Losing fat and gaining muscle

I am at the part of my program where i am no longer getting the bigger weight loss weeks and believe that's because i am losing fat but putting on muscle. My weekly weight loss is small but I am seeing drops in my measurements which is good. I am eating better and still doing good cardio. I lift weights 5 days a week for 45 minutes. Its quick but seems to be effective, and its what I can afford timewise to do right now.

My question is what is realistic as far as weight loss while I am gaining muscle? 1lb a week? 2?

Replies

  • singingflutelady
    singingflutelady Posts: 8,738 Member
    I'm not sure about men but I think they can gain somewhere around 2 lbs a month if you do everything right. 1 lbs for women
  • Mavrick_RN
    Mavrick_RN Posts: 439 Member
    Why do you think 45 minutes of "lifting" 5 days a week will build muscle?
  • SideSteel
    SideSteel Posts: 11,069 Member
    wellsjc wrote: »
    I am at the part of my program where i am no longer getting the bigger weight loss weeks and believe that's because i am losing fat but putting on muscle. My weekly weight loss is small but I am seeing drops in my measurements which is good. I am eating better and still doing good cardio. I lift weights 5 days a week for 45 minutes. Its quick but seems to be effective, and its what I can afford timewise to do right now.

    My question is what is realistic as far as weight loss while I am gaining muscle? 1lb a week? 2?

    I think that's going to be difficult to quantify. People have variable responses to exercise in terms of ability to gain muscle and in addition to genetics it will be mediated by diet, training program and training performance, etc.

    The closer you are to your genetic limits, the harder and harder it will become to gain muscle especially when you're not eating a surplus of calories to promote the building of new tissue. But it's still possible to gain a little bit of muscle while dieting under certain conditions.

    For example if you take someone with good genetics who is new to lifting weights and who is also over-fat (excess fat = more readily available energy to make up the energy gap created by the diet) and you put them on a diet that isn't too aggressive, this person is quite likely to gain some muscle while dieting.

    If you take an experienced trainee who is already lean, and you diet this person down to extreme levels of leanness (very little body fat and so consequently it becomes much harder to maintain skeletal muscle when eating in a deficit) -- this person is lucky to maintain what muscle they have and they damn sure aren't gaining muscle mass under this condition.

    And of course there's the entire spectrum in between those two extremes. All of those variables are important before making any claim about whether or not someone in a deficit is putting on muscle.
  • Hornsby
    Hornsby Posts: 10,324 Member
    How long have you been lifting?
  • wellsjc
    wellsjc Posts: 23 Member
    Thanks for the responses.

    I am more like "sidesteel" first example. I was sedentary before 6 weeks ago, I started a calorie deficit diet, added cardio and started slowly with lifting weights. My body has never experienced very much weight lifting because when I was leaner I was into endurance sports, Marathons, Ironman type events.

    As much as I know the gains I am experiencing are because I am going from sedentary to actually doing something, I prefer the balanced approach with diet, cardio and lifting. I was just curious if there was anyone that has gone through this experience and what I could expect.

    Mavrick_RN the reason I know I am building muscle in 45 mins 5 days a week is because I can feel it and see it. I do 6 exercises at 4 sets and am focused while I am in my gym. I do 3 different days based on body grouping and just rotate through.
  • psuLemon
    psuLemon Posts: 38,058 MFP Moderator
    wellsjc wrote: »
    Thanks for the responses.

    I am more like "sidesteel" first example. I was sedentary before 6 weeks ago, I started a calorie deficit diet, added cardio and started slowly with lifting weights. My body has never experienced very much weight lifting because when I was leaner I was into endurance sports, Marathons, Ironman type events.

    As much as I know the gains I am experiencing are because I am going from sedentary to actually doing something, I prefer the balanced approach with diet, cardio and lifting. I was just curious if there was anyone that has gone through this experience and what I could expect.

    Mavrick_RN the reason I know I am building muscle in 45 mins 5 days a week is because I can feel it and see it. I do 6 exercises at 4 sets and am focused while I am in my gym. I do 3 different days based on body grouping and just rotate through.

    What program are you following? If you are new to lifting, I would almost ask why you are on a five day program. For most newbies, a 3 day full body routine would provide the greatest impact to both muscular efficiencies and potential growth as it maximizes volume. At the vary least, I would do a split.

    Also, increasing strength isn't necessarily an indication of muscle growth. Increasing strength is more correlated to muscular efficiency. Regardless, it doesn't really matter so much if you are gaining new muscle or just getting stronger. What matters is you are achieving goals.
  • loulamb7
    loulamb7 Posts: 803 Member
    It would help if you provided additional information regarding your height, starting and current weight, caloric deficit goal and how much weight do you have to lose. Based on my personal experience, when I added weight lifting to my weight loss regimen, it seemed that my weight loss would slow down. But it wasn't because I was gaining muscle but because of the additional water retention needed for the muscles to repair. However, my strengh was increasing. Eventually once the body adjust to the new routine, weight continued to come off at the expected rate.

    I agree with the advice given above regarding using an established lifting program for beginners. A program like All Pro takes about 45 minutes, 3x a week.
  • AliceDark
    AliceDark Posts: 3,886 Member
    Since you're relatively new to your diet and exercise plan, it's likely that the large losses that you saw in the first weeks were the initial water weight losses that many people see. The fact that your losses have slowed is also normal -- after people lose the initial water weight, it's predictable that they will then slow or stall for a little while.

