Recomposition: Maintaining weight while losing fat

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  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,811 Member
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    dmt4641 wrote: »
    So it seems like there were no studies showing the benefit of varied daily calories vs. consistent daily calories at maintenence, but what did those people on here with successful recomps do? Also, do you have cheat meals? Every weekend I either have dinner out at a restaurant with friends or at their house with alcoholic drinks and less control over food. I always track but end up going 200-500 over maintenance. Right now I'm at a deficit so I don't gain weight because I am in an overall deficit for the week. But if I eat at maintenance every day and have 1-2 days a week over maintenance I'm sure I will gain over time. But if I eat at deficit some days to make up for these cheat meals it doesn't seem like I would gain much muscle on recomp. Any advice?

    I eat in an unusual pattern for maintenance. I did 5:2 fasting when I was losing weight and do 6:1 to maintain (that's one very low calorie day a week). But that's because it suits me for calorie adherence rather to assist with recomp.

    Cheat meals aren't in my vocabulary! I eat for enjoyment at much as nutrition - maintenance would be awful if you had to feel restricted all the time. I'm very happy to have low days, high days and it all evens out over time.

    You do realise that there's no magic switch that gets thrown just because you dip under maintenance calories? It's not like you can gain muscle at TDEE but can't at TDEE - 1.
  • usmcmp
    usmcmp Posts: 21,220 Member
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    dmt4641 wrote: »
    So it seems like there were no studies showing the benefit of varied daily calories vs. consistent daily calories at maintenence, but what did those people on here with successful recomps do? Also, do you have cheat meals? Every weekend I either have dinner out at a restaurant with friends or at their house with alcoholic drinks and less control over food. I always track but end up going 200-500 over maintenance. Right now I'm at a deficit so I don't gain weight because I am in an overall deficit for the week. But if I eat at maintenance every day and have 1-2 days a week over maintenance I'm sure I will gain over time. But if I eat at deficit some days to make up for these cheat meals it doesn't seem like I would gain much muscle on recomp. Any advice?

    Some people eat at a flat rate. Some eat more on lifting days. Some eat more on the day before they lift. It's more about what works for you.

    I ate a bit lower through the week and ate more on the weekends. I had an important training day on Saturday and another one on Monday. Maybe I could have had better results doing it differently, but I am happy with how it worked for me.
  • ILiftHeavyAcrylics
    ILiftHeavyAcrylics Posts: 27,732 Member
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    dmt4641 wrote: »
    So it seems like there were no studies showing the benefit of varied daily calories vs. consistent daily calories at maintenence, but what did those people on here with successful recomps do? Also, do you have cheat meals? Every weekend I either have dinner out at a restaurant with friends or at their house with alcoholic drinks and less control over food. I always track but end up going 200-500 over maintenance. Right now I'm at a deficit so I don't gain weight because I am in an overall deficit for the week. But if I eat at maintenance every day and have 1-2 days a week over maintenance I'm sure I will gain over time. But if I eat at deficit some days to make up for these cheat meals it doesn't seem like I would gain much muscle on recomp. Any advice?

    I started out doing a flat number of calories every day. Now I have a fitbit so I eat whatever it tells me. It helps account for the fluctuations in my activity level.

    I don't do "cheat" days, I just eat in a way that makes me happy all the time. But sometimes I do have higher calorie days due to holidays or special occasions. If it starts to get frequent I'll try to even it out with lower days but as long as it's just the normal Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthday, etc I just let those days go. I know others in maintenance intentionally eat 100 under every week day and then have the extra calories on the weekend.
  • usmcmp
    usmcmp Posts: 21,220 Member
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    ythannah wrote: »
    sijomial wrote: »
    dmt4641 wrote: »
    So it seems like there were no studies showing the benefit of varied daily calories vs. consistent daily calories at maintenence, but what did those people on here with successful recomps do? Also, do you have cheat meals? Every weekend I either have dinner out at a restaurant with friends or at their house with alcoholic drinks and less control over food. I always track but end up going 200-500 over maintenance. Right now I'm at a deficit so I don't gain weight because I am in an overall deficit for the week. But if I eat at maintenance every day and have 1-2 days a week over maintenance I'm sure I will gain over time. But if I eat at deficit some days to make up for these cheat meals it doesn't seem like I would gain much muscle on recomp. Any advice?

