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S&C UnderGround >> Question for diet/metabolism experts...


4/18/12 1:45 AM
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disbeliever
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So I know that if a body takes in very reduced calories, i.e. way under maintenance levels, the body will hold on to fat as a means of protecting itself.

Scenario: 200lb male takes in 1200 calories of healthy food a day, works out 2 times a day 6 days a week, weight training, cardio and martial arts training.

What happens to the body in this situation? What goes on metabolically? if the body is designed to hold on to fat when taking in so few calories, what happens when you exert the human body and strenuously work out 6 days a week? Will the body continue to burn fat even if it doesn't like it? Will it say fuck you and keep holding on to far regardless of how hard you work out?

What negative things goes on in a human body in this condition?
4/18/12 2:34 AM
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bigbabyjesus
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Lyle McDonald had a write-up of the effects that you can read about here
http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/why-big-caloric-deficits-and-lots-of-activity-can-hurt-fat-loss.html

Basically, all of the added stress of a low calorie diet and intense exercise will lead to elevated cortisol levels. Your metabolic rate slows, immune system suffers. There will be some water retention. Lyle mcdonald speculates that it may also involve leptin resistance. I'm not exactly sure but I think that elevated cortisol also leads to muscle loss. The book "Why Zebras Don't get Ulcers" goes into a lot of detail about the effects of elevated cortisol, but I can't remember them offhand. Also, this might not really apply because I'm going off of what Lyle Mcdonald wrote and not any verified scientific data, but I think most people would agree that it is counter-productive to fat-loss.
4/18/12 7:31 AM
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vermonter
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Looking at the first sentence of Disbeliever's reminds me of one of the most common things i hear (so you're in good company) about nutrition and fitness: Eating less slows down metabolism. You won't burn any fat that way.

I never know what to say to this. I've tried varying approaches... my most common response historically has been:

Vermonter: "Oh really? Please explain."

Non-Vermonter: "Well sure, you go into starvation mode."

Vermonter: "But what if i go for a run in a calorie deficit and burn 1000 calories? Is that 1000 calories different from if i was not in a calorie deficit?"

At this point they try to make a feeble attempt to continue but realize they don't have a clear view of the internal workings of the body. However, lately this interaction has become unsatisfying to me... the better informed will speak of catabolism and so forth, so i've taken more of an avoidance tactic and my response has become:

"Oh really? But anorexics are skinny."

Insensitive, perhaps, but factual. And functional as well, as it's usually enough to make people who are less concerned about wicked huge gunz start thinking for themselves, which means less time spitting some awful dogma at me.

Athletes, however, can probably tolerate a smaller defecit than a sedentary person, or at least benefit from better nutrient timing. If you have energy needs beyond beta oxidation, then it's time for a meal. Everyone is concerned about muscle and fat, but your body is concerned about your nerves which have no glucose storage of their own, and will chew up any nutrient source it can to keep them running.

Eat around your workouts. Supplement with carnitine. Get plenty of rest. You'll be just fine in a calorie deficit.
4/18/12 8:21 AM
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TheRealJoker
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vermonter - Looking at the first sentence of Disbeliever's reminds me of one of the most common things i hear (so you're in good company) about nutrition and fitness: Eating less slows down metabolism. You won't burn any fat that way.

I never know what to say to this. I've tried varying approaches... my most common response historically has been:

Vermonter: "Oh really? Please explain."

Non-Vermonter: "Well sure, you go into starvation mode."

Vermonter: "But what if i go for a run in a calorie defecit and burn 1000 calories? Is that 1000 calories different from if i was not in a calorie defecit?"

At this point they try to make a feeble attempt to continue but realize they don't have a clear view of the internal workings of the body. However, lately this interaction has become unsatisfying to me... the better informed will speak of catabolism and so forth, so i've taken more of an avoidance tactic and my response has become:

"Oh really? But anorexics are skinny."

Insensitive, perhaps, but factual. And functional as well, as it's usually enough to make people who are less concerned about wicked huge gunz start thinking for themselves, which means less time spitting some awful dogma at me.

