Calorie Counter

You are currently viewing the message boards in:

Muscle gain in deficit?

lorib642lorib642 Posts: 1,666Member Member Posts: 1,666Member Member
So as not to derail topic on main board.

I have heard people say they aren't losing weight because they are gaining muscle and "muscle weighs more than fat".

Can you gain muscle in a deficit? Would it be a noticeable amount?

I thought it was hard to gain muscle, and a goal, while losing weight, was to try to retain it.
«13

Replies

  • SideSteelSideSteel Posts: 11,079Member Member Posts: 11,079Member Member
    Yes it's possible however it will get progressively more difficult/less likely as the individual gets leaner, gets more training experience, and as the deficit size increases.

  • juggernaut1974juggernaut1974 Posts: 6,212Member Member Posts: 6,212Member Member
    SideSteel wrote: »
    Yes it's possible however it will get progressively more difficult/less likely as the individual gets leaner, gets more training experience, and as the deficit size increases.

    Agree that it's possible...but...

    The typical context it comes up in on the MFP boards is:

    OP: "Ehr mehr Gerd I'm eating 1200 calories per day, doing 45 minutes of prancercizing a day, and haven't lost weight in two weeks HELP!"

    Well meaning, but ill-informed poster: "You're probably gaining muscle, which weighs more than fat"


    In these cases, I think it's appropriate to reply with a blanket "you're not going to gain muscle in a deficit" statement...and those who press the issue in those threads are those that need to argue semantics and only leave the OP more confused than when he/she started.

    That said, there are several threads where a discussion of the hows and whys would be appropriate (such as this one), and welcomed. But they tend to be a minority on MFP
    edited February 2016
  • juggernaut1974juggernaut1974 Posts: 6,212Member Member Posts: 6,212Member Member
    So in an effort to discuss - it's my understanding that gaining actual mass (not just strength) in a deficit depends on a combination of the following factors:

    1. Not TOO steep of a deficit
    2. Someone new to weight lifting
    3. A conditioned athlete who returns to lifting after a break
    4. Age/gender (ie - younger males will have more success than middle-aged women)
    5. To some extent, macro composition of your diet

    And like SideSteel pointed out, it's not a blank check - it's a (relatively) narrow window where one with several of the above factors could succeed for a bit, but eventually the gains would slow and then stop.

    Now, admittedly, this isn't an area I have read up on extensively, and I'm merely parroting info I've learned from reading this and other forums. I would absolutely welcome those with more knowledge to expand on this and/or correct me if I'm wrong on any of the above.

  • ninerbuffninerbuff Posts: 42,485Member, Greeter Member Posts: 42,485Member, Greeter Member
    Possible yes, but for the majority of people just trying to lose weight, the results aren't as significant as they think. Realize that carrying around a lot of weight that got progressively higher, WILL BUILD muscle (especially in the legs) and relatively unknown to the person. That's why it's not uncommon for a heavy person who reduces body fat to have big legs underneath.
    In deficit, most people see more definition in their body and mistake that for "gaining muscle".

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

    9285851.png
  • SideSteelSideSteel Posts: 11,079Member Member Posts: 11,079Member Member
    SideSteel wrote: »
    Yes it's possible however it will get progressively more difficult/less likely as the individual gets leaner, gets more training experience, and as the deficit size increases.

    Agree that it's possible...but...

    The typical context it comes up in on the MFP boards is:

    OP: "Ehr mehr Gerd I'm eating 1200 calories per day, doing 45 minutes of prancercizing a day, and haven't lost weight in two weeks HELP!"

    Well meaning, but ill-informed poster: "You're probably gaining muscle, which weighs more than fat"


    In these cases, I think it's appropriate to reply with a blanket "you're not going to gain muscle in a deficit" statement...and those who press the issue in those threads are those that need to argue semantics and only leave the OP more confused than when he/she started.

    That said, there are several threads where a discussion of the hows and whys would be appropriate (such as this one), and welcomed. But they tend to be a minority on MFP
    SideSteel wrote: »
    Yes it's possible however it will get progressively more difficult/less likely as the individual gets leaner, gets more training experience, and as the deficit size increases.

    Agree that it's possible...but...

    The typical context it comes up in on the MFP boards is:

    OP: "Ehr mehr Gerd I'm eating 1200 calories per day, doing 45 minutes of prancercizing a day, and haven't lost weight in two weeks HELP!"

