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  1. #1
    Registered User torentas's Avatar
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    Clean bulking for 44 y/o - seems that all goes to belly fat

    Intro: I am 181cm tall (5.94 ft) and almost 44 yrs old. After neglecting my body for 8 years, I returned to the gym in Oct 2018 and did 1 year of cutting + return to proper nutrition eating around 2200-2300 kcal on average. In Oct 2019 I dropped the bf to 13-14% and dropped to 76kg (167.5 lbs) or 76.5kg (168.5 lbs). The bf composition pro scale shows that in the process I lost no more than 1kg of muscles (probably due to a lot of proteins I took). In Nov 2019 I started clean bulk.

    I take these supplements: whey, creatine pure, ashwagandha for test and sports minerals. And BCAA during the workout.

    I eat 5-6 times a day but do NOT take care if I eat 40 or 70 proteins. I tend to eat clean, especially when at work. So I usually eat protein + fat pre-breakfast and breakfast. then protein + UH for lunch, then the same for the meal before dinner, and dinner is mainly UH + smaller dose of protein.

    Today, Feb 2020, I eat around 2700 kcal (P 208, F 74, UH 313 - P 30%, F 24%, UH 46%). I go to the gym 3 times a week doing rather an intensive workout composing of supersets that lasts up to 1h.
    I eat clean mainly on no-skin poultry, fish, rise, pasta, a lot of healthy fats from walnuts, etc. Fast sugar is taken from honey, banana, and dates. I think it's pretty decent nutrition. Yes, lots of water as well.
    Now, I weigh 80kg (176.4), but I noticed that my belly is getting fats (waist size now 86.7 cm (34.125 in)). I did another pro scale test in the gym and it shows that my bf is now 17.5%.


    And I have no idea what to do. I am thinking that maybe I am not pushing enough in the gym. Will try to go harder in the next month to see if bf will drop (without change of kcal).

    Do you have any suggestions for me? Is it realistic to bulk in 44 without getting belly fat (remember, I am not a pro)?

    PS. I decided to go bulk as 1-year cutting exhausted me and I lost strength + workout energy.
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    Weak and foolish OldFartTom's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by torentas View Post
    Intro: I am 181cm tall (5' 11" )
    FIFY (fixed it for you)
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    Registered User shaneinga's Avatar
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    Its not surprising that most of your gain has gone to your stomach. You need to take a time to stay at your lean weight and slowly reverse diet out of it. You basically sent signals to your body for a year that it was in a famine and now you switched back to excess within a month of stopping hard dieting. Your body is now ready to store everything you send it.

    Layne Norton wrote a good book called Fat Loss Forever you should read. Our bodies have built in mechanisms that have helped us to survive feast AND famine times.

    My advice. Take some time at your current weight. Eat cals and slowly build up your calories while trying to NOT gain weight. Do this for an extended period of time where you can get your BMR and TDEE rates back up to where they were pre dieting for a year. Once you get there, maybe bulk or maybe hang out at that caloric set point and try to get as strong as you can at that weight. Once you run out of gear for strength at THAT point then add some food.

    I have done the same thing, so it is easy to recognize it.
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  4. #4
    Registered User torentas's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by shaneinga View Post
    Its not surprising that most of your gain has gone to your stomach. You need to take a time to stay at your lean weight and slowly reverse diet out of it. You basically sent signals to your body for a year that it was in a famine and now you switched back to excess within a month of stopping hard dieting. Your body is now ready to store everything you send it.

    Layne Norton wrote a good book called Fat Loss Forever you should read. Our bodies have built in mechanisms that have helped us to survive feast AND famine times.

    My advice. Take some time at your current weight. Eat cals and slowly build up your calories while trying to NOT gain weight. Do this for an extended period of time where you can get your BMR and TDEE rates back up to where they were pre dieting for a year. Once you get there, maybe bulk or maybe hang out at that caloric set point and try to get as strong as you can at that weight. Once you run out of gear for strength at THAT point then add some food.

    I have done the same thing, so it is easy to recognize it.
    Damn, I forgot to tell that I did not immediately jump to 2750 kcal. I first jumped to 2500 for like the whole Nov and Dec. Then moved to 2600, then 2700, and as of a week or two, I am on 2750 kcal. Is this still too fast pace for body?

    Thanks for the book suggestion. The title looks very promising.
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    Registered User torentas's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by shaneinga View Post
    My advice. Take some time at your current weight. Eat cals and slowly build up your calories while trying to NOT gain weight. Do this for an extended period of time where you can get your BMR and TDEE rates back up to where they were pre dieting for a year. Once you get there, maybe bulk or maybe hang out at that caloric set point and try to get as strong as you can at that weight. Once you run out of gear for strength at THAT point then add some food.
    So you are suggesting that I stay at 80kg at move diet up or down 100 (or more) kcal so I do not move up (nor down) on the scale? Shall I only play around with carbs when going down/up to maintain 80kg?

    Did you manage to indeed gain strength this way by growing muscle and lose fat?

