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    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    Appropriate Volume of Training for Fat Loss while Low-Carb Dieting

    The prevailing orthodoxy here denounces "special" or "secret" diets that promise to deliver fast results, and reverts attention to the basics of maintaining a stable caloric deficit. I understand that, and am not endeavoring to circumvent that principle in deciding to go about this with a lower consumption of carbs.

    That said, I am a little concerned about the retention of lean mass on such an approach. I have consistently eaten about 0.8g protein/ lb of bodyweight daily, and almost every day for the past two weeks, have eaten at an average deficit of about 500-800 calories. With the exception of last Saturday (where I had plenty of carbs and ate at maintenance), my carb intake has seriously been less than 50g a day, often close to zero, and my fat consumption is such that I'm still running quite a deficit.

    My concern is that, without glycogen, even doing a normal 45 minutes of resistance training (I am also running 1-2 miles about every other day) at challenging weight 5 days a week would still be detrimental to muscle retention, since protein will be used for energy and hence, not for muscle repair. Losing some muscle is necessarily going to happen, but is approaching it this way going to be detrimental to lean mass retention?

    Is this a valid concern? How much of an energy substrate besides protein will I need to prevent this from happening to a significant degree? Is HIIT a bad idea without glycogen?

    Thanks in advance!
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    You should be fine but the only way to know for sure is to track your progress - scale, training progress, progress pics every two weeks, waist measurements, etc..

    Along with adequate protein, fats are just as important. So important to keep it up to par. Rather play games with decimals, just aim for a gram per lb of BW for protein and call it a day.

    Also your deficit range (500-800 calories) is broad. I would tighten it up perhaps more to the lower end of the range. Then gauge from there.

    HIIT should be fine but shouldn't need more than 3x a week if resistance training 5x a week.
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    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by 1MANU View Post
    You should be fine but the only way to know for sure is to track your progress - scale, training progress, progress pics every two weeks, waist measurements, etc..

    Along with adequate protein, fats are just as important. So important to keep it up to par. Rather play games with decimals, just aim for a gram per lb of BW for protein and call it a day.

    Also your deficit range (500-800 calories) is broad. I would tighten it up perhaps more to the lower end of the range. Then gauge from there.

    HIIT should be fine but shouldn't need more than 3x a week if resistance training 5x a week.
    Thanks, you're probably the biggest lean guy I've seen on here so I'm glad to hear your take

    As far as strict weight loss goes over the period of a few months, what particular importance do fats play? As I understand it, they're necessary for endocrine function and hormonal balance, but as long as I'm eating 50-70g a day (which is about the range I've averaged, counting everything like sauces and oils I cook with), will consuming more do me any good/prevent any pitfalls?
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    If your current intake is around 50-70g a day that should be fine but as with your calorie deficit I would narrow that range. If bulking not a huge deal but for cutting better to play with more precise numbers. That way you can make proper adjustments down the road for things like fat loss plateaus, stalls in training progress, overall well being, etc..

    Perhaps keep it around 60g and see how you do.
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    team ketchup AdamWW's Avatar
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    Maybe I read this wrong, but if you’re eating .8g of protein per pound, and 60g of fat, and only 50g I’d carbs...

    Isn’t that like 1500 calories or less?

    How could that possibly only be a 500-800 calorie deficit?
    The power of carbs compels me!
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    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    Maybe I read this wrong, but if you’re eating .8g of protein per pound, and 60g of fat, and only 50g I’d carbs...

    Isn’t that like 1500 calories or less?

    How could that possibly only be a 500-800 calorie deficit?
    It is, but I was accounting for the couple of days I was eating at maintenance.

    EDIT: And where I budgeted in a few alcoholic beverages.
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    team ketchup AdamWW's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    It is, but I was accounting for the couple of days I was eating at maintenance.

    EDIT: And where I budgeted in a few alcoholic beverages.
    So your TDEE as a lifter who weighs over 200 pounds is 2000-2300 calories?


    How?
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    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    So your TDEE as a lifter who weighs over 200 pounds is 2000-2300 calories?


    How?
    I estimate it at 3000-3300. Excuse any incorrect arithmetic you found.
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    team ketchup AdamWW's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    I estimate it at 3000-3300. Excuse any incorrect arithmetic you found.
    I’m really confused...

    If you’re 230lb eating .8g/lb for protein, 60g of fat, and 50g of carbs, thats 1540 calories...

    You said you were in a 500-800 calorie deficit, which would made your TDEE 2000-2300...

    If your tdee is 3000-3300, then you’re in like a 1500-1800 calorie deficit
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    Registered User EliKoehn's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    I’m really confused...

    If you’re 230lb eating .8g/lb for protein, 60g of fat, and 50g of carbs, thats 1540 calories...

    You said you were in a 500-800 calorie deficit, which would made your TDEE 2000-2300...

