2

votes

Burning Body Fat and Adding Muscle

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created August 17, 2012 at 1:44 PM

I am planning on going away to a sunny tropical place in a few months, and I am looking for some excellent advice on the most efficient and effective way to burn body fat and either maintain or increase muscle mass.

Let me give you a little background on me as to why to me this sounds harder than the simple response of "if you eat Paleo, you will burn fat" answer. I have been having a hard time lately losing body fat and weight in general, despite doing CrossFit and eating Paleo.

My background details and how I got to where I am now are here: My Profile

I'm at the point where I know I will enjoy my vacation A LOT more if I can lose a significant chunk of body fat before I go, especially in the torso area. I am open to the idea of serious rules for the next 6-7 weeks, and I realize only so much can be done in that time, but I want to maximize it without going insane and becoming a fasting fiend.

Some notes:

  • Alcohol seems to be the biggest challenge, for social reasons. Among our peers, everyone drinks constantly. I'll just have to deal with that challenge and suffer the social consequences for a while.
  • I drink coffee daily, a few cups. Usually 1-2 cups in the morning and then sometimes a cup in the afternoon to get me going before CrossFit classes. I wonder if the caffeine is hurting in terms of insulin levels.
  • My wife makes a lot of wonderful paleo meals ... but they seem to me to be for someone who is not trying to lose weight. They are calorie rich and I have a hard time not blowing out calorie limits with her concotions.

Should I be doing more running and less CrossFit? (Which usually amounts to 10 minutes of stretching/warm-up, 10 minutes of weight lifting with heavy weights, and then a 10-20 minute WOD of HIIT). I wonder if running 3+ miles a few days a week instead of the CrossFit here and there would help?

Should I be eating less fat? Currently I eat A LOT of fat, from healthy sources. Coconut oil, avocado, almond butter, animal meats, olive oil, eggs, etc. I feel like when I increased fat and decreased protein intake, my weight loss slowed. It could be the increased calories? Or perhaps it is metabolic?

What should I eat right after workouts?

Should I be counting calories given my short term goal of burning as much body fat as possible?

While I would like to lose 10-12 pounds over this stretch (especially so that my body is lighter which will make exercise much more efficient), I am more worried about body composition. If I add a pound or two of muscle and lose fat, I am OK with that. I'm just not sure of the diet I should follow to get these results, as the paleo diet seems to be working more as a "maintenance" diet right now than a fat loss diet.

Thanks, and sorry for the long-winded post!

6eb2812b40855ba64508cbf2dc48f1b6

(2119)

on August 17, 2012
at 06:28 PM

I swear to god, if I hear Jimmy Moore say one more time how satiating fat is, I will lose it. Not everybody is the same. I definitely found to to be very satiating the first time I did a ketogenic diet, but gradually, it stopped being like that. If you're exercising a lot, you might find you're happier with leaner meat. I don't mean that it can't have fat, I just mean leanER.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on August 17, 2012
at 05:43 PM

coffee, by itself does not effect insulin. But it can effect your insulin sensitivity, so if you have coffee after a meal, then it could effect how your body reacts to what you just ate. In general, listen to your body. If you are sensitive to caffeine, then why drink it?

7378e74e3f42d9dbb431a1e08228fdac

(28)

on August 17, 2012
at 04:10 PM

Great point on the fat versus protein. In the past before I was paleo I would try the protein + veggies things and would be crazy hungry an hour after eating chicken or fish with veggies. When I first went paleo and was adding the fats, I was suddenly very full a lot. Over time, however, I noticed that I was less satiated. I think if I eat a high fat (lower protein) diet, I get hungry. But I also think the same is true if I go fat free, even with lots of protein. I'm going to aim for 15% carb, 50% protein and 35% fat, see where that gets me.

6eb2812b40855ba64508cbf2dc48f1b6

(2119)

on August 17, 2012
at 03:23 PM

You have my sympathy on the drinking. All my friends are serious drinkers, and it's tough to not drink. I would count calories for a while and figure out what I'm really eating. Fat adds up to *a lot* of calories, no matter what you're doing for exercise. Some people get more full from fat and some from protein - for me it's protein. I could eat fat off a ribeye all day and still want more, but I top out on lean meat really quickly.

