When to switch from weight loss to building muscle

For those of you who lost fat before starting to do strength training, at what body fat % did you make that transition? I am fairly slim on legs and arms (still 30% fat according to scales) but have been at a deficit since the beginning of the year and been hovering around the same weifhtbfor a couple of months now having lost 30lb. I’m wondering if I should up calories and start building muscle before attempting to lose the remaining abdominal fat or to keep with the fat loss for the time being. I eat between 1200 and 1400 calories but only see any weight loss now if I eat under 1000 which seems crazy low for someone 5 foot 7. My steps goal is set at 12000 and I exceed that 4 days a week (I’m at a desk 3 days when i manage 8000-10000 by jogging after work). I do around 3 short HIIT (10-20 min) workouts a week.


  • TavistockToad
    TavistockToad Posts: 35,741 Member
    When was the last time you had a diet break?

    Are you weighing your foid with scales?
  • dani_lopera
    dani_lopera Posts: 27 Member
    Once i was satisfied with my weight, i started changing up my routine little by little and began using more weights as time passed. After 3 months, I was done with weight loss and was happy building muscle!
  • sardelsa
    sardelsa Posts: 9,826 Member
    edited August 2018
    When I first started I had already got down to goal but was unhappy with my body composition. Instead of maintaining and recomping I kept losing and eventually had to gain it all back. It was not easy, and probably not very productive (although I learned a lot in the process)

    If I had lifted while I was losing in the first place I could have saved so much more muscle and started off in a better position. I did this after my second baby. What a huge difference! Lifting isn't just about building muscle but keeping it as well.

    Anyways.. in your case I would start lifting now. Maybe take a diet break. How much do you weigh? You might even be able to start eating at maintenance to recomp.
  • billkansas
    billkansas Posts: 267 Member
    I think your routine has too much cardio and too little strength training for any appreciable muscle growth.
  • moogie_fit
    moogie_fit Posts: 278 Member
    Diet break or even reverse diet may be helpful, I dont think doing a bulk or looking to add muscle would be your priority here, but continuing to lose fat will show your muscles
  • aliblain
    aliblain Posts: 175 Member
    Thanks peeps. Super helpful replies. I went Feb to mid June without a diet break and then ate at maintenance for a week whilst on a holiday. Since being back from holiday I probably have been less strict and haven’t been using my scale,
    At least I haven’t been weighing my veg and guesstimating. I have a kettlebell which I half heartedly do some swings with and a couple of dumbbells which I half heartedly do some bicep curls and chest presses with! I’m currently 154lb so at the top of my bmi. I followed a Vlc 8 week programme before I went on hols- basically lean protein and loads of veg with no fruit or anything else. Lost a couple more pounds but nothing really since.
  • LiftHeavyThings27105
    LiftHeavyThings27105 Posts: 2,104 Member
    So, good afternoon! Typically, the general suggestion is (and I am very specifically using the term "general suggestion" here) that a dude will cut until he is between 10% and 12% body fat and a chick will cut until she is between 20% and 23% body fat.

    If the next part of the thought process is to bulk, then those numbers are a good starting point. However, a lot of that all depends on you. Everyone is different and 12% bf on my might look very different on some other dude (for a multitude of reasons). So, foregoing the numbers, how do you feel right now? If you are at the top of your BMI then *possibly* continue the diet.

    Consistency and adherence are two huge words here...

    So, let's just say (and I am not recommending this....just conversation here) that you are at 20% bf and that you are really happy with how things are. Now would be the time to bulk, right? Well, maybe not! Maybe you spend a couple of weeks at maintenance (or, depending on how long you were dieting, longer....). Give your body a chance to breathe againg (so-to-speak) and then start the bulk.

    So, the theory goes that when you bulk you are in a caloric surplus (just like when you cut you are in a caloric deficit). When you are in a caloric surplus then you will gain weight...and some of that will be body fat (there is a difference....we all often use those two words inter-changeably....but there is a decided difference). You might not like the results a few weeks into your bulk if you are starting a little to "fluffy".

    Lots of other choices. Diet break possibly.....recomp possibly....a lot depends on you. A recomposition will be slow and lots of people are too impatient for that. With this you are eating a maintenance and doing your usual training session! Think of "the scale will not change, but how my clothes fit *WILL INDEED* change" as the analogy for this. A diet break is a "scheduled" removal of the caloric deficit and you eat at maintenance for a week or two (or less....or longer....depending on how long you have been cutting). This is really useful for a lot of reasons (psychologically and physiologically). Once you have completed that you generally go back on your cut.

    I mean, there are several options here.

    So, you were cutting for 4.5 months....did a diet break for week and have been "eating intuiatively". You are 154lbs right now.....but in the beginning of the year you were 185lbs (roughly). Question - as you have lost those 30 lbs have you re-calculated your maintenance and, from that, deficit? If you are still using the 185lbs as the basis, then you are eating too much (considering your stated goal) and need to adjust down.

    As others have stated, I would suggest that you seem to do a lot of "cardio". This will not likely help with maintaining lean body mass (possibly to the contrary). The consumption of "more" protein might help to mitigate some of the loss, but a strength training program might really help you....no, you will not get bulky!

    Does that make sense? I know what I am trying to say but feel that I might have jumped all over the place!