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    Losing fat and not muscle

    I see that many are concerned that they will lose muscle when they try to lose weight.

    My thinking is that losing muscle would not be all that harmful. Why can't you just lose fat and muscle and then eat more and exercise harder to gain back muscle while keeping the fat down. Can't muscles be recovered by diet and exercise?

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    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    I think the point of having adequate nutrition before exercising is to make sure you don't bonk. I think your body doesn't really try to convert muscle tissue into nutrient if you have adequate stores of proper nutrients. It is not the goal to consume muscle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jim p View Post
    I see that many are concerned that they will lose muscle when they try to lose weight.

    My thinking is that losing muscle would not be all that harmful. Why can't you just lose fat and muscle and then eat more and exercise harder to gain back muscle while keeping the fat down. Can't muscles be recovered by diet and exercise?

    Because muscle is good. You kind of need it for activities such as cycling. I assume you're talking about using cycling as a weight control activity. You will become weaker without muscle and cycling will be harder, leading you to not do it. It's easy to avoid this by getting plenty of carbs after training.

    There's a good chapter on nutrition in Time Crunched Cyclist that explains things in better detail than I can, but if you eat sensibly and try to roughly replace most of what you use on a ride with carbs after the ride, you should maintain or lose weight without muscle depletion. Again, consult a book for specifics but that's the Cliff Notes version.

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moppeddler View Post
    Because muscle is good.
    Yes, up to a point. But I suspect one can have too much of a good thing.

    Obviously one needs enough muscle to generate the power needed for one's chosen activities. But that might be much less muscle than one thinks.

    With regard to cycling, look at the current favourite for the Tour de France, Bradley Wiggins. Before he became a top road cyclist he was a multiple Olympic gold medallist on the track. I think we can assume that his body fat percentage was pretty low while he was winning all those pursuit titles.

    But to turn himself into a climber on the road he lost about 20lbs. Some of that was muscle, and from looking at pictures of him it seems clear that some of it was muscle from his legs. They look excruciatingly thin now, but he climbs mountains better than he ever has. Which just goes to show, one's muscles don't have to be big in order to be strong.

    And that relates to a theory I have had for a while, namely that it may be a bad idea to be too heavy even if it is all muscle. I'm not just talking about cycling here, but about health. We often hear mesomorphs saying BMI is bunk because they have a BMI of 30 and a low bodyfat percentage. But in predicting the incidence of disease, BMI works well. I suspect there is a metabolic price to be paid for carrying lots of weight, even if one is not fat; and that the fit but less heavily-muscled individual is likely to enjoy better health than the weightlifter or linebacker.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

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    What I am trying to understand is how bad is it to lose muscle. Should everyone be worried about losing muscle? I keep thinking that a person that weighs 300 lbs needs to lose weight just for health reasons. But this overweight person is being told don't lose muscle. Why not lose muscle? Muscle takes nutrients and oxygen to live so the heart has to work more to supply these needs. Less muscle means less load on the heart.

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    Senior Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    You will burn more calories each day if you keep a higher muscle mass. When you say muscle needs nutrients, that means muscle burns calories just to maintain itself.
    Fat is relatively inert, you don't have to provide it calories to maintain it.
    As you lose muscle you will have to cut back your caloric intake just to maintain or lower your weight.
    Some muscle can be lost without functional detriment. You just don't need some of that muscle to get around as a lighter person.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jim p View Post
    Less muscle means less load on the heart.
    You're assuming less load on the heart is a good thing. But most muscles don't respond well to being given less load; and the heart is a muscle.

    Unless you are prepared to live on a 1200 kcal diet, you need muscle to burn calories that you are going to eat. So for the 300 lb person to lose weight, he needs (to keep) muscle mass to burn calories. Now a good question can be made about at what point does additional muscle mass reduce long term health? I don't know the answer, but looking at some weights from chemical-alteration-free bodybuilders; I doubt a negative benefit condition can be reached without turning to certain less than healthy chemical enhancements. ie, the chemistry required to get there is likely much more harmful to health than the x-odd pounds of muscle acquired as a result.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jim p View Post
    What I am trying to understand is how bad is it to lose muscle. Should everyone be worried about losing muscle? I keep thinking that a person that weighs 300 lbs needs to lose weight just for health reasons. But this overweight person is being told don't lose muscle. Why not lose muscle? Muscle takes nutrients and oxygen to live so the heart has to work more to supply these needs. Less muscle means less load on the heart.
    If a 300lb guy loses 100lbs of mostly fat he will naturally lose muscle in his legs as they don't need to carry around an extra 100lbs any longer. This is normal and natural. If you're just dropping 10lbs you aren't going to see a big change in your muscle mass and if you do a little strength training you could maintain the original muscle mass.