Athletes, however, can probably tolerate a smaller defecit than a sedentary person, or at least benefit from better nutrient timing. If you have energy needs beyond beta oxidation, then it's time for a meal. Everyone is concerned about muscle and fat, but your body is concerned about your nerves which have no glucose storage of their own, and will chew up any nutrient source it can to keep them running.

Eat around your workouts. Supplement with carnitine. Get plenty of rest. You'll be just fine in a calorie defecit.


This all day.
8/24/12 3:07 PM
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theseanster
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This is a great question. I ate a lot doing 5x5 for the last 2 years made great gains, now I wanna drop 20lbs from just eating like a monster and not really paying that close attention. If I drop calories too much, I almost pass out after a workout and the workouts go like shit. If I eat too much that's bad too, but at least I can lift and feel good. Still looking for that happy medium.
8/24/12 7:24 PM
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Roidz Rule
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Vermonter, thanks for your input on this. I have learned much from you while lurking this forum.

Let me ask a similar question from a different circumstance. I have lost roughly 130lb. I have gone from 45% bf (estimate) down to ~11% (as measured by calipers). My diet has been calorie restricted for 12 months.

My goal is single digit bf%. I weigh and log my food, pay attention to macro and micronutrient profiles, and run about 1000cal deficit. However, the weight refuses to come off at this point.

Do you think metabolic slow-down could be a problem for me since I have dieted for so long? Phone Post
8/24/12 8:18 PM
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cdueck
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You are probably just at a holding point. Once you get to a certain wieght you will have a hard time getting below that. I can get down to 165lbs without too much trouble but any lower than that is really tough. 
8/25/12 3:50 AM
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Crw
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Sub Phone Post
8/26/12 8:17 PM
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Genocide_Junkie
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8/27/12 9:03 PM
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thesonsofmontana
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Subbing this as well. Phone Post
8/27/12 10:06 PM
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nineteen
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Ttt for Vermonter's response Phone Post
8/28/12 12:32 AM
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vermonter
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Just saw this and I'm on my phone. I'll respond soon.
8/28/12 8:13 AM
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ArthurKnoqOut
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disbeliever - So I know that if a body takes in very reduced calories, i.e. way under maintenance levels, the body will hold on to fat as a means of protecting itself.

Scenario: 200lb male takes in 1200 calories of healthy food a day, works out 2 times a day 6 days a week, weight training, cardio and martial arts training.

What happens to the body in this situation? What goes on metabolically? if the body is designed to hold on to fat when taking in so few calories, what happens when you exert the human body and strenuously work out 6 days a week? Will the body continue to burn fat even if it doesn't like it? Will it say fuck you and keep holding on to far regardless of how hard you work out?

What negative things goes on in a human body in this condition?

  I think you're mis-using words here, unintentionally in terms of "holding onto FAT".

1,200 calories isn't that few if you're consuming energy/nutrient dense foods for a 200 POUND MALE. but it also depends on whether or not that male got to 200 lbs from lifting heavy metal objects or was he an overweight teenager which would impact his metabolism and his ability to lose body fat.

Nutrient timing is/is moreso important around caloric deficits as vermonter stated than otherwise (but for optimal health and athleticism etc this is ALWAYS important). 

There's a great post I saw once on another board 

" I'm really unconcerned about the thermic value of food. That's nitpicking to the point of absurdity as far as I'm concerned. There is a science to the whole thing of course, but trying to get too meticulous will only make you nuts with no discernable benefit. Keep an eye on the big picture, listen to what your body is telling you and don't sweat the details. 100 or so calories off "the mark" isnt a huge deal on occasion, but if you're cycling calories weekly, I wouldn't even worry about it. The so called "starvation response" occurs after dats and days of too-low calories, and I dont think you've hit that level. "

that "listen to what your bodt is telling you" is probably the coolest thing you could learn in fitness and nutrition. 
8/31/12 6:50 AM
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CDarwin
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 I'm not an expert, but I'll chime in anyway.

