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    More food + Less cardio = Going down in weight? Can someone help

    Hi Everyone,

    So I'm here looking for some perspective on what's currently happening to my body right now, as I'm entering new territory (looking to build muscle) for the first time in a long time despite being a very active individual. Ever since my pec tear, I have been taking time to focus on other aspects of my weight training. Its been a few years now where I have over-emphasized cardio, high volume training and mobility / other avenues of fitness and I am a little unsure of what is happening to my body right now.

    Up until 2 weeks ago, I have been eating around 2800-3000 calories a day and doing about 300 minutes of cardiovascular/LISS a week. Here I was actually maintaining my weight around the high 190s/200.

    Now that I'm looking to build muscle, I'm increasing my calories and reducing my cardio activity and reducing my volume in workouts to prioritize strength and progressive overload. What I don't understand is why my weight is dropping now? It's nothing rapid, but my weigh ins are on a downward trend. I feel strong AF compared to before, but I just want to understand whats happening here.

    Does anyone have any insights they can provide me with to understand this?
    Last edited by Jpathfit; 09-01-2021 at 10:42 AM.
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    Registered User Omni's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Jpathfit View Post
    Hi Everyone,

    So I'm here looking for some perspective on what's currently happening to my body right now, as I'm entering new territory (looking to build muscle) for the first time in a long time despite being a very active individual. Ever since my pec tear, I have been taking time to focus on other aspects of my weight training. Its been a few years now where I have over-emphasized cardio, high volume training and mobility / other avenues of fitness and I am a little unsure of what is happening to my body right now.

    Up until 2 weeks ago, I have been eating around 2800-3000 calories a day and doing about 300 minutes of cardiovascular/LISS a day. Here I was actually maintaining my weight around the high 190s/200.

    Now that I'm looking to build muscle, I'm increasing my calories and reducing my cardio activity and reducing my volume in workouts to prioritize strength and progressive overload. What I don't understand is why my weight is dropping now? It's nothing rapid, but my weigh ins are on a downward trend. I feel strong AF compared to before, but I just want to understand whats happening here.

    Does anyone have any insights they can provide me with to understand this?
    You were doing 5 hours of LISS a day?
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    Registered User Strawng's Avatar
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    Haven't you heard, OP? Exercise actually makes you gain weight

    In all srsness, you're likely either tracking your calories wrong, or you were previously tracking them wrong. Also, if you were actually doing 300 damn minutes of cardio per day, that's almost definitely unhealthy and far too extreme. Is there any particular reason you were running marathons (and then some?) everyday as a goddamn 200 lb man?! You need to give your poor joints & feet a break, dude.
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    Originally Posted by Jpathfit View Post
    Hi Everyone,

    So I'm here looking for some perspective on what's currently happening to my body right now, as I'm entering new territory (looking to build muscle) for the first time in a long time despite being a very active individual. Ever since my pec tear, I have been taking time to focus on other aspects of my weight training. Its been a few years now where I have over-emphasized cardio, high volume training and mobility / other avenues of fitness and I am a little unsure of what is happening to my body right now.

    Up until 2 weeks ago, I have been eating around 2800-3000 calories a day and doing about 300 minutes of cardiovascular/LISS a day. Here I was actually maintaining my weight around the high 190s/200.

    Now that I'm looking to build muscle, I'm increasing my calories and reducing my cardio activity and reducing my volume in workouts to prioritize strength and progressive overload. What I don't understand is why my weight is dropping now? It's nothing rapid, but my weigh ins are on a downward trend. I feel strong AF compared to before, but I just want to understand whats happening here.

    Does anyone have any insights they can provide me with to understand this?
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    Originally Posted by Strawng View Post
    Haven't you heard, OP? Exercise actually makes you gain weight

    In all srsness, you're likely either tracking your calories wrong, or you were previously tracking them wrong. Also, if you were actually doing 300 damn minutes of cardio per day, that's almost definitely unhealthy and far too extreme. Is there any particular reason you were running marathons (and then some?) everyday as a goddamn 200 lb man?! You need to give your poor joints & feet a break, dude.
    Dat dere up-regulation
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    Registered User Jpathfit's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Omni View Post
    You were doing 5 hours of LISS a day?
    Sorry I meant a week***
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    Registered User Jpathfit's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by desslok View Post
    Dat dere up-regulation
    Sorry all, I made a mistake.