6eb2812b40855ba64508cbf2dc48f1b6

(2119)

on August 17, 2012
at 03:20 PM

Caffeine makes some people less hungry and some more. It really just depends on what genetic cards you're dealt. For me, less hungry.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on August 17, 2012
at 03:05 PM

So, my guess is that it's the compound lifts done in high rep sequence that creates the stronger cortisol response. That being said, I'm an oarsman myself and wouldn't give it up.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on August 17, 2012
at 03:03 PM

That being said, I'm an oarsman myself and wouldn't give it up. Try swimming if you have access to a pool?

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:59 PM

@ CTPaleoGuy- I actually think there are many downsides to CF, aside from the cortisol issue. For one, the lifts emphasized are done for endurance and in back-to-back fashion, when their meant to be low rep, strength lifts. When in a calorie deficit, this is an injury waiting to happen. Additionally, "kipping" pull ups- ROFL. I don't think the rise in cortisol from HIIt sprints or bike would be as high as that from CF. Rowing is a high rep deadlift, and post exercise, rowers have higher cortisol than athletes in other sports.

72162510730919628ab9e9515be4ebf1

(20)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:50 PM

You might want to try adding BCAA's after working out. I started using them and my muscles tend to recover rather quickly. And you might to try some carbs like you said. Also you keeping up on the sleep?

7378e74e3f42d9dbb431a1e08228fdac

(28)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:46 PM

The other thing I have stopped recently is late night snacks. I used to have some almond butter and/or dark chocolate around 9-10 PM when I was starving. Now instead I am going to have cucumber, and try to get to sleep quickly before it wears off and I am starving again (I was never able to sleep on grumbling stomach).

7378e74e3f42d9dbb431a1e08228fdac

(28)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:45 PM

It could be eating too much, I doubt it's carbs as I keep them at 50-100g per day (I log on myfitpal). I actually think it's the caffeine, I was always very sensitive to it. Gives me a high, and then a crash feeling later. I'm going to try cutting it out and see if it stops it. I wonder if that low blood sugar crash feeling is preceded by an insulin spike from caffeine that is unbeknownst to me.

7378e74e3f42d9dbb431a1e08228fdac

(28)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:42 PM

~226 actually, trying to get to 215. It's a valid point. My avulsion ankle fracture was caused by impact stress on ankle ligament at CrossFit doing sprint intervals. Big guys sprinting on pavement, especially a slight downhill as it was, meant the arch took too much strain and ligament cracked ankle bone off. Now I take it easier in the running and sometimes replace with rowing.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:39 PM

"Like low blood sugar feeling" -- without knowing your diet you are either (1) eating too much or (2) Have moved too far up the carb window. Focus on your diet, be honest with yourself.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:36 PM

great advice. I utilize staggered supersets with high weight low reps. The value is just reducing your time in the gym. I would also add that with HIIT, given that CT is ~220, at least one of those sessions should be on a bike or elliptical so you don't stress yourself too much.

7378e74e3f42d9dbb431a1e08228fdac

(28)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:31 PM

Thanks for the great suggestions. Per #5, I hear you there. I realize that my abdomen will be the last to go, just need to get to a poitn where that is all that's left so it has no choice but to take a hike! Abs would be wonderful, but I doubt that's a possibility for me. I just want to lose the belly lip over the bathing suit. I look trim in clothes, but when the shirt comes off the belly sucks. I wonder if caffeine is making the IF's hard. Or is it muscle recovery? When I first went Paleo I was able to IF easy ... now I am always ravenous 3 hours after eating. Like low blood sugar feeling

7378e74e3f42d9dbb431a1e08228fdac

(28)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:27 PM

This is interesting, hadn't even thought about cortisol as a post-workout effect. Had always worried about financial/work stress in terms of cortisol, not self-induced through HIIT. I came across this article, about protein being a decent combatant of cortisol levels post exercise: http://www.corecrossfit.com/nutrition/the-importance-of-your-post-workout-snack/

7378e74e3f42d9dbb431a1e08228fdac

(28)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:17 PM

Typically I work out from 6-7 PM, so the post-workout meal is actually just dinner. Thing is, dinner at our house is paleo and tends to be very high in fat, very low in carbs (think steak and veggies, or chicken and veggies, etc). I have heard that higher carb after workouts is good for muscle recovery. I also tend to be more sore than most other CrossFit'ers - or at least it seems this way. Some of that is age (37), but I wonder if it's lack of muscle recovery.