    If your tdee is 3000-3300, then you’re in like a 1500-1800 calorie deficit
    But if I ate at maintenance for a couple of days, it factors into the average to reduce the deficit.
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    But if I ate at maintenance for a couple of days, it factors into the average to reduce the deficit.
    Gotcha... I mean it would have to be like half the days.
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    My concern is that, without glycogen, even doing a normal 45 minutes of resistance training (I am also running 1-2 miles about every other day) at challenging weight 5 days a week would still be detrimental to muscle retention, since protein will be used for energy and hence, not for muscle repair.
    That's not how it works.

    And you shouldn't assume to lose muscle. It's not necessary.

    What's your lifting routine?
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    You don't even need to begin worrying about muscle loss until you have abs, I have done PSMF eating as low as 6-800 calories of just protein per day MULTIPLE TIMES, only trace fats and trace carbs, i have never lost any noticeable muscle ever, Withing a week or so of coming of the diet i have always regained all of my previous strength. As long as you are eating enough protein and lifting muscle loss is extremely overrated. The only time you have to worry about muscle loss is when you are already very lean. Now i don't recommend PSMF for most people my point is just that you don't need to worry about muscle loss what ever diet you choose, PSMF is the most extreme you can get, I have never lost any noticeable muscle doing it and i have done it so many times now i have lost count. 10+ times easily.
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    Originally Posted by AdamWW View Post
    Gotcha... I mean it would have to be like half the days.
    Right, looks like I underestimated my deficit even still. Wanted to be conservative on the estimation since I had eaten pizza and drank a couple of days, albeit measuredly.

    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    That's not how it works.

    And you shouldn't assume to lose muscle. It's not necessary.

    What's your lifting routine?
    I don't follow a strict program but lately I've adopted a fairly balanced focus, making sure to hit the big three at least once every week, alternating days for strength and days for volume, with some running or cardio rowing at the end. My usual workout has 15-20 total sets and I tend to hover around the 5 x 5 for the primary lift and 4-5 x 8-12 for accessories, but I'll go lower and heavier or lighter and higher occasionally.

    I used to be a distance runner in high school so I still have a latent mentality of needing to feel exhausted at the end, which I doubt is the greatest idea when it comes to muscle retention on a caloric deficit.

    Originally Posted by SubWooferCooker View Post
    You don't even need to begin worrying about muscle loss until you have abs, I have done PSMF eating as low as 6-800 calories of just protein per day MULTIPLE TIMES, only trace fats and trace carbs, i have never lost any noticeable muscle ever, Withing a week or so of coming of the diet i have always regained all of my previous strength. As long as you are eating enough protein and lifting muscle loss is extremely overrated. The only time you have to worry about muscle loss is when you are already very lean. Now i don't recommend PSMF for most people my point is just that you don't need to worry about muscle loss what ever diet you choose, PSMF is the most extreme you can get, I have never lost any noticeable muscle doing it and i have done it so many times now i have lost count. 10+ times easily.
    Wow, are you serious?

    Going that low would be challenging, but right now, a couple weeks in, I'm not minding the mild hunger. Something about meat and protein sources (even very lean ones) is surprisingly satisfying. 8 Oz of tuna in water is hardly over 200 calories, but I usually feel full for several hours after eating it.

    Did you actually take measurements before or are you just going off of the visual aesthetic? Being lean does make you look bigger of course, even if you did lose considerable muscle. (Also, great job with that cut!)
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    5 days a week with 15-20 hard sets per workout is probably more volume than you need. It may even be too much volume, especially in deficit.
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    Originally Posted by SubWooferCooker View Post
    You don't even need to begin worrying about muscle loss until you have abs, I have done PSMF eating as low as 6-800 calories of just protein per day MULTIPLE TIMES, only trace fats and trace carbs, i have never lost any noticeable muscle ever, Withing a week or so of coming of the diet i have always regained all of my previous strength. As long as you are eating enough protein and lifting muscle loss is extremely overrated.
    Be careful with drawing conclusions from n=1 experiments. Just because something may seem to work for you doesn't mean that it will work for everyone. Studies show LBM losses do occur with such large deficits.
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    Agreed, I wouldn't worry too much about strength/mass loss until you're below maybe 13-14% and have been in a deficit for several months, at that point (if you're cutting to that point) it might be wise to reintroduce more carbs and reduce your deficit to make sure you can maintain intensity in the gym.

    Also have trained at low carb, PSMF and keto levels in the past (back when I experimented with such things). I would say that my strength did not suffer for lack of glycogen, mainly my endurance so I usually opted for lower volume/higher weight workouts. That is just me though and your experience may be different.
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    That's not how it works.

    And you shouldn't assume to lose muscle. It's not necessary.

    What's your lifting routine?
    ^^ This,

    For reference I've accidentally be cutting for the 2-3 months on my current program
    Though slowly, trending down about 2.5kg over that time

    I've PR'ed every lift except Squats at this point and that's close

    Don't start from a negative of you will lose strength, and certainly not muscle
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post
    It is, but I was accounting for the couple of days I was eating at maintenance.

