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FerrousMaverick

Ferrous Maverick's Eating Plan

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Too many of the weight lifting diets are a designed for people wanting to gain mass. When you want to lose weight, it helps to understand some of the basic principles of how our bodies digest food and make the most of it. This post is structured in two sections: the plan itself, and the justification for it. Before you attempt this diet, you should get at least a rough estimate of your body fat percentage. You'll need that both to track progress and to figure out how much protein you need.

The plan basics:

  • 1g protein per pound lean body weight
  • Eat 6x per day (you can do 4x per day but your meals will be huge)
  • Lean protein with every meal
  • At least 4 servings of low carb vegetables per day
  • Complex carbs only in the morning or evening (no more than 50g net carbs in any meal, aim for about 100g in a day)
  • Ignore total calories (you'll drive yourself nuts)
  • 1 US gallon of water per day (just under 4L) or more
  • No more than 20g-30g fat per meal (30-45g if eating 4 times a day)
  • When at your target weight you can have 1 free day a week (you can eat junk if you want)
  • Follow any free day with a no carb day
  • Enjoy yourself on vacation. Your vacation is an extended free day, and it's really hard to put on a lot of fat when you have to eat a lot just to maintain. You'll lose it again in no time.
  • When evaluating carbs, only subtract dietary fiber from the total carbs. Some manufacturers use sugar alcohols and subtract that from the total carbs for advertising--sugar alcohols behave like sugar in your system.

Let's say we have two people, one is 300 lb with 45% body fat and the other one is 206 lb with 20% body fat. In both cases their lean body weight is about 165 lb. That means they both require 165g of protein to gain muscle. Your lean body mass most directly translates to your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR). Both of these people will be burning around the same number of calories sitting still, which means they need around the same amount of food per day. People who read all the body building web sites, and even Medhi's dietary advice may think that these two people need more protein and the justification for it will be later in this article.

Now, the comment about the free day. Yes, I actually mean eat whatever the heck you want. You want to put your face in a whole pizza pie? Go for it. You want to pile up on tiramasu? Knock yourself out. The free day actually does have a purpose other than your personal sanity. It is enough to throw your body's metabolism off so it doesn't get used to what you are eating. As your body gets used to a diet, it becomes more efficient at storing the food instead of using the food. In a way it's how progressive loading works to "confuse your muscles" (i.e. you've increased the weight so now they have to do more work and as a consequence get bigger). The other important thing is to follow it with a no-carb day. That is very important part of the concept as it lets your body burn off any fat it may have accumulated while you went nuts.

What's a lean protein?

  • 90/10 or better beef (90% lean 10% fat)
  • White meat for poultry and pork
  • Seafood (the most protein dense food you can eat)

Note that seafood has more protein per calorie of food than any other source of protein.

What are low carb veggies?

  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Green beans
  • Peppers (sweet peppers, hot peppers, etc.)
  • Cabbage (includes bok choi and Nappa/Chinese cabbage)
  • Cucumbers

If it's not on the list, just compare the nutritional value of the veggie with ones listed here. However, for the purposes of this diet, both potatoes and corn are considered carbs even though technically they are classified in the vegetable family. Also note that lettuce has no real impact both for nutrition and for carb content. You could eat as much lettuce as you want.

Tracking Progress

The only way to know if you need to adjust what you are doing is to track your progress. However, you can do it too often and defeat the purpose. In some ways you want to forget the scale, or the total body weight. Here's some reasons why:

  • Your body weight can fluctuate widely throughout the day, and is typically higher at night than it is in the morning by at least 2lb (1kg)
  • You might be experiencing some temporary water gain or bloating which inflates the numbers on the scale and makes you feel fatter than you are
  • As you build muscle the scale might actually go up even though the fat content has gone down or remains the same
  • It's just not a very accurate way to track your progress
  • Just treat it like an early warning indicator--if it's not going in the direction you want, you have some more investigations to do

I recommend you do monthly measurements and no more than weekly body comps. Your body changes fairly slowly once it is used to a regimen, and it takes about 6-8 weeks to get used to to the regimen. That means you will have the most change within the first 6-8 weeks of a diet, and starting a new exercise program. When you take your measurements, always do it with your muscles relaxed. Invest in a flexible measuring tape, you can get them any where they sell sewing supplies.