    And the most important, what was the indicator that you were ready for bulk? At point did you realize that you can now lift calories 200 or 300 kcal and start clean bulk?
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    Registered User torentas's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by OldFartTom View Post
    FIFY (fixed it for you)
    Thanks, old fart!
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    Originally Posted by shaneinga View Post
    ...My advice. Take some time at your current weight. Eat cals and slowly build up your calories while trying to NOT gain weight. Do this for an extended period of time where you can get your BMR and TDEE rates back up to where they were pre dieting for a year. Once you get there, maybe bulk or maybe hang out at that caloric set point and try to get as strong as you can at that weight. Once you run out of gear for strength at THAT point then add some food.

    I have done the same thing, so it is easy to recognize it.
    Intensity is key here, specifically, utilizing type II fast-twitch muscle fibres as much as your health and current fitness allows in order to trigger a proper metabolic response. Remember, "lift heavy and/or lift fast". Also, from my personal experience, regular outdoor cycling with sporadic uphill accelerations makes waist a bit thinner )
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    Registered User shaneinga's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by torentas View Post
    Damn, I forgot to tell that I did not immediately jump to 2750 kcal. I first jumped to 2500 for like the whole Nov and Dec. Then moved to 2600, then 2700, and as of a week or two, I am on 2750 kcal. Is this still too fast pace for body?

    Thanks for the book suggestion. The title looks very promising.
    In 13 weeks you put on almost 9 pounds or a little over a half a pound a week. This is a good pace for a bulk. Your naval measurement isn't the point of being unhealthy. If you are going to bulk, you are going to gain some fat. The more I read your numbers you are doing fine. More time training with this discipline should get you where you want to go.

    Originally Posted by torentas View Post
    So you are suggesting that I stay at 80kg at move diet up or down 100 (or more) kcal so I do not move up (nor down) on the scale? Shall I only play around with carbs when going down/up to maintain 80kg?

    Did you manage to indeed gain strength this way by growing muscle and lose fat?

    And the most important, what was the indicator that you were ready for bulk? At point did you realize that you can now lift calories 200 or 300 kcal and start clean bulk?
    Since you seem to of actually reversed dieted out of this and did not jump straight to a bulk out of a long period of dieting a typical bulk/cut cycle of your choice would work. I typically do the usual cyclical annual bulk/cut cycle. Bulk in the winter and cut in the early spring to be ready for summer.
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    xeHde xox Domkratos's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by torentas View Post
    ...Shall I only play around with carbs when going down/up to maintain 80kg?...
    Another point is it's highly likely that, in the end of the day, what you call "eating clean" (supposedly, micromanaging your macros ratio in terms of prioritizing protein consumption) won't necessarily make you leaner and/or stronger.
    While there are indeed sci-data that with age our capacity to process proteins does decrease (hence the recommendation to increase Ps intake), what if your current biologic age is somewhat younger than what's indicated in your birth certificate and your body simply does not need all these extra calories even when they come strictly from whey isolate?
    So it may well be that all your "waist issue" comes down simply to your "5-6 meals & supps. of 40 to 70 gr of protein a day"?
    No offence, but, what makes you believe that, "even" at your 44, with, say, "just" 130 gr of proteins in "just" 3 meals a day you will be shrinking rather than bulking and getting stronger? Thanks for reading!
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    Registered User torentas's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Domkratos View Post
    Another point is it's highly likely that, in the end of the day, what you call "eating clean" (supposedly, micromanaging your macros ratio in terms of prioritizing protein consumption) won't necessarily make you leaner and/or stronger.
    While there are indeed sci-data that with age our capacity to process proteins does decrease (hence the recommendation to increase Ps intake), what if your current biologic age is somewhat younger than what's indicated in your birth certificate and your body simply does not need all these extra calories even when they come strictly from whey isolate?
    So it may well be that all your "waist issue" comes down simply to your "5-6 meals & supps. of 40 to 70 gr of protein a day"?
    No offense, but, what makes you believe that "even" at your 44, with, say, "just" 130 gr of proteins in "just" 3 meals a day you will be shrinking rather than bulking and getting stronger? Thanks for reading!
    Good point. But I have no answers to it . I have never had a 44-year-old body before so I am still trying to understand how it reacts to bulking. BTW my age, based on those not-so-accurate machines is 28 so there could be the point in your saying.
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    Registered User torentas's Avatar
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    Thanks, everyone for suggestions. I did not get a clear answer, but I did not expect one (nor it's possible). But you gave me a new standpoint to take care of.

    I will try to push on intensity for a month or more but keep the current weight at 80kg and see where I am.
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    Those body fat measuring devices are a toy and in no way accurate.

    I think you should aim to gain 1 pound per month. If you're gaining more than this, drop calories. If you're gaining less then increase them slightly. Increase/decrease by 200 calories a day for 1-2 weeks before measuring the result. If your surplus is 200-300 calories over then it should minimise fat gain, although you might still get some.

    Weigh yourself every day and take the weekly average.

    Finally, are you weighing and measuring your foods? Because 2300 calories "by eye" can easily become 2800 without you realising.

    Regarding the gym, you mentioned you think you're not pushing hard enough. I'm inclined to say you're most likely not if you think you're not. I know when I finish at the gym there is no question in my mind that I gave it 100%.