    EDIT: And where I budgeted in a few alcoholic beverages.
    Which "maintenance?" Your actual TDEE at 3000-3300, or the 2000-2300 calories you're basing the 500-800 deficit on? What matters most are your average weekly numbers.

    Related: If you know that every weekend you are going to eat at true maintenance at least one or two days, then adjusting the deficit during the week to make up for the maintenance days makes perfect sense so as not to impede your desired progress.

    As an aside, I like to average my TDEE across the entire week, which enables me to ignore the psychological effects of appearing in going over my daily calorie budget on off days. Dailing in numbers accurately is a process that takes time, patience, and adherence to nail down - but so worth it in the end.

    You sound like a smart guy and I suspect you will get there quickly. Good luck!
    Without proper diets and effective meal plans dialed in, you might well be spitting in the wind.
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    Be careful with drawing conclusions from n=1 experiments. Just because something may seem to work for you doesn't mean that it will work for everyone. Studies show LBM losses do occur with such large deficits.
    We shall see. It is encouraging to hear others vouch that that didn't happen in their own experience, either. Even if I lose some, I'd still be content with that if it gets me lean. I'm probably 22% BF right now (slight conspicuous fat while wearing clothes, have some cold definition but I still look soft). I wouldn't mind trading a little mass for a tighter physique, if that ends up happening. (That is, if the only significant "loss" to a faster approach is the psychological difficulty, which doesn't daunt me this far in.)

    Originally Posted by AlexSays View Post
    Agreed, I wouldn't worry too much about strength/mass loss until you're below maybe 13-14% and have been in a deficit for several months, at that point (if you're cutting to that point) it might be wise to reintroduce more carbs and reduce your deficit to make sure you can maintain intensity in the gym.

    Also have trained at low carb, PSMF and keto levels in the past (back when I experimented with such things). I would say that my strength did not suffer for lack of glycogen, mainly my endurance so I usually opted for lower volume/higher weight workouts. That is just me though and your experience may be different.
    Interesting, so you were still able to get close to your previous maxes? Yesterday, I did GVT on four exercises (two agonist compounds and then two isolations) and ran a mile, in an hour. My thinking was that my short bursts of strength would suffer more than endurance. It was a challenging workout, but maybe I'll try training with a powerlifting mentality and see how that goes instead.

    Earlier this week, I actually hit a PR on the incline bench with no carbs, and I ran a mile and a half to the gym instead of driving, which was a surprise to me. It may very well be that this doesn't cut into strength so much! There's a guy at my gym who regularly lifts very heavy weight, and he only eats a significant amount of carbs about once a week, otherwise vegetables and lean protein.

    Originally Posted by WolfRose7 View Post
    ^^ This,

    For reference I've accidentally be cutting for the 2-3 months on my current program
    Though slowly, trending down about 2.5kg over that time

    I've PR'ed every lift except Squats at this point and that's close

    Don't start from a negative of you will lose strength, and certainly not muscle
    Wait, so you're actually PRing during your cut, or only when you refuel occasionally?

    This is good stuff guys, thanks for all of your feedback.
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    Originally Posted by 1stCoachJoe View Post
    Which "maintenance?" Your actual TDEE at 3000-3300, or the 2000-2300 calories you're basing the 500-800 deficit on? What matters most are your average weekly numbers.

    Related: If you know that every weekend you are going to eat at true maintenance at least one or two days, then adjusting the deficit during the week to make up for the maintenance days makes perfect sense so as not to impede your desired progress.

    As an aside, I like to average my TDEE across the entire week, which enables me to ignore the psychological effects of appearing in going over my daily calorie budget on off days. Dailing in numbers accurately is a process that takes time, patience, and adherence to nail down - but so worth it in the end.

    You sound like a smart guy and I suspect you will get there quickly. Good luck!
    Thanks for the encouraging words!

    I ate at something close to the true TDEE for that day, so a little above 3000. That's a good idea, aggregating to a weekly number (or at least, bearing it in mind for reference). Didn't think about that.
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post

    Wait, so you're actually PRing during your cut, or only when you refuel occasionally?

    This is good stuff guys, thanks for all of your feedback.
    If you look up Layne Norton and one of the 3DMJ guys (Greg Loomis) they were actually PR-ing during their cut. And they're very strong.

    https://3dmusclejourney.com/gaining-...while-cutting/
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    Originally Posted by EliKoehn View Post

    Wait, so you're actually PRing during your cut, or only when you refuel occasionally?

    This is good stuff guys, thanks for all of your feedback.
    I mean I'm not tracking so can't tell you the exact calories on the best days, but in general all my assistance has been linearly up and now the main lifts are too.

    The caveat is that I was off training for a bit with covid so it's a bit of a comeback run, but I've also smashed a lifetime deadlift PR from years ago, decent gain on bench, and am not sure about Squats yet...it's close too if not as good as it's ever been.
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