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  1. #1
    bookmonkey is offline In Orientation
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    Strength training and weight gain. I'm confused.

    Hi everyone,

    So since this past July, I have been lifting weights 3X a week, 30 min. per session. I used to be an only-cardio girl, but now I only do 2 or 3 weekly sessions of cardio, 30 min each, in addition to the weight lifting.

    I am 5'2". For years, I have weighed around 102-104. But now...I have GAINED WEIGHT and I don't know if it's muscle or fat! I weigh 110 now, and I know that's not a lot, but I am very petite and it is more than I have weighed in a long time. I am scared that I am doing something wrong - not enough cardio? Diet? - and am going to keep on gaining.

    My clothes don't fit differently, and I do plan to have my body fat % checked out soon. Last time I got it checked, it was 19%. My diet hasn't been fantastic this year, mostly due to cereal (I eat too much). But it's not horrible either - I try to eat protein with every meal, and I keeps my cals to around 1500/day - sometimes 200 less, sometimes 200 more. I should probably be more vigilant.

    So my question is...is it possible to gain 6-8 pounds of muscle in 5 mos? I don't think that it is, unless I was a bodybuilder. But then again I'm new to this weight-lifting thing. I think I look pretty good but after seeing that number on the scale...I am looking for all the bulge-y, soft places where fat is lurking!! I want to be back to my original weight!

    Sorry for such a long post. I am just freaked out and depressed.

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  3. #2
    dswithers is offline Verge of Overtraining
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    It is possible to gain 6-8 pounds of lean body mass (muscle, water, blood vessels, internal organs, etc.) in 5 months if it is the first time you have done strength trainingin your life. You really need to rely more on bady fat level and not on the scale. Or you could take measurements and use those. Remember muscle weights more than an equivalent volume of fat, so you can actually gain weight while loosing inches! Since your clothes still fit the same I am guessing you are doing OK. And 110 pounds is certainly nothing to be freaked out and depressed over!

  4. #3
    bookmonkey is offline In Orientation
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    Hi dswithers, thanks for replying! I *completely* agree that 100 lbs is nothing to be freaked out over. A few years ago, I lost a lot of weight - about 30 lbs - so, now, I am scared that I am getting lazy and allowing it to come back!

    I think I have sort of resolved the problem, though: after I did laundry the other day, alas...my pants *were* tighter. And that means fat. So, while I do have some new definition, especially on my arms, I'm thinking that I've gained 1-2 lbs muscle and the rest is me, me, me and my bad eating habits. The problem is, I decreased my cardio sessions once I increased the weight lifting: bad move. I am not one of those petite people who can be sort of careless about nutrition and exercise! I have to reeeallly stay on top of cardio, I think, to make sure that the extra calories don't stick.

    So, do you guys have suggestions for eating habits that will encourage muscle mass from weight lifting, but also burn off fat? I am guessing the answer is protein, and for a person as small as me (barely 5'2"), 1250-1350 cals a day seems to be enough for weight loss. (I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but I used an online calculator and it said 1573 to maintain).

    Any other super great foods for losing about a pound/week?

  5. #4
    PMDilly is offline First Set
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    Quote Originally Posted by bookmonkey View Post
    I think I have sort of resolved the problem, though: after I did laundry the other day, alas...my pants *were* tighter. And that means fat.
    No, it doesn't.

    It can also mean that muscle improved while fat either stayed the same or didn't drop by a huge amount. Considering that females tend to store fat in the lower body, I'd think this to be slightly more possible than gaining fat.

    What you're describing just sounds to me like the newbie effect of strength training. Partitioning is especially favorable for those new to strength training; the body is adapting to an unfamiliar stressor, and has to build up a lot of things in addition to the muscle. This invariably causes fast muscle gains, and an overall weight gain from the muscle and associated tissues.

