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First post on MFP. Trying to lose fat and gain muscle

weedspotweedspot Member, Premium Posts: 9 Member Member, Premium Posts: 9 Member
Hi!

I have a few questions when it comes to my diet. I’m a 32yo man, 80kgs (176lbs) and 174cm (5’7). My BMR is 1733 and my TDEE is 2388.

I want to lose 1kg (2lbs) a week. Which means I should be at 1388 calories a day. That number seems extremely low. So I settled for a 500cal deficit. So my daily objective is 1888.

My first question is: should I stick with 1888 or try to be at my BMR to lose weight faster ?

My second question is about carbs: should I eat less carbs (if any) for dinner or have any amount as long as I don’t exceed my caloric goal for the day ?

Final question: does calories split throughout the day matter ? Should I eat a large breakfast, an average lunch and a small dinner ? Or split it evenly ? Or do whatever I want as long as I’m still at a deficit ?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Replies

  • charmmethcharmmeth Member Posts: 408 Member Member Posts: 408 Member
    Those issues like the best balance of carbs-fat-protein and how you split your calories across the day are really individual; different people find that they have very different answers. There is a thread called "What do I notice what do I wonder" in the success stories forum which might give you some ideas about how to find ot what works for you. For instance, I was working for ages on the premise that the low carbs is better, but have discovered that in fact I do better (feel more energised and seem to lose weight more steadily, though that might be coincidence) if I keep my carbs at about 45-50%. The poster in that thread found that she did better with protein in the morning, but that did not work for her husband. But as qs says in the response above, the important crucial aspect is not exceeding your goal and staying in deficit.
  • briscogunbriscogun Member Posts: 929 Member Member Posts: 929 Member
    weedspot wrote: »
    Hi!

    I have a few questions when it comes to my diet. I’m a 32yo man, 80kgs (176lbs) and 174cm (5’7). My BMR is 1733 and my TDEE is 2388.

    I want to lose 1kg (2lbs) a week. Which means I should be at 1388 calories a day. That number seems extremely low. So I settled for a 500cal deficit. So my daily objective is 1888.

    My first question is: should I stick with 1888 or try to be at my BMR to lose weight faster ?

    My second question is about carbs: should I eat less carbs (if any) for dinner or have any amount as long as I don’t exceed my caloric goal for the day ?

    Final question: does calories split throughout the day matter ? Should I eat a large breakfast, an average lunch and a small dinner ? Or split it evenly ? Or do whatever I want as long as I’m still at a deficit ?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    Your BMR is a figure that shows how much you burn just lying in a coma not moving. It's the base figure your body needs to survive on without ever moving. Don't need that one, throw it out.

    I would think the 1888 would be a minimum figure, but with your stats probably closer to 2,000? Are you exercising, as well? If so you could probably eat the 2,000-2,100 range. That would giet you a 0.5-1.0 lb per week rate of loss.

    Carbs are meaningless in regards to weight loss. It's calories in, calories out. Some people will watch carbs because they tend to be calorie dense foods, meaning a small amount can potentially have a lot of calories in them. Pasta and breads are notorious for showing calories with very small portions on the packages. Doesn't matter when you eat them (for most people excluding some medical conditions).

    Most people try to over-complicate this thing and out-think themselves. It's really very simple: weigh whatever you put in your mouth, track all of it, if you exercise eat back some if not all of your exercise calories (if you choose to), repeat daily. Some people like doing low-carb or intermittent fasting or other tools because it works for them to help meet their calorie goal, not because those eating methods are inherently better at making the body lose weight.

    Don't muddy the water with complicated calculations and managing macros at this point. Eat a balanced diet that is at or below your calorie goal.

    Good luck!
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 16,500 Member Member, Premium Posts: 16,500 Member
    weedspot wrote: »
    Hi!

    I have a few questions when it comes to my diet. I’m a 32yo man, 80kgs (176lbs) and 174cm (5’7). My BMR is 1733 and my TDEE is 2388.

    I want to lose 1kg (2lbs) a week. Which means I should be at 1388 calories a day. That number seems extremely low. So I settled for a 500cal deficit. So my daily objective is 1888.

    My first question is: should I stick with 1888 or try to be at my BMR to lose weight faster ?

    How much are you trying to lose? I'm going to guess that it's at least 10kg (which would put you at roughly the top of the normal BMI range), but that's a guess.

    A calorie deficit creates physical stress (not health-promoting, considered individually). A bigger deficit creates more stress. Stress is cumulative.

    Could your body tolerate 1kg a week for 10+ weeks? Dunno. How is your health generally? Do you have other significant stressors in your life (either physical or psychological, such as a stressful job, a pandemic, a difficult family situation . . . )? How is your nutrition, sleep, physical fitness? (Physical and psychological stressors conspire to create systemic stress - they aren't totally separate.)

    OTOH, a severely obese person might be able to lose that fast or faster (more fat reserves, more health-risk urgency to get to a less dangerous body weight. You aren't that person, either. (You're roughly in the middle of the overweight BMI range.)

    What others say above is IMO generally true, that for someone who is not severely obese (as you aren't), it's a riskier bet to lose weight fast, especially if there's a meaningful amount of weight to lose. That kind of person is going to be in a deficit for a long-ish time (cumulative stress issue). If someone young, resilient, and generally in a good position stress-wise had like 2-3kg to lose, maybe it wouldn't be as significant a risk to lose it fast. Fast loss over 10+ weeks? Personally, I wouldn't. (In fact, I personally chose recently to lose 10-15 vanity pounds, while generally in weight maintenance, super, super slowly: Pound a month, roughly. I'm 10+ pounds into that, thinking about how much further to go. It's been practically painless.)