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    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    This all boils down to what you want.

    You're not going to be 'all muscle' if you don't take steroids.
    The classic muscular look is healthy, and has plenty of real world benefits.
    Like when you move, or your car dies and you need to push it off the road.

    But there's nothing wrong with being a roadie.

    Now... who said 'don't lose muscle' and why?

    Which gets us into a much tougher topic. Which is losing weight while maintaining muscle.
    That takes some work. You have to write down every calorie you eat, and balance that
    against your exercise; and keep the intake of protein a little higher than a typical diet would suggest.

    You want fiber, mostly in the form of greens. At least 2 meals a day, and a lot of it. That will help in a number of ways.
    Let's assume you want to be on a 2K/day diet.

    Take any 1800 calorie diet and add something like 200 calories of protein.
    The amount depends on your need.

    You may need a mid afternoon protein snack.
    I don't like this, I don't recommend it, but this is what I've been doing for that...
    http://www.amazon.com/CytoSport-Musc...f=pd_sim_hpc_3
    Something with protein to hold you over til dinner.
    Last edited by late; 07-02-12 at 06:15 AM.
    Old Man Maine

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    Quote Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
    I think the point of having adequate nutrition before exercising is to make sure you don't bonk. I think your body doesn't really try to convert muscle tissue into nutrient if you have adequate stores of proper nutrients. It is not the goal to consume muscle.
    If there's one to post follow here, this is it. Your uses stored eneregy (sugar) for the first source of supply then switches to fat. When fat starts to get depleted, it resports to other sources like tissue. The idea is maintain proper nutrition while exercising so that your body has the right energy sources.
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

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    Maintaining muscles takes energy.. If you continually ride, your body will switch to sustianing the muscles you use the most - sometimes to the detriment of muscles you're not using as frequently. So if you're concerned about maintaining muscles mass, be sure to train your other muscles and be sure to eat accordingly.

    I would not however recommend a "willy nilly" approach to starving yourself or over exertion to get really skinny and then try and pile muscle back on, this typically backfires since your body will go into starvation mode and start saving in reserves and slowing down your metabolism - the exact opposite of what you want.

    Figure out your Basal Metobolism Rate - what you need to survive, figure out your average caloric burn during your training/exercise - if youre goal is too lose weight, try and have a deficit of ~1lb a week at most - especially if you're trying to increase performance.. so figure in ~400 calorie/day deficit (4x7= 2800 calaries.. little less than a pound) and work from there.

    muscles can only be recovered by good nutrition and good exercise

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    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

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    I am missing something from this conversation.

    As a large, out of shape (unless round is a shape) person, how do I lose weight without losing the muscle? Or is this one of the items that as long as I continue to exercise as I diet I don't have to worry about until I get close to a healthy BMI?

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    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RWBlue01 View Post

    Or is this one of the items that as long as I continue to exercise as I diet I don't have to worry about until I get close to a healthy BMI?
    Yes.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  15. #15
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RWBlue01 View Post
    I am missing something from this conversation.

    As a large, out of shape (unless round is a shape) person, how do I lose weight without losing the muscle? Or is this one of the items that as long as I continue to exercise as I diet I don't have to worry about until I get close to a healthy BMI?
    perfect question! dieting for weight loss without changing activity level is one thing; changing your nutrition lifestyle in combination with adding a training routine is a completely different thing. completely.

    it does initially seems counter intuitive to eat with exercise but as you learn you will understand.

    for example before a big bike ride i will have a solid breakfast, say a egg and toast sandwich. then after a while as I get ready for the ride there is some rest so that I digest, and maybe an hour after eating and just before I jump on the bike or enter the gym or pool, I'll eat a small box of raisins. all those nutrients will be burned up right away and also along the way. when we work out we are not losing the fat because fat comes out of tissue too slowly. muscles and organs use energy that is in the blood stream or released quickly from tissue. nutrients can be drawn from muscle more quickly than from fat.