7378e74e3f42d9dbb431a1e08228fdac

(28)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:15 PM

On a bad week, CrossFit twice, good week 4/5 times. Average is about 3. Sometimes I will do CrossFit twice and run one day. My job is sedentary (desk), I try to get up and go for 10 minute walks a few times a day, etc. The alcohol is a real pain. I notice serious weight setbacks when I drink that seem to last for days. I probably drink once every week (or less) normally, but in the Summer months up to 2-3 times per week at times, or a few days in a row. Brother's bday is tonight - at a bar. Tomorrow is a neighborhood football party (NY vs NY game). Will be awful to abstain, but will.

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6 Answers

3
1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

on August 17, 2012
at 02:11 PM

Cross fit is not a good choice for fat loss IMHO. It's so stressful and on a reduced calorie diet necessary to lose fat, you'll be spinning your wheels and shooting with rocketing cortisol.

I would do a solid lifting program 3x per week, along with HIIT (sprints), 2x per week, and some recovery "cardio" if you choose (I'm a swimmer in that regards, but yoga or walking/hikes work too).

I personally like lower volume with weights, with 2-3 working sets on main lifts (with a couple warm ups too). I lift legs 1x per week (because I do sprints which is a good leg workout and pistols daily in my morning routine) and upper body 3x. Keep your reps LOW to improve strength- 2-5 reps for main sets. I have two upper body workouts A and B which I alternate between every other day. In A include weighted chins, overhead press, and hang cleans and one B days I do incline press, weighted dips, and muscle ups. I do a few sets of accessory work too (like rear and side delts, bis and tris), which I do between 6-10 reps.

A lot of people will tell you to do supersets and what-not for fat loss, but if your diet is solid, you'll be far better served doing a routine similar to the one above, as you'll at least maintain (and possibly gain) strength while in a deficit. At least, that's what I've found. I only do higher volume bodybuilding style routines about 1x every 3 months for a about 4 weeks just to mix it up, but I don't really make any strength improvements during this time, just add some detail.

Hope that gives you some direction. Opinions will certainly vary about what course to take, but this is just what I like to do.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on August 17, 2012
at 03:05 PM

So, my guess is that it's the compound lifts done in high rep sequence that creates the stronger cortisol response. That being said, I'm an oarsman myself and wouldn't give it up.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:36 PM

great advice. I utilize staggered supersets with high weight low reps. The value is just reducing your time in the gym. I would also add that with HIIT, given that CT is ~220, at least one of those sessions should be on a bike or elliptical so you don't stress yourself too much.

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on August 17, 2012
at 03:03 PM

That being said, I'm an oarsman myself and wouldn't give it up. Try swimming if you have access to a pool?

7378e74e3f42d9dbb431a1e08228fdac

(28)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:27 PM

This is interesting, hadn't even thought about cortisol as a post-workout effect. Had always worried about financial/work stress in terms of cortisol, not self-induced through HIIT. I came across this article, about protein being a decent combatant of cortisol levels post exercise: http://www.corecrossfit.com/nutrition/the-importance-of-your-post-workout-snack/

1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

(14952)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:59 PM

@ CTPaleoGuy- I actually think there are many downsides to CF, aside from the cortisol issue. For one, the lifts emphasized are done for endurance and in back-to-back fashion, when their meant to be low rep, strength lifts. When in a calorie deficit, this is an injury waiting to happen. Additionally, "kipping" pull ups- ROFL. I don't think the rise in cortisol from HIIt sprints or bike would be as high as that from CF. Rowing is a high rep deadlift, and post exercise, rowers have higher cortisol than athletes in other sports.

7378e74e3f42d9dbb431a1e08228fdac

(28)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:42 PM

~226 actually, trying to get to 215. It's a valid point. My avulsion ankle fracture was caused by impact stress on ankle ligament at CrossFit doing sprint intervals. Big guys sprinting on pavement, especially a slight downhill as it was, meant the arch took too much strain and ligament cracked ankle bone off. Now I take it easier in the running and sometimes replace with rowing.

