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Losing more muscle than fat!

sbalzersbalzer Member, Premium Posts: 11 Member Member, Premium Posts: 11 Member
Ok my fellow fitnesspal’s I need your help. I got my second DEXA scan yesterday, three months after my initial scan. The results show I lost 2.9kg of LEAN + BMC and 1.34kg of fat, showing my BF went from 23.8 to 23.3%. I’m trying to do the impossible I know of losing BF while maintaining muscle mass. However losing muscle to fat at a ratio of 2 to 1 is concerning. I would prefer it the ratio was reversed! I should add BF around my waist decline by 20% whereas overall BF declined by 7%.

Here is some background information to help;

I started a 20% calorie deficit (counting calories with MFP app) in June last year just as we got out of the first lockdown in Australia. As gyms were closed I bought a spin bike and was doing two 30 minute bike rides of low cardio intensity per day plus 10k steps daily. I know this is not optimal for maintaining muscle mass. I was able to decrease my weight from 90.6kg to 81kg. Once restrictions were lifted in November I commenced weight training again, I took a diet break for two weeks over the Christmas and New Year period before getting my first DEXA scan in early January.

In terms of weight training, I have been lifting on and off since I was 24, but not consistent enough in my diet or training to make any significant gains. Prior to re-commencing training in November, I hadn’t weight trained for 12 months. I would class myself as somewhere between novice to intermediate. I follow a structured hypertrophy training program hitting all muscle groups twice a week over five days with a two day rest period, plus 30 minute bike ride at low cardio intensity. Since November I have been gaining strength increasing weight steadily by approximately 20% on major exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench press etc..

My current 1RM is as follows:
Squats – 136kg
Deadlift – 136kg
Bench Press – 76kg

I haven't been taking measurements except for my stomach, which has reduced by two inches since I started measuring in January. Have started taking measurements of arm legs, neck, chest and waist now as well.

Ok, now diet. I’ following IIFYM with the following macro ratio’s. I found through trailing, my TDEE to be 2250 calories, originally thought it was more like 2500 but found I was gaining at this maintenance level. I eat 2000 calories per day plus exercise to achieve my 20% calorie deficit. I have been consistently losing 0.5kg per week since November except the break over Christmas, New Year. Alcohol once a week at most some weeks no alcohol at all, when I do have a drink it's approximately 2 - 3 glasses of red wine. Protein comes from a range of sources, various meats, dairy and WPI pre and post workouts.

Protein – 171g min.
Fat – 62g min.
Carbs – what ever is left over approx 130g

My aim is to get to somewhere between 68kg – 70kg then assess BF and physique and determine whether to start a re-comp or continue cutting.

My questions
1. Should I take a diet break? And eat a maintenance for one month?
2. What should I reasonably expect my muscle to fat loss ratio to be?
3. I’m thinking the latest DEXA scan result could have been erroneous, i.e dehydrated throwing out my lean mass reading???

Any advise would be greatly appreciated. I don’t want to go to my next DEXA scan losing another 3kg of muscle!!!
edited April 4
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Replies

  • sbalzersbalzer Member, Premium Posts: 11 Member Member, Premium Posts: 11 Member
    Sorry despite all the information above I forgot to add my current weight is 76.4kg.
  • usmcmpusmcmp Member, Premium Posts: 21,292 Member Member, Premium Posts: 21,292 Member
    sbalzer wrote: »
    Sorry despite all the information above I forgot to add my current weight is 76.4kg.

    How tall are you? That seems in the normal range or even a bit light for a male, independent of what you say your body fat is.
  • AnnPT77AnnPT77 Member, Premium Posts: 19,849 Member Member, Premium Posts: 19,849 Member
    I'm having trouble understanding the math here: Can you provide some additional information, specifically how tall you are, and what your exercise calories tend to be (and how you estimate those)?

    However much you're eating, your actual deficit seems to average around 550 calories daily?
  • sbalzersbalzer Member, Premium Posts: 11 Member Member, Premium Posts: 11 Member
    Tracking with a Garmin watch, weight training calories burned between 200 - 300 calories per workout depeding on the type of workout, i.e legs greater intensity closer to 300. Bike average about 200 calories for 30mins. Height 172cm.
  • sbalzersbalzer Member, Premium Posts: 11 Member Member, Premium Posts: 11 Member
    I agree with you deficit estimate, I'm aiming for about a 500cal deficit.
  • ninerbuffninerbuff Member, Greeter Posts: 44,889 Member Member, Greeter Posts: 44,889 Member
    What is your actual lifting regimen? 5x5? High volume? Split routine? If you're losing muscle STILL, it's because the lifting routine you're doing ISN'T taxing the muscle enough to retain it.