    Basically, I did about 5 hours of cardio and LISS a week

    I have been tracking my food pretty consistently, I'm just not understanding whats happening with my weigh ins. Im intentionally eating more food by around 300 calories and doing 1-1.5 hour of cardio a week now, but my weight is still going down
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    Registered User snailsrus's Avatar
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    I mean if you had a job like a waitress, cleaning, some construction job, idk jobs you’re on your feet moving around 5 hours of liss a day is totally possible. Granted you fixed your post

    When you were doing more cardio you either were subtracting what you figured you were burning for your daily total calories or eating more and not noticing because the cardio increased your hunger levels
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    Registered User Jpathfit's Avatar
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    I definitely did mean 5 hours a week, but yes absolutely. 5 hours of LISS is not outlandish.

    Is there also a possibility that my body could have adapted to the cardio and become more efficient at it so I am burning less/session?

    I do think you brought up a good point about not noticing I was eating more because of the hunger levels. I have also made a change to be eating more whole foods in general so I suppose the calories/satiety is different as well
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    weigh, not measure mtnmama's Avatar
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    so many of the responses here are hilarious, due to current ongoing issues - glad i understand the references this time - usually i dont 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️

    but in all seriousness - since you dont sound like a complete noob - maybe you actually do have something weird happening? i always jump at you must not weigh every single bite/drink you put into your mouth - so maybe address that question first - you weigh and dont eyeball, guess, or measure, right?!? like with a scale, not cups, spoons, dashes.....

    But graves disease, for example, is real and can cause extreme muscle wasting - along with a few other things. have any weird symptoms? easy enough to test for...

    how long has your weight been going down - if 10 days or less - could be simple like s41t, urine, glycogen....how are your electrolytes? did you make a big shift to or away from carbs when you changed your routine?
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    weigh, not measure mtnmama's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by snailsrus View Post
    When you were doing more cardio you either were subtracting what you figured you were burning for your daily total calories or eating more and not noticing because the cardio increased your hunger levels
    thats a great point - people sometimes use the tdee calculation and still add/subtract for their workouts, huh?!? OP - did you do that? like did you find your caloric requirements and then read that you should add back calories for your LISS, and do so? and did you maybe change that?
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    I don't think this is really unheard of and I recall seeing posts like this in the past. In my own experience, I had something similar happen after a cut where when I started adding back calories I continued to lose weight even after I went up past what I thought was maintenance.
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    Originally Posted by mtnmama View Post
    so many of the responses here are hilarious, due to current ongoing issues - glad i understand the references this time - usually i dont ‍♀️‍♀️‍♀️

    but in all seriousness - since you dont sound like a complete noob - maybe you actually do have something weird happening? i always jump at you must not weigh every single bite/drink you put into your mouth - so maybe address that question first - you weigh and dont eyeball, guess, or measure, right?!? like with a scale, not cups, spoons, dashes.....

    But graves disease, for example, is real and can cause extreme muscle wasting - along with a few other things. have any weird symptoms? easy enough to test for...

    how long has your weight been going down - if 10 days or less - could be simple like s41t, urine, glycogen....how are your electrolytes? did you make a big shift to or away from carbs when you changed your routine?
    I wish i was clued in to "current ongoing issues" lol, I dont get it hahaha, oh well. I never did TDEE calculations though

    Thank you for your follow-up questions! I would say I am not a noob, and yes I really went in depth with my measuring, as in using a scale for all my food. I admittedly have been more on the side of flexible dieting/iifym with my approach to dieting, and a lot of my carbs were sugars from fruit, ice cream and donuts. But because of how much cardio I was doing, maintaining a deficit from exercise wasn't too much of a challenge

    Because my injury really set me back from working out upper body as hard as I would normally, I put my energy into cardio and so for a long period of time I maintained a high level of cardio as part of my overall fitness, especially when covid came around and gyms closed. My workouts were meant to stimulate muscle but there wasn't too much of an emphasis on any sort of progression other than overall volume. So I maintained a deficit using exercise and not really touching my calories too much (I didn't go below 2700 cals) but I began to experience a plateau

    Now with the intention to build, I've reduced my cardio and changed my food sources to whole foods for the most part and also changing my workouts to be goal-based rather than just to burn calories and "go through the motions".