Take the following circumference measurements:

  • Neck, center of the neck
  • Chest, about the level of your nipples
  • Abdomen, at the level of your navel
  • Hips, at the widest point
  • Thighs, at the mid point between the hips and the knee
  • Calves, at the widest point
  • Biceps, at the widest point, arm bent but not flexed
  • Forearm, at the widest point

You know your trouble spots, the parts that tend to hang on to fat. Just based on many studies and physical makeup, men tend to store fat in the abdomen and women tend to store it in the hips and thighs. You know things are going in the right direction when those trouble sections get smaller and everywhere else gets larger. Now, if you have a lot of fat like I did when I started out, everything will get smaller until there's just about no more fat there. Then it will start getting bigger as you continue with weight training.

Checking your body composition:

There's a number of ways to check your body comp, but you do need to understand that unless you are directly measuring fat mass through a medical test you are getting an approximation. The important thing is the consistency of the numbers so you can measure relative changes. These will at least get you in the ballpark so you can estimate your needed protein intake.

For folks with a bio-electric impedance measurement, understand the limitations of that device:

  • It is the most inconsistent method for body fat measurements, and that's bad
  • The scale tends to read more body fat in the morning (when your total body weight is down) and less in the evening. The variation can be as much as 5% depending on your hydration, amount of food in your digestive system, etc.
  • Follow the instructions exactly as they came with the scale. Pick one time of day for the measurements and stick with it.
  • Only use it for trends. The fact that it went from 23% down to 20% is more useful than the actual number.

A better low cost method to estimate body fat is to use calipers. Probably the best for the purpose is the Accu-Measure Body Fat Calipers. As long as you are consistent with your measurement sites, it will prove to be very accurate.

Fine-tuning the Diet

Everyone's needs are different, so one blanket set of instructions isn't going to work for everyone. The reason we track progress is to determine if we need to change anything, not just for our own vanity. Adjust in 10% increments, so that you don't over compensate. Below are some common problems and what to adjust:

  • Fat not going down:
    • reduce carbs
    • don't combine fats (like cheese and butter) and carbs in the same meal

    [*]Muscle decreasing/not increasing: increase protein (note: too much protein gets converted to blood sugar and does no good)

    [*]Lethargic after workout: have a small amount of quick carbs to boost energy

    [*]Want to gain weight: increase carbs

Understanding the Carb thing:

What I'm about to say is a simplification of everything. However, it provides enough of an understanding to make some intelligent decisions to fine-tune your diet. Your body gets its energy from three sources: blood sugar, fat, and muscles/internal organs. It will attempt to use up all the energy from the blood sugar before it attempts to get energy from any other source. Carbohydrates get converted to blood sugar, and the only organ in the body that only uses blood sugar is our brain. It consumes about 100g of carbs a day. If you never dip below 100g of carbs you will never start pulling from other sources. Now, your muscles also use blood sugar when they can. That means your brain and your muscles are fighting for the same source of energy. When your body needs more energy than the carbs that are available, it pulls it from the other sources. The problem is that it is pulling from both the fat and the muscles at the same time. That's where the dietary protein comes to play. Your body will use the dietary protein before it starts cannibalizing its existing muscles and internal organs to create blood sugar.

First a couple numbers for the calorie conscious:

  • 1 pound of fat contains 3500 calories
  • 1 pound of muscle contains 600 calories

In order to gain a pound of fat in a day, you would need to consume an excess of 3500 calories above the number of calories you burned that day. When you are weight lifting and topping that off with a bit of cardio, that's a whole heck of a lot of food. Unfortunately you can't expect to gain a pound of muscle in a day, but if you have a protein free diet, you only need a 600 calorie deficit to lose a pound of muscle.

