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Austin's Diet + Recomposition

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  • Austin's Diet + Recomposition

    In episode 162 of the Barbell Medicine podcast, you guys briefly discussed updates to your health and fitness. Austin responded to comments of some people who have mentioned that he's been able to consistently increase his strength over the past few years while staying the same bodyweight and looking the same by saying that he's actually noticed a fair amount of recomposition in his body. As a lifter who's been training for a long period of time, how is Austin able to do this? I thought that body recomposition (for this question, meaning the ability to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time) is extremely difficult, if not impossible for someone who's been training as long as Austin has. Do you guys go through periods of weight loss and weight gain? Because as someone watching from the outside, it just seems like both you guys are increasing your strength while gaining muscle and losing fat all at the same time.

  • #2
    Lots to unpack here, but I'll try to be direct.

    Weight gain while resistance training and consuming adequate protein produces muscle and fat gain. Weight loss while resistance training and consuming adequate protein typically results in very little muscle loss, but significant fat loss.

    Simultaneous muscle gain and fat loss is not impossible or "extremely difficult" if you're new to training, have great genetics, etc. I don't think either of us are doing both, but rather oscillating through (sometimes unplanned) weight gain and weight loss phases.

    Still, you (and others) can get stronger without weight gain.
    Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
    ///Website /// Instagram /// Peri™ Rx /// Whey Rx /// Barbell Medicine Podcast/// Newsletter /// Seminars ///

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    • #3
      Jordan, I'd like to ask something about this.

      A few years ago, I kinda put together my own program, nothing fancy, but tried to make it intelligent and push myself. I started this "program" in mid to late 2016. I had been lifting and doing athletic stuff for years, really going back to high school days in the mid 90s. I did DEXA and BOD POD tests in June 2017 couple days apart, and again in June 2018 couple days apart. Both tests reported essentially the same outcome: that I had lost ~8 lbs of fat, and gained ~5 lbs of lean mass over that 1 year period. (I use the ~ to mean basically an average of the 2 tests).

      During that entire year (June 2017 to June 2018), I recall that I tried hard to maintain my body weight within a very tight range. Really, I tried to maintain it at a certain number, that number being 170. I weighed myself (if I recall correctly) pretty much every day, say 5 times a week. Looking back at my log, I recorded in that log my weight + waist measurement about once every 1 or 2 weeks. I tried to stay at or near 170 lbs dry morning weight. Some days I was a bit under that, some days a bit over, some days right on it. I weighed myself under the same conditions: right after waking, little drink of water, after voiding, no clothes or only underwear.

      To your comment above about oscillating through unplanned weight gain and loss: do you think that during this 1-year period where I was attempting to maintain bodyweight and working out pretty hard (and I like to think smart), do you think I was "oscillating" but on a very micro level? Meaning, on the days where I had gained weight, was my body using that weight gain to add lean mass? And similarly, on the days where I had lost weight, was my body using that weight loss to remove fat?

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      • #4
        I am not sure, but it wouldn't surprise me if you were able to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time over that period of time either.
        Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
        ///Website /// Instagram /// Peri™ Rx /// Whey Rx /// Barbell Medicine Podcast/// Newsletter /// Seminars ///

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        • #5
          With the conventional wisdom that you can't gain lean mass and lose fat at the same time, I kinda proved that the conventional wisdom is not true. I absolutely did not go through bulking periods and cutting periods. I tried very hard to maintain at 170. Looking back at my log, my weight never exceeded 173, and it never dropped below 167, and the majority of the time, it was between 169 and 171. There were never periods where I said, 'ok, I'm gonna eat like a pig for the next few weeks', or 'I'm gonna really cut calories for the next couple weeks'. Leading up to the 2 tests in June 2018, I tried hard to keep my weight below 170 because I wanted to see the best results, and it got down to 167 when the test days rolled around.

          What mechanism was at play here? And why do people continue to state and believe this idea that you can't gain lean mass and lose fat at the same time? I mean, maybe it's not literally happening at the exact same moment in time in one's body, but when you hold your weight within a very narrow range for a long time and you see lean mass gain and fat loss during that time, I think it's fair for me to claim that I "gained muscle and lost fat at the same time". And I'm way far away from being a novice. Of course fellow non-novices have accomplished this before. You would think with all the times it's been accomplished, the idea that "you can't gain muscle and lose fat at the same time" would have gone away by now.

          (I'm looking for the long answer here, Jordan! Give me some knowledge and good commentary to chew on )

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          • #6
            With the conventional wisdom that you can't gain lean mass and lose fat at the same time, I kinda proved that the conventional wisdom is not true. I absolutely did not go through bulking periods and cutting periods. I tried very hard to maintain at 170. Looking back at my log, my weight never exceeded 173, and it never dropped below 167, and the majority of the time, it was between 169 and 171. There were never periods where I said, 'ok, I'm gonna eat like a pig for the next few weeks', or 'I'm gonna really cut calories for the next couple weeks'. Leading up to the 2 tests in June 2018, I tried hard to keep my weight below 170 because I wanted to see the best results, and it got down to 167 when the test days rolled around.

            What mechanism was at play here? And why do people continue to state and believe this idea that you can't gain lean mass and lose fat at the same time? I mean, maybe it's not literally happening at the exact same moment in time in one's body, but when you hold your weight within a very narrow range for a long time and you see lean mass gain and fat loss during that time, I think it's fair for me to claim that I "gained muscle and lost fat at the same time". And I'm way far away from being a novice. Of course fellow non-novices have accomplished this before. You would think with all the times it's been accomplished, the idea that "you can't gain muscle and lose fat at the same time" would have gone away by now.

            Originally posted by Brian Waligura View Post
            (I'm looking for the long answer here, Jordan! Give me some knowledge and good commentary to chew on )
            I wish I had the time for that, however other priorities are taking precedent

            I'm not sure why people say that you can't do x as literally a single instance where someone does x falsifies the statement.

            Since muscle anabolism and fat store utilization are not inextricably linked processes, it is biologically plausible that both can occur simultaneously. The data is pretty clear that this happens regularly too, though most of it has been shown in untrained folks or individuals with high amounts of body fat. It definitely isn't possible for everyone at all times though.
            Barbell Medicine "With you from bench to bedside"
            ///Website /// Instagram /// Peri™ Rx /// Whey Rx /// Barbell Medicine Podcast/// Newsletter /// Seminars ///

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Jordan Feigenbaum View Post

              I wish I had the time for that, however other priorities are taking precedent

              I'm not sure why people say that you can't do x as literally a single instance where someone does x falsifies the statement.

              Since muscle anabolism and fat store utilization are not inextricably linked processes, it is biologically plausible that both can occur simultaneously. The data is pretty clear that this happens regularly too, though most of it has been shown in untrained folks or individuals with high amounts of body fat. It definitely isn't possible for everyone at all times though.

              Thank you, this is great and will due in lieu of the long answer!

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