    My weights been doing down for about 2 weeks. I definitely am more full now in my muscle bellies and I feel my workout performance improving with these higher quality carbs and also I feel im holding a lot of glycogen, but shouldn't that mean I weigh more?

    Appreciate your thoughts so far!
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    Originally Posted by DougyF7 View Post
    I don't think this is really unheard of and I recall seeing posts like this in the past. In my own experience, I had something similar happen after a cut where when I started adding back calories I continued to lose weight even after I went up past what I thought was maintenance.
    Did you just accept it and take that as your new reference point?
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    Edit for wrong thread ope
    Last edited by Xpiro; 09-07-2021 at 11:41 PM.
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    ***there is a much longer explanation - and it involves inside jokes, historical inaccuracies by certain folks (and that is disputed, also historically), and a recent study that states that 'Increasing levels of activity may bring diminishing returns in energy expenditure because of compensatory responses in non-activity energy expenditures.'

    referenced study here (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34453886/)

    which COULD almost point to the whole slowed metabolism argument - but the study is not as conclusive as one might hope/argue - since it also points to the circumstances being HIGHLY individual & the study showed huge variation period - so not easy to point and say 'study concludes' x, y, and/or z.

    anyway - there's the explanation on that end*** (aside to help OP understand hilarity of some responses)

    if only losing for 2 weeks (or maybe you meant two weeks from first post - a week ago - so maybe three and a half weeks now?) it could be as DougF7 stated and maybe a carryover effect – as in body takes a bit to adjust to your increase in caloric intake and reduction in cardio? if when you posted your weight was still going down after a little less than a week - surely that was just not enough time for your body to adjust yet.

    sounds like your tracking might be ok - except maybe you dont track everything (flexible reference) – so maybe you track part of your intake really well, but not the rest – so not tracking well, h31l IDK from what you said. or maybe you just meant you hit caloric goals but don’t worry about macros? also - how did you determine calories needed to gain if not using a tdee calculation? just based on tracking and seeing when/where the scale moved?

    cardio really can be quite muscle wasting in most instances - while obviously it can be really good for your overall health - cardiovascularly, mentally, etc - it’s not really considered to be a hypertrophy-focused activity?!? and if you were increasing cardio volume in hopes of building new contractile tissue - i just dont know how you would do that.

    and ya - i mean having decent glycogen stores would usually mean higher scale weight - so idk why scale would go down while filling those stores back up - except that you must still not be eating at a surplus.

    you know - another thing is - are you trying to gain weight - or get stronger - they arent always mutually exclusive. I mean ya - usually as your lifts improve you will see scale changes if eating in a surplus - but since that hasnt been established yet - and i dont see where you are lifting? are you lifting? or were you hoping to build muscle while only doing cardio????

    cardio is generally catabolic and will use, not grow muscle

    you could also drop your height, current weight, caloric intake now, age, bf% if you know it in here - and maybe that will shed some light? you previously mentioned you were at 2800-3000 calories/day and maintaining at 195-200.
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    Originally Posted by Jpathfit View Post
    Hi Everyone,

    So I'm here looking for some perspective on what's currently happening to my body right now, as I'm entering new territory (looking to build muscle) for the first time in a long time despite being a very active individual. Ever since my pec tear, I have been taking time to focus on other aspects of my weight training. Its been a few years now where I have over-emphasized cardio, high volume training and mobility / other avenues of fitness and I am a little unsure of what is happening to my body right now.

    Up until 2 weeks ago, I have been eating around 2800-3000 calories a day and doing about 300 minutes of cardiovascular/LISS a week. Here I was actually maintaining my weight around the high 190s/200.

    Now that I'm looking to build muscle, I'm increasing my calories and reducing my cardio activity and reducing my volume in workouts to prioritize strength and progressive overload. What I don't understand is why my weight is dropping now? It's nothing rapid, but my weigh ins are on a downward trend. I feel strong AF compared to before, but I just want to understand whats happening here.