    we burn fat 24 hrs a day if we increase our metabolism and muscle mass. stay active throughout the day every day. do weight training to increase muscle mass, cycling does this too in the glutes and legs. those muscles will burn calories even while you are inactive.

    exercise increases your metabolism.

    the other key to your metabolism is ironically your mouth. the instant you put food in your mouth you kick start your metabolism. a small breakfast, little food all day, and a big meal later is bad. what's good is a real breakfast, intense workouts like bike to work, a short walk with a coffee break a snack of protein not pretzels, then a small lunch with protein, maybe a simple carb before a lunchtime run or walk , then mid afternoon snack with protein, and another simple carb like fruit before an after work weight training session.

    see? timed nutrition, correct nutrition, combined and timed with intense strenuous training sessions, mixed with less intense but consistent activity will increase your metabolism and burn fat, ultimately losing weight.

    do no harm. don't hurt yourself.

    don't watch the scale so much, instead be concerned with the shape of your body. it will change.

    I went through a huge body transformation and not in 90 days. I was diligent and consistent day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. it truly is a lifestyle change. imagine this time next month feeling better, and imagine being excited thinking how much better you will feel next winter, and next summer. every time segment promises another phase of improvement.

    I hope that helps but if not ask more questions
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

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    Quote Originally Posted by Road Fan View Post
    I think the point of having adequate nutrition before exercising is to make sure you don't bonk. I think your body doesn't really try to convert muscle tissue into nutrient if you have adequate stores of proper nutrients. It is not the goal to consume muscle.
    I know that it would take a while for my bidy to get through my adequate stores of proper nutrients (fats)!

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    Quote Originally Posted by jim p View Post
    I see that many are concerned that they will lose muscle when they try to lose weight.

    My thinking is that losing muscle would not be all that harmful. Why can't you just lose fat and muscle and then eat more and exercise harder to gain back muscle while keeping the fat down. Can't muscles be recovered by diet and exercise?
    Seriously why can't you just eat and burn? If you lose muscle, you're definitely not eating enough. It's that simple. Yes, all fad diets (any diet that claims you can sit on your ass watching TV and lose weight is a fad diet) are based around malnutrition. Have yourself a Slim-Fast in the morning, one for lunch, and a sensible (read: undersized and inadequate--which is not sensible at all) dinner and you too can drop the lard off your body as you starve to death.

    When you put food in your body--fat, sugar, starch, proteins to a lesser extent but yes under load (with no load, your body excretes excess protein as urea)--you're priming it for work. You start moving, you start depleting blood sugar, and your pancreas excretes glucagon to start burning glycogen. Glycogen is rather hard to replace (you need food), so your body soon starts producing proteins to carry out lipolysis, breaking down consolidated fat storage and releasing it into the blood (I forget if it's burned to produce glucose in this way, but I believe so... releasing excessive cholesterol into the blood would be bad). This prevents high metabolic load from depleting your glycogen stores.

    When all is done and said, if you still have 70% of your glycogen stores but you burned 200% of the energy they carry, you've got less fat on your body and you still have as much food energy stored up for immediate use. Because you haven't burned as much food energy, you won't be particularly hungry--you might crave food immediately, but that's for the purpose of supplying immediate energy and materials to rebuild and reenforce muscles, ligaments, and tendons, as well as to regenerate ATP stores (glucose is burned both to produce ATP and to ignite stored ATP to do work; burning your glycogen stores to produce ATP would deplete them, so in a fatigue situation your body demands additional food since it's going to need it anyway).

    In other words, the extra food you eat after high metabolic load is mainly for recovery, and beyond that you really don't put an excessive amount of extra food energy into your body. Once you've burned off the fat, it's gone. If you tend to overeat, you'll make more fat later; if you stay active, you'll continue to burn fat until an equillibrium is reached. When you deplete your fat stores too much, your body will recognize that you NEED to store more fat, and you'll crave more energy to regenerate fat stores adequately to buffer peak energy needs; realize that you only need a little consolidated body fat, it's not like your body's going to demand you keep 20 pounds of lard on your gut.

