I've lost a whole lot of weight in the last year - and thanks to skin caliper/measuring tape body fat analyses over time, I was able to observe fat mass loss vs. lean mass gains during the process.
I'm now around 185 lb. Every time in the last two nutrition challenges that my body weight has dipped below this weight, I've started to lose muscle mass much faster than I'd lose fat...or I even lose lean mass and gain fat mass! Caliper/tape measure test have me at 27-29% body fat, so it's not as if I'm super lean and muscle is all that is left to burn. In the last two weeks, for example, I've been eating very cleanly, and working out steadily (with a few rest days). I stepped on the scale to see the number 1.5 lb. down. Yet, after hearing from the gal who assessed my body fat, according to the measurements, I lost 4.5 lb. lean mass and GAINED 3 lb. fat mass.
I eat meals that combine all macronutrients. My day's food intake looks like this:
- 16 oz. give or take of animal protein, or some eggs and 10-12 oz. of animal protein - the protein is usually evenly divided between breakfast, lunch, and dinner
- Lots of nonstarchy veggies, mostly cooked in coconut oil
- 2-3 servings of fruit
- 1-2 fist-sized servings of starchy carbs
- A handful of nuts at most in a day
- My biggest indulgence is approx 5 g of sugar worth of high quality dark chocolate, once in a day, but I don't have this every day
- No dairy
I'm an active Crossfitter who usually gets in 4-5 workouts in a week. 29 year old female. In between the last two nutrition challenges my doctor put me on bioidentical hormone replacement in a bid to combat what seems to be a pretty clear-cut case of pregnenolone steal, so I'm on a on/off recurring course progesterone cream, and a daily low dose of pregnenolone. I'm also still nursing my two year old. I get 7 hours of sleep most nights, and many days, I nap when my two year old naps (about an hour).
What could be the top culprits for my body going after muscle before fat under a certain body weight?
asked byfamilygrokumentarian (12179)
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on October 18, 2012
at 07:40 PM
Top culprit would be the crossfit. When your at a certain leanness and a caloric deficit that level of activity is too much. Resistance training is vital for retaining lean mass when losing weight, but I would not recommend more than 2 focused sessions per week. You already have limited caloric resources to repair the damage with reduced calories....your frequency and intensity are too high to sustain past a certain leanness IMO.
Were it me I would also ditch the fruit (or at least half of it) with my reduced frequency of training. Spend the days you were CF'ing going on a hikes.
on October 18, 2012
at 09:42 PM
Eyeballing your daily diet, I'd guess you're eating 1200-1500 cal/day, on a burn of I'd guess 2000 cal/day. That's a heavy-duty weight loss regime, and it's working. Under a weight loss scenario, you can't control very well what your body is going to give it up. You can't spot reduce. Under a similar scenario to yours, going from 215 lbs to 165 lbs, I lost a lot of weight in my shoulders at the same time I was losing visceral fat in the abdomen and I couldn't control it. 5 years later I haven't gained any of the weight back, and my shoulders are still scrawny.
on October 19, 2012
at 12:37 PM
Red Flag! If in two weeks, any measurement says you somehow lost 4.5 lbs muscle and gained 3 lbs of fat, don't believe the measurement. Not possible, didn't happen. So you're probably worried for no reason. It is possible progesterone has shifted fatty acids to fat tissue where they are associated with a bit more water than in muscle, but that's pure speculation and unlikely to be significant, especially over the time frames we're talking.
You are breast feeding, so eat more carbs if you are at all concerned that you're breaking down muscle mass to fuel gluconeogenesis. I doubt it b/c it looks like you're eating sufficient carb + protein, but carbs are protein sparing.
Personally, if it were me, I'd cut back on the exercise and nix the hormones until I was done breast feeding.
on October 19, 2012
at 12:29 PM
Put everything you eat into Fitday and check your macros. You don't want to be in the middle of nowhere = your body doesn't prefer fat for energy + you don't eat enough carbs = you burn protein and muscle
If this is the case you have 2 solutions:
Up your carbs to meet your training needs but also lower fat, keep same calories
Lower your carbs to keto levels (50g max) but up your fat, keep same calories. Afer doing this for at least 2 weeks, add one high carb low fat day (CKD approach)
on October 18, 2012
at 08:06 PM
There are a lot of things at play here. And it would be difficult to opine on just one, but the primary reason the body burns muscle over fat, as I understand it, is to prevent starvation.
The first two things that the body does in starvation is breakdown any stored glycogen for energy, AND kick start GNG to turn any consumption of protein into glucose.
What happens then is that the protein is not available to help build the muscle, and your muscle breaks down. For a starving person, this is actually a good thing! Muscle requires a lot of calories to maintain, fewer muscles, lower caloric need.
While it does not sound as if you are starving yourself, it is still possible your body is reacting poorly due to some nutritional void.
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at 08:47 PM
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