    Does anyone have any insights they can provide me with to understand this?
    many times when this happens and you’ve been over stressing your body cortisol can cause a lot of water retention then when you add calories back in you release the water as your body is able to relax a bit.
    If you don't get what you want you didn't want it bad enough
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    Originally Posted by Tommy W. View Post
    many times when this happens and you’ve been over stressing your body cortisol can cause a lot of water retention then when you add calories back in you release the water as your body is able to relax a bit.
    that's a great point - i overlook cortisol usually - but it can be pretty significant for some ppl....
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    Train hard play harder Tommy W.'s Avatar
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    Originally Posted by mtnmama View Post
    that's a great point - i overlook cortisol usually - but it can be pretty significant for some ppl....
    It's huge. You get these guys in contest prep on 1,400 calories, grinding out cardio, looking like bloated sh#t then a week before the contest adding in calories and almost instantly losing water weight and looking fantastic just before the contest. Too much exercise, not enough recovery and calories that are too low is a recipe for issues overall.
    If you don't get what you want you didn't want it bad enough
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    Originally Posted by Jpathfit View Post
    Hi Everyone,

    So I'm here looking for some perspective on what's currently happening to my body right now, as I'm entering new territory (looking to build muscle) for the first time in a long time despite being a very active individual. Ever since my pec tear, I have been taking time to focus on other aspects of my weight training. Its been a few years now where I have over-emphasized cardio, high volume training and mobility / other avenues of fitness and I am a little unsure of what is happening to my body right now.

    Up until 2 weeks ago, I have been eating around 2800-3000 calories a day and doing about 300 minutes of cardiovascular/LISS a week. Here I was actually maintaining my weight around the high 190s/200.

    Now that I'm looking to build muscle, I'm increasing my calories and reducing my cardio activity and reducing my volume in workouts to prioritize strength and progressive overload. What I don't understand is why my weight is dropping now? It's nothing rapid, but my weigh ins are on a downward trend. I feel strong AF compared to before, but I just want to understand whats happening here.

    Does anyone have any insights they can provide me with to understand this?
    What may have been happening is that cardio was causing your NEAT and BMR to go down. This has been shown in some studies. Reducing cardio and prioritising strength training may have reversed the effect, so your TDEE is higher now (which could be why you're losing weight at the same caloric intake). The fact that MPS is an energy intensive process is another factor that can contribute to this.
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    Thanks for explaining that lol,

    I am 6 feet tall, between last week and now I am averaging 3350 calories and my average weight week to week has been showing as 199.6->198.4->197.9. Im frustrated af. 8 weeks ago, if I tried to eat 3300 calories my weight would shoot to 206 or something. Im newly 29 years old and I would guess 17-20% bodyfat. Despite my average intake being 3350 calories, the range was 2900-3600

    I definitely havent been tracking my ketchup or almond milk (things like that) while i was in a deficit but I kinda accounted for it subconsciously, u know? I gave myself a 200 calorie "condiment bank"

    My approach i really just focused on getting enough protein.. and then my carbs and fats depended on how I wanted to eat. I have been eating a lot of gourmet donuts on my deficit, im pretty sure some of those were like 600 cals each and some days I would eat 2 or 3. Then leaves and lean meats. Other days were more balanced. I didnt determine how many calories I need to gain yet, Im doing as you described by increasing cals slowly and seeing how the scale is moving.

    I was just doing cardio in place of weights as something to do, not for building muscle. However, I will say that I did quite a bit of endurance stair climbing and found some development in my calves and hams (averaging 500 FLOORS a day for 2 months, and ended up doing a thousand floors in one day in 11.5hours - have pics)

    Part of my concern is that I am not at a surplus and want to know if I am being responsible in my approach to increasing calories. I have never willingly eaten past 3500 in my life and so there is a bit of contention as my fitness journey started with my being extremely overweight and so while a surplus is already nerve-wracking, to do it with more calories than that makes me wonder if I am doing something wrong or need to be redirected.

    My goal is to build muscle, and strength is important but not a priority. I am lifting now yes, and I was before as well except before it was very laissez-fair, going through the motions to burn calories. Now, I am strength training and my workouts have goals and are intentional.

    Hopefully this gives you some more to work with!
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    Originally Posted by Tommy W. View Post
    It's huge. You get these guys in contest prep on 1,400 calories, grinding out cardio, looking like bloated sh#t then a week before the contest adding in calories and almost instantly losing water weight and looking fantastic just before the contest. Too much exercise, not enough recovery and calories that are too low is a recipe for issues overall.
    Thanks for this, I definitely think from what you are describing that I probably put a great deal of stress on my body despite not being low cal. SO it could be that my body is in recovery mode from that extended amount of extreme exercise I was doing?
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    Originally Posted by Jpathfit View Post
    Thanks for explaining that lol,

    I am 6 feet tall, between last week and now I am averaging 3350 calories and my average weight week to week has been showing as 199.6->198.4->197.9. Im frustrated af.
    Why? You're 17-20% body fat, losing fat won't hurt you.

