Putting on muscle while eating below maintenance?

by (10) Updated January 17, 2013 at 6:56 PM Created January 17, 2013 at 10:22 AM

Hi Guys,

I am eating at pretty solid deficit while sticking to my paleo guidelines. I have been eating on the paleo for three weeks.

My stats are 5'11 225lbs and around 20% body fat. I am currently cutting ( as you might expect lol)

The only carbs I am getting are from fruit, veg and the small amount in nuts. I have been doing 40-60 mins cardio daily while on top of lifting 4 times a week. Some days I do two sessions of cardio with football ( HIIT) in the evening.

Up unil recently I was losing 1-2 lbs a week, last week I went hard on cardio and weights and really smashed it up, sometimes twice a day. I then weighed myself the start of this week and unbelievably i'd gone up a pound in weight. Im thinking wtf? There is no way I could have burnt anymore and fought off so much urge to eat last week. But my strength seems to have gone up slightly. I didn't think it was possible to put on muscle cutting unless you had just started to lift and got noob gains?

My typical diet is as follows

Two scoops whey protein 70g cashew nuts 30g monkey nuts 200g Lean beef with two tablespoons of pure horseradish ( blows your nose off) 300g mixed vegetables microwaved ( cauliflower, broccoli and carrots) 2 kiwi fruits 3 satsumas 1 red grapefruit 200g salmon 300g mushrooms, broccoli and green beans. 3 scoops multi source protein before bed.

If I was to break my macros down an estimate is

80g natural fat ( this should probably even be higher) 100gish carbs 250g protein

Im sure some of you will say that not perfect but that's pretty damn clean and i'm still hungry a lot of the time. Is it possible that i'm just smashing fat and building muscle at the same time? People have said I keep looking leaner. Has anyone else gone through similar phases when your goal is to cut body fat and you aren't sure if you are putting on muscle?

This is my first question apologies for the overkill on text guys.

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6 Replies

18437 · January 17, 2013 at 2:05 PM

At 20% I think you could easily recomp without losing or gaining weight. I've done it before. If your getting stronger while remaining at the same weight Its quite likely your replacing fat with muscle. I didn't do any specific approach. Just made sure the scale weight was the same as I got stronger was my method. This was 20 years ago in the off season as a wrestler there may be better ways.

2930 · January 17, 2013 at 10:36 AM

You can't gain that much muscle weight in a week or even two, unless you're on steroids. It's most likely regained/retained water weight, as were the kilos you lost in the first week or two. Reasonable expectation for sustained bodyweight loss is 0.3 to 0.5kg per week.

Don't trust the scale, it's not a very accurate way to measure your progress when shedding fat. Take body measurements every week on the same day at the same time of day. Take pictures. How your clothes fit is another more useful metric.

4400 · January 17, 2013 at 6:56 PM

  1. Are your pants getting looser? Forget the scale: it won't tell you fat vs muscle vs water weight. A tape measure around your waist tells you everything you need to know about body fat and whether you are making progress.

  2. Hard cardio won't help much with fat loss or muscle gain. Keep to the strength and HIIT during your weight loss phase and don't kill yourself. Stress (including exercise stress) -> cortisol -> fat retention, so keep the exercise under control and have some rest days. I know it's counterintuitive ...

679 · January 17, 2013 at 2:50 PM

Given you stats, and I am taking a guess based on your posting of you age, your weight could vary by a lot more than 1 lb just over the course of a day.

I'm 5'11" and 270lbs and I can see a swing a several pounds over the course of a few hours.

On a more practical note at %20 a recomp is fairly easy. There are many who swear it's impossible to do but many of us, maybe including yourself, have done it.

0 · January 17, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Use a boby fat monitor too if you have one, and you are wooried that the weight gain is bad..

366 · January 17, 2013 at 12:19 PM


If I may suggest something. Now, I know a lot of people will suggest this, but if you follow Leangains you will cut rather well. Then when you get down to say 10 - 12% bodyfat, you can line yourself up for a body recomp.

It isn't really possible to gain muscle while eating under maintenance, as your body will be doing all it can to merely maintain the muscle mass you already have. Once you begin eating at a maintenance level, things will be different.

I'll make it quick, but your Macros seem pretty good. You may just wanna change things up a little to confuse your body a bit. Take your bodyweight and multiply by 13. Cut back your lifting days to 3 times a week. On those days, you'll eat 10% under that, and on rest days you'll eat 30% under.

Workout days - 2660 Cals

PRO - 300g (1200 Cals) CHO - 250g (1000 Cals) FAT - 50g (450 Cals)

Rest Days - 2250 Cals

PRO - 300g (1200 Cals) CHO - 50g (200 Cals) FAT - 95g (855 Cals)

Now, protein is kept high to increase satiety. Trust me it helps. They say to keep Fat low on work days so that it won't get stored as adipose tissue, even though you'll be eating under maintenance, I'd do it to keep safe.

By rights, you should have plenty of energy. I haven't had a slump yet.

Now, I could do a Hodgetwins and say "All of this is just advice, you can do whatever the F**k you wanna do" but that's trademarked. Just take away from this what you will and use it wisely :)

~ Cricket

p.s. If you made it through this.. congrats!

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