    Well meaning, but ill-informed poster: "You're probably gaining muscle, which weighs more than fat"


    In these cases, I think it's appropriate to reply with a blanket "you're not going to gain muscle in a deficit" statement...and those who press the issue in those threads are those that need to argue semantics and only leave the OP more confused than when he/she started.

    That said, there are several threads where a discussion of the hows and whys would be appropriate (such as this one), and welcomed. But they tend to be a minority on MFP
    SideSteel wrote: »
    Yes it's possible however it will get progressively more difficult/less likely as the individual gets leaner, gets more training experience, and as the deficit size increases.

    Agree that it's possible...but...

    The typical context it comes up in on the MFP boards is:

    OP: "Ehr mehr Gerd I'm eating 1200 calories per day, doing 45 minutes of prancercizing a day, and haven't lost weight in two weeks HELP!"

    Well meaning, but ill-informed poster: "You're probably gaining muscle, which weighs more than fat"


    In these cases, I think it's appropriate to reply with a blanket "you're not going to gain muscle in a deficit" statement...and those who press the issue in those threads are those that need to argue semantics and only leave the OP more confused than when he/she started.

    That said, there are several threads where a discussion of the hows and whys would be appropriate (such as this one), and welcomed. But they tend to be a minority on MFP

    I think blanket replies are doing people a disservice.


    I also see the opposite where people genuinely could be building muscle but they are told it's impossible because calorie deficit.

    Additionally, the majority of people tend to be overweight beginners which is exactly the population where it often occurs.
  • SideSteelSideSteel Posts: 11,079Member Member Posts: 11,079Member Member
    Yikes, posted from phone, not sure why it triple quoted :(
  • zoeysasha37zoeysasha37 Posts: 7,133Member Member Posts: 7,133Member Member
    Possible - yes but as far as what we see here on mfp - no its not probable.
    Here we see a lot of people who are very new and don't yet understand much. They make very common mistakes like not weighing foods accurately and /or mistaking water retention for a "real gain" and automatically assume because they have worked out for 5 days that they have gained muscle. It just doesn't happen the way most think it does .
    I've been working my butt off for almost 2 yrs to gain muscle. Its a slow and tedious process. It doesn't just happen by walking on a treadmill or going to a zumba class like we see often claimed here .

  • senecarrsenecarr Posts: 5,377Member Member Posts: 5,377Member Member
    For the general question, yes:
    http://bayesianbodybuilding.com/gain-muscle-and-lose-fat-at-the-same-time/

    For the way it is used on MFP, no. If any one of those people have learned of a weight lifting program that can generate muscle that well, I want know what it is and follow it religiously because it is steroid or better than steroid results.
    At most what can happen to people is a new work out routine for someone can cause muscle water retention as part of the body's repair mechanism. That's not likely to be more than a few pounds nor last more than a week or two on a consistent routine. That might, just might, cover up a little bit of their fat loss. The vast preponderance of possibility exists in the person simply isn't in a deficit and they're either failing at tracking calorie intake or they're overstating their exercise burn (the biggest probability given the person's started working out).
  • juggernaut1974juggernaut1974 Posts: 6,212Member Member Posts: 6,212Member Member
    SideSteel wrote: »
    SideSteel wrote: »
    Yes it's possible however it will get progressively more difficult/less likely as the individual gets leaner, gets more training experience, and as the deficit size increases.

    Agree that it's possible...but...

    The typical context it comes up in on the MFP boards is:

    OP: "Ehr mehr Gerd I'm eating 1200 calories per day, doing 45 minutes of prancercizing a day, and haven't lost weight in two weeks HELP!"

    Well meaning, but ill-informed poster: "You're probably gaining muscle, which weighs more than fat"


    In these cases, I think it's appropriate to reply with a blanket "you're not going to gain muscle in a deficit" statement...and those who press the issue in those threads are those that need to argue semantics and only leave the OP more confused than when he/she started.

    That said, there are several threads where a discussion of the hows and whys would be appropriate (such as this one), and welcomed. But they tend to be a minority on MFP
    SideSteel wrote: »
    Yes it's possible however it will get progressively more difficult/less likely as the individual gets leaner, gets more training experience, and as the deficit size increases.

    Agree that it's possible...but...