    You don't have to be in surplus to gain muscle. As long as you're consistently getting stronger while lifting with appropriate volume you don't have to eat a surplus. As soon as you start stalling you can raise calories stepwise in order to maintain strength progress.
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    Why? You're 17-20% body fat, losing fat won't hurt you.

    You don't have to be in surplus to gain muscle. As long as you're consistently getting stronger while lifting with appropriate volume you don't have to eat a surplus. As soon as you start stalling you can raise calories stepwise in order to maintain strength progress.
    I might be less, idk. Im fairly lean tbh but I have the stubborn lower belly fat. Do you think continuing with losing fat may be more beneficial for me now then? My intention is to build muscle and so I was thinking might as well start building momentum now to carry through the fall and winter

    But to be clear, are you saying my excess bodyfat can still be used to provide energy for the muscle building process until I experience the stall? At which point I can start adding calories and be gaining from a leaner state? Thanks again for your reply.
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    Originally Posted by Jpathfit View Post
    I might be less, idk. Im fairly lean tbh but I have the stubborn lower belly fat. Do you think continuing with losing fat may be more beneficial for me now then? My intention is to build muscle and so I was thinking might as well start building momentum now to carry through the fall and winter

    But to be clear, are you saying my excess bodyfat can still be used to provide energy for the muscle building process until I experience the stall? At which point I can start adding calories and be gaining from a leaner state? Thanks again for your reply.
    What are your lifts at the moment?

    5rm bench press, squat, dead lift.

    How many body weight pull ups can you do?
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    What are your lifts at the moment?

    5rm bench press, squat, dead lift.

    How many body weight pull ups can you do?
    I'm still quite limitted after my pec tear, and a few other lower body limitations as a result of the tear. So I have been conservative in determining these because my exercise selection is a bit different. I'm not sure what this would help you in determining but

    I don't bench press, however I can do 80 lbs per side on a smith incline and im currently working with 70lb dbs for incline press

    My squat is 275 currently

    My deadlift im not sure, I don't do deadlifts only RDLs and weighted hyperextensions

    I can do 15 proper pullups
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    Originally Posted by Jpathfit View Post
    I'm not sure what this would help you in determining but
    The more advanced you are in your training, the more difficult it will be for you to increase your lean mass.
    Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?
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    Originally Posted by TolerantLactose View Post
    The more advanced you are in your training, the more difficult it will be for you to increase your lean mass.
    Hmmm, ok. I would say I still have a long way to go in terms of advancing my training. This is my first attempt at purposely gaining mass (muscle) in a long time
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    Originally Posted by Jpathfit View Post
    I'm still quite limitted after my pec tear, and a few other lower body limitations as a result of the tear. So I have been conservative in determining these because my exercise selection is a bit different. I'm not sure what this would help you in determining but

    I don't bench press, however I can do 80 lbs per side on a smith incline and im currently working with 70lb dbs for incline press

    My squat is 275 currently

    My deadlift im not sure, I don't do deadlifts only RDLs and weighted hyperextensions

    I can do 15 proper pullups
    Well if I understand you correctly you've been stronger before. This makes it rather easy to gain muscle without a calorie surplus.

    Just focus on getting stronger on the main lifts that you can do. If you can do that on 3350 kcal, great! You're most likely gaining muscle while losing some fat.

    If you start stalling consistently you'll need to up your calories in order to continue progressing.

    Originally Posted by Jpathfit View Post
    But to be clear, are you saying my excess bodyfat can still be used to provide energy for the muscle building process until I experience the stall? At which point I can start adding calories and be gaining from a leaner state? Thanks again for your reply.
    Yes.
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    Originally Posted by Mrpb View Post
    Well if I understand you correctly you've been stronger before. This makes it rather easy to gain muscle without a calorie surplus.

    Just focus on getting stronger on the main lifts that you can do. If you can do that on 3350 kcal, great! You're most likely gaining muscle while losing some fat.

    If you start stalling consistently you'll need to up your calories in order to continue progressing.



    Yes.
    Thank you good sir. I appreciate your insight and time
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