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  1. #1
    Registered User Joezrk92's Avatar
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    Cutting Weight - Losing Muscle Mass??

    Why is it that I constantly hear people say that if your a cutting weight, and you take too low of a calorie deficit, you will starting losing muscle mass? I read through the forums and there are countless threads that state this.

    There was a recent study done on a group of military men. For 8 weeks they were put on an average of 1400 calorie deficit and were put through severe exercise, severe stress, and severe sleep deprivation. The men started out with an average body fat percentage of 14%.

    What they found was, even when trying to beat these men down, they still did not enter any "starvation mode" or lose muscle mass until they got around 4-5% body fat.

    Here is the link: fitnessblackbook-com/main/starvation-mode-why-you-probably-never-need-to-worry-about-it/

    So why is it that I am always reading advice from these expirienced body builders saying that going on caloric deficits for cutting, that very minuscule relative to what these men in the study were going through, will lose muscle mass along with fat?

    I was just curious what the thoughts are here.
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    Registered User frankturner1982's Avatar
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    I have always felt starvation mode is a bit of a myth tbh.

    And to lose muscle mass you would have to go quite low bf, not to say you can't lose some (not sure though), but its overhyped.

    Might be wrong.
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    Registered User nhclone's Avatar
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    The limiting factor, as I understanbd it, is your bodies ability to oxidize fat. That rate, from what I've read, is 31 calories per pound of BF. If your deficit is in excess of that level, then the thought is that the body would start to use other fuel supplies. I haven't seen studies confirming that, so maybe you're onto something new.
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    Registered User Balanis's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Joezrk92 View Post
    Why is it that I constantly hear people say that if your a cutting weight, and you take too low of a calorie deficit, you will starting losing muscle mass? I read through the forums and there are countless threads that state this.

    There was a recent study done on a group of military men. For 8 weeks they were put on an average of 1400 calorie deficit and were put through severe exercise, severe stress, and severe sleep deprivation. The men started out with an average body fat percentage of 14%.

    What they found was, even when trying to beat these men down, they still did not enter any "starvation mode" or lose muscle mass until they got around 4-5% body fat.

    Here is the link: fitnessblackbook-com/main/starvation-mode-why-you-probably-never-need-to-worry-about-it/

    So why is it that I am always reading advice from these expirienced body builders saying that going on caloric deficits for cutting, that very minuscule relative to what these men in the study were going through, will lose muscle mass along with fat?

    I was just curious what the thoughts are here.
    as ive understood, MUSCLE (not lbm) loss would begin until, as you put it, certain bf is achieved; we would have to also consider if the calorie deficit involved a high protein diet, excercise would serve to maintain and help retain muscle...

    also, im sure muscle retention loss on military men is different when comparing to the mass of a pro bbuilder...
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  5. #5
    Registered User Joezrk92's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by nhclone View Post
    The limiting factor, as I understanbd it, is your bodies ability to oxidize fat. That rate, from what I've read, is 31 calories per pound of BF. If your deficit is in excess of that level, then the thought is that the body would start to use other fuel supplies. I haven't seen studies confirming that, so maybe you're onto something new.
    Yea the study showed that, even when trying hard, it is difficult to get into "starvation mode" until your body fat % reaches 5% for men and 10% for women

    I believe I also read somewhere that you would get in this "starvation mode" after a couple days of not eating anything. That would be a very extreme case.

    It is my belief that the the typical cutting diet with around 50% protein would not result in any lean muscle loss. I personally know some who have done a 1000 calorie deficit and have maintained/gained muscle in the process.

    I also believe that, when done correctly and strict, you could bulk without having significant gains in fat. If someone is having significant gains in fat then, to me, they are taking in way too many calories than needed. There is a certain amount of calories that your muscles will use for bulking, any more calories taken in, in surplus of what your muscles need, will turn into excess amounts of fat.
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    Registered User apollo1975's Avatar
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    Interesting read. And another possible myth buster
    My NEW JUNE 2014 progress thread is here http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=162264051&p=1252549041#post1252549041
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  7. #7
    u wot m1.68179283050717⁴ Manc33's Avatar
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    How come this thread never even got started when it highlights something this important? :O

    Most people think the opposite to this and just don't wanna reply?
    Would hate to be wrong?
    Don't wanna feel a jackass because all they ever did was less cardio and kept lifting?
    Won't even touch the topic?

