2

votes

Starvation, loss of muscle, and if possible regain?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 12, 2012 at 5:47 AM

Ok, there was a time in my life that was really stinky, and I became depressed and suicidal. I didn't eat for months and as a result lost all muscle mass, and everything I used to have. Now bouncing back I have a fresh perspective on life, discovered this way of eating which suits me well. But one issue that bugs me and am unsure how to go about this. I want to regain lost muscle, but my muscle mass is so low I can't do any pushups at all. So regular exercise programs I cannot follow yet. How to I regain the strength I used to have or should I forget it as some sources say it is impossible to regain muscle after starving for so long. I do Cardio as it is the only thing I physically can do 3 times a day for 25 minutes.

I have begin to eat Paleo, I average 120g of Protein 100g of carbs, and the rest fat on a 2150 calorie diet, I am male 18 5 11 with no muscles at all.

Please don't just post ranting on how dumb I was, I know that already, and have heard it numerous times, you can express that, as long as you provide some useful advice along with it. Thanks.

7278560e76901ded4081022b54c6e165

on August 13, 2012
at 03:28 AM

That is what I do, walk, at a brisk pace of course. I don't mean running but I do mix some sprints in each time I cross the road I run, sometimes jog across, to mix things up. Ok full body exercises sound like a good way to go, just wonder what tier should I start at..

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on August 12, 2012
at 08:59 PM

More than +1 for this! I came to the thread to say this and you beat me to it. I won't add a redundant answer.

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on August 12, 2012
at 12:57 PM

Great answer, Fern. FWIW, I absolutely wouldn't consider brisk walking "chronic cardio" at all. There's tons of evidence that getting outside and moving is a great way to combat depression. If you were running for 75 minutes a day at an elevated heart rate, that woudl be chronic cardio.

7278560e76901ded4081022b54c6e165

on August 12, 2012
at 09:58 AM

Yes it totals 75 minutes a day, too much? I'm home all the time so I figured 3 times a day would make the cut, to keep me moving around.

6d06945c5244687be2f6a9ca731b9cc6

(405)

on August 12, 2012
at 09:22 AM

When you saty 25 minutes of cardio three times a day, do you mean you do cardio for a total of 75 minutes per day? That's excessive for an obese middle-aged person, let alone a young man looking to gain muscle.

7278560e76901ded4081022b54c6e165

on August 12, 2012
at 08:31 AM

Thanks all! Today was great, I skipped the knee pushups I was doing and attempted a full pushup, and managed 1 and a half :D I think I may do full pushups every morning until I can do at least 5 then carry on with the bottom tier of the pushup program. Good plan? Ok I'll take squats in thought as I used to do them for basketball training before I went through that bump in life. Body rows, never heard of them, will give them a checkout as well. Thanks :)

7f1e48db1bee85b9ef8a4bc4baedd044

(288)

on August 12, 2012
at 07:48 AM

I think walking is fine and very beneficial. Unless you're huffing and puffing at the end of the walking session it shouldn't be lumped into "chronic cardio" list such as jogging or cycling.

F7cf9588bc47db8b3b7ddeb5172a9311

(455)

on August 12, 2012
at 07:39 AM

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/case-against-cardio/#axzz23JcANLKt

F7cf9588bc47db8b3b7ddeb5172a9311

(455)

on August 12, 2012
at 07:39 AM

No problem! I definitely know what it's like to be in a dark place, so I'm glad I could help. I hadn't heard of the 100 Push-ups program before. Good old Google. I just read up a bit on it, and it sounds like a decent program. I'd still recommend total-body compound movements like the squat and deadlift as well though. Push-ups do utilise a lot of muscles, but has a very much upper body focus. I don't think you should give up the walks, they sound like they're benefiting you. I wouldn't classify that as chronic cardio. MDA has some good articles on it if you want to read more:

7278560e76901ded4081022b54c6e165

on August 12, 2012
at 06:32 AM

Thanks for the encouragement, that helped give me a boost and a brighter shimmer of hope, thanks a lot :) I have been considering following the 100 Pushups program with knee pushups, would that work? Are there other recommend exercises that will help work the whole body. I fear by walking 3 times a day 25 minutes is chronic cardio? Is it hampering my efforts? I enjoy the brisk walks, and don't really want to give them up as I generally am home all the time and that is when I get out and moving.