    The typical context it comes up in on the MFP boards is:

    OP: "Ehr mehr Gerd I'm eating 1200 calories per day, doing 45 minutes of prancercizing a day, and haven't lost weight in two weeks HELP!"

    Well meaning, but ill-informed poster: "You're probably gaining muscle, which weighs more than fat"


    In these cases, I think it's appropriate to reply with a blanket "you're not going to gain muscle in a deficit" statement...and those who press the issue in those threads are those that need to argue semantics and only leave the OP more confused than when he/she started.

    That said, there are several threads where a discussion of the hows and whys would be appropriate (such as this one), and welcomed. But they tend to be a minority on MFP
    SideSteel wrote: »
    Yes it's possible however it will get progressively more difficult/less likely as the individual gets leaner, gets more training experience, and as the deficit size increases.

    Agree that it's possible...but...

    The typical context it comes up in on the MFP boards is:

    OP: "Ehr mehr Gerd I'm eating 1200 calories per day, doing 45 minutes of prancercizing a day, and haven't lost weight in two weeks HELP!"

    Well meaning, but ill-informed poster: "You're probably gaining muscle, which weighs more than fat"


    In these cases, I think it's appropriate to reply with a blanket "you're not going to gain muscle in a deficit" statement...and those who press the issue in those threads are those that need to argue semantics and only leave the OP more confused than when he/she started.

    That said, there are several threads where a discussion of the hows and whys would be appropriate (such as this one), and welcomed. But they tend to be a minority on MFP

    I think blanket replies are doing people a disservice.


    I also see the opposite where people genuinely could be building muscle but they are told it's impossible because calorie deficit.

    Additionally, the majority of people tend to be overweight beginners which is exactly the population where it often occurs.

    OK I'm intrigued by your reply.

    Again with the caveat that this is NOT an area I'm well read on, you've piqued my curiosity.

    Are you suggesting the typical MFP poster (let's say overweight, early-middle age female eating 1200 calories per day and doing 1/2 hour of cardio 3x a week) is in fact putting on significant muscle mass? And that not only are they, that we should be telling them that they are doing so?
    edited February 2016
  • senecarrsenecarr Posts: 5,377Member Member Posts: 5,377Member Member
    SideSteel wrote: »
    SideSteel wrote: »
    Yes it's possible however it will get progressively more difficult/less likely as the individual gets leaner, gets more training experience, and as the deficit size increases.

    Agree that it's possible...but...

    The typical context it comes up in on the MFP boards is:

    OP: "Ehr mehr Gerd I'm eating 1200 calories per day, doing 45 minutes of prancercizing a day, and haven't lost weight in two weeks HELP!"

    Well meaning, but ill-informed poster: "You're probably gaining muscle, which weighs more than fat"


    In these cases, I think it's appropriate to reply with a blanket "you're not going to gain muscle in a deficit" statement...and those who press the issue in those threads are those that need to argue semantics and only leave the OP more confused than when he/she started.

    That said, there are several threads where a discussion of the hows and whys would be appropriate (such as this one), and welcomed. But they tend to be a minority on MFP
    SideSteel wrote: »
    Yes it's possible however it will get progressively more difficult/less likely as the individual gets leaner, gets more training experience, and as the deficit size increases.

    Agree that it's possible...but...

    The typical context it comes up in on the MFP boards is:

    OP: "Ehr mehr Gerd I'm eating 1200 calories per day, doing 45 minutes of prancercizing a day, and haven't lost weight in two weeks HELP!"

    Well meaning, but ill-informed poster: "You're probably gaining muscle, which weighs more than fat"


    In these cases, I think it's appropriate to reply with a blanket "you're not going to gain muscle in a deficit" statement...and those who press the issue in those threads are those that need to argue semantics and only leave the OP more confused than when he/she started.

    That said, there are several threads where a discussion of the hows and whys would be appropriate (such as this one), and welcomed. But they tend to be a minority on MFP
    SideSteel wrote: »
    Yes it's possible however it will get progressively more difficult/less likely as the individual gets leaner, gets more training experience, and as the deficit size increases.

    Agree that it's possible...but...

    The typical context it comes up in on the MFP boards is:

    OP: "Ehr mehr Gerd I'm eating 1200 calories per day, doing 45 minutes of prancercizing a day, and haven't lost weight in two weeks HELP!"