The pancreas is powerful

The pancreas is responsible for secreting two hormones: insulin and glucagon. Insulin regulates blood sugar by converting excess levels to fat. Glucagon regulates blood sugar by converting deficit levels from fat. In short, insulin packs on fat and glucagon burns it. The one category of food that directly translates to blood sugar levels are carbohydrates. Now, an excess of protein will also be converted to sugar through a very slow and thermogenic process--but you will also be gaining muscle. A healthy pancreas is designed to cycle between producing insulin and glucagon.

  • It takes 6 hours after your last serving of carbs for the pancreas to switch to producing glucagon
  • It takes 12 hours to process complex carbohydrates, after which you get a rush of energy
  • Timing your carbs will help you sleep when you need to, and give plenty of time to let glucagon do its magic
  • Too many carbs throughout the day will never let your body switch to the fat burning glucagon, and increases the insulin resistance of your body. Do this for too long and you can develop diabetes.

When your goal is to lose weight, you have a few options available to you:

  • Follow Medhi's advice and only have carbs post workout. This gives you at least a full 40 hours of fat burning glucagon
  • Limit carbs to only once a day. This gives you about 18 hours a day of fat burning glucagon
  • Go ketonic. That's less than 40g of carbs per day. Protein intake is critical during this time, as is taking supplements to compensate for the nutrients you aren't getting from carby foods. The first 3-4 days will be miserable and you will feel a bit lethargic. After that, you will feel pretty good as your body has gotten used to it. Stay in ketosis for 3 or more weeks, and you can reverse any insulin resistance your body has and your pancreas will be happy again.

Now, if you choose to go into ketosis, your kidneys will be producing ketone bodies which will help burn fat. If you don't keep up with your protein requirements, you can go into a state called ketonic acidosis. That's where the ketones are converting your muscles and organs to blood sugar. The protein guideline I gave at the beginning will keep you safe from that. However, another absolutely critical part of ketonic diets is transitioning off of them. They are by design a temporary solution for the purpose of losing weight. You should limit your stint in ketosis to no more than 3-4 months. Another issue you will deal with is constipation. Atkins avoids it by having you stock up on fat to keep you regular. That's not entirely healthy, so you may need to get familiar with Miralax, Milk of Magnesia, or Magnesium Citrate. Your body does get used to the laxatives, so you'll have to change what you are using, or add some vitamin C along with it.

Coming off of ketosis:

  • Your body is not used to dealing with carbs by this time, you need to reintroduce them gently
  • For two weeks, have a representative carb from each family only in the morning
    • Dairy
    • Fruit
    • Grain

    [*]Limit carbs from each group to no more than 20-30g

So why aren't we calorie counting?

Look, when you are eating your lean body weight in protein, getting the veggies you need, etc. you will be eating what feels like a lot of food. However, there's a natural limit to the number of calories you can get eating like this. What you are doing is controlling your portions based on the nutrition you need--and not the number of calories you are eating. As you exercise it's going to be natural to burn off fat, particularly when you are taking advantage of the way your body works. It's also going to be natural to put on muscle. That's why it's so important to track your progress so you can increase your protein portions to compensate. You will feel full, and it will be a lot easier than trying to figure out whether to add calories or subtract them, or even see the scary figure that things like the 3 cunningham formula or Medhi's one size fits all calorie requirements give you. We're different, and it's better to have a set of guidelines so you can intelligently make decisions over how and when to make adjustments to your diet.

If you are a 95lb junior high kid, and you ate 3000 calories a day, you are going to get fat plain and simple. Instead of fretting about the number of calories, consider the kind of food you are eating. Purge out the processed crap and eat real food. Do you know that you can actually taste the difference between grass fed beef and corn fed beef when you don't cover it up with tons of salt and other stuff? Did you know that chicken actually has a taste when it was raised free roaming and fed a natural diet? Adjust the diet for who you are, and how your body is responding to it. You may find that you do fine with some carbs, but others cause you to balloon up. That's an adjustment that is for you to make, and not a hard and fast rule for everyone else to follow. Enjoy your food.