    I always felt that lifting when cutting was not necessary, but that was always just an assumption. You might as well just do 2x the cardio and ACTUALLY GET FITTER. This in turn will give you more overall energy/stamina when you do get on the weights again anyway, too.

    I want everyone thats cutting to ride a bike at least 25 miles today, do it you lazy wankers. STFU about losing fukin muscle mass all the time, its getting old and you're just bullshytting yourselves. Get real folks.

    Becoming what seems like a bit weaker over 6 weeks of cutting isn't "losing" muscle mass, the mass/strength potential is still there, you just ain't used that muscle for a while is all, thats not the same thing. That can come straight back after only 1 or 2 workouts.

    Someone prove this shyt wrong for fuks sake, contest it, don't just leave the topic @ 6 posts long, thats ridiculous. Show studies where people lost muscle mass because they cut and stopped lifting. Otherwise its broscience once more.
    Last edited by Manc33; 03-16-2013 at 01:02 AM.
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    Registered User y0ungb100d's Avatar
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    You make a very good point. I think the main issue with the muscle loss during a cut myth ( I still dont know what to think of it) is that as you cut you definitely decrease body fat, and that decrease in bodyfat is still a size displacement. Hence you lean out but at the same time you look smaller because your body fat has decreased. I think the origin of the myth is that going too extreme can cause too much of a composition change resulting in thinking that muscle mass was lost when it might not be true. It might all be psychological lol.. I've been cutting and I feel smaller as I lean out even though the measurements in low body-fat areas have remained constant or grown slightly.
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  9. #9
    u wot m1.68179283050717⁴ Manc33's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by y0ungb100d View Post
    You make a very good point. I think the main issue with the muscle loss during a cut myth ( I still dont know what to think of it) is that as you cut you definitely decrease body fat, and that decrease in bodyfat is still a size displacement. Hence you lean out but at the same time you look smaller because your body fat has decreased. I think the origin of the myth is that going too extreme can cause too much of a composition change resulting in thinking that muscle mass was lost when it might not be true. It might all be psychological lol.. I've been cutting and I feel smaller as I lean out even though the measurements in low body-fat areas have remained constant or grown slightly.
    This is an even better point than the one I made, never thought of it that way (layer of fat comes off and you look smaller). If that is the ONLY reasoning behind this, it is straight up broscience.

    Also, assuming because you're a bit weaker after a cut it means there is "less" muscle mass there is also wrong since you can get back to the strength you were at the beginning of the cut very quickly, one or two workouts. Muscle memory.
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  10. #10
    Registered User Vaylor's Avatar
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    Interesting.
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  11. #11
    Misc Casanova kmabd2's Avatar
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    Tests on military men? How do we know these men weren't taking performance enhancing drugs.. That changes everything.
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    Where the fuk is the sauce for this angus?
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    Worthy of a bump. Is it true that protein requirements are overstated on a cut?
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    i think when they said losing muscle means strangth, and while in cutting you will shridd the fat so you will become leaner and - Smaller -. so basically if you saying if i were in 1000 caloric deficit or even more, there is a chance that all of weight decreased came from fat ... pure fat?

    God dammit im so confused :S !

    all what i know is that dropping a large amount of calories is dangoures for your body and i dont think there is ppl would like that idea because they cant stay in large amount of deficit. what im trying to say is being in 200 to 500 caloric deficit under your mantainance is better, trying to take things slowly is better than take a huge step in short time.

    i dunno i hope a lot of ppl will share their opinion and give us some advices around here ...
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    Here goes a shot at it. Your typical military guy has some degree of muscle but for the most part they are not professional body builders. Everyone agree so far?
    Here is another part of it you body can only take 31.4 x (amount of fat in lbs) to convert to caloric fuel/energy per day. Agree so far?

