How can I get leaner without losing muscle mass?

Answered on October 15, 2013
Created October 14, 2013 at 10:10 PM

I'm a 16 year old girl, 5'4" , 150lbs. Not sure what my BF % is, but probably around 25%. I want to lean out, as I've put on a substantial amount of muscle in my last year of Crossfit. I've been paleo for about a year and a half.

An average day for me:

Breakfast- 2 eggs and spinach in tbsp olive oil

Lunch- 3 oz grilled chicken, more spinach (raw), sometimes a banana with some almond butter (about 2 tbsp)

Yoga and Crossfit in the afternoons 4-5x a week. I run 1-2x a week instead of Crossfitting, 3-6 miles each.

Post Workout- scoop of protein powder and 6oz almond milk

Dinner- 6oz salmon, grilled zucchini & eggplant, 1/2- 1 cup spaghetti squash

Occasionally a piece of extra dark chocolate after dinner, but not every night.

Tracking my calories for the past several weeks, I have averaged 1250 calories a day.

Is this enough? Will I see the results I'm hoping for if I just continue? How long will it take for me to lean out? I'm hoping to get down to the 19-22% BF range. I don't necessarily want to lose weight, just look leaner. Losing muscle mass is not my priority at ALL. I want to be a strong cavewoman!

Thanks :)

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3 Answers

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on October 15, 2013
at 04:46 AM

Calories do seem pretty low given your stats and level of activity. Sometimes eating too little can actually stop fat loss, especially when you don't have a lot of excess fat to lose. I would increase calories for sure. Take a look at some online BMR calculators and don't forget to factor in your activity level. That should give you a rough idea of what to aim for. Then you can try it out and see what works best for you.

ETA: Ooo I just looked back and saw your age. You are eating WAY too little. You are a time of your life when you need more calories than that. All you are doing by eating less is depriving your body of what it needs to function properly. Yes, it can help you lose weight - but you know what starvation does do that! You don't need to eat so little to lose weight. In addition, you shouldn't get too hung up on fat at this age. Your body is still changing. Us ladies get more fatty bits in our teenage years! As you hit your twenties your body shape can change a lot. Eat sensibly, exercise as you are currently doing and don't over restrict.

I plugged your stats in here http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/ and your BMR is 1533 - that's calories required to do nothing! If you go here http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/harris-benedict-equation/ to factor in your activity level, you will see you need a lot more than what you are eating. Let's be very conservative and times your BMR by 1.5 to give something like moderate activity level, and you need about 2300 calories. So to lose weight you can take 500 or so off of that. Other people prefer to stick to a weight lose protocol of just eating their BMR and not thinking about activity. Even doing that you still need at least 1500 calories. I personally would tell you to try 1800 calories. You may need to work up to this slowly adding 100-200 per day. And you may gain a bit of weight at first but it will not be permanent, and it probably won't even be fat.


on October 15, 2013
at 04:28 AM

You have a great diet and workout. just continue it you will get the result.

additionally, if you do an hour swimming regularly you will get a splendid result of it. well this is optional.



on October 14, 2013
at 10:46 PM

i would take a look over @ athlete.io . carb backloading and what not, calories also seem pretty low especially for your activity level.

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