What Hormones the Diet is Working with and Their Affect on Weightlifting

This diet is strictly regulating the production of insulin and glucagon. These hormones regulate the flow of energy to and from the blood stream. Muscles use ATP as energy, but glucose is one of the sources that can be used to quickly synthesize more ATP. So I'll take a bit longer to emphasize the role that these hormones play in a weightlifter. First I want to explain that the body is designed to cycle between catabolic and anabolic processes, and they both have vital roles in remaining healthy. Catabolism is involved in removing dead cells to make room for new ones, as well as pulling energy out of cells. Anabolism is involved in building new cells and pushing energy into them. Living too much in either state is not going to do you any favors.

Insulin is responsible for pulling energy (glucose) out of the blood stream and into your body's cells. The most common place for insulin to put the extra blood glucose is adipose tissue (or fat), but it operates on all tissue. Obese people have an excess of adipose tissue, and a common problem in western diets is that the body's cells are saturated with insulin and glucose, and it just can't accept any more. This is a state of insulin resistance, and causes the body to have elevated blood sugar and can cause pre-diabetic and diabetic states. Obviously this is bad. The reason the diet has carbs only twice a day is to give the body a rest from all the excess insulin production.

Now, in someone who lifts weights, they use a large amount of ATP in a short period of time. In order to replenish the ATP resources, the body will take glucose stored in the muscle and break it apart to re-synthesize ATP from ADP (the byproduct of consuming ATP) and glucose. What this means is that the muscles are starved for energy after a workout session. Having carbs after a workout will assist with recovery, and the majority of the blood glucose that comes from that meal will go into the muscles when the insulin response occurs. This is good news for overweight people, as the glucose is not being bound to adipose tissue.

Glucagon is responsible for pulling energy (glucose) out of the body's cells and into the blood stream. This hormone is critical for burning fat in people who are overweight. The pancreas switches to producing glucagon about 6 hours after the last serving of carbs you ate. The longer you go between servings of carbs the longer you can burn fat. What's important to understand is that it pulls glucose from all tissue, adipose, muscle fibers, organs, etc. That's good when you have built up insulin resistance and are borderline diabetic. That's bad when you need that energy for weightlifting. The key is that 6 hours mark.

As long as you work out within 6 hours of your morning meal on this plan, you will still be within the insulin producing stage of the pancreas and you will have plenty of energy for your workout. If you train over 8 hours after that morning meal (not uncommon) you might still be fine. If in doubt, have a little bit of carbs to induce an insulin response and recharge the muscles before you workout. On the FerrousMaverick's eating plan you are shooting for a total of 100g of carbs a day, so adjust accordingly. Now, if you end up having three servings of carbs on the workout day (150g), you can compensate by only having one serving on the rest day (50g). In fact, that's not a bad idea to allow the body to burn more of the fat in the process.

Edited by FerrousMaverick
added hormonal manipulations section, increased carb recommendations
  • Upvote 3

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Wow. This one is getting stickied for sure. Thanks Berin. A+

That is very important part of the concept as it lets your body burn off any fat it may have accumulated while you went nuts.

That made me chuckle

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Thanks. All of this is the culmination of the lessons learned on my diet journey as I sifted through the facts and lines the weight loss center gave me. Some of it is a result of personal experimentation and refinement as well.

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excellent post, some good tips there

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I'm curious about trying this out in the near future. Does this sound about right?

- Roughly 20% BF @ 182 lbs = 144 lbs of lean mass

- 1g/protein per pound of lean mass = 144g protein (576 calories)

- 40g of carbs = 160 calories (736 calories in total)

- 30g of fat = 270 calories

- 30g of fat 6x a day = 1620 calories (2356 calories total)

Is that about right? That's pretty much the number of calories I'm going for these days, albeit a bit more.

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Pulled the trigger on something Ive been afraid to do for awhile. Ordered a pair of fat calipers from amazon (the ones you suggested) for 5$. I am scared to see the results, but maybe it won't be so bad. We'll find out tuesday.

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The 40g of carbs total for the whole day is for going ketonic. If you do that, you will have to use a lighter load than normal--kind of like what Mike is doing. If you have a total of 100g carbs in a day lifting weights you will still burn fat. The more I lift I'm finding the more I keep burning fat.