F7cf9588bc47db8b3b7ddeb5172a9311

(455)

on August 12, 2012
at 06:01 AM

As for if it's possible or not to regain muscle after such severe loss, I really don't know. I believe the body is capable of amazing things, so it should be able to regenerate muscle. I find it hard to believe that you have no muscle whatsoever; if you're walking and talking and your heart is beating, you have some muscle in there. That muscle has the potential to grow if you provide it with the stress and nourishment to do so.

7278560e76901ded4081022b54c6e165

on August 12, 2012
at 05:55 AM

Is it really impossible to regain muscle mass after such severe loss? This happiness when I was 17 and it.ag been near a year of searching and slow recovery, slow due to physiological reasons, whether I really wanted to live or not. Now that I have my head screwed on right, I can see purpose, and have goals. I am tired of being in the same rut and pit of minimal strength. I was doing knee pushups but am taking a break this week as it seemed like I hit a wall somewhere.

7278560e76901ded4081022b54c6e165

on August 12, 2012
at 05:50 AM

I have put on most of the weight lost, although not sure of my weight as I don't have a scale, but can tell how my pants fit, and the amount of energy I have for the day. I go to bed at 8 and get up at around 4:45.

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4 Answers

13
F7cf9588bc47db8b3b7ddeb5172a9311

(455)

on August 12, 2012
at 05:59 AM

I don't think you were dumb, I think you were very ill. Be proud that you've come back from such a dark place and found something that works for you. Congratulations for caring about your health and wanting to regain some strength and muscle. In my humble opinion, I think you should start weightlifting. It doesn't matter that you can't do proper push-ups any more. Start slowly and with as light weights as you need to. If you can't do proper push-ups, do push-ups on your knees. If you can't do those, do push-ups against the wall. It seems that you're eating sufficiently again, so focus on building your strength up. Use compound movements, especially the squat, deadlift, bench press, shoulder press and chin-ups. Use assisted chin-up machines if you need to and use your body weight or the lightest dumbbells you can find for the other movements if you need to. Be consistent and make sure that you are pushing yourself every time, regardless of if you are using the same weight as last week. If it still challenges you, then that's your weight. It will take time, but hopefully soon you will start to see some progression. I highly recommend Mark Rippetoe's 'Starting Strength' for detailed instructions on technique and programming that will help you build overall strength. Good luck!

F7cf9588bc47db8b3b7ddeb5172a9311

(455)

on August 12, 2012
at 07:39 AM

No problem! I definitely know what it's like to be in a dark place, so I'm glad I could help. I hadn't heard of the 100 Push-ups program before. Good old Google. I just read up a bit on it, and it sounds like a decent program. I'd still recommend total-body compound movements like the squat and deadlift as well though. Push-ups do utilise a lot of muscles, but has a very much upper body focus. I don't think you should give up the walks, they sound like they're benefiting you. I wouldn't classify that as chronic cardio. MDA has some good articles on it if you want to read more:

Bf57bcbdc19d4f1728599053acd020ab

(5043)

on August 12, 2012
at 12:57 PM

Great answer, Fern. FWIW, I absolutely wouldn't consider brisk walking "chronic cardio" at all. There's tons of evidence that getting outside and moving is a great way to combat depression. If you were running for 75 minutes a day at an elevated heart rate, that woudl be chronic cardio.

F7cf9588bc47db8b3b7ddeb5172a9311

(455)

on August 12, 2012
at 06:01 AM

As for if it's possible or not to regain muscle after such severe loss, I really don't know. I believe the body is capable of amazing things, so it should be able to regenerate muscle. I find it hard to believe that you have no muscle whatsoever; if you're walking and talking and your heart is beating, you have some muscle in there. That muscle has the potential to grow if you provide it with the stress and nourishment to do so.

F7cf9588bc47db8b3b7ddeb5172a9311

(455)

on August 12, 2012
at 07:39 AM

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/case-against-cardio/#axzz23JcANLKt

7278560e76901ded4081022b54c6e165

on August 12, 2012
at 06:32 AM

Thanks for the encouragement, that helped give me a boost and a brighter shimmer of hope, thanks a lot :) I have been considering following the 100 Pushups program with knee pushups, would that work? Are there other recommend exercises that will help work the whole body. I fear by walking 3 times a day 25 minutes is chronic cardio? Is it hampering my efforts? I enjoy the brisk walks, and don't really want to give them up as I generally am home all the time and that is when I get out and moving.

510bdda8988ed0d4b0ec0b738b4edb73

(20898)

on August 12, 2012
at 08:59 PM

More than +1 for this! I came to the thread to say this and you beat me to it. I won't add a redundant answer.