    Well meaning, but ill-informed poster: "You're probably gaining muscle, which weighs more than fat"


    In these cases, I think it's appropriate to reply with a blanket "you're not going to gain muscle in a deficit" statement...and those who press the issue in those threads are those that need to argue semantics and only leave the OP more confused than when he/she started.

    That said, there are several threads where a discussion of the hows and whys would be appropriate (such as this one), and welcomed. But they tend to be a minority on MFP

    I think blanket replies are doing people a disservice.


    I also see the opposite where people genuinely could be building muscle but they are told it's impossible because calorie deficit.

    Additionally, the majority of people tend to be overweight beginners which is exactly the population where it often occurs.

    OK I'm intrigued by your reply.

    Again with the caveat that this is NOT an area I'm well read on, you've piqued my curiosity.

    Are you suggesting the typical MFP poster (let's say overweight, early-middle age female eating 1200 calories per day and doing 1/2 hour of cardio 3x a week) is in fact putting on muscle mass? And that not only are they, that we should be telling them that they are doing so?
    I think he's saying you really have to look at the particulars of the person. Your typical example, not so much, the person is doing cardio.
    The young 20ish male who's never touched a weight in his entire life and is suddenly burning himself out on the Arnold 6 day a week program, and has a 2000+ calorie plan because he's 300 pounds? More possible. I'd guess for such a person who is shooting for 2 lb a week and doesn't lose anything, there's probably an error in intake or output, but if the person loses 1.5 pounds instead of 2 that week, well who knows without a DEXA scan, if it could even pick up the difference.
    edited February 2016
  • juggernaut1974juggernaut1974 Posts: 6,212Member Member Posts: 6,212Member Member
    senecarr wrote: »
    SideSteel wrote: »
    SideSteel wrote: »
    Yes it's possible however it will get progressively more difficult/less likely as the individual gets leaner, gets more training experience, and as the deficit size increases.

    Agree that it's possible...but...

    The typical context it comes up in on the MFP boards is:

    OP: "Ehr mehr Gerd I'm eating 1200 calories per day, doing 45 minutes of prancercizing a day, and haven't lost weight in two weeks HELP!"

    Well meaning, but ill-informed poster: "You're probably gaining muscle, which weighs more than fat"


    In these cases, I think it's appropriate to reply with a blanket "you're not going to gain muscle in a deficit" statement...and those who press the issue in those threads are those that need to argue semantics and only leave the OP more confused than when he/she started.

    That said, there are several threads where a discussion of the hows and whys would be appropriate (such as this one), and welcomed. But they tend to be a minority on MFP
    SideSteel wrote: »
    Yes it's possible however it will get progressively more difficult/less likely as the individual gets leaner, gets more training experience, and as the deficit size increases.

    Agree that it's possible...but...

    The typical context it comes up in on the MFP boards is:

    OP: "Ehr mehr Gerd I'm eating 1200 calories per day, doing 45 minutes of prancercizing a day, and haven't lost weight in two weeks HELP!"

    Well meaning, but ill-informed poster: "You're probably gaining muscle, which weighs more than fat"


    In these cases, I think it's appropriate to reply with a blanket "you're not going to gain muscle in a deficit" statement...and those who press the issue in those threads are those that need to argue semantics and only leave the OP more confused than when he/she started.

    That said, there are several threads where a discussion of the hows and whys would be appropriate (such as this one), and welcomed. But they tend to be a minority on MFP
    SideSteel wrote: »
    Yes it's possible however it will get progressively more difficult/less likely as the individual gets leaner, gets more training experience, and as the deficit size increases.

    Agree that it's possible...but...

    The typical context it comes up in on the MFP boards is:

    OP: "Ehr mehr Gerd I'm eating 1200 calories per day, doing 45 minutes of prancercizing a day, and haven't lost weight in two weeks HELP!"

    Well meaning, but ill-informed poster: "You're probably gaining muscle, which weighs more than fat"


    In these cases, I think it's appropriate to reply with a blanket "you're not going to gain muscle in a deficit" statement...and those who press the issue in those threads are those that need to argue semantics and only leave the OP more confused than when he/she started.

    That said, there are several threads where a discussion of the hows and whys would be appropriate (such as this one), and welcomed. But they tend to be a minority on MFP

    I think blanket replies are doing people a disservice.


    I also see the opposite where people genuinely could be building muscle but they are told it's impossible because calorie deficit.

    Additionally, the majority of people tend to be overweight beginners which is exactly the population where it often occurs.