But the proportions of food is otherwise about right. The body needs energy to build muscle--whether that comes from fat or carbs makes little difference. Remember that these are guidelines, and they provide a starting point to let you customize from there.

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I see. So, 40g of carbs would be, as you say, for ketosis, which is a faster fat loss diet, albeit with some kind of strength loss?

I'm not gonna be starting this out anytime soon, mind, but I'm just interested in how I'd go about doing this when the time comes.

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The problem has to do with energy reserves. I'm still learning more about this. For the type of exertion that we do lifting weights, we will need more in the tank. The net result is that we won't be at 100%, but more like 80% or something like that. The good news is that the body can also turn the fat into the energy our muscles need, but it's just not as efficient of a process.

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Firstly, thanks for taking the time to make this post.

I have a question, is the 4-6 meal frequency absolutely necessary? Can't one get by with 2-3 meals a day?

Also, what you've wrote makes sense, but ignoring calories can be harmful. The amount of fat your body puts on depends on calories in vs calories out, sure it's more complicated than that (like the quality of the food), but yeah that's what it's basically about. So foods with a high GI should be avoided on a non-calorie counting diet because they can make you feel hungry shortly after consumption (chocolate bars, bad carbs, etc).

But in your diet you promote low carbs and lots of vegetables and protein which should keep you filled up, so ignoring calories might work. But then there's another problem, I've heard that a deficit that reaches lower than your BMR will also cause a muscle loss, regardless of protein intake. For example, someone with at 130pounds with a TDEE of 2,000 calories and a BMR of 1,600 calories goes on a deficit of 500 calories a day, which might seem harmless, and takes in 130g protein, will still burn muscle along with fat.

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@ss10, calories in vs calories out is not an accurate concept but preached often. It's a whole lot more complicated than that. So let's break this down a little bit. Muscle is made up of primarily cells filled with a pair of proteins. The more of these proteins per cell, the more strength they have. There are a number of metabolic processes going on in your body at any given time.

  • As mentioned earlier, the pancreas deals with the regulation of blood sugar. Insulin limits blood sugar by binding the excess in triglycerides (fat). Glucagon raises blood sugar by freeing the bound triglycerides.
  • The kidneys are responsible for processing excess proteins which convert that to sugar.
  • When there is a severe shortage of carbs, the kidneys produce ketone bodies. The ketone bodies will convert protein (dietary or otherwise) into the blood sugar the body needs. This is why in ketonic diets you need to increase your protein intake much higher. That extra dietary protein will protect the existing muscles because it is used first.
  • Testosterone is one of the main hormones that causes muscle growth
  • Growth hormone (naturally occurring in the body) also increases the size of all tissue--including muscle

So what happens when there is a calorie deficit?

  • blood sugar drops, pancreas responds by secreting glucagon. Glucagon while catabolic is responsible for moving energy into the blood stream--that means both from fat and moving the glycogen stores in the muscles to the blood stream. That does not diminish the strength and potential of the muscle, simply the energy available to it.
  • After about 3 days (the time it takes to use up the blood born glycogen), the kidneys produce ketone bodies. Ketone bodies will‚Äč diminish the amount of protein in the muscles, making them smaller and weaker. Excess dietary protein above and beyond the normal requirements for weight lifting will be used before the proteins in your muscles. Remember, that this will raise the blood sugar.
  • Assuming you are taking care of your protein needs, you can sustain a very sharp calorie deficit which will last as long as you have excess fat to burn. Once you deplete your supply of fat, there is little you can do to protect against the body cannibalizing its own muscles and organs. That is the key: you have to have excess fat to handle the calorie deficit.