As a follow up to Vermonter's argument with non-Vermonter: I sometimes get into this type of argument when people that fail to lose weight try to rationalize why they are eating (too much). "I need to eat this and that so keep the metabolism oing, to keep the furnace burning etc etc."

I always ask them if they have seen any fat people in pictures from concentration camps. They were all starved and no one stayed fat because of genetics or this or that type of metabolism.

The interesting question is how various diets interfers or not with athletic performances, muscle gain etc.
8/31/12 7:28 AM
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419
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What's the difference between 1200 calories of energy dense food and 1200 calories of non-energy dense food?
8/31/12 10:11 AM
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Taku
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 Perhaps they meant "Nutrient dense" not energy dense.

Just a thought.

TAKU
8/31/12 10:41 AM
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ArthurKnoqOut
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Taku -  Perhaps they meant "Nutrient dense" not energy dense.

Just a thought.

TAKU

  yes. I don't remember why I phrased it "energy/nutrient dense" but that's two very different things. Although energy dense could be "healthy" such as peanutbutter (more energy than nutrients per se).

so, 1200 calories of an apple, pear, almonds, walnuts, wild caught fish, some free grazing chicken eggs, and some quinoa is providing your body with tons of nutrients to function optimally.

1,200 calories of twinkies (that's like what, 4 twinkies?) won't give you much nutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc

CDarwin, that is a bad example because if you look at stuff that Gary Taubes wrote about there are societies all around the world where infants are skeleton looking yet their mothers are fat because of terrible food quality/lack of nutrients present. The Holocaust is a bad example because you took people of all sorts of health levels (though the older and weaker were killed so maybe we can assume more of the fit ones remained) and were starved. That's not the same as health body fat loss that is sustainable. 


8/31/12 10:59 AM
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CDarwin
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 ^I wasn't suggesting the Holocaust "method" was healthy. I just meant that starvation doesn't make people lose lean body mass and save fat, as many argue. Starvation means you lose fat. (And lean body mass and it will eventually kill you.)
8/31/12 11:01 AM
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ArthurKnoqOut
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CDarwin -  ^I wasn't suggesting the Holocaust "method" was healthy. I just meant that starvation doesn't make people lose lean body mass and save fat, as many argue. Starvation means you lose fat. (And lean body mass and it will eventually kill you.)

  I understand. Normally bodyfat is first to go, then stored muscle glycogen. 
8/31/12 11:33 AM
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BshMstr
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disbeliever - So I know that if a body takes in very reduced calories, i.e. way under maintenance levels, the body will hold on to fat as a means of protecting itself.

Scenario: 200lb male takes in 1200 calories of healthy food a day, works out 2 times a day 6 days a week, weight training, cardio and martial arts training.

What happens to the body in this situation? What goes on metabolically? if the body is designed to hold on to fat when taking in so few calories, what happens when you exert the human body and strenuously work out 6 days a week? Will the body continue to burn fat even if it doesn't like it? Will it say fuck you and keep holding on to far regardless of how hard you work out?

What negative things goes on in a human body in this condition?

well, one thing that i believe does occur, is a decrease in production of thyroid hormones (or reduction in converting T-4 to T-3). so your metabolic rate can slow from that....but how much is pretty individual.


the big issue in looking at how much exercise you use to burn calories, is that your highest amount of overall calories burned are from normal body functions. obviously exercise can increase this, but it's not like most people can double their metabolic rate through exercise....
8/31/12 11:41 AM
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ArthurKnoqOut
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 ^^VTFU hormone function definitely suffer on any "starvation" diet
8/31/12 12:11 PM
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vermonter
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Roidz Rule -  Vermonter, thanks for your input on this. I have learned much from you while lurking this forum.

Let me ask a similar question from a different circumstance. I have lost roughly 130lb. I have gone from 45% bf (estimate) down to ~11% (as measured by calipers). My diet has been calorie restricted for 12 months.

My goal is single digit bf%. I weigh and log my food, pay attention to macro and micronutrient profiles, and run about 1000cal deficit. However, the weight refuses to come off at this point.