    Now lets do two comparisons using these two things:
    Guy A (Body Builder)- Lets assume he works out 6 days a week. Lets say was bulking and decided to start a cut, we will use you 14% body fat. Lets say he is doing this for a show and wants to get to that 5% that you mention above. Lets also assume He is 5'10" and weighs in at 220 lbs. This would give him 30.8 lbs fat and 189.2 LBM. His max energy conversion would be 967 calories. According to IIFYM calculator his TDEE is 3355. If you put him on a 1000 calories deficit he would eat 2355 calories a day to cut. Since his max energy conversion from fat is 967 the lowest he could intake would be 1388 calories a day this is awefully close to the point at which if he ingested too few calories his body would turn to muscle for fuel. (Using the 1400 you stated in the original post)

    Guy B (Military guy)- will will assume he is 5'10" however most military guys do not walk around at 220 and 14% body fat. Since the max weight is 192 at 5'10 to be within standards we will use that. So 192 at 14% gives us the following... 26.8 lbs fat, 165.2 lbm, a energy conversion of 841 calories, but a TDEE of 3000. Put him on a 1000 calorie deficit, so 2000 calorie per day limit. Which gives him 1159 calories per day as his lowest level before the body may turn to muscle for fuel.

    When guy B gets to 10% his body may turn to muscle for fuel. I am also going to assume that most military members do not sit near max allowable they are usually in between the min and max range this would give them a lower TDEE based on their weight alone thus allowing them to go lower until their bodies turn to fuel.

    However, since most people are not professional body builders or even that ripped it is safe to say that if you crunch your own numbers and know your BF% you can dip as low as the numbers will allow without losing muscle mass. Just my .02
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    Registered User singeress's Avatar
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    So far this thread has focused on military men and bodybuilders...

    Just out of curiousity, what are your opinions the same towards average man or woman; let's say someone without any prior consistency of exercise/diet/fitness?

    (^Sorry if this question is vague, I'm not really sure how to word this)
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    I have been saying this for a while now. The body just doesn't give up muscle as easily as everyone thinks it does. I was trying to find the study the OP was talking about to support my claims.

    From other things I have read, the only thing I could really find was rates of muscle loss for people over their 40s who lead sedentary lifestyles and the rate of muscle loss is like 1% a year.

    From my own background and experience of athleticism and going back and forth between years of being active and years of doing nothing, in my opinion I have never lost much muscle mass. I was extremely in shape and muscular throughout college (2004) and after that I lived at a ski resort for 2 years (2006) and built up some craaazy leg muscles those years. Changed lifestyles completely and got super lazy with a desk job and gained tons of weight for some years. Got back into shape with numerous rounds of p90x (2009) and uncovered those old leg muscles and built up some arm and back muscles. Got lazy again for a couple of years and pregnant (2012) blew up and then lost it all again and here I am uncovering all these muscles again and I still think my muscle base is relatively unchanged.

    It only takes a few weeks to get back to the level I left off at. I found a body picture of myself from 10 years ago and I look a lot mushier at a lower body weight back then than where I am at now at a higher weight with more muscle base
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    A lot of this depends on if you are using anabolics or not.
    If using anabolics you can hold muscle in a very low cal environment.
    Natural its much more likely muscle will be lost.
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    I started doing dexa scans last December. Since then I have lost 106lbs in 10 months with a 6lb drop in lean body mass. That is pretty aggressive weight loss with minimal lean body mass lost.
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    Originally Posted by kmwrestle View Post
    I started doing dexa scans last December. Since then I have lost 106lbs in 10 months with a 6lb drop in lean body mass. That is pretty aggressive weight loss with minimal lean body mass lost.
    LBM is more than muscle though, especially as measured by DEXA. You could well have gained or maintained muscle while losing LBM overall.
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