpose of it all. I understand that losing fat and gaining muscle isn't the easiest, so I need to just hammer down and do what I need to do.
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    Originally Posted by Kclay34 View Post
    This is some great info as well as all the other info so far from you all. Reading article after article is one thing but to have some real life experience is the key. Every article you read there seems to be 2 articles that contradict them. From the info I have given you all and of course with your personal experience, where would you start with a maximum fat intake as well as protein intake ? Or would you just say fat should be a minimum of around 20% of your total calorie intake ? If that's the case, what would be the max amount of protein ? I can obviously eat as much as I need too so that part doesn't bother me. I'd like to start at about 3800 calories and go from there since like I said above, my fitbit says around 3600-3800 calories per day dependent on what I do at work that day and that was somewhat verified with the weight gain and calorie intake i stated above. Last thing I want to do is defeat the purpose of it all. I understand that losing fat and gaining muscle isn't the easiest, so I need to just hammer down and do what I need to do.
    Begin by reading this thread
    https://igoodies.000webhostapp.com/?viagra=showt...hp?t=173439001

    Once you've done that come back and ask any remaining questions - I think you'll find most of what you need there.
    Your Fitbit will not be particularly accurate so don't get hung up on believing what it tells you. Use a combination of the scales and your mirror to judge progress. Measure your food accurately using scales and log carefully on an app like MFP - monitor how your body is responding to the calories you are feeding it and adjust from there.
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    I'll definitely read that now. As far as the fit bit... I was always curious about the fit bit and with using the scales, mirror, etc, it seems to be pretty accurate. At least with my lifestyle. Thanks again for all the help you all
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    Originally Posted by Kclay34 View Post
    This is some great info as well as all the other info so far from you all. Reading article after article is one thing but to have some real life experience is the key. Every article you read there seems to be 2 articles that contradict them. From the info I have given you all and of course with your personal experience, where would you start with a maximum fat intake as well as protein intake ? Or would you just say fat should be a minimum of around 20% of your total calorie intake ? If that's the case, what would be the max amount of protein ? I can obviously eat as much as I need too so that part doesn't bother me. I'd like to start at about 3800 calories and go from there since like I said above, my fitbit says around 3600-3800 calories per day dependent on what I do at work that day and that was somewhat verified with the weight gain and calorie intake i stated above. Last thing I want to do is defeat the purpose of it all. I understand that losing fat and gaining muscle isn't the easiest, so I need to just hammer down and do what I need to do.
    What is your goal? Are you trying to lose fat primarily? DON'T try to lose fat and build muscle at the same time, it's not a practical approach. Most people who attempt this just wind up spinning wheels and not making progress with either goal. Pick one, commit to it for an extended period of time, then when you're ready switch to the other goal.

    If your main goal is fat loss, as indicated in thread title, I would definitely drop your calories down closer to 3000 than 4000. There's no reason for you to be eating at what you think is maintenance if you want to lose fat.

    For minimum macros, aim for at least .7g protein and .4g fat per lb of bodyweight. So for example for someone weighing 200lb you would want 140g protein and 80g fat, anything beyond that you can eat whatever you want to fill out your calories.
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    I know what you mean about articles contradicting each other.

    These are my tips:
    1. Does the author make reference to real evidence - not just opinion - does the author cite research papers. These are the source of the best evidence. Remember that even personal experience is subject to bias and misinterpretation. Top athletes will tell you all kinds of things as being the "secret of their success" but chances are it was actually just hard work and superior genetics.

    2. If nobody can agree it probably doesn't matter. For example there was a lot of debate recently about frequency - how soon to train a muscle group after the last time you trained it. Rigorous analysis of ALL the real evidence available basically says - it barely matters within the context of most sensible programs. It's not a game changer. And in fact there are very few core principles that 99% of your results come from namely:
    - consistent hard work over time
    - progressively pushing yourself to do more weight or reps or sets
    - getting enough calories to grow (or reducing calories enough to lose fat)
    - getting enough protein
    - staying healthy by getting enough vitamins, minerals and essential fats
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  23. #23
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    Originally Posted by sunsean View Post
    What is your goal? Are you trying to lose fat primarily? DON'T try to lose fat and build muscle at the same time, it's not a practical approach. Most people who attempt this just wind up spinning wheels and not making progress with either goal. Pick one, commit to it for an extended period of time, then when you're ready switch to the other goal.

    If your main goal is fat loss, as indicated in thread title, I would definitely drop your calories down closer to 3000 than 4000. There's no reason for you to be eating at what you think is maintenance if you want to lose fat.

    For minimum macros, aim for at least .7g protein and .4g fat per lb of bodyweight. So for example for someone weighing 200lb you would want 140g protein and 80g fat, anything beyond that you can eat whatever you want to fill out your calories.
    I think this my problem right here. I'm trying to do both. Some days Im like " i want to lose this fat" and other days i want to say " hell with it" and shoot for the 235 again. I truthfully think what I need to do is gain the weight and then, maintain the muscle while losing the body fat. Sometimes its hard to keep on the same track when I see various peoples pictures. Good example is 99% of you on here when I see your profile pictures. The most weight i've lost while working out ( post losing the initial 80 lbs when I was 20 ) was actually on Keto about a year and a half ago. I went from 212 to 197. The problem is that I didn't see much in my opinion come off my stomach but it seemed to come off my muscle mass. I think this time i am going to gain the weight, then use your alls advice and cut it down the calories when i'm ready. Obviously eat the protein to conserve the muscle.
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    If I can, I would like a little clarification. Been trying to understand the whole nutritional part of this thread. If it doesn't matter what you eat to get to the calories you need and the minimums, then why even eat healthier? Heart health etc? II just can see how eating brown rice, chicken etc is the same thing as eating crappier food as long as you hit your calorie intake and minimum protein and fat numbers. Also, i see a lot of you don't even count the macros anymore. How in the world do you guys do it? Just so used to it you don't need to anymore ? Also, I don't understand how as long as you get your minimums, you can throw the rest wherever you want. So eating 250 grams of protein / 400 grams of carbs would the be same as 400g protein and 250 g carbs? I am just confused on how all of this works. Maybe I'm putting too much thought into this, I would just like to understand from personal experiences and reasoning. I started doing what you all suggested and somehow, I dropped my calories about 400 calories per day, started messing with my macros some ( which I see most of you don't do anymore ) and I made my protein a lot higher and lowered my carbs a lot. Somehow, I gained 2 lbs. I guess I'm confused because it seems like my body is contradicting how it's supposed to work.
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  25. #25
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    It does matter.

    We just focus on the things that influence body composition goals the most - like calories and protein. Keeping it simple means more people will understand and comply with a controlled diet.

    Hopefully most people will eat a good variety including fruit and vegetables - and they will get the necessary vitamins, minerals, phytonutrient, fiber etc. without having to measure and plan. It's just a complication you can do without when trying to get the fundaments right.

    Yes, there is an element of knowing when you've got the right amount of calories and protein from experience - but you have to put the time in to understanding it before you can do this.

    You can gain weight in the short term when training harder - inflammation and glycogen uptake into the muscles will do this. Obviously if it continues, you may be measuring calories wrong. If you feel full a lot of the time, that is a strong clue that you are eating too much. You should expect to feel hungry some of the time on a fat loss diet
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