Leaning out/Body Recomp- Carb Questions

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 03, 2013 at 10:06 PM

Hello everyone

So I recently tried to lean bulk, and totally failed for a variety of reasons. However, In the 5 weeks that I was doing this, I've gained some muscle, but have gotten a bit of the flab back on my belly, and before bulking I was attempting to carb cycle to maintain muscle while leaning out in that area.(I managed to get a lot leaner, but I never really achieved my goals)

Before my bulk, I was attempting to eat low-ish carb paleo, and I was working out 6x a week using a hybrid of several Beachbody(the makers of insanity, p90x, p90x2, etc) programs: 1 day of yoga, 3 days of resistance, and 2 days of HIIT plyo/cardio. I was tracking my calories/macros, and eating 2200 calories 4x a week(on my HIIT, yoga, and rest days) and 2800 calories 2x a week, on 2 of my resistance days. The final resistance day I ate what I'd found earlier to be my maintenance, which was 2600 calories. On my high calorie days I ate around 125-150 grams of carbs, and on rest/yoga/HIIT days kept carbs lower, with around 100 grams. I was eating around 1.5g per pound of body weight in protein, and the rest in fat for all days. However, I realize now that my net daily calories were 200 under my maintenance, which I was shooting for over the course of the week(hoping to keep around the same weight, but build muscle and lose fat, in slight increments, thus the carb cycling)

Some stats on me- I'm 17, 118 lbs(about) and 5'7" tall, with essentially no fat except in my lower abdomen, which sticks out and refuses to go away. I am fairly "fit" having done several beachbody programs, which I have found to be intense training(which I enjoy!) yet I still can't seem to get lean in that area. I was eating completely clean paleo for a month before I started to attempt to lean bulk, back when I was still doing a hybrid of several of beachbody's programs, so I assumed I was fairly fat adapted, but I am not sure.

However, during the last month of the first hybrid I was working through, I started to notice extreme hunger pangs towards the end of my workouts, which had never occured before. Also, I stopped seeing any progress, and started to feel emotionally and mentally like, well, crap. so I feel that I really was not fitting my nutrition to my workouts very well. I recently have heard from people saying that workouts such as insanity, p90x and p90x2 are highly glycotic, and so I was stupid to attempt to use them while eating lower carb... At the same time, I assumed that by keeping my carb levels low, I was minimizing insulin production, and thus would lose body fat while preserving muscle.(isn't this the whole "fat-adapted" logic, that by keeping carbs low, your body HAS to mobilize stored fat for energy?)

Now that this is said(I apologize for the length) Here is what I need help with-

-As I intend to keep using these beachbody workouts, how should I alter my carbohydrate to adjust to the increased glycotic activity, while attempting to "recomp" my body?

-And also, is it even possible to lose fat while consuming a higher amount of carbs to fuel activity?

-if so, would having carbs+protein post strength workouts and only protein post HIIT/Plyo workouts be the right thing to do?

-FINALLY, could it have been that I was merely eating too little overall, and should I try eating lowish carbs as I was earlier, but just increase calories(through more fat) ?

I only ever consume starchy carbs post workout(I workout fasted first thing in the morning), with a little bit of protein as well, and I have used a dextrose/maltodextrin/whey protein blend for a while, but recently I've tried mixing goat whey with mashed sweet potatoes. Aside from that, I would have a small serving of fruit, only ever berries, about 3/4 C to a cup, depending on whether I was eating higher or lower carb that day.......

I have read robb wolf's posts on whether to have high or low carb post workout, but I didn't know how to apply it to my workouts, so that is why I was asking.

Anyone? I would really appreciate some help, I'm conflicted as hell right now



on May 16, 2013
at 10:38 PM

wealth of information here - read through some of his T nation articles. He advocates a whole foods paleo approach too. http://natemiyaki.com/articles-2/



on May 08, 2013
at 11:15 AM

The 118 pounds at 5'7" led me to say that. I would recommend you forget about "recomping" and stop being so precise with your food. Start lifting and eat a lot of food. You will look much better if you gain some muscle mass.



on May 08, 2013
at 03:11 AM

I'm not a female.... just so you know... And I know my TDEE was 2600 because I ate at it for over a month and had no weight change



on May 04, 2013
at 06:12 PM

I know this was a very long post, and most people won't want to adress it, but really? can anyone offer any insight into what my main 4 questions are? Just ignore the rest if you want, and look at the 4 bulleted questions....

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3 Answers



on May 08, 2013
at 02:28 AM

To sum up what I'm about to write: LIFT and EAT MORE CARBS. OK where to start. I'll go point by point.