    I eat in an unusual pattern for maintenance. I did 5:2 fasting when I was losing weight and do 6:1 to maintain (that's one very low calorie day a week). But that's because it suits me for calorie adherence rather to assist with recomp.

    Cheat meals aren't in my vocabulary! I eat for enjoyment at much as nutrition - maintenance would be awful if you had to feel restricted all the time. I'm very happy to have low days, high days and it all evens out over time.

    You do realise that there's no magic switch that gets thrown just because you dip under maintenance calories? It's not like you can gain muscle at TDEE but can't at TDEE - 1.

    My experience also, on my wacky "bulk cycling" maintenance diet. I don't track to lose weight, I track to monitor protein, sodium and fiber... calorie count is just a byproduct of that for me (because you get the number anyway). Protein is really the only thing that has had any impact on my lifting progress, which is why I take it more seriously now. I can go for months without hopping on the scale.

    Okay, a few pics that hopefully show some recomp progress on a middle-aged, low BF%, low LBM female. Sorry for the crappy lighting and quality.

    Time frame on the stomach pics is Aug/14 to May/15. And, no, I hadn't lost that much flesh off my abdomen, that pair of pants was too big to begin with and just got ridiculous so I took the pic as a joke -- then noticed the faintest little six-pack (you might have to squint to see it).

    Time frame on the arm is only a few months, during which I'd made more effort to hit higher protein consumption and added some specific accessory work. They're both the right arm, one is a mirror selfie.

    AhdHYXH.jpg

    Gf8OmLw.jpg

    lktnYBX.jpg

    USTogmq.jpg

    Wish I could say I went fro Tush of Mush to Buns of Steel, but I haven't quite achieved that yet. :D

    Definite improvements! There are now some very nice muscles and visible abs showing!
  • ythannah
    ythannah Posts: 4,368 Member
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    usmcmp wrote: »
    ythannah wrote: »
    sijomial wrote: »
    dmt4641 wrote: »
    So it seems like there were no studies showing the benefit of varied daily calories vs. consistent daily calories at maintenence, but what did those people on here with successful recomps do? Also, do you have cheat meals? Every weekend I either have dinner out at a restaurant with friends or at their house with alcoholic drinks and less control over food. I always track but end up going 200-500 over maintenance. Right now I'm at a deficit so I don't gain weight because I am in an overall deficit for the week. But if I eat at maintenance every day and have 1-2 days a week over maintenance I'm sure I will gain over time. But if I eat at deficit some days to make up for these cheat meals it doesn't seem like I would gain much muscle on recomp. Any advice?

    I eat in an unusual pattern for maintenance. I did 5:2 fasting when I was losing weight and do 6:1 to maintain (that's one very low calorie day a week). But that's because it suits me for calorie adherence rather to assist with recomp.

    Cheat meals aren't in my vocabulary! I eat for enjoyment at much as nutrition - maintenance would be awful if you had to feel restricted all the time. I'm very happy to have low days, high days and it all evens out over time.

    You do realise that there's no magic switch that gets thrown just because you dip under maintenance calories? It's not like you can gain muscle at TDEE but can't at TDEE - 1.

    My experience also, on my wacky "bulk cycling" maintenance diet. I don't track to lose weight, I track to monitor protein, sodium and fiber... calorie count is just a byproduct of that for me (because you get the number anyway). Protein is really the only thing that has had any impact on my lifting progress, which is why I take it more seriously now. I can go for months without hopping on the scale.

    Okay, a few pics that hopefully show some recomp progress on a middle-aged, low BF%, low LBM female. Sorry for the crappy lighting and quality.

    Time frame on the stomach pics is Aug/14 to May/15. And, no, I hadn't lost that much flesh off my abdomen, that pair of pants was too big to begin with and just got ridiculous so I took the pic as a joke -- then noticed the faintest little six-pack (you might have to squint to see it).