7f1e48db1bee85b9ef8a4bc4baedd044

(288)

on August 12, 2012
at 07:48 AM

I think walking is fine and very beneficial. Unless you're huffing and puffing at the end of the walking session it shouldn't be lumped into "chronic cardio" list such as jogging or cycling.

4
D747cba2ff408c24250d7a8d87be4104

(75)

on August 12, 2012
at 07:14 AM

There is no reason why you shouldn"t be able to regain your muscle, people have done even more extreme transitions. I recommend you keep eating well and quite a lot. I dont think you need to count calories just eat whenever you want. Start walking a bit, do some sprints. Do some weightlifting or body-weight exercises like body rows if u cant do pull ups and body squats. Any good luck.

7278560e76901ded4081022b54c6e165

on August 12, 2012
at 08:31 AM

Thanks all! Today was great, I skipped the knee pushups I was doing and attempted a full pushup, and managed 1 and a half :D I think I may do full pushups every morning until I can do at least 5 then carry on with the bottom tier of the pushup program. Good plan? Ok I'll take squats in thought as I used to do them for basketball training before I went through that bump in life. Body rows, never heard of them, will give them a checkout as well. Thanks :)

2
81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on August 12, 2012
at 05:06 PM

Mirroring what Mick Jagger said in a comment above. Cut out the cardio. You are trying to put on lean mass. If you need to move around, just go for a walk. As your fitness improves, add sprints a couple of times a week for conditioning.

Focus on full body movements at BW then graduate to a strength program (Starting Strength is excellent). There are several BW programs available on the internet that focus on full body movements (squats, burpees, and so on).

Eating enough is essential to lean mass gains. 2150 calories is not enough for an 18 year old 5'11" male. You should probably be over 3000 calories and that is on the low end for lean mass gains.

Good luck with your new commitment to fitness. Remember that it is a life long pursuit. Just make slow and steady gains.

7278560e76901ded4081022b54c6e165

on August 13, 2012
at 03:28 AM

That is what I do, walk, at a brisk pace of course. I don't mean running but I do mix some sprints in each time I cross the road I run, sometimes jog across, to mix things up. Ok full body exercises sound like a good way to go, just wonder what tier should I start at..

0
1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

on August 12, 2012
at 05:26 PM

Hey. I used to be pretty anorexic (58lbs when I was 14, 65lbs when I was 15). I recovered fully when I was 16, but was still under muscled. I continued exercising while losing weight, but did get to the point where I could not perform more than a couple push ups. Fast forward 7 years and I'm about 145lbs and can do 100 pushups in 1 set and crank out 30 strict shoulder grip pull ups (not chin ups). I got strong because one of the RNs at the treatment facility I went to was an avid lifter, and he took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. I started doing 2 body parts a day (a traditional body building split, 4x per week) and working up in volume. My first workout was all assisted by him. I had to build myself from the ground up, and it took A LOT of effort and dedication. The facility I had also had a rock climbing wall (and a ropes course, and a swimming swimming pool, and a lake, and a boats and water skis!) and he and the staff made sure that I got in some activity daily outside of my lifting program (4x per week). However, this only started once I reached a safer weight and had stable vital signs, and was >90% compliant with my meal plan (which was almost totally paleo too (although not grass fed while in treatment, but did include rice). I also was not allowed to do any cardio (play soccer, swim laps, go running, etc until the final week or so that I was there! So, at first, you might just have to suck it up and gain weight without doing any exercise besides walking. Once you are healthier, then you can start lifting weights, walking, swimming, playing, etc. Don't overdo it though. Make sure it is low volume but high intensity effort (and when you're emaciated, everything is high intensity effort).

Start eating more calories. Food is medicine. The paleo community went way off base demonizing food, and it is unfortunate. It is healthy- carbs, fats, proteins- all are good for you. Eat up, and you'll know by your energy levels once you're ready and up for a good weight lifting program and some more activity.

I would also highly suggest getting progressional help. If I was not taken to a hospital against my will, there is no question that I would not be here to write this to you. It's an addiction as powerful as any other, if not more so. I do not know of anyone that was actually anorexic that beat it on their own. A good support group is imperative, IMHO.

Best of luck. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask. It's definitely possible, just takes time, consistency, knowledge, patience, and determination.

Looking at your diet, I'd also boost your carbs up to at least 150 grams if you're starting to lift.

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