Experts only - no "conspiracy theorists", please

Discussion in 'Health Nutrition and Supplements' started by tonyzackery, Dec 23, 2006.

  1. tonyzackery

    tonyzackery Well-Known Member

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    Okay, here's the deal: I'm 6'2" and 192lbs with 5% bodyfat. Just recently got into cycle racing in June of this year - cat 5, of course, at present. In the 6 months since getting on my bike, I've lost 20lbs of fat and a little muscle. (In a former life I was a college and professional football player which explains the muscle mass)

    Anyway, my question for nutritionists or those that have actually accomplished what I am seeking, is this - Which is the best/fastest/easiest, etc... way to lose about 15lbs of upper body muscle - going low carb (to get into a ketonic state where my body is using fat and protein for fuel instead of carbohydrate), or going very low protein (training induced muscle protein breakdown but very little available for regenesis)?

    I am at a quandry as to which is the best for me. I'm leaning to the very low carb route at present as it makes better sense to me, but I'm no expert and would like some more informed opinions or testimonials for those people that have experienced my situation and conquered it. Thanks for reading...
     
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  2. Tapeworm

    Tapeworm New Member

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    My 2 cents.

    Previously for work I was required to have a certain level of upper body strength so had a decent amount of muscle mass. After getting into triathlon and now cycling I was too heavy, especially when running long distance or cycling up hills.

    Basically my path to loose the extra muscle mass was to firstly not use it. Muscle mass will fade over time if you don't use it, but how much of it and how long this takes will vary. For me is has taken about 15 months to drop 10kgs (81 - 71 kgs). This means no more weights workouts (see a thread about gyming to improve performance, make for interesting reading if you have the time). I do still use the gym, though this is core stability stuff (isometric) for my back.

    I would advise not going into extremes of diet or working yourself to the point you are using muscle to keep yourself moving. The body is not selective on where the muscle comes from.

    To loose a bit of extra fat I have simply reduced my overall energy but still maintaining a healthy diet, ie: fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, legumes etc. Small portions and lots of them, all weighed of course!

    In short, by simply cycling a lot, eating a bit less and resting and my body is adapting to what it needs to do.

    Of course if you want to be more than a casual racer in a short period of time you may need something more specialised, which would be out of my field, I only have minor qualifications for this sort of thing. Hope this helps.

    Cheers.
     
  3. vio765

    vio765 New Member

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    about two years ago, i was in the same place you are in now. i was into weight lifting and built up a lot of muscle. then i didnt do anything for about 5-6 months and got fat. so i had to lose fat AND muscle to help kepp up with the skinny guys with similar experience with cycling. i decided to go with the low-carb diet because i got fat right out of high school and had success with it. however, it requires great discipline. but with most of the people on this forum being athletes to some degree, that prolly won't be a huge problem. lol. anyway....
    the low-carb plan may help you lose lots of fat and muscle, but to lose it in one area and not another is possibly different for everyone. for me to lose upper-body mass and overall body fat, but keep the lower body mass intact required me to stay on the bike in my "off season" (when i would rather have been doing other aerobic activities) and performing lower-body lifting but no upper-body lifting at all. since the body will burn off muscle if it is not used; a low-carb diet, no upper-body lifting, lots of lower-body lifting, and still sufficient bike riding i got my results in about 6 months. i lost a total of 70 pounds. half was muscle and the other half was fat. i did a "miniture" repeat again recently and lost another 20 pounds (same muscle/fat ratio) and i am down to 153-154 pounds.
    this is my experience based on my genetics and disposition. your results may be anything. but the low-carb diet is controversial (especially in this place). I considered it politically correct anorexia. my mood was poor, i was low on energy (close to or above LT) and formed dark circles around my eyes. frankly, i looked and acted like a junkie. but i knew the whole time it had a purpose and was only temporary. after a few days of eating normally, i was back to my balance. hope my experience helps yours.
     
  4. tonyzackery

    tonyzackery Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the replies thus far. I appreciate hearing from others who have tackled this issue.

    I am going use the low carb routine (which I have used before but found very difficult to stay on) because I believe it will definitely get me to my goal weight (180lbs) by the end of February '07.

    Happy Holidays!!
     
  5. vio765

    vio765 New Member

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    i helpful tool that i used in losing weight via the low-carb method was a diet log. i tracked what i ate, when i ate it, grams of CHO, PRO, FAT. it was very hard to write down everything i ate and to measure anything that wasnt prepackaged, etc. but i soon began to work with the journal instead of against it. it really helped my discipline because i would want to eat something that wasnt allowed and when i went to write it down, i realized what i was about to do and that was that. the good news is that if you enter ketosis, your appetite will go down a lot. and i highly recommend buying some Keto sticks to check your ketone level. seeing the pink or red color on the stick is very motivating. just remember the purpose and you will be ok.
     