    Further, if you shoot for fast loss, you could tank your energy level, cause fatigue, end up subtly down-regulating activity (resting more, basically), and burn fewer calories as a result. That's counter-productive. Will it happen for sure? No. Might. Does for some.

    Another consideration: You presumably want to maintain a healthy weight long term, ideally permanently. Losing slowly makes your weight loss process a more viable experiment for figuring out how to eat permanently in order to achieve that, and time to make that eating/exercise routine a habit. Fast loss makes it more likely that you get to goal weight without a clear idea of how to stay there.

    On top of that, you say you want to gain muscle. Guess what? The bigger your calorie deficit, the less likely that becomes. Sure, if you're a strength training beginner, you may see some newbie gains. Almost certainly, they'd be slightly bigger gains if you went with a slower loss rate, and you'd likely have more energy to put into the workouts besides.

    As an aside, those are not your BMR and TDEE. They're *estimates* of your BMR and TDEE. For most people, the calculators produce good estimates. For some, they don't (can be either low or high). It's just a statistical estimate, average for people similar to you WRT a few demographic data points. If you pick fast loss rates right out of the gate, and it turns out that you have a higher than average TDEE, you may be biting off even more risk than you realize. I don't know whether you're a betting person or not, but it's a consideration, until you get a month or so weight loss experience at a given calorie level to know with reasonable confidence.
    My second question is about carbs: should I eat less carbs (if any) for dinner or have any amount as long as I don’t exceed my caloric goal for the day ?

    For weight loss, any amount that keeps you full, happy, energetic, and manages appetite/cravings, which is all very individual. (It may even matter what the carbs are: Many people find different effects on satiation, energy or happiness from, say, an apple vs. a cookie . . . and the answer doesn't *universally* favor the apple every single time.)

    For muscle gain, eat enough carbs to energize your workouts (if that turns out to be meaningful for you), but not so many that you get inadequate protein (vital for muscle gain) or sub-ideal nutrition generally (healthy fats, micronutrients). Nutrition is your friend, for muscle gain. Once nutrition is pretty grooved in, some less nutrition-dense treats - which can be carbs if you like - are fine.
    Final question: does calories split throughout the day matter ? Should I eat a large breakfast, an average lunch and a small dinner ? Or split it evenly ? Or do whatever I want as long as I’m still at a deficit ?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    Nutrient timing is not relevant for the average person. It's certainly not more important as a practical matter, in someone trying to lose fat. Timing of eating can have major effects on satiation/happiness, and those can have major effects on sticking with the calorie goal. That sustainability is much more important than any theoretical timing benefit for weight loss.

    People who are endurance athletes may have some nutrient timing issues. People who are low-carbing generally (say, for appetite reasons) may need to time some carbs around workouts for best exercise performance. Elite athletes trying to squeeze out that last 0.0005% of performance to beat their competition may need to fine-tune nutrient timing.

    The rest of us? Nah. Just make yourself happy, via your eating schedule.
  • nanastaci2020nanastaci2020 Member, Premium Posts: 586 Member Member, Premium Posts: 586 Member
    The TDEE method of determining a calorie goal includes exercise. So using TDEE, one would not 'eat back' exercise calories because they are already accounted for.

    To the original poster: if you did not consider your exercise when calculating the TDEE, then its not TDEE and you should factor in exercise calories as well.
    briscogun wrote: »

    I would think the 1888 would be a minimum figure, but with your stats probably closer to 2,000? Are you exercising, as well? If so you could probably eat the 2,000-2,100 range. That would giet you a 0.5-1.0 lb per week rate of loss.

  • heybalesheybales Member Posts: 17,949 Member Member Posts: 17,949 Member
    You are starting your math for deficit based on TDEE based on old 1919 study formula and picking Lightly-Active.
    So 1-3 hrs of exercise a week on top of an otherwise very sedentary lifestyle - no family or household duties, no mowing lawn or shopping, no kids or pets, ect.

    Are you really Lightly-Active for daily activity and exercise all together?

    You would be creating a bigger deficit if you underestimated.

  • DanaDarkDanaDark Member Posts: 2,179 Member Member Posts: 2,179 Member
    While losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time is possible with body re-composition, it tends to be quite difficult to do for most people. A cutting/bulking cycle is far easier to manage.

    Given your stats, it is good you switched to a 500 calorie deficit instead of 1000, as that did seem way too low given your stats (a good indication of being too ambitious). Onto your questions:

    1. Stay at 1888, do not feel like you have to hit the number every time if you manage to be under.
    2. Carbs are a personal choice. Use MFP to log and see where your calories are. If you're eating 1200 calories a day in white wonder bread, cutting carbs may work well for you.
    3. Calorie intake timing does not matter. In fact, it isn't even set on a day-to-day timetable. This allows people to do IF (Intermittent Fasting) where they eat between set hours, eat one meal a day, or even skip eating 2 days a week, etc. So find a meal-timing plan that works best for you.

    This all assumes you're an average guy like all of us here. If you're training 16 hours a day, 7 days a week for the next 4 years for you upcoming 20 gold medal sweep at the Olympics, your requirements will be way different and you really should have an entire team of trainers and nutritionists to consult with. ;)
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