I HIGHLY suggest you get on a strength based resistance training program. Those beachbody programs are great for raw beginners, but pretty much worthless for anybody else. You say you've done several of them, so I think it is high time for you to start squatting, pressing, and pulling on a smart strength progression. There are endless resources online, so I'll let you do your own digging. Basically: squat, push, and pull heavy things 3 or more times a week. If you would like to, find a GOOD trainer (extremely hard to find) who can teach the basic compound movements.

If you must continue these beachbody shenanigans, I highly suggest you increase carbohydrate intake. I think it would be very beneficial for you to push your resistance training to later in the day (mid morning or afternoon), and eat your carbs both pre and post workout. You want the carbs beforehand to allow you to actually get more out of the training, and post to replenish glycogen stores and facilitate muscle growth. I would eat the most carbs on restance training days, slightly less on HIIT days, and low (but still above 80ish) on yoga or rest days. I would also suggest you replace 1-2 of the HIIT days with just a long, brisk, walk in the morning. I would also suggest 3-4 resistance days a week.

I hate this myth, although it comes with good intentions. You absolutely CAN BURN FAT while eating MORE CARBS than what you are currently. I said can, not that it is optimal or the most important variable.

You ask if you are eating too little overall, and I find myself scratching my head on this. You say your maintenance is 2600. You weigh ONE HUNDRED and EIGHTEEN POUNDS, and you are a female who does beachbody workouts. I weigh 180 pounds and I squat 2x bw, bench 1.5 bw, etc for REPS multiple times a week. I am currently recomping eating and average of 2600 calories a day. It's working for me, but I can see why it's not working for you. A rough guide for cutting: 13 calories per pound of bodyweight, 1.5g protein/lb, carbs and fats inversely proportional. For you, on a recomp but with moderate activity (beachbody is not the same as lifting and sprinting, sorry), I would venture to say you should eat about 15 cal/lb. That would put you at about 1800 calories per day.

One last thing. You are 17. Go play a sport and find some performance goals. Body composition will follow. If you aim to be strong, fast, and have endurance, your body will reflect it.




on May 08, 2013
at 11:15 AM

The 118 pounds at 5'7" led me to say that. I would recommend you forget about "recomping" and stop being so precise with your food. Start lifting and eat a lot of food. You will look much better if you gain some muscle mass.



on May 08, 2013
at 03:11 AM

I'm not a female.... just so you know... And I know my TDEE was 2600 because I ate at it for over a month and had no weight change



on May 29, 2013
at 07:50 PM


There's a lot in your post to read & digest.
I'll have to study it. I'll get back to you...

What's your waist measurement? at the belly button. check this out... http://home.fuse.net/clymer/bmi/

By my SWAG / 'blink' (unless you have a very small frame) you're at least 30 lbs light and you're working out too much. I think you're body is less concerned with building muscle & burning fat as it is trying to stave off starvation (at least from its point of view). My guess is that your at a very low BF %.

I'm not sure I understand your overall objective.
Are you sure that "fat" at the lower abdomen is really fat? or something else? Maybe you body is trying to hold onto the last bit of fat it has?

If you want to build muscle.... lift heavy, eat well... give yourself some easy days or days off. Rest is a wonderful thing.

I've always been a proponent of "build the muscle first, worry about losing the fat later". Not to say you should pig out & over eat & get fat. But concentrating on lifting & eating to build muscle seldom results in excessive fat gain.

BTW eating 2600 per day...not gaining muscle & not losing weight means you're working too hard (IMO)



on June 12, 2013
at 09:50 PM

Since you intend to continue using these Beachbody workouts, no adjustment of carbs is necessary. These sorts of workouts trick your body into thinking it is constantly being chased by a lion. Cortisol becomes dominant and any chance you have of gaining muscle is impossible on such a regimen.

It is possible to lose fat while consuming carbs. I don't know if it possible for you. I lift twice a week and then eat carbs on those days after workout. The rest of the week is low carbish. Initially was less careful, went up 15lbs, but managed to lose 8lbs of that and feel like what's left is muscle and I am slowly inching up now, but my belt fits fine still.

It seems like fat/protein is good when you aren't working out. Carbs/protein is good after you have worked out. I don't think it matters what type of workout- what matters is whether or not you've really depleted muscle glycogen. My impression is that this stuff was researched with endurance athletes, at least initially. (Workouts do matter in terms of what you want to look like.)

It is possible you were just eating to little. Generally speaking, I want to do this clean, but if I don't see results, I know I can always eat more until my jeans start getting tight, and then clean up my diet again. The powerlifters/bodybuilders eat like crazy to lift heavier/grow muscle. A 10lb swing on the scale really shouldn't faze us too much.

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