    OK I'm intrigued by your reply.

    Again with the caveat that this is NOT an area I'm well read on, you've piqued my curiosity.

    Are you suggesting the typical MFP poster (let's say overweight, early-middle age female eating 1200 calories per day and doing 1/2 hour of cardio 3x a week) is in fact putting on muscle mass? And that not only are they, that we should be telling them that they are doing so?
    I think he's saying you really have to look at the particulars of the person. Your typical example, not so much, the person is doing cardio.
    The young 20ish male who's never touched a weight in his entire life and is suddenly burning himself out on the Arnold 6 day a week program, and has a 2000+ calorie plan because he's 300 pounds? More possible. I'd guess for such a person who is shooting for 2 lb a week and doesn't lose anything, there's probably an error in intake or output, but if the person loses 1.5 pounds instead of 2 that week, well who knows without a DEXA scan, if it could even pick up the difference.

    OK yeah, I agree with that...but that's not what I said in my first example he replied to.
  • SideSteelSideSteel Posts: 11,079Member Member Posts: 11,079Member Member
    I do not think that the people claiming to eat 1200 calories are eating 1200 calories. Usually nowhere near it.

    I do not think that most people are putting on "significant" amounts of muscle regardless of state of energy balance.

    But I DO think that blanket statements calling it "impossible" are incorrect and misleading, and I do think most people miss the fact that the typical population base on mfp are overweight beginners who are quite primed for it to occur to SOME extent.
  • lynn_glenmontlynn_glenmont Posts: 6,893Member Member Posts: 6,893Member Member
    So in an effort to discuss - it's my understanding that gaining actual mass (not just strength) in a deficit depends on a combination of the following factors:

    1. Not TOO steep of a deficit
    2. Someone new to weight lifting
    3. A conditioned athlete who returns to lifting after a break
    4. Age/gender (ie - younger males will have more success than middle-aged women)
    5. To some extent, macro composition of your diet

    And like SideSteel pointed out, it's not a blank check - it's a (relatively) narrow window where one with several of the above factors could succeed for a bit, but eventually the gains would slow and then stop.

    Now, admittedly, this isn't an area I have read up on extensively, and I'm merely parroting info I've learned from reading this and other forums. I would absolutely welcome those with more knowledge to expand on this and/or correct me if I'm wrong on any of the above.

    Just to expand a bit:

    Even if you're eating a calorie surplus, numbers 2, 3, 4, and 5 still apply. Under similar conditions of deficit, maintenance, or surplus, new lifters, conditioned lifters returning from a breaking, younger persons, males, and those getting appropriate macros (I'm assuming you mainly mean sufficient protein) find it easier to build muscle than long-time lifters who haven't taken a break, older people, females, and those not getting enough protein.

    So the only deficit-specific issue is (1) not too steep a deficit. To me that means not so steep that you're challenging your body's ability to make up your energy deficit from your fat stores, so that as much as possible of that adequate protein you're consuming can go toward muscle maintenance and muscle creation, rather than being used for energy. Thus "not too steep a deficit" is a number relative to how much fat you have stored (the fatter the better for building muscle in deficit--if you've already gotten down to an athlete-level BF%, your leeway for fueling a deficit solely from BF is so small, it's probably within your margin of error for counting calories, hence the cut-and-bulk cycles used by so many).

    And for most people, don't gains generally slow, if not stop, even when they're eating in surplus? Building muscle in significant amounts is hard for most people most of the time; even young men have to work at it, make sure they're challenging their muscles, make wise decisions about appropriate recovery periods, etc. So, yes, it's theoretically possible to gain muscle in deficit, so long as the deficit, is small enough for your particular circumstances, but the deficit is one more hurdle in what is already a challenging goal for most people most of the time.
  • rontafoyarontafoya Posts: 364Member Member Posts: 364Member Member
    Beginners can gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously, but not for too long. People who tell you they aren't losing weight because they are gaining muscle (that are NOT specifically on a body building program) are probably are either not counting calories accurately (and therefore in a caloric surplus, and/or retaining water due to stress, and/or on a poor diet and exercise program. One common example of this I have seen is a person who starts doing mostly cardio and no weights (a very poor idea), and eating back their calories they are burning, breaking down muscle doing the cardio, releasing cortisol from the cardio, etc. It is common for people to put time and effort into something that isn't working and to rationalize their lack of results.
  • senecarrsenecarr Posts: 5,377Member Member Posts: 5,377Member Member
    So in an effort to discuss - it's my understanding that gaining actual mass (not just strength) in a deficit depends on a combination of the following factors:

    1. Not TOO steep of a deficit
    2. Someone new to weight lifting
    3. A conditioned athlete who returns to lifting after a break
    4. Age/gender (ie - younger males will have more success than middle-aged women)
    5. To some extent, macro composition of your diet

    And like SideSteel pointed out, it's not a blank check - it's a (relatively) narrow window where one with several of the above factors could succeed for a bit, but eventually the gains would slow and then stop.

