What have I broken and how do I fix it?

Hi all, hoping someone with fitness experience can give me some guidance on what to do next, because I have no idea what to do now.

I was a heavy, 115-120kg late thirties male. I decided I was going to lose some weight, and I didn't research it properly before doing so.

So, for the last 2 years odd, I have been on a very low calorie amount, probably only 1400-1500 calories a day, and then I did A LOT of walking.

Like 5 times a week, I would walk for 2 hours or so, initially at a fairly slow pace but now my fairly regular walking pace is 6.5-7.5km/h, and I didn't eat back any exercise calories generally.

In the last 4 months, I have tooled up with some smarter stuff from the old scales and things I had previously. I have got the Garmin smart watch, and the Garmin smart scales. I've also been taking Creatine and protein powder to get my intake up. Now, I'm aware that I'm 90kg, 25-26% body fat, 35kg of muscle mass (i.e. skinny fat), I have practically no upper body muscles and I'm very weak compared to what I used to be. I raised my calories so that my net calories post exercise are in the 1900 calories mark, and I throttled back my walking to 2 times a week, at a lower pace where I could.

I also decided to start weight training, I've done a month at fairly low weights try to get technique close, combination exercises, squats, deadlifts, fly presses, lat pull downs, etc. and I'm currently into my second week (i.e. week 6) of increasing the loads so I'll get to maybe 8-12 reps to failure each set. Doing Monday weights, Tuesday Cardio, Wednesday Weights, Thursday rest, Friday Weights, Saturday rest, and Sunday Cardio, roughly an hour in the gym each time, 300-400 calories on the watch, and roughly two hours on the cardio, 700-800 calories on the watch which I'm eating back.

My concern is that even at 6 weeks plus of strength training, and 4 months after raising my calorie count and reducing my cardo, literally nothing has changed. No increase in muscle mass, no decrease in body fat, no major changes from body weight, no obvious changes in the mirror. I am using the smart watch to normalise any exercise and daily calories and then eating back the calories to ensure I maintenance the target net calorie count. Sleeping patterns are fine and 7-8hrs a night is normal.

I know my macros are not ideal, so that’s something I'm going to work on first, looking for 160g of protein, 25% fat and the rest carbs.

What to do though going forward, will the weight training rectify the situation but just take time, how much time is expected until something, anything, starts to change?

I'm considering that I may have reduced my BMR so that 1800-2000 is my maintenance threshold, which seems very low to me, but if that’s correct I would go down to 1600 calories net along with the weight training and aim to do some 'body recomposition'.
My goal is to get my body fat percentage down to 12-15%, and build some muscle in my upper body.

Any guidance appreciated


  • TakeTheLongWayHome
    TakeTheLongWayHome Posts: 766 Member
    Sounds a lot like what I have gone and continue to go thru. Still kind of weak in the upper body, but it’s getting better. All I can say is stay the course. It isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Building muscle is a slow process. 6 weeks is really nothing in the grand scheme. I have been pretty much exclusively weight training since September of last year and I still have a long way to go, but there has been progress. Good luck on your journey.
  • streetdragster
    streetdragster Posts: 4 Member
    Ok that's reassuring. Thanks very much
  • sbalzer
    sbalzer Posts: 18 Member
    I’m not expert and there are far more experienced people on this forum than me, but what I have learned reading many threads over the past few years, leads me to the following comments;

    1. Don’t rely on your Garmin watch to accurately estimate your calories burned. It is well know these measurements have low level of accuracy. I gave up my interest / fascination with calories burned a long time ago.
    2. Based on point one, do not eat back your calories burned
    3. Aim for a daily calorie target based on your weight goals, MFP can help you with this. If you want to lose weight to reduce your BF% then you will be aiming of a 20% deficit to your TDEE. Base on the limited information above I would say you are eating too little which is holding back your progress.
    4. Are you counting the calories you are eating? If not how are you determining your macros. If you are, are you weighting your food to ensure calories are being counted accurately?
    5. Your Garmin scales ( I have then as well) are know to be inaccurately at estimating your body fat. They are helpful in determining if you are heading in the right direction but that’s it. If you want an accurate measurement of your BF% then you will need to fork out money on a DEXA scan. However, at the stage of your fitness journey this is not necessary.
    6. Sleep, is more important than then supplements you are taking
    7. As per previous posts 6-weeks is too short a time frame to see any discernible changes.
    8. Give up the cardio and focus on a structured weight lifting program with progressive overload. If you want to do cardio do it on your rest days

    In summary and order of priority you should be doing this

    1. Macros balanced correctly with a daily calorie target in mind
    2. Structured program
    3. Recovery (i.e. sleep / rest)