  6. FrankBattle

    FrankBattle New Member

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    We are roughly the same size (6' 3" @ 195). I wasn't into football, but was heavy into weightlifting. I like you, lost a ton of fat (down from a high of 275 about 2.5 years ago).

    Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist, nor am I certified trainer etc, I am just into my personal fitness and have been cycling for 2+ years actively.

    So, I'll save the lengthy diatribe and say that what has continued to work for me is not to work the muscles. The problem is that it takes a very long time to atrophy (or "lose") those muscles. For example, I wore a 48 (sometimes 50) XL sportscoat; Now it's down to a 44 XL and it's all in the chest + shoulders.

    All you can do with diet is to continue to get leaner. Muscle disappears only with [lack of] use. FWIW, I switched to only 10 - 15 lb dumbell sets for ridiculous reps (usually the length of a song on the iPod) to get even leaner. I haven't laid on a bench press bench in 3 years. Haven't done a push up in about the same time. With my physique (and sounds like yours), it doesn't take much to build muscles.

    Interesting that, like you again, I had a target weight of 185 lbs. I had to give up at 190 lbs. I just couldn't put in any more energy into weight loss. I was not going the low carb thing at all (that's reserved for completely sedentary people, which cyclists are not); I used CalorieKing to count net calories. It worked great as long as I followed it to a tee. I kept track of expenditure with a Polar HRM. Going below 190 lbs was near impossible. So, now I am very used to eating well and am able to maintain at 195 - 200 lbs in the winter and 190 - 195 when I'm riding. I love food, so I'm sure that's not helping. But I feel really really good. My physicals have confirmed this too.
     
  7. dockeen

    dockeen New Member

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    You find pushups are a muscle building exercise for you?

    The very high rep stuff seemed to help?

    Wayne
     
  8. FrankBattle

    FrankBattle New Member

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    Yes, but only as part of a whole workout regimen.

    Depends on what you mean by help. For me, after going so long not working out with weights in order to lose muscle, very high rep+low weight stuff served 2 purposes:
    1. Added another facet to a stagnant routine. Allowed me to continue dropping weight (fat, I presume) once I'd reached the plateau.
    2. Helped maintain muscle tone. So, my arms were not as big, but still defined.
    #2 was only after about one year of .. nothing, weightswise. I wasn't necessarily after the stick figure arm or body, so some definition was still an option/necessity.

    YMMV.
     
  9. tonyzackery

    tonyzackery Well-Known Member

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    Frank, it does sound like we are one and the same - I, too, have plateaued at 190ish. It has been very frustrating because to get to this point has been relatively easy and progressive. My body has definitely determined that this is where it's comfortable. I have to break through and that will take even more determination from me. I like to eat also and at 190, I can pretty much eat as I like to without much sacrifice. However, this regimen is not getting me to my goal weight. It's going to be difficult to give up most of my carb foods for awhile but I know the sense of accomplishment I will receive when I get some racing results will make the sacrifice all the more worthwhile...I will do it - get down to 180 in 2 months and I'll give you all the report...:)
     
  10. FrankBattle

    FrankBattle New Member

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    Right, it does take time. And it is doable. But it gets tougher past a certain point. I could tell a big difference on the bike with the loss. I suppose I could get down to 185, but I like where I am now.

    We'll see though. I like challenges and results. 1 challenge was trying to see if I could maintain where I am without much [additional] work. So far so good.

    Look forward to your report in a few months ..
     
  11. dockeen

    dockeen New Member

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    Do you do your high rep stuff every day?

    Wayne
     
  12. CapeRoadster

    CapeRoadster New Member

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    In terms of diet, muscle is lost by not eating a high enough protein (i.e., amino acid) diet, but that might not be the way to go since your lower body still needs it. If it were me, I'd skip the heavy upper body workouts and do a lot of low-weight/high rep upper body stuff. You need to develop a high amount of Type I (slow-twitch) muscle fiber in your upper body, and get rid of the Type II fiber (fast twitch). So, in essence, you must do high-rep/low-weight upper body exercises to do that. I don't think it's a diet thing as much as a training thing. You can't affect regional body parts through diet since nutrients travel systemically, but you definitely can do it through exercise. Make sense to you?
     
  13. CapeRoadster

    CapeRoadster New Member

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    The low carb diet will be a disaster for you in the long run. You'll reach your goal weight, but the diet will not redistribute muscle the way you want it, and if you train a lot, low carb will rob your muscles of glycogen, much needed for recovery and good training.

    You want Type I muscle fiber in the upper body, but you don't want it in your lower body, correct? It's a training issue, not a dietary one, all other things being equal. I know what I'm talking about. If you don't mind losing muscle in the lower body, do it your way.
     
  14. CapeRoadster

    CapeRoadster New Member

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    And, btw, it's going to take longer to do it right than 8 weeks.
     