    Now, admittedly, this isn't an area I have read up on extensively, and I'm merely parroting info I've learned from reading this and other forums. I would absolutely welcome those with more knowledge to expand on this and/or correct me if I'm wrong on any of the above.

    Just to expand a bit:

    Even if you're eating a calorie surplus, numbers 2, 3, 4, and 5 still apply. Under similar conditions of deficit, maintenance, or surplus, new lifters, conditioned lifters returning from a breaking, younger persons, males, and those getting appropriate macros (I'm assuming you mainly mean sufficient protein) find it easier to build muscle than long-time lifters who haven't taken a break, older people, females, and those not getting enough protein.

    So the only deficit-specific issue is (1) not too steep a deficit. To me that means not so steep that you're challenging your body's ability to make up your energy deficit from your fat stores, so that as much as possible of that adequate protein you're consuming can go toward muscle maintenance and muscle creation, rather than being used for energy. Thus "not too steep a deficit" is a number relative to how much fat you have stored (the fatter the better for building muscle in deficit--if you've already gotten down to an athlete-level BF%, your leeway for fueling a deficit solely from BF is so small, it's probably within your margin of error for counting calories, hence the cut-and-bulk cycles used by so many).

    And for most people, don't gains generally slow, if not stop, even when they're eating in surplus? Building muscle in significant amounts is hard for most people most of the time; even young men have to work at it, make sure they're challenging their muscles, make wise decisions about appropriate recovery periods, etc. So, yes, it's theoretically possible to gain muscle in deficit, so long as the deficit, is small enough for your particular circumstances, but the deficit is one more hurdle in what is already a challenging goal for most people most of the time.
    I'm going to say I don't see that as being really how protein sufficiency in a deficit or even a bulk works. Even if someone was gaining at the unnatural rate of 5 kgs of muscle in a month, about 70% of that is water, maybe another 10% is glycogen stores, so you're looking at 1,000 grams of protein over the course of a month, or roughly 33 grams a day - for an incredible 5kg (11 lb) worth of muscle.
    My take away is that sufficient protein isn't so much about building structure as it is it might have to do with our body doesn't have a calorie deficit meter anywhere. Instead, protein intake has an outsized effect on the metabolic pathways that allow protein synthesis upregulation in comparison to other macronutrients. I'd hypothesize that this would be in part because evolutionarily, large amounts of protein has rarely been consumed without large amounts of calories - even the leanest of meats usually packs substantive fats with it.
  • rileysownerrileysowner Posts: 7,844Member Member Posts: 7,844Member Member
    I have not read all the replies, and while it is possible, it also will not be huge amounts. I am guessing someone else has already said this. Gaining muscle is difficult. It is even more difficult as one gets older, and even more difficult for women. While there can be some gain, even in a deficit, that gain will be slow, not the pounds of muscle in a week or two, or even a month or two, unless a person is abusing steroids or other similar drugs.
  • rockstargreatnessrockstargreatness Posts: 23Member Member Posts: 23Member Member
    lorib642 wrote: »
    So as not to derail topic on main board.

    I have heard people say they aren't losing weight because they are gaining muscle and "muscle weighs more than fat".

    Can you gain muscle in a deficit? Would it be a noticeable amount?

    I thought it was hard to gain muscle, and a goal, while losing weight, was to try to retain it.
    You can gain muscle while in defiect. But it won't be very much.


    Doubt it would be noticeable.


  • hansklamp2112hansklamp2112 Posts: 20Member Member Posts: 20Member Member
    On paper in science, it seems not possible right? The basic rules just don't make sense that you would be gaining muscle when you're body isn't getting enough fuel to build it, but is instead burning fat and/or muscle in the process of being in a deficit.