    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
  • sbalzersbalzer Member, Premium Posts: 11 Member Member, Premium Posts: 11 Member
    Program I’m doing is Strong lifts 5x5
  • sbalzersbalzer Member, Premium Posts: 11 Member Member, Premium Posts: 11 Member
    Would you suggest another program?
  • PAV8888PAV8888 Member Posts: 7,939 Member Member Posts: 7,939 Member
    Did you lose 4.24kg between your two scans, or some other amount? If a different amount... where is that accounted on your scan?

    Were the scans at the same time during the day? Had you eaten/consumed similar amounts? Had you used the bathroom in a similar manner? Same machine? Same operator (especially the guy clicking on the screen and choosing the areas)?

    Did you exercise differently or consumed significantly different amounts of carbs before the two measurements.

    Glycogen changes also show as a lean mass change and they are much more likely to occur with relatively low carbs and exercise...

    Your numbers seem impressive to me... but then again I don't lift so I have no clue :smile: Niner may be able to suggest a more appropriate program for someone who is not really a beginner...?

    If you're concerned about lean mass lost the two things you can control are training impetus... and deficit size.
    edited April 5
  • sbalzersbalzer Member, Premium Posts: 11 Member Member, Premium Posts: 11 Member
    @pav8888 thanks for your reply. In answer to your questions

    Test was done at the same time 10am, by the same person on the same machine. I had been to the toilet on both occasions had nothing to eat or drink. I can’t recall what training I had completed the morning before on both occasions, but it is highly like it wasn’t the same training day. This is why I’m perplexed by the results. I’m thinking my best approach is to continue what I have been doing until my next test in 8 weeks and see if it was / is glycogen changes that have affected the results.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with the weight loss, this has been my aim, but not the loss of muscle.

    As for deficit, I think I have this right as I’m losing at a steady pace and wouldn’t want to cut anymore for fear that this could increase my muscle loss.

    @niner, thanks for your feedback. I think I’m my training is taxing but this only my perspective. Are there signs or indications that I should be looking out for to determine if I’m taxing my muscles sufficiently?
  • PAV8888PAV8888 Member Posts: 7,939 Member Member Posts: 7,939 Member
    My hint was towards smaller not larger deficit as protection to lean mass :smiley:
  • sbalzersbalzer Member, Premium Posts: 11 Member Member, Premium Posts: 11 Member
    Oops thanks for the clarification
  • sijomialsijomial Member, Premium Posts: 18,388 Member Member, Premium Posts: 18,388 Member
    Did the DEXA report estimate how much of the lean mass loss was msucle as it's not clear to me if you are reading all the lean mass loss as muscle? (Which it isn't - it's everything that isn't fat.)

    e.g. drink a pint of water and you just added a 1lb of lean mass. Donate a pint of blood you just lost 1lb of lean mass.
  • davew0000davew0000 Member Posts: 85 Member Member Posts: 85 Member
    Hello,

    Just to note that your macros appear lower in protein and higher in fat than the recommended 40/40/20 (carbs/protein/fat) that I’ve seen. I’m sure there are many recommended ways but I’m on 248g of protein and 58g fat for a roughly 20% deficit (at 2500 calories). Touch wood, but I’m reasonably happy that I’m losing predominately fat.

    Dave
  • sijomialsijomial Member, Premium Posts: 18,388 Member Member, Premium Posts: 18,388 Member
    sbalzer wrote: »
    Program I’m doing is Strong lifts 5x5

    That's a novice strength program, not a hypertrophy focussed program.
    Probably time to move on.

    Have you seen the list of programs in the sticky threads pinned to the top of this forum?
  • ninerbuffninerbuff Member, Greeter Posts: 44,889 Member Member, Greeter Posts: 44,889 Member
    sbalzer wrote: »
    Would you suggest another program?
    Yeah. I do one with more volume that focuses on muscle hypertrophy. Something along the lines of say a 4x8-10 range with 16 sets minimum per bodypart.

    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

  • sbalzersbalzer Member, Premium Posts: 11 Member Member, Premium Posts: 11 Member
    @sijomial the 2.9kg loss was LEAN + BMC meaning everything not fat. So you are correct, I do understand that this is not just muscle but all includes things other than fat.
  • sbalzersbalzer Member, Premium Posts: 11 Member Member, Premium Posts: 11 Member
    @ninerbuff thanks for the suggestion.
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