2
5847d7332fedbd2ef14798c307acaf54

(18)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:03 PM

seriously, it's the alcohol. you are doing everything else right - perhaps try reduce calories a bit, if you cut out the booze though you will see a massive difference. how often do you crossfit?

7378e74e3f42d9dbb431a1e08228fdac

(28)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:15 PM

On a bad week, CrossFit twice, good week 4/5 times. Average is about 3. Sometimes I will do CrossFit twice and run one day. My job is sedentary (desk), I try to get up and go for 10 minute walks a few times a day, etc. The alcohol is a real pain. I notice serious weight setbacks when I drink that seem to last for days. I probably drink once every week (or less) normally, but in the Summer months up to 2-3 times per week at times, or a few days in a row. Brother's bday is tonight - at a bar. Tomorrow is a neighborhood football party (NY vs NY game). Will be awful to abstain, but will.

2
72162510730919628ab9e9515be4ebf1

(20)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:03 PM

Some quick tips to try or incorporate:

  1. Yes, calories count even if you do Paleo. Still got to watch your overall input. Use Fitday or Sparkpeople to help keep track.

  2. You need to cut out all alcohol. That isn't helping, just hindering your progress.

  3. I would cut out the post workout meals or drinks. Not necessary if you want to lean out.

  4. I would look into Eat Stop Eat or Leangains (both intermittent fasting protocols). They both helped me in getting over plateaus.

Good luck!

72162510730919628ab9e9515be4ebf1

(20)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:50 PM

You might want to try adding BCAA's after working out. I started using them and my muscles tend to recover rather quickly. And you might to try some carbs like you said. Also you keeping up on the sleep?

7378e74e3f42d9dbb431a1e08228fdac

(28)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:17 PM

Typically I work out from 6-7 PM, so the post-workout meal is actually just dinner. Thing is, dinner at our house is paleo and tends to be very high in fat, very low in carbs (think steak and veggies, or chicken and veggies, etc). I have heard that higher carb after workouts is good for muscle recovery. I also tend to be more sore than most other CrossFit'ers - or at least it seems this way. Some of that is age (37), but I wonder if it's lack of muscle recovery.

1
6eb2812b40855ba64508cbf2dc48f1b6

(2119)

on August 17, 2012
at 03:24 PM

You have my sympathy on the drinking. All my friends are serious drinkers, and it's tough to not drink.

I would count calories for a while and figure out what I'm really eating. Fat adds up to a lot of calories, period.

Some people get more full from fat and some from protein - for me it's protein. I could eat fat off a ribeye all day and still want more, but I top out on lean meat really quickly. If you're like that, you could easily be out-eating your exercise schedule.

7378e74e3f42d9dbb431a1e08228fdac

(28)

on August 17, 2012
at 04:10 PM

Great point on the fat versus protein. In the past before I was paleo I would try the protein + veggies things and would be crazy hungry an hour after eating chicken or fish with veggies. When I first went paleo and was adding the fats, I was suddenly very full a lot. Over time, however, I noticed that I was less satiated. I think if I eat a high fat (lower protein) diet, I get hungry. But I also think the same is true if I go fat free, even with lots of protein. I'm going to aim for 15% carb, 50% protein and 35% fat, see where that gets me.

6eb2812b40855ba64508cbf2dc48f1b6

(2119)

on August 17, 2012
at 06:28 PM

I swear to god, if I hear Jimmy Moore say one more time how satiating fat is, I will lose it. Not everybody is the same. I definitely found to to be very satiating the first time I did a ketogenic diet, but gradually, it stopped being like that. If you're exercising a lot, you might find you're happier with leaner meat. I don't mean that it can't have fat, I just mean leanER.

1
E0f5cc680bb8ae31c07abeb706d70a15

(370)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:41 PM

I would have to agree with some of the others that have responded: the alcohol is probably doing more damage than you realize. Your meals don't actually sound bad at all to me, steak/veggies and chicken/veggies cooked in healthy oil are incredibly common Paleo dinners (I eat some variation of both those meals multiple times a week), but alcohol(especially if it's beer) is just going straight to your gut. If you're in a situation where it's way too awkward to not be drinking (possibly like the birthday party at the bar you mentioned), try and stick to clear liquors and away from beer/whiskey/rum. I was never a big drinker before Paleo, so that aspect wasn't that hard for me to walk away from, but on the rare occasion now-a-days that I drink alcohol I almost always feel like utter garbage the next day, even if it's a limited amount.