    Time frame on the arm is only a few months, during which I'd made more effort to hit higher protein consumption and added some specific accessory work. They're both the right arm, one is a mirror selfie.

    AhdHYXH.jpg

    Gf8OmLw.jpg

    lktnYBX.jpg

    USTogmq.jpg

    Wish I could say I went fro Tush of Mush to Buns of Steel, but I haven't quite achieved that yet. :D

    Definite improvements! There are now some very nice muscles and visible abs showing!

    Thank you!

    It's funny how our perceptions change. 30 years ago I weighed a bit less, had a very physically active job, and put on a similar amount of muscle. I didn't much care for the look, thought I was kind of stringy/ropey looking.

    Now, after 30 years at a desk job? I'm hoping that I look "shredded" rather than merely scrawny. Lol.
  • arditarose
    arditarose Posts: 15,573 Member
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    Hornsby wrote: »
    arditarose wrote: »
    Hornsby wrote: »
    jacksonpt wrote: »
    For those of you have have done significant recomps... can you talk a bit about progress over time? Specifically things like how you evaluated your progress, when you saw changes in how clothes fit, when you saw changes in how you looked in the mirror, etc.

    When bulking or cutting, once you get past the initial learning curve phase, progress is fairly easy to track/see. That's not as much the case with recomping, and that can be a challenge mentally/emotionally for many. It might be good for people to see others' experiences with this so they have some context for what to expect (or not to expect).

    To be 100% honest, I track through the veins. The more veins that show, the leaner I am getting. I think that's correct as I am not sure why else they would show. I am pretty vascular to begin with.

    When I first started recomping, I had 0 veins showing anywhere. First the under forearms came, then the outer forearms and calves. Then the biceps and shoulder and thighs. Next stop...abs. That combine with measurements kinda told me what is happening. It can be a bit of a mind f*** though when the scale doesn't move all that much.

    Okay...so this is interesting. I know I'm not very lean but I'm starting to see some veins I have not seen before. Mostly around my lower abdomen/bikini area and forearms.

    Anyway, I've only been at it for 4-6 weeks and have obviously not much to show. My biggest struggle right now is trying to eat as much as possible without gaining.

    I just can't think of any other reason they would begin to show other than losing body fat? Maybe someone else has a rebuttal to why my process doesn't work? But I don't know....I just go with it and it seems okay.

    I'm going to take my observation back though. I only notice those veins after an upper body day, or the day after. They don't look quite as big now.
  • usmcmp
    usmcmp Posts: 21,220 Member
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    arditarose wrote: »
    Hornsby wrote: »
    arditarose wrote: »
    Hornsby wrote: »
    jacksonpt wrote: »
    For those of you have have done significant recomps... can you talk a bit about progress over time? Specifically things like how you evaluated your progress, when you saw changes in how clothes fit, when you saw changes in how you looked in the mirror, etc.

    When bulking or cutting, once you get past the initial learning curve phase, progress is fairly easy to track/see. That's not as much the case with recomping, and that can be a challenge mentally/emotionally for many. It might be good for people to see others' experiences with this so they have some context for what to expect (or not to expect).

    To be 100% honest, I track through the veins. The more veins that show, the leaner I am getting. I think that's correct as I am not sure why else they would show. I am pretty vascular to begin with.

    When I first started recomping, I had 0 veins showing anywhere. First the under forearms came, then the outer forearms and calves. Then the biceps and shoulder and thighs. Next stop...abs. That combine with measurements kinda told me what is happening. It can be a bit of a mind f*** though when the scale doesn't move all that much.

    Okay...so this is interesting. I know I'm not very lean but I'm starting to see some veins I have not seen before. Mostly around my lower abdomen/bikini area and forearms.

    Anyway, I've only been at it for 4-6 weeks and have obviously not much to show. My biggest struggle right now is trying to eat as much as possible without gaining.

    I just can't think of any other reason they would begin to show other than losing body fat? Maybe someone else has a rebuttal to why my process doesn't work? But I don't know....I just go with it and it seems okay.