Now, the body is very good at maintaining a status quo. Plus or minus a couple hundred calories isn't going to disrupt that homeostasis. To answer your other questions:

  • Is it required to eat 4-6 meals a day? Quite simply no. You can have all your dietary requirements all at once--assuming you could actually fit it in your belly at the same time. The key is to get all your dietary requirements taken care of however works best for you. Using the knowledge above, playing with meal times is an effective way to have fat burning glucagon working for longer periods. Think "Eat. Stop. Eat.".
  • When you add up the macro nutrients for what you require, 4 Calories per gram of protein, same for carbs, and 9 Calories per gram of fat, the Calories add up quick. I'm eating in excess of 2400 Calories a day and still burning fat (albeit very slowly). The protein requirements are dependent on your weight, which helps raise the calories.
  • For me, dietary fat doesn't affect my weight as much as carbs do. The relationship might be reversed for you (endomorph vs. mesomorph), or it doesn't matter how much you eat you have a hard time gaining weight (ectomorph). You'll have to see which works best for you, but if you are in too much of a deficit, adjust the least damaging source of energy by 10%. If carbs don't affect you, add 10% more carbs. If fat doesn't affect you add 10% more fat.
  • Worrying about Calories is actually a lot more difficult and too broad of a brush to work with on your diet. I never advocate counting calories. I advocate make small, calculated changes to your diet to support the types of change you want.
  • You can eat 2500 Calories a day (a surplus in your example), but if the person does not have enough protein they will get fat and lose muscle. It's not as simple as calories in vs. calories out. It's about the macronutrients in the right balance, and the proper amount of vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy.

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I know in the basis of losing muscle it isn't "just" calories in vs calories out. That's why I said that's the broad version of it, but there's more to it. Which you covered very well, thank you.

But on your last point, if that person was to eat at a 500calorie surplus, and gets enough protein (130g a day weight at 130pounds), that person will get fat.

What I've been told repeatedly and repeatedly, is, take that same person, if he were to eat only 1000 calories a day and still get enough protein (130g a day weight at 130pounds), he will still burn muscle because the deficit is just too much, your body needs energy, so it will get that energy from fat, but too much of a deficit will cause the body to get energy from muscle, right? Or have I been misinformed?

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If someone eats the protein they need, and they are still eating surplus without doing extra work, they will get fat. That's where the weightlifting comes in. On average I burn 600 Calories when I'm done lifting (I have a heart rate monitor that tells me these things). So if my BMR is roughly 2400, on that day I could have 3000 Calories and still be OK. There's also a factor that you multiply the BMR by that increases the BMR for a more realistic number of what you burn in a day. The number ranges from 1.2-1.3 for a sedentary person to 1.9 for an extremely active person. What I'm saying is we burn a lot more than we think.

Assuming the person burns 2000 calories a day, and they are eating 1000 Calories they are just stupid plain and simple. Your body will go into starvation mode, and starvation mode means protect the fat and burn the organs because we don't know how long this famine will last. Like I said, the body is incredibly complex. Now let's say you need 2400 Calories but you are only getting 2000 Calories. The body isn't going to go into starvation mode, and is likely to burn the fat assuming you give it enough time. I think there is an absolute minimum the body needs to sustain function, but I'm not sure what that threshold is.

NOTE: if your average caloric intake is good, meaning on work days you are getting slightly too few Calories and on rest days you are getting slightly too many, it all comes out in the wash.

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SSJ2, if you actually factor the amount of protein etc to fit your bodyweight and such, it actually comes out at a good caloric level, or for me at least. Check out post 5, I used the numbers he gives (protein per pound of lean mass, 40g of carbs through the day, 30g of fat per meal, 6 meals a day (or at least 6 meals on paper, to get the amount sorted) In the end, it came out to be a reasonable amount for what I eat now.

By the way, I'd just like to chip in with something saying that it's perfectly possible to shed entire kilos of fat and stay strong without carb cutting so much, as you say. This approach is something I've heard simply described as more efficient. You'll lose fat whether you're doing this diet or a simple calorie deficit one, as has proven X Y Z times, it's just a matter of what works for you.