    So, while I do have some new definition, especially on my arms, I'm thinking that I've gained 1-2 lbs muscle and the rest is me, me, me and my bad eating habits. The problem is, I decreased my cardio sessions once I increased the weight lifting: bad move. I am not one of those petite people who can be sort of careless about nutrition and exercise! I have to reeeallly stay on top of cardio, I think, to make sure that the extra calories don't stick.
    A handful of cardio sessions aren't going to impact your fat gains/losses to that degree. Cardio is last on the list of things that help; if anything, it acts as a sink for a few hundred calories. The make or break will be the diet (your total energy intake) and strength training (to put that energy into muscle instead of fat).

    So, do you guys have suggestions for eating habits that will encourage muscle mass from weight lifting, but also burn off fat? I am guessing the answer is protein, and for a person as small as me (barely 5'2"), 1250-1350 cals a day seems to be enough for weight loss. (I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but I used an online calculator and it said 1573 to maintain).
    Energy needs aren't determined by height. They're determined by amount of tissue (how much you weigh) and by energy usage (ie, exercise).

    At 110 lbs, your calorie intake puts you around 11-12 calories per lb, which is on the low end of weight loss calculations on average. However it's only about a 20% deficit, which isn't really severe and on a newbie, could easily allow muscle gains.

    Nobody, and I do mean nobody, gains fat in a calorie deficit. It's not just physiologically impossible, it simply cannot happen.

    This is not to say it isn't a possibility that you've gained fat; your metabolic needs could be lower than the averages indicate. But it's highly unlikely, IMO.

  6. #5
    bookmonkey is offline In Orientation
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    Wow, thank you for the awesome response, PMDilly! So, what is "partitioning?" I related to a lot of what you said, because I feel like I *do* see some muscle definition, even on my stomach which has more fat on it now, but I would like to burn that fat off now.

    Can you eat in a way that allows you to burn fat while maintaining muscle? It seems that eating at a calorie deficit would make you lose both?

  7. #6
    bookmonkey is offline In Orientation
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    Update

    So I found out something interesting today: I got on *2 scales,* and one said I weighed 106, while another said 105! This is less than a week after I weighed myself and it said 110 (which wasn't a fluke either; I weighed myself the day before THAT and also got 110). Huh.

    Anyway, it's Christmas, and that means rich foods, so here's what I've done this past week: eaten tiny bites of my fiance's family's rich delicious food, and tried as hard as I can to keep the cals to around 1200-1300/day. I've also done 30-45 min cardio for the past 3 days, and today, a little weight lifting. Have made sure to eat as much protein as I can.

    Now, I don't *think* it's possible to lose 4 pounds of fat in less than a week, so here's my new theory about my weight gain/recent loss: that weekend before the 110 weigh-in, I had done a lot of drinking (I'm a grad student, it was the end of finals...so shoot me ). Anyway, maybe the 3 day binge-alcohol session caused me to retain water, somehow, causing the spike in weight?! I KNOW I have some new fat here that I've been pretty good at staving off before, so now I'm "cutting" by doing about 30 min cardio every day, keeping to 1200-1300 cals, weight lifting 20 min at 3x/week. But anyway, maybe the initial weight gain wasn't as bad as I thought - water, I guess?

    Sorry everyone to keep publicly quibbling over 5-8 lbs; YES I am very vain and silly! I think this thread though might evolve now into one of excitement for me; I mean hey, after all that weight lifting, if I've got a small layer of fat on top, I can't wait to burn it off and see all the cool stuff underneath!! My ass is a little out-of-control, but the fiance loves it so I'm not complaining.

  8. #7
    malkore is offline Deceptimod
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    I can gain 2lbs of water in 12 hours if I eat the wrong kinds of foods.

    this is why its useless to weigh yourself more than once every couple weeks.

    its also pointless to weigh yourself if you just started taking creatine, as the water retention will cause weight gain that's neither fat nor muscle.

  9. #8
    JamesAhrens is offline Registered User
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    Hydration is important here.
    You need to start looking at tr
    ends over time, rather than what happens in a period of 2-3 days.
    I would totally agree that diet is critical here when it comes to losing fat.

    Even if you are not eating a lot, make sure its spread out in several meals.
    If you have one huge meal, whatever it is, the body can only absorb so much at one time, and the rest is likely to get stored as fat.