    I'm going to take my observation back though. I only notice those veins after an upper body day, or the day after. They don't look quite as big now.

    The pump! It's still a gauge and an observation.
  • arditarose
    arditarose Posts: 15,573 Member
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    usmcmp wrote: »
    arditarose wrote: »
    Hornsby wrote: »
    arditarose wrote: »
    Hornsby wrote: »
    jacksonpt wrote: »
    For those of you have have done significant recomps... can you talk a bit about progress over time? Specifically things like how you evaluated your progress, when you saw changes in how clothes fit, when you saw changes in how you looked in the mirror, etc.

    When bulking or cutting, once you get past the initial learning curve phase, progress is fairly easy to track/see. That's not as much the case with recomping, and that can be a challenge mentally/emotionally for many. It might be good for people to see others' experiences with this so they have some context for what to expect (or not to expect).

    To be 100% honest, I track through the veins. The more veins that show, the leaner I am getting. I think that's correct as I am not sure why else they would show. I am pretty vascular to begin with.

    When I first started recomping, I had 0 veins showing anywhere. First the under forearms came, then the outer forearms and calves. Then the biceps and shoulder and thighs. Next stop...abs. That combine with measurements kinda told me what is happening. It can be a bit of a mind f*** though when the scale doesn't move all that much.

    Okay...so this is interesting. I know I'm not very lean but I'm starting to see some veins I have not seen before. Mostly around my lower abdomen/bikini area and forearms.

    Anyway, I've only been at it for 4-6 weeks and have obviously not much to show. My biggest struggle right now is trying to eat as much as possible without gaining.

    I just can't think of any other reason they would begin to show other than losing body fat? Maybe someone else has a rebuttal to why my process doesn't work? But I don't know....I just go with it and it seems okay.

    I'm going to take my observation back though. I only notice those veins after an upper body day, or the day after. They don't look quite as big now.

    The pump! It's still a gauge and an observation.

    True. I love it :)
  • jetortola
    jetortola Posts: 198 Member
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    I'm enjoying this thread purely for the fact that it is sensible, not that I'm ready to nix my deficit anytime soon.

    My question: is there really a difference between doing a recomp.... And someone who is at maintenance and exercising to challeng their fitness limitations? I see the latter as my end-goal phase... But it seems from this thread that muscle gains/body fat losses would be an eventual side effect (yay!).
  • usmcmp
    usmcmp Posts: 21,220 Member
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    I'm enjoying this thread purely for the fact that it is sensible, not that I'm ready to nix my deficit anytime soon.

    My question: is there really a difference between doing a recomp.... And someone who is at maintenance and exercising to challeng their fitness limitations? I see the latter as my end-goal phase... But it seems from this thread that muscle gains/body fat losses would be an eventual side effect (yay!).

    One of the posters here with prior experience did a recomp without making it his focus. His goals were fitness oriented and the body came with it. Others have physique goals, so the recomposition is a bit more purposeful.
  • ILiftHeavyAcrylics
    ILiftHeavyAcrylics Posts: 27,732 Member
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    I'm enjoying this thread purely for the fact that it is sensible, not that I'm ready to nix my deficit anytime soon.

    My question: is there really a difference between doing a recomp.... And someone who is at maintenance and exercising to challeng their fitness limitations? I see the latter as my end-goal phase... But it seems from this thread that muscle gains/body fat losses would be an eventual side effect (yay!).

    To me it's the same thing just with slightly different focus. Like I said, my goals have shifted away from aesthetics and more toward fitness over time, but I have always had both goals simultaneously.
  • ythannah
    ythannah Posts: 4,368 Member
    edited June 2015
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    I'm enjoying this thread purely for the fact that it is sensible, not that I'm ready to nix my deficit anytime soon.

    My question: is there really a difference between doing a recomp.... And someone who is at maintenance and exercising to challeng their fitness limitations? I see the latter as my end-goal phase... But it seems from this thread that muscle gains/body fat losses would be an eventual side effect (yay!).