    However, I will say this. I've tried cutting two different ways so far in the last 2 years and one was more successful than the other. Both involved me eating at a deficit which was pretty significant.

    - Attempt 1: 1700 cals a day, 3 weight lifting days of StrongLifts 5x5, cardio each day and in between (longer cardio on non-lift days). Note: Weekends I upped the cals to get some energy/relieve myself of the grueling diet during the week)
    - Attempt 2: 1850-2100 cals a day, 4-5 days of weight lifting, cardio each day (2 miles a day minimum, some days I go as far as 4-5, some days 0 for rest typically on a Saturday/Sunday)

    Don't pay too much mind to those details above, it's just to throw some perspective on what I did but the important part is my eating and lifting frequency/volume.

    When I did Attempt 1 I dropped some good body fat and looked leaner than I did when I started without doubt. I probably went down about 12-13 lbs over a 3-4 month period. I was doing about a lb a week which makes sense as the weekends I'd eat a bit more. I got significantly weaker. I was eating at a deficit, but it was too large. My bench went down, my squat went down, but alas my cardio increased. Either way, my muscle was was going down. It wasn't mental, it was physical and I knew it. I cut too fast, went a on a program that was very niche focused on 4-5 lifts, and although I got leaner, I lost strength and some size.

    Attempt 2 which is my recent/current go. After Attempt 1 I started eating 2500-2700 a day and added that weight I lost back. I got back to where I was and while I did I went back to lifting more again on a regular program that was 6 days a week, 3 day split, 2 areas a day focusing on push/pull. Did that for a bit and definitely gained some body fat, didn't feel like I looked as good, but I knew I needed to do it. It was kinda fun eating garbage too.

    Part 2 of Attempt 2 is right now. As of January I cut back to 1850-2000 a day and every once in a while a day will get a bit out of control on a weekend because.. thats life. And I like cookies. I currently run 2 miles a day minimum. One day a week at least a 4-5 mile run. I upped the calories and kept a similar workout. Now for me 1850-2000 is a deficit. I don't care how big or small, it is a deficit. Between lifting and running and my build/age/height/workout according to a TDEE calculator 1850-2000 is a deficit. It may not be large, but it is.

    My bench has increased drastically over the last 7-8 weeks, I am visibly larger (broader shoulders and chest) than I was during Attempt 1, and I look just as lean or potentially better--but to focus on what you're asking: STRONGER. My standard bench is much higher now, my 1 rep max is much higher. My squat is back where I had it before I did that silly Attempt 1 cut. Deadlift I don't measure as much with attention, but I can see the improvements. This is while eating in a deficit.

    Am I building crazy amounts of muscle? No, but I'm not getting fat and I am seeing measurable strength gains, visible size increase, and my abdominal muscles look much more visible without flexing. Eating at a deficit is about control. Controlling how much you eat, but also focusing on control of eating enough. Too much of a deficit you're gonna lose. A healthy deficit is going to let you gain some.

    I attribute my own results to trial and error. I got too focused on losing body fat and looking lean and lost sight. So I stepped back and tried again. I now know for a fact I look better and am stronger while not being a diet diva and just eating a bit more. It also helps that I probably upped my focus on the proteins. I always have, but now more than ever because although I understand and believe a calorie is a calorie for losing weight, not all calories are equal when wanting to build muscle.

    The TL;DR version of this: On paper it seems like a no, but if you do it properly then yes. It might not be drastic gains, but it can be done. Getting the appropriate deficit that works for YOU is gonna be a trial and error thing or you might get lucky on your first try.
    edited February 2016
  • auddiiauddii Posts: 15,410Member Member Posts: 15,410Member Member
    lorib642 wrote: »
    So as not to derail topic on main board.

    I have heard people say they aren't losing weight because they are gaining muscle and "muscle weighs more than fat".

    Can you gain muscle in a deficit? Would it be a noticeable amount?

    I thought it was hard to gain muscle, and a goal, while losing weight, was to try to retain it.
    You can gain muscle while in defiect. But it won't be very much.


    Doubt it would be noticeable.


    And I doubt the rate of muscle gain would outpace fat loss on the scale. While it is possible that people are not seeing scale changes because they are gaining muscle, it more likely is due to other reasons (water retention, incorrect logging/estimation of calorie goal, etc.).
  • eugenia94102eugenia94102 Posts: 126Member Member Posts: 126Member Member
Sign In or Register to comment.