    I would say packing on some muscle (don't forget a large part of muscle tissue is water), is a positive thing and shoudl hape your base metabolism, and fat loss in the long run.

    Cardio isn't the be all an end all of fat loss, but that doesn't mean you shouln't do it. You can still burn a hell of a lot of calories in a weights routine.

    Looks like you could benefit from a food diary for a week, to actually see what and how much you are eating. I've done this a few times and the results were different from what i expected (there was a bi of memory loss happening over some of the stuff i ate)

    With that in mind, as you've been working out for some time, you could to with a structured monitoring process, that allows you to get some perspective on where you are.

    This means you will get some confidence back about your programme, rather than being happy one day about a few pounds less, and depressed about a few pounds more after a period of hard training.

    Just my 2 cents

  10. #9
    bookmonkey is offline In Orientation
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    Smile

    Thanks for both of your tips! I completely agree that hydration is important, but I didn't know that about eating one huge meal...how some of it may get stored as fat. Huh. I suppose I had always heard that your total daily calories are the thing you need to keep track of, no matter how they come in?

    So today, I ate about 1350 calories - all little meals and snacks. 40 min cardio, 20 min weight lifting, and that is the 5th day in a row of cardio for me. Yay. I'm really trying to make daily cardio a habit before the school year and my job start back up, as it's soo easy to let my diet and exercise slide when I get busy.

    So, when you say "structured monitoring process," are you referring to something like FitDay? I've thought about doing that. I honestly feel like I have one of those bodies that looks 5-10 lbs heavier than others who have my same weight, because I am short with some boobs and ass action, so I reeeaally want to make this the year I get lean. It's so hard to lose the last few pounds!! Or, I guess I should say, it's so hard to move from 19% bf to something like 16-15% bf, where muscle definition will, hopefully, finally begin to show on me.

    It all takes so much work. Not that it isn't worth it - I feel better, besides look better, when I'm at my fittest. Plus, I'm getting married in October, so those wedding pictures will be another huge motivator for all this hard work!

  11. #10
    PMDilly is offline First Set
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    Quote Originally Posted by bookmonkey View Post
    Thanks for both of your tips! I completely agree that hydration is important, but I didn't know that about eating one huge meal...how some of it may get stored as fat. Huh. I suppose I had always heard that your total daily calories are the thing you need to keep track of, no matter how they come in?
    And that's still true. Meal frequency doesn't have any noticable effect on metabolism. There's no reason why a single meal would be stored as fat. Thermodynamics still applies.

    So today, I ate about 1350 calories - all little meals and snacks. 40 min cardio, 20 min weight lifting, and that is the 5th day in a row of cardio for me. Yay. I'm really trying to make daily cardio a habit before the school year and my job start back up, as it's soo easy to let my diet and exercise slide when I get busy.
    Again, remember that the strength training aspect is far more important than the cardio. Cardio just isn't that big an aid to the process, at least not relative to the importance of diet and strength training.

    So, when you say "structured monitoring process," are you referring to something like FitDay? I've thought about doing that. I honestly feel like I have one of those bodies that looks 5-10 lbs heavier than others who have my same weight, because I am short with some boobs and ass action, so I reeeaally want to make this the year I get lean. It's so hard to lose the last few pounds!! Or, I guess I should say, it's so hard to move from 19% bf to something like 16-15% bf, where muscle definition will, hopefully, finally begin to show on me.
    You do realize that 19% is considered "athletic" on a female, and that 15% would be a "wow" (as in, contest shape) on most women, right?

    To answer your earlier question:

    Can you eat in a way that allows you to burn fat while maintaining muscle? It seems that eating at a calorie deficit would make you lose both?
    You can, and there are several ways of doing so. The first is if you're above the setpoint, ie, where the body wants to be in terms of weight and muscle/fat levels. Here, you just eat in a deficit, and unless something's wrong with you fat will come off, while muscle will not (assuming adequate strength training; this is why it's key).

    The problem becomes reaching setpoint and going below. Being 19% puts you in this category, and unfortunately unless you have excellent genes for leanness, it will be a battle from here on.