    To me it's the same thing just with slightly different focus. Like I said, my goals have shifted away from aesthetics and more toward fitness over time, but I have always had both goals simultaneously.

    The same, but in the opposite direction... now I'm more about aesthetics than fitness, although I assume the fitness part is being taken care of at the same time. They're compatible goals, not mutually exclusive. I can't see "fitness" -- changes to visible muscle are more tangible and they motivate me more.

    I wouldn't be so concerned about protein intake if I wasn't interested in building more muscle.

    Nor do I particularly care about BF%, other than the fact that any fat I gain at this point is probably going to attach itself where I least want it.
  • dmt4641
    dmt4641 Posts: 409 Member
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    Thanks for the responses! By cheat meal I really just meant eating quite a bit over my calorie goal for the day. I don't eat "clean," whatever that means, just try to get in adequate protein and some veggies/fruit and stay near my calorie goal. Sometimes pizza and ice cream can fit in my calories, but other days they don't and I overeat. When I go significantly over my calories for the day it is usually because of a big meal out with friends or family, which is what I call a cheat meal. Not that eating this way is cheating or bad, but I certainly can't maintain my weight if I make it a daily thing so it is labeled as an outlier.

    But those that said the human body strives to maintain - so true. When I have been eating at a deficit over several days I am starving all the time. When I eat a lot, I am usually not as hungry the next couple of days. I maintained a healthy weight for years without counting calories, now I am just trying to maintain a slightly lower weight. Over thinking it, as usual.
  • AbsoluteTara79
    AbsoluteTara79 Posts: 266 Member
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    Love seeing such an informative thread on this topic! I'm 10-ish pounds away from changing my strategy and I'm leaning towards recomp which has generally seemed to be "less popular".
  • Sephixteeo
    Sephixteeo Posts: 75 Member
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    @usmcmp : I've finally had a bit of a whoosh this week and am 2-5 pounds from goal. I posted a couple of photos in my profile. Would love an opinion on if I should transition on over to re-comp at this point, or wait it out a bit longer? I can't tell. I'm definitely ready to have a little more energy to make better gains on when I lift. I'm getting exhausted earlier than I want (and to do a little less cardio). I'm only hitting 250-300 deficits on my calories, but I can honestly notice some energy difference on that. I'm drinking an extra cup of coffee a day now to make up for it, I guess.
    Thanks for any input. :)
  • usmcmp
    usmcmp Posts: 21,220 Member
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    Sephixteeo wrote: »
    @usmcmp : I've finally had a bit of a whoosh this week and am 2-5 pounds from goal. I posted a couple of photos in my profile. Would love an opinion on if I should transition on over to re-comp at this point, or wait it out a bit longer? I can't tell. I'm definitely ready to have a little more energy to make better gains on when I lift. I'm getting exhausted earlier than I want (and to do a little less cardio). I'm only hitting 250-300 deficits on my calories, but I can honestly notice some energy difference on that. I'm drinking an extra cup of coffee a day now to make up for it, I guess.
    Thanks for any input. :)

    I think you are ready. You look fairly lean already.
  • Sephixteeo
    Sephixteeo Posts: 75 Member
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    Thank you, I will head up to that direction then. I'm really excited to put more focus on lifting. I think mentally it will be easier to be in a "long haul" frame of mind.
  • SideSteel
    SideSteel Posts: 11,068 Member
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    I have yet to dig into these studies but these are (apparently) examples of body recomposition taking place in a trained population which calls into question the typical claim that concurrent fat loss and muscle gain can only take place in obese beginners or athletes returning after a long layoff.

    As mentioned I haven't checked these out yet -- these came from a facebook convo on the topic.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7339218
    http://journals.lww.com/.../a_series_of_studies_the...
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10978853
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21558571
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17136944
    http://journals.lww.com/.../Effects_of___Alanine...
    http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02640411003645695
    http://www.tandfonline.com/.../10.1080/02640411003645695...
    http://www.jssm.org/vol6/n1/11/v6n1-11pdf.pdf
    http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/23538431
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3182156 (protein balance)
    http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi...
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21362056