    Right now, I wouldn't worry so much about whether you're actually gaining muscle or not; I would pick an appropriate weight loss goal, calorie target and beginner lifting program, and stick with it for 4-6 months. Without knowing your stats it's hard to make specific recommendations, but I would say that you want to pick a weekly loss target that allows you to lose at an acceptable pace but still gives you enough calories to fuel your workouts. If you tell MFP you want to lose a pound a week, does that give you enough calories to feel satisfied, and is one pound a week fast enough for you to be happy?
  • wellsjc
    wellsjc Posts: 23 Member
    Appreciate the responses, some great insight.

    I am 6'5, 45yrs old and have weighed over 300 in the past few months I am sure. 6 weeks ago when I started MFP I weighed in at 296.8lbs. I have been given a fairly clean bill of health with the only current concerns being borderline high blood pressure and higher than normal liver enzymes which can be attributed to weight and diet.

    I am not new to fitness in general but definitely new to a structured approach. As far as an official program I am not following one but have researched a fair bit as well as discussed with a couple friends who I would classify as knowledgeable. I have a chest/shoulder/tri day, back/bicep day and legs/abs day. I rotate through these and the 45 minutes comes from the time i can be away from work (workplace gym) and its not so long of a workout that I end up dreading upcoming sessions.

    I did 4 weeks of high reps low weight just to get used to range of motion and focus on form. I am in the middle of a second 4 week "phase" which is lower reps and a heavier weight, but to the point of fatigue around the 7th or 8th rep of the last set, not every set. This to me is a slow safe approach and doesn't leave my body stressed or taxed. I definitely feel it, but at the same time i feel "recovered" by the time I do that muscle grouping again.

    I like the comments on water weight as I think that hits the nail right on the head as to what I feel I am experiencing. I have definitely increased my water consumption over the past 3 weeks.

    As for a target, I just want to get healthy. I put 250 because that was the last weight where my liver enzymes and blood pressure were at normal levels. With that said I appreciate 6'5 and 250 is still classified as obese. That goal will move and change as I change. If 1lb a week loss is what I can expect to achieve I am good with that and look forward to 26 weeks from now when I am 250. I wouldn't say I am worried about gaining muscle, the scale is one motivating factor but seeing measurement changes and having to punch out new holes on my belt is what I enjoy seeing.

    As for diet/nutrition I try and maintain 1700 to 2000 calories a day and also cardio 5 or 6 days a week of 1000 calories a day.

    Maybe I am starting out to fast but it really doesn't feel that way. From my marathon/ironman days I have a good feel for listening to my body. I guess I just stopped listening over the past 7 years.

    Thanks for your comments guys, I learn more every day.
  • psuLemon
    psuLemon Posts: 38,058 MFP Moderator
    To kind of reiterate, i would drop the self designed planned for a well structured planned that is proven. They are going to have much more focus on compound lifts as opposed to isometric. And they will have adequate volume.

    I would think that based on an aggressive diet the first month and light weights and probably not adequate volume would not make it ideal for new muscle growth. This doesnt mean it was possible, as you surely has adequate energy availability, but things dont appear to be ideal. But again, it doesnt matter so much as you are making progress both with weight and strength.


    1 lb or a little higher is a good pace, especially if the end state is to be lean. Many would suggest that 20 to 25% below your maintenance calories would be ok for weight loss. As you get more lean, that can be tapered down to maximize muscle retention and maximum availibility of nutrients to support exercise.
  • wellsjc
    wellsjc Posts: 23 Member
    Psulemon, I am definitely giving myself too much credit for self designing a program, it is more like a structured program that I found online with structured reps/sets and exercises. I just adapted it to the equipment that I have available to me in my gym. If/when i get into lifting heavier I will head your advice an use a 3 day week.

    Right now I am enjoying getting into the gym the days I can, and am seeing positive benefits!
  • a_hounslow09
    a_hounslow09 Posts: 36 Member
    Mavrick_RN wrote: »
    Why do you think 45 minutes of "lifting" 5 days a week will build muscle?

    Why do you think it won't?
  • Mavrick_RN
    Mavrick_RN Posts: 439 Member
    The usual rhetoric with the phrase "I'm losing fat and putting on muscle" shows a great deal of wishful thinking like "muscle weighs more than fat", so it was a total guess based on few real facts that OP is actually working a significant lifting program. Perhaps I was also led astray by the profile picture which I assumed was the OP.

    Many assumptions on my part as is par for internet forums.
  • wellsjc
    wellsjc Posts: 23 Member
    All good, and i did have the phrase "muscle weighs more than fat" in my mind when i posted but that's why the question. We don't always get the answer we want. Lots of great info tho.

    The photo will switch to me soon!
  • loulamb7
    loulamb7 Posts: 803 Member
    wellsjc wrote: »
    As for diet/nutrition I try and maintain 1700 to 2000 calories a day and also cardio 5 or 6 days a week of 1000 calories a day.

    Thanks for the additional info. The only thing I would add is make sure that you're counting and logging calories as accurately as possible. You may have some wiggle run now, but as the weight comes off this will be the most important piece to get right. 1700, if accurate, seems low for a guy your size. You may want to get to at least 2000. Do that for 4-6 weeks and adjust as needed to maintain ~1 lbs/week.