    So don't starve yourself while jogging/biking/whatever. Eat. You need food. Your muscles won't rot away if you eat.
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    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    oh yeah, rite, good points, you have to nutrify after intense training. your body will burn up the simple carbs and put the protein to use building muscle. that's why I like protein powder in fruit juice. the fruit juice suger gets zapped right away and the only other thing I'm giving my body for the muscles is protein, so go baby go ZING! Viola!
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

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    Senior Member Koobazaur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
    the other key to your metabolism is ironically your mouth. the instant you put food in your mouth you kick start your metabolism. a small breakfast, little food all day, and a big meal later is bad. what's good is a real breakfast, intense workouts like bike to work, a short walk with a coffee break a snack of protein not pretzels, then a small lunch with protein, maybe a simple carb before a lunchtime run or walk , then mid afternoon snack with protein, and another simple carb like fruit before an after work weight training session.

    see? timed nutrition, correct nutrition, combined and timed with intense strenuous training sessions, mixed with less intense but consistent activity will increase your metabolism and burn fat, ultimately losing weight.
    While I am nodding here, as everything you say is spot on correct, I will risk going a little off-topic, as it also makes me realize how messed up our life is today.

    I mean think about it - as the obesity pandemic shows, people (in the US at least) can't just "be" anymore, as in eat and work without giving it a thought. Our society has evolved faster than our genetics, and because of this, our bodies no longer function in a way that suits our modern lifestyle. We need to artificially control and adjust it to make up for it. Going to the gym, having a protein snack after, or forcing a run during lunch time - it is essential to the correct biological working of our bodies, but from a societal and lifestyle point of view, it is completely unnecessary (save for cases like biking/walking for commuting).

    Even working out to "look good" is another symptom - why cant our bodies just naturally divert our food into 6packs and mad biceps and secret the excess, rather than making us fat? In the modern (1st world country) society we no longer suffer a shortage of food, so we dont need as severe fat reserves or to catabilize our muscles. But of course, even tho our society adjusted to that, our bodies have not yet "learned" that. Tho it wouldn't surprise me if we soon discovered some hormone / body-function-controlling pills that shift our metabolism to exactly that (we already got steroids and failed fad diets, so we're on our way there).

    Just a side little thought that came to me as I read your post.

    I went through a huge body transformation and not in 90 days. I was diligent and consistent day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. it truly is a lifestyle change.
    So very true; I have done the same, literally losing 1/3 of my whole body weight over a few years, and it changed my lifestyle significantly. My food taste, alone, is much different. I grew up on my mom's fatty cooking and often Burger King runs. Today, I can't even eat my roommate's cooking cause it's straight up too oily (not that there's anything wrong with oils in and of themselves) and I've been routinely snacking on fresh carrots, scarf down a big serving of boiled and salted broccoli, or crave an apple after my meal because fresh veggies and fruits just taste THAT GOOD once you ween your taste off of the rather bland frozen varieties.

  20. #20
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    Koobazaur - absolutely and we'll probably evolve to look like skinny ill defined aliens. my desk job is killing me. they love me where I can and I do a great job for them. they couldn't be happier but I couldn't be more unhappy and you know why? cuz I sit at a freakin desk all day with a meager 30 min break for lunch. it's awful. I'm a big physical guy and I need to move.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

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    Senior Member Koobazaur's Avatar
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    Oh yea I used to work as a games programmer, 8+ hr at a desk, I grew to hate that as well. I know freelance as a web developer, which is again all computer, but at least I work my own hours so I can work in shorter bursts and take biking breaks between work

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    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
    Koobazaur - absolutely and we'll probably evolve to look like skinny ill defined aliens. my desk job is killing me. they love me where I can and I do a great job for them. they couldn't be happier but I couldn't be more unhappy and you know why? cuz I sit at a freakin desk all day with a meager 30 min break for lunch. it's awful. I'm a big physical guy and I need to move.
    not a solution....but commuting when schedule helps me and sitting on an exercise ball instead of a desk chair makes a difference. I am still in the clydes forum though.....more watching what i eat and tracking.
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    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    just got this Eating and exercise: 5 tips to maximize your workouts link from another member in another thread

    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/HQ00594_D/
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

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    Quote Originally Posted by tchappel View Post
    I know that it would take a while for my bidy to get through my adequate stores of proper nutrients (fats)!
    I, too, have a centrally-located cycling fuel cache.

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