Do you think metabolic slow-down could be a problem for me since I have dieted for so long? Phone Post

My apologies for the delay in a response.

Cdeuk mentioned sticking points, so i'll address this first. Without answering your question with only another question, i'll guess this isn't the first time in your journey to lose weight that you have encountered a sticking point before. Although this one might be stubborn one, remember first that you've gone through this before and can overcome it like you have previously.

Secondly, a sticking point is a colloquial term for various potential processes occuring in the body. Sometimes substrates that are water dependent (e.g. glycogen, salt) will cause you to experience a sudden weight loss that just as suddenly stops. This is the first sticking point that people normally encounter after a few days to a week of dieting. Next might be chronic carnitine deficiency, which happens often after several weeks or a month depending on how significant the weight loss is, but could happen at any time. There's also the leptin/ghrelin relationship that i have a poor understanding of, but could theoretically be a substantial wall when your fat loss catches up to your carbohydrate intake. At this point, more carbohydrate would be required to stimulate enough leptin to subsequently stimulate further fat loss, but would simultaneously stimulate insulin which interferes with fat loss (hence the wall).

Now these are among the mechanisms in the body that can account for a halt in fat loss, and are not concomitant with a crawling metabolism per se. Beta-oxidation and gluconeogenesis are the two primary means of fat utilization in the body, the former of which is dependent on activity levels, and the latter on blood sugar homeostasis. As long as exercise levels continue to be sustainable, a poor metabolism isn't likely to be the cause of this.

Something else worth considering is caliper error. With such substantial weight loss, it could be possible that loose skin may be both interfering with caliper operation and also your self image. If you were building muscle, the scale may be a poor method of progress as well. Put all this together and there's an alternate possibility which doesn't seem to be likely, but is still a potential factor.
8/31/12 12:12 PM
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BshMstr
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here's another thing i was just thinking about, in reference to this....

i think the macronutrient breakdown will have a huge effect here....for instance, a ketogenic diet (i.e. low carb/Atkins). ketosis burns fat as a fuel, so theoreticlly, your body couldn't "hold on" to prevent this.

another anecdote: when i went to Army infantry basic training/AIT (4 months long), i weighed about 170 (at 6'1") and scored a 240 on my initial APFT (240 out of 300 on the initial PT test). however, when i graduated, i weighted about 155, and was barely able to pass my pushups (but did well on situps and run). i would estimate that i ate about 2000 calories a day, with a little under 90 grams of protein, and the rest as highly processed fat and carbs. activity was high, as was the intensity, so i would estimate that i was at least burning 1,000 calories more than what i ingested. mathmatecially, i should have lost way more weight than i did...

-i think i didn't lose much, as i was already pretty lean and in decent shape, so i lost a big chunch of muscle.
-the food was simply not high quality, and loaded with sugar and fat.
-the exercise was largely cardio based, which does not encourage muscular growth.

just my .02
9/3/12 4:07 AM
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Roidz Rule
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Vermonter, thanks for your reply. I am currently working on correcting leptin and gherelin as directed by one of Lyle McDonald's protocols. I will post how it works out.

Would you recommend a carnitine supplement? If so, which one?

Thanks Phone Post
9/4/12 12:08 PM
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vermonter
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Roidz Rule -  Vermonter, thanks for your reply. I am currently working on correcting leptin and gherelin as directed by one of Lyle McDonald's protocols. I will post how it works out.

Would you recommend a carnitine supplement? If so, which one?

Thanks Phone Post

Supplementing with carnitine certainly couldn't hurt, although be warned that it puts forum member hertswenip into a roid rage-like state and he beats his gf and punches strangers by his own admission. Outside of that, there is only a potential benefit and little cost besides financial into giving it a shot.

It can be obtained fairly cheaply in a cap, and you may want to take 500mg to a gram a day. Twinlab makes a liquid that has always worked for me too, but is more expensive than the cap versions. I usually just get the most cost effective brand that doesn't seem sketchy. I'm not sure there's a big quality difference with carnitine as there is with some other supps.

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