As for eating right after workouts, it might not be totally "necessary" nutritionally-, speaking, but I've found that I tend to be ravenously hungry right after an intense workout, so I usually have a couple hard boiled eggs or a handful of almonds when I get back from the gym. If you think of your body as a car, you'll realize that this is totally normal. If you drive your car a long distance, you have to refuel. Well, if you work out your body really hard, you need to nurish it. A laughably simplistic analogy perhaps, but something I try to keep in mind when I get home from the gym and feel like I could eat an elephant.

1
3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:26 PM

CT,

My background is eerily similar to yours. Althought I am only 5'9", I started at 265, dropped about 75 doing low calorie high cardio over a long period, and then it started creeping back up. In december I made the switch to Primal/ Paleo and was able to get down to 165 (started at 207) and have kept it there for almost 8 weeks now.

My suggestion to you is to:

1 Get rid of the alcohol. It's tough, I know I am right there with you in terms of socializing -- But I have found out that no one cares if you drink water, it's more about being out with friends (just don't become the full-time DD 'cause that sucks)

2 Count Calories but trust your hunger -- Calories do matter let your hunger guide you.

3 Use a scale -- Every other week, but use it as a tool and motivator

4 Lift weights -- this, I think, is the biggest change for me from an exercise point. I've seen pretty significant gains in lean body while I was loosing fat. That will help.

4a Check out the Primal Fitness e-book (I think it's free). You need to also mix in some HIIT and some body weight stuff.

5 You CANNOT loose weight in a specific area (like your mid section). You just have to loose weight. I have, in the last three weeks, dropped from 12% BF to 8% BF and I still don't have abs -- some of us just never will, we hold the fat differently.

6 Make your goal your top priority. Every time you see a small cheat or want to have a beer or whatever, remind yourself what your priority is. You only have a few weeks that you are focusing on -- Make it your priority!

7 Give IF a chance. two or three days a week, eat in a small window, it helped me when I stalled or wanted to make change. Give it a shot.

6eb2812b40855ba64508cbf2dc48f1b6

(2119)

on August 17, 2012
at 03:20 PM

Caffeine makes some people less hungry and some more. It really just depends on what genetic cards you're dealt. For me, less hungry.

7378e74e3f42d9dbb431a1e08228fdac

(28)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:45 PM

It could be eating too much, I doubt it's carbs as I keep them at 50-100g per day (I log on myfitpal). I actually think it's the caffeine, I was always very sensitive to it. Gives me a high, and then a crash feeling later. I'm going to try cutting it out and see if it stops it. I wonder if that low blood sugar crash feeling is preceded by an insulin spike from caffeine that is unbeknownst to me.

7378e74e3f42d9dbb431a1e08228fdac

(28)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:31 PM

Thanks for the great suggestions. Per #5, I hear you there. I realize that my abdomen will be the last to go, just need to get to a poitn where that is all that's left so it has no choice but to take a hike! Abs would be wonderful, but I doubt that's a possibility for me. I just want to lose the belly lip over the bathing suit. I look trim in clothes, but when the shirt comes off the belly sucks. I wonder if caffeine is making the IF's hard. Or is it muscle recovery? When I first went Paleo I was able to IF easy ... now I am always ravenous 3 hours after eating. Like low blood sugar feeling

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:39 PM

"Like low blood sugar feeling" -- without knowing your diet you are either (1) eating too much or (2) Have moved too far up the carb window. Focus on your diet, be honest with yourself.

3ce6a0d24be025e2f2af534545bdd1d7

(26217)

on August 17, 2012
at 05:43 PM

coffee, by itself does not effect insulin. But it can effect your insulin sensitivity, so if you have coffee after a meal, then it could effect how your body reacts to what you just ate. In general, listen to your body. If you are sensitive to caffeine, then why drink it?

7378e74e3f42d9dbb431a1e08228fdac

(28)

on August 17, 2012
at 02:46 PM

The other thing I have stopped recently is late night snacks. I used to have some almond butter and/or dark chocolate around 9-10 PM when I was starving. Now instead I am going to have cucumber, and try to get to sleep quickly before it wears off and I am starving again (I was never able to sleep on grumbling stomach).

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