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Goal: Fat loss, concern: muscle loss

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  • Goal: Fat loss, concern: muscle loss

    Hi Dr. Feigenbaum!

    I'm an overweight but otherwise healthy young man mostly hung up on stubborn visceral fat. Stats:

    Age: 27
    Height: 5'11"
    Weight: 211

    I've worked Starting Strength on and off for a while (just coming off a five month break) and plan on moving to the BBM intermediate program (once I'm not adding 5lbs to all lifts per workout):

    Squat: 205
    Press: 120
    BB Row: 165
    Bench: 165
    Deadlift: 235

    I'm in the gym three days per week, and have a moderately active job. In the past, my counting every last calorie hasn't been productive for weight loss. So, in my head I keep the mantra "just eat less!" My diet for the last couple of weeks has consisted of the following:

    Calories: 1,250-1,750
    Content: Oats, whole grains, tuna fish, beans, leafy greens, avocado, nuts/nut butter, bananas
    Macro Profile: Not exactly calculated. Low on carbs, low on fat, higher on protein, veg, beans
    Notes: Keep sodium to a minimum, drink black coffee, ~1 gallon of water/day, no supplements, avoid hidden calories in drinks and condiments, not a smoker nor do I drink or take drugs tells me my BMR is 2,000 calories. And with my BMI at almost 30, my goal is to cut down to at least 170lb ('healthy BMI') or until my visceral fat is gone. Essentially, I'd like to be muscular but have minimal visible body fat

    My questions to you are: are my current eating habits going to do more harm than good? I'm willing to lose LBM in service of fat loss, but will I be able to put the former back on after reaching my weight goal? Does this seem like a sustainable diet till I reach my goal, and if not, what would you recommend I do instead?

    Thanks in advance

  • #2

    Thanks for the post and a few thoughts:

    1) Unless you're losing ~5lbs a week, you're not eating that everyday or even on most days. So, there's an adherence issue right off the bat. It's not "unhealthy", but it's not really sustainable and is not building healthy habits anyway. I'd aim for a small deficit, ~ 2500 Cal/day or so, with a palm-sized portion of lean protein at each meal, 5+ fist-sized portion fruits or vegetables per day, and 2-3 fist-sized portions of whole gains. Don't need to micromanage sodium coffee, water, condiments, or abstain from supplements.
    2) I would stop doing SS right now. The program has multiple holes in it (including conditioning) and has not worked exceptionally well for you. Would recommend any program with more variety, autoregulation, and conditioning.
    3) Since you are new to training, I don't think you're likely to lose much LBM (probably gain some) while losing body fat.

    Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
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    • #3
      Thank you for the prompt reply, Jordan. And good luck with your meet this weekend!

      Wanting to clarify a couple things:

      1) I've been on this diet only two weeks, so if it's unsustainable I certainly haven't reached the point where I feel that yet. But I hear what you are saying and will lower the calorie deficit as you say. To that end, you are recommending 2-3 fist-sized portions of grains per day, correct?
      2) I have been working SS on and off for 3-4 years. What happens is, I'll plateau my lifts, become discouraged trying to move to a more detailed intermediate program, stop lifting for a while and lose strength, and repeat the process again. Late last year, I took a trip out to see your friend Alan Thrall at Untamed Strength to get a form check, and got passing marks on my major lifts. I'm sure you'll be happy to hear he recommended I move to The Bridge effective immediately. Unfortunately, our gyms in the SF bay area shut down not too long after that and I've been slow, to say the least, in getting back in since they've opened up again. I've just submitted an Athletic Coaching form on the BBM site and would relish the opportunity to come down to San Diego to learn the lifts hands-on and plot out the programming (ideally with you or Austin)

      I appreciate you taking the time to review


      • #4

        1) Yes.

        2) We do not do in-person coaching or programming, though neither are necessary to flesh out a great program for you. I would 10/10 recommend an autoregulated program with variation, conditioning. etc. over LP.
        Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
        ///Website /// Instagram /// Peri™ Rx /// Whey Rx /// Barbell Medicine Podcast/// Newsletter /// Seminars ///