    The only approaches that really work at this point (besides drugs) are going to be cyclic plans. A normal CKD (cyclic ketogenic diet), something like the Ultimate Diet 2.0, or a carb-cycling/intermittent fasting plan will fall into this category.

    Another option is simply to up the volume of energy expenditure while you're in a mild deficit...say 10-12 cals/lb. This means just enough strength work to keep muscle, some extra cardio, and the weight will come off...problem is, this strategy will unavoidable take muscle with it, whereas the above cyclic approaches will tend to avoid that (at the expense of slower fat loss).

  12. #11
    JamesAhrens is offline Registered User
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    A monitoring process would mean having set periods when you measure your weight, bodyfat, athletic performance, in as much or as little detail as is practical and useful.

    A training diary and a periodic food diary would just help you have concrete things you can refer to during your training, and also give you another source of confidence, when you might be going through a bad patch.

    PMDilly, I'm interested in the meal size comment. I was told this by Jacqueline Boorman who is the British Olympic Team's nutritionist, so I either took it as read or misunderstood.
    She said that e.g. having a 3000 kcal meal with even no fat, would mean that I was more likely to store the excess that could not be absorbed, as fat.
    Also got told some stuff about the timing of meals, such as, eating within 30 min of longer cardio or an intense session (either way a high cal expenditure session) was much more efficient, and aided the recovery process, when glycogen levels are depleted.

    Could you shed some more light on this?

  13. #12
    PMDilly is offline First Set
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    Quote Originally Posted by JamesAhrens View Post
    PMDilly, I'm interested in the meal size comment. I was told this by Jacqueline Boorman who is the British Olympic Team's nutritionist, so I either took it as read or misunderstood.
    She said that e.g. having a 3000 kcal meal with even no fat, would mean that I was more likely to store the excess that could not be absorbed, as fat.
    Also got told some stuff about the timing of meals, such as, eating within 30 min of longer cardio or an intense session (either way a high cal expenditure session) was much more efficient, and aided the recovery process, when glycogen levels are depleted.

    Could you shed some more light on this?
    It's because energy balance is still king.

    If you burn up say 3200 cals in a day, then eat one meal of 3000 calories, you're still in a net energy deficit; the body isn't going to store fat just because of conservation of energy.

    There's also another issue: rate of digestion. THe bigger the meal, the longer it sits in the GI tract to be digested. By the time you average it out, you end up with about the same nutrients in the system anyway.

    Now, this is all assuming that protein and EFA requirements and equal calorie intake, but I don't see much difference in 3000 cals from 6 meals vs. 3000 cals from 1 meal. I tend to get the vast majority of my daily calories from 5-8 hours after a workout (talking 4000+ here), while fasting or close to it (PSMF) the rest of the time, and I notice *improvements* in body composition.

  14. #13
    bookmonkey is offline In Orientation
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    Well, I got my body fat percentage checked out today y'all - 22%. I'm kind of pissed. I am on my period, so the trainer said my body was retaining water and a more accurate estimate might be 20%. Anyway, it went up from this past summer, 19%. I'm so frustrated! I do strength training 3x a week, cardio 2-5x a week, eat around 1300-1600 cals a day, and I can't seem to BUDGE from 20ish% body fat! Argh!!!

  15. #14
    PMDilly is offline First Set
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    You realize that 20% is "****ing low" for a woman, right?

    At that point you can't just keep dropping cals and expecting further losses, unless you're a genetic wonder.

  16. #15
    theleip is offline Fat Loss Toubleshooter!
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    Well you can get below 20% and still have some fat, it all depends on the goals. You can maintain above 16% in a healthy manner, it is possible, you don't have to be a genetic freak to do so.

    That being said you don't just for NO reason not lose weight. There isn't a body plot out to get us. Yes it may take harder work and smarter planning, but its possible. I would look at the troubleshoot thread at the top and make sure all those things are spot on. Also if you are hitting 1300 calories at all, that is to low and your body will not want to give up that last little bit of fat.

    Right diet
    Right training
    Right intensity

    All is what gets the results.

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