  15. FrankBattle

    FrankBattle New Member

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    Not everyday. I do it about once a week. Sometimes less frequent. Since the upper body is not used as much, relatively speaking, when we bike, it helps to remind the muscles that they are there ..
     
  16. FrankBattle

    FrankBattle New Member

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    +1 .. much longer.
     
  17. tonyzackery

    tonyzackery Well-Known Member

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    Cape Roadster - have you accomplished what I am seeking to do with my body?? If you have, thank you for your input. If not, you've wasted your time. As I mentioned in my headline, I am looking for informed information, not suppositions, thank you.

    I fully understand my body is not going to target my biceps, shoulders, chest, and back for muscle loss. I am fully aware that I will have continue to cycle to maintain leg mass while I am losing upper body mass. I have decided that I am not going to any upper body exercises, low weight/high rep or otherwise as that will only serve to maintain the upper body mass. I want to lose the upper body mass, not convert it from a slow twitch composition to fast twitch.

    I understand I am looking for a "quick fix" to an issue that has built itself in 30 years of weight training. Nonetheless, with motivation and determination, I know I can reasonably acheive 2/3 of my goal by February.
     
  18. FrankBattle

    FrankBattle New Member

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    Hey Tony, as you have noticed already, at 5% (even if the estimate is too low, you're still low even at 6 - 7%), it is tougher to drop weight without borderline starvation and/or substantial increase in daily caloric expenditure.

    I agree that the 2/3 goal is theoretically reachable. That's the standard 3500 calorie per week deficit, which, given where you are for body fat, is more realistic. How are you tracking your expenditure? And I will assume you are going to monitor your daily intake as well .. there are a few resources around to help, if you haven't found one.
     
  19. tonyzackery

    tonyzackery Well-Known Member

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    Frank, my bodyfat has tested actually at 4.7% via caliper in 5 zones. I know it's not as accurate as dunk tanking or the other high-dollar methods, but I get your point that at this low fat level it is very difficult to lose weight. The weight that I lose now will be muscle.

    I easily track my caloric expenditure by way of my Polar 725x calorie expenditure counter when I'm on the bike, and I have conservatively estimated my BMR (basal metabolic rate) at 2400cals/day. I monitor my intake via less scientific methods (labels on the food items and use of a food scale to measure portion size). I also am very conservative on this side.

    I truly believe that I can run a daily calorie deficit of apprx 700 cals/day. Ergo, I can lose a pound every 5 days. With my goal being about 55 days away (hill climb race at the end of February), I should conservatively be 10-11 lbs lighter at that time. That would put my power to weight ratio at 4.3w/kg. That would be competitive in my cat 5 races.

    The diet I am using will be low carb and high protein with relatively low fat. I will stick with white meat and fish for the most part. I will eat carbs (relatively small amounts) only during and immediately after exercise. My goal is to burn at least 1000 cals per day via cycling in addition to doing hot yoga classes 5x/week. I'm purposely including a "fudge factor" with regard to the amount of exercise I will do a day for those times when I am not as strict on my diet as I should be.

    Wish me luck on my journey and I will continue to post as I go along. :D
     
  20. CapeRoadster

    CapeRoadster New Member

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    Yes, I accomplished it over 25 years ago myself. And I've brought many athletes through the process. You don't seem to understand what I'm getting at. Type I fiber is a different composition than Type II, right? If a bodybuilder/high muscle mass athlete wants to slim down, it's all about the type of exercise performed, in addition to the diet. I think you know a marathoner has a little bit of a different body comp than a running back, no? The problem is that YOU want to retain lower body mass while reducing upper body mass. And none of us knows anything about your medical status, even based on what you wrote.

    You say you want to lose "upper body mass". Maybe I misunderstood. Do you want to lose muscle mass or total mass? Do you want to retain upper body strength or lose it? If you want to retain strength and lose mass, than YES, you MUST convert from Type II to Type I fiber, and the ONLY way to do that is to alter upper body exercise patterns and cardiovascular training patterns. And it will not be a quick process. New muscle fiber is at a minimum a 12-week process, and that's only a beginning. If you simply want to lose total mass, just start working out like a marathoner, on a bike or off. That's easy enough.

    There is no "quick fix", at least not without drugs. And even then, your body may not respond the way you want. If you believe in a low carb diet, whatever that means, then go ahead and try to get what you want. From my experience, you're not going to get what you want if you need to retain strength, and you're not going to get there quickly and retain strength and/or energy. It's either fast weight loss and loss of strength, or slow fat loss and retetntion of strength. But if you succeed, let us know. I'm a skeptic, for sure, having done it the only way science tells us is possible. But there are "fast responders" and "slow responders" out there; everyone's different. Maybe you're a fast responder. Maybe not.
     
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