    Hope this helps, good luck.
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    Registered User torentas's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MrCarrot View Post
    Those body fat measuring devices are a toy and in no way accurate.

    I think you should aim to gain 1 pound per month. If you're gaining more than this, drop calories. If you're gaining less then increase them slightly. Increase/decrease by 200 calories a day for 1-2 weeks before measuring the result. If your surplus is 200-300 calories over then it should minimise fat gain, although you might still get some.

    Weigh yourself every day and take the weekly average.

    Finally, are you weighing and measuring your foods? Because 2300 calories "by eye" can easily become 2800 without you realising.

    Regarding the gym, you mentioned you think you're not pushing hard enough. I'm inclined to say you're most likely not if you think you're not. I know when I finish at the gym there is no question in my mind that I gave it 100%.

    Hope this helps, good luck.
    Hm, interesting. To gain no more than 0.5 kg a month. That will be tricky! I think this happened when I was on 2500 kcal and I could not notice any progress.
    Anyway, I am now back to 2600kcal and will monitor progress for 2 weeks.

    Regarding kcal measuring, I am fanatic there . Not only that I try to guess "how much fat a cook put" in the meal I am eating outside, but I am relly pecky to entering the right amount. I mean, I had such a good results during the cutting phase.

    I am also thinking that the gym could be a part of the problem. I know that at some point I could not push too hard as I was too weak after 1-year on cutting. So I guess, my mind forgot what it really means to push. I have corrected this in the past dew weeks, so now I am really pushing like hell and my shirt is dark of sweat after the training. And you are right, now I know that I pushed 100% . If you doubt whether you have pushed 100%, it means that you have not haha
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    Originally Posted by torentas View Post
    Do you have any suggestions for me? Is it realistic to bulk in 44 without getting belly fat (remember, I am not a pro)?
    There will always some fat gains during the building process because that's how it works. The problem is your surplus is too aggressive and you're gaining too fast. The building process is slow, so you need to go the distance while keeping in mind that you're not going to see big changes overnight. Fat gains can be kept at a minimal by going slightly above maintenance. At your height a 2 lb gain a month would be plenty and anything above that just makes the next cut that much harder. I'm a female and my last building cycle lasted a year with a 1 lb gain a month...a male can get away with a bit more.

    Slightly cut back on your calories to slow things down.
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    I don't believe this has been mentioned but from a biological standpoint, being in your 40's you're going to have to eat "cleaner" than you would have in your 20's to achieve the same results.
    You have to remember that by age 30 your testosterone levels are dropping roughly 2% every year for the average male, this means your nutrition partitioning is becoming less than desirable as you age.

    The difference in "clean" eating for someone older could be a leaner fish option versus a steak high in fat, as your body now has a harder time digesting and utilizing the fat for energy due to said hormone changes. That's not to say you should cut large amounts of fat from your diet.

    This could very well explain why you're prone to accumulating mass more easily in your abdomen than normal. I find it unusual that you're noticing real abdomen fat with 9lbs gained at 0.5lbs/week, a slow bulk.

    I would see an endocrinologist and have a full blood panel done(really everyone should prior to beginning weight training).
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    Why are you "bulking" as a skinny fat natural in your mid 40s?

    Absolutely ridiculous
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    Originally Posted by Halfway View Post
    Why are you "bulking" as a skinny fat natural in your mid 40s?

    Absolutely ridiculous
    Being in the "skinny fat" zone is difficult and causes most to "spin their wheels".

    He could bulk now to accumulate muscle mass, leading to a longer cut later. Or he could cut down to low body fat now and slow bulk, there's more than one way to achieve the same end goal.

    In your opinion what should he do?
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    Originally Posted by blissful88 View Post
    Being in the "skinny fat" zone is difficult and causes most to "spin their wheels".

    He could bulk now to accumulate muscle mass, leading to a longer cut later. Or he could cut down to low body fat now and slow bulk, there's more than one way to achieve the same end goal.

    In your opinion what should he do?
    He should adjust his expectations if he's not genetically blessed, which he obviously isn't

    Getting lean and slowly trying to gain muscle is the only healthy choice as someone approaches 50. Nothing worse than getting fat for minimal gains
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    Originally Posted by Halfway View Post
    He should adjust his expectations if he's not genetically blessed, which he obviously isn't

    Getting lean and slowly trying to gain muscle is the only healthy choice as someone approaches 50. Nothing worse than getting fat for minimal gains
    That's fair. I'll remember that as 40 isn't far off, and I agree that people should prioritize being on the leaner side. It seems like the vast majority of 35+ year olds are obese and I certainly don't want to be one of them at any age. OP building muscle is an uphill climb for sure.
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  20. #20
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    Get to 12% Bf. Determine maintenance calories. Adjust intake to a 500 calorie surplus. Bulk to 18-20%. Cut back to 12%. Enjoy the extra 1lb of muscle. Rinse and repeat for a decade.

    This sht is slow. Be patient.
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  21. #21
    Registered User Bordersun's Avatar
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    I have done the same thing, so it is easy to recognize it.
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