-Pasta (C.S)

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The burning is taken into account when calculating TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). So your workouts are counted in that

So for example

BMR: 1,600

TDEE: 2,300 (including calories burnt in the workout)

Daily intake: 1,500 calories, and 1g of protein per lean body mass

The example you gave, Ferrous Maverick, was something only someone dumb would do :P so yeah let's not talk about going into negative net calories, just a big deficit, a few hundred below your BMR. My question is, wouldn't this burn muscle too, despite an adequate intake of protein? Note this is not going into starvation mode, but a considerable decrease from one's TDEE

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Where are you getting this 1500 Calories? That's what I want to know. Let's break this down:

  • 130g Protein = ~ 520 Calories (4Cal/g)
  • 100g Carbs = ~ 400 Calories (4 Cal/g)
  • 30g ^ 6 Fat = ~ 1620 Calories (9 Cal/g)
  • Total 2530 Calories

So where is this 1500 Calorie per day number coming from? Note, the numbers for me are larger (192g protein).

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Oh they're just made up numbers. The point being is what will happen if you eat a little below your BMR rather than your TDEE. I think you'd lose muscle even if you get enough protein.

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That will be true if the body goes into starvation mode. The only way to stay out of starvation mode with such a severe calorie deficit is ketosis. One of the key things about ketosis, is that the body is not in the classic starvation mode, but due to the absence of carbs the kidneys are producing ketone bodies. As long as you eat enough protein, and you have enough stored fat in that state you won't lose muscle. So how do I know this? The ketosis based diet I was on had many women actually increase their muscle mass while losing weight. The weight loss in ketosis is very rapid because the calorie deficit is more severe.

If you read my bio, you'll find that I personally didn't have enough protein and did lose muscle when I was on that diet. Now, I had approximately 900 Calories a day between the protein based engineered food and the one meal I had on my own. I lost on average 4.5 lbs per week until I phased off the program. I did lose some muscle mass, but not like you would normally suspect. My wife did not lose any muscle, and even gained some (we ate the same amount daily) while we were on this diet.

I don't recommend weightlifting on such a severe deficit, but in point of fact there is at least one way not to lose muscle mass while having a ridiculous Calorie deficit. Check my before and after pictures in the gallery if you want to see what the effects of that look like.

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I updated the plan with two changes:

  • Increased the recommended amount of carbs per day. I didn't go crazy, but we do need more carbs in weightlifting than I initially put.
  • Added a new section discussing the two hormones being manipulated in the diet, and the rationale to help you make informed decisions about how and when to have carbs.

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Thanks for clearing things up FerrousMaverick

What's your opinion on this video?

He outlines that there are 3 times when your body will turn to muscle for energy (burning muscle)

1-when your body is low on food or fat

2-when your body is low on amino acids

3-when your body "thinks" it's going into starvation mode--this is the point I was making by a deficit too big, but not quite at starvation yet, which may result in burning muscle as well

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My basic understanding of how the body burns energy is that there are (for the sake of a layman's understanding) three storage tanks for energy:

  • Glycogen (blood glucose, and glycogen stored in the muscles)
  • Adipose tissue (triglycerides, fat)
  • Muscles/organs

The body almost always pulls from the glycogen stores first. The body typically has up to three days worth of glycogen in sedentary people. It probably gets used up quicker in weightlifters like us. Once the glycogen stores are used up, the body pulls equally from the adipose tissue and muscles/organs. In general adipose tissue contains 3500 Calories per pound and muscles/organs contain about 600 Calories per pound--that the body can use. Obviously, the muscle shrinks faster than the adipose tissue. Most diets that rely solely on Calorie deficit will cause you to lose more muscle than fat. This makes things worse because muscle burns Calories and so the net result is your BMR is lowered.

So, the way to preserve your muscles, and even make them thrive in the absence of Calories is to:

Increase dietary protein--note: this increases the available amino acids for the body to work with (taking care of point 2). The amino acids broken down from the dietary protein will be used before the body's muscles and organs are cannibalized.

In essence, even without watching the video, this basic understanding fits with what the guy is likely talking about. (I'll have to wait until I get home to watch the video).

As I previously mentioned, intentional ketosis is the only way I personally know of to avoid the starvation mode while on a substantial Calorie deficit. Without understanding the intricate details, the hormone profile while the body is in ketosis is not the same as it would be for a traditional starvation mode. Also, note that ketosis without the necessary protein will burn your muscles and organs. That is why the dietary protein is so important in a ketonic diet.

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