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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The diet requirements of losing weight and gaining muscle seem quite contradictory.

I am wondering if anyone has been able to loss weight to the point of being almost underweight, yet able to train up enough muscles at least in the arms and legs. Not hunky muscular but just muscular enough to be able to generate substantial arm and leg power.

I have been able to lose a lot of weight yet trying to decide what balance of diet I should eat in order to have enough building block for muscles. Is it possible to achieve such a balance of diet?
 

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If you are really overweight (with more than 16% body-fat) then it is possible to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time. Your diet should contain just enough complex carbs to fuel your workouts and it should also be high in protein. You should cut down fat intake and stay away from simple sugars. Simple sugars are your worst enemy.

If you are at 10% or less bodyfat, then it is impossible to lose fat without losing muscle. However, in this case strength training (heavy weights and low reps) and high protein diet will help you to preserve muscle while still losing fat.

And don't starve yourself it will only lead to binges later on. You should eat enough so that you are still able to train with high intensity. If your workouts suffer because of lack of calories you are not eating enough.
 

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People lose fat and gain muscle all the time. If you train hard so that the muscles are breaking down and give them plenty of protein to rebuild you will lose fat and gain muscle. Make sure you do not starve yourself, run a modest calorie deficit. If you run too much of a calorie deficit your body will think you are dying and that could be counterproductive to building muscle. You could even lose it in bone strength if it got bad enough. Weight is just a number, so underweight and muscular are two very subjective things. You can be underweight and unhealthy far, or obese and very healthy. Weight is a lazy metric that does not really prove anything. What really matters is fat percentage.
 

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The simple answer is ....Yes...the molecular pathways which control muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and breakdown of tissues (muscle and adipose) are basically opposite in nature....If you are truly interested in the molecular biology of this area, check out Phillips SM and Baar K on pubmed. Rennie has a bit of work in that area too.

As perpetuum mobile said, heavy and/or appropriate resistance training with an appropriate protein and energy intake can maintain and occasionally cause an increase in LBM (muscle) with a concurrent loss of fat mass and weight.

I personally gain lean mass in my legs from cycling in my base and build phases as I lose fat mass in my upper body and abdomen with a loss of weight overall. All with a gain in FTP. I have tracked this using DXA and basically follow a nutrient periodized paleo template diet. If I had the resources, I would love to track some molecular changes as well. There is emerging evidence (and identified) genetic markers to determine responders and non-responders.

I also had success as a competitive bodybuilder many years ago with a lower carb, higher fat periodized diet to gain a pretty substantial amount of muscle mass while also gaining weight and losing fat mass (Again assessed via DXA). It is basically timing nutrient intake with nutrient needs as based upon the goals of the workout.

If you are serious about your training and nutrition, you are always recovering from or preparing for a workout. BUT!!!! don't let it drive you crazy. There is a lot of leeway when your training load gets high. For me, when I get over 13 hours (TSS of ~ 700+) I have to eat outside of the ‘plan’ just to get enough calories in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
If you are at 10% or less bodyfat, then it is impossible to lose fat without losing muscle. However, in this case strength training (heavy weights and low reps) and high protein diet will help you to preserve muscle while still losing fat.
That is disappointing if it is true. I am satisfied with my weight (57+kg at 1.74m) because I feel that being light helps me to run, cycle and exercise with less energy (less weight to carry around) ie more fit.

However I wish that I can maintain this weight while also building up muscles so that I can sprint faster if I want to or do more pull-ups for example. I hope I still have more fat to be converted to muscle but feel that I am running out of it.


As perpetuum mobile said, heavy and/or appropriate resistance training with an appropriate protein and energy intake can maintain and occasionally cause an increase in LBM (muscle) with a concurrent loss of fat mass and weight.

If you are serious about your training and nutrition, you are always recovering from or preparing for a workout. BUT!!!! don't let it drive you crazy. There is a lot of leeway when your training load gets high. For me, when I get over 13 hours (TSS of ~ 700+) I have to eat outside of the ‘plan’ just to get enough calories in.
Sounds like there is hope after all. From the sound of it, I have barely scratched the surface of training and has a lot of room to increase my workout level, though time and energy is a factor. But there is definitely motivation to step it up a notch.
 

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At your height and weight, you're probably built to be thin. I tried for several years to bulk up and I simply got more toned. If running and cycling are your goals, just do that and call it good.
 

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I think you should stop obsessing about weight, and just train in your sports and eat a balanced diet. You're very thin, and very lean. You're the same height and weight as Marco Pantani in his prime.
 

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I think you should stop obsessing about weight, and just train in your sports and eat a balanced diet. You're very thin, and very lean. You're the same height and weight as Marco Pantani in his prime.
I would also add that comparing yourself with pro athletes is not wise. When sports is your full-time job and when you are on the juice you can still put out a lot of watts while being severely underweight. It is not healthy to be under 10% bf anyway. Your immune system, recovery, hormonal balance will suffer especially in the long term.

When I train I compare my performance only to my performance yesterday. I would recommend that you focus on your running and cycling pace/power/speed or other metric rather than your body-weight.
 

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Ballet dancers do it all the time. And it's supposed to be a big problem among female endurance runners. Female ballet dancers, gymnasts and endurance athletes sometimes have problems with osteoporosis and menstrual irregularity.

Something's gotta give.

I looked up your height and weight. (I love SI when I'm doing physics and engineering, but don't really use it for people.) You're really skinny for your height. I'm your height with a medium frame and I haven't weighed that little since high school. I was fast at 135 lb, but I feel like my immune system wasn't as solid as it could be, and my energy level sometimes had inconsistencies. So I think ideal weight for me is more like 140.

Of course, now I'm at 160. :p I guess the entire range of weights I've mentioned in this post are in the range of healthy according to BMI. But BMI is made to be simple. This is my subjective view as someone who wants to be fast and healthy. Nobody's ever going to pay me to ride my bike (well, beyond race reimbursements and the occasional gift certificate) so I'd just as soon continue to ride my bike into my 50s, 60s, 70s... maybe take on Robert Marchand's hour record.
 

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You’re one skinny mofo. That’s not an insult, I’m a skinny mofo too – about your weight but 3 inches shorter. I hear ya though OP, I eat a good diet and I exercise but would like to gain weight. Can’t really do it unless I ease up on the exercise or eat bad food, or eat more good food, but there isn’t enough time in the day for that – my metabolism is just too fast.

It can be deceptive. There are people that are thin but internally, they are unhealthy. Their organs are lined with fat. And then there are people that are not thin at all on the outside and may seem a bit overweight but are quite healthy. I forget what that’s called but there is a descriptive word or phrase for it. I know for me, my weight isn’t as good an indication of my health as it is for others. I’ve always been low weight but haven’t always been healthy.

Anyway, the answer (from my experience as a hard gainer) is that it is possible but difficult. You asked specifically about diet, not exercise so I’ll address that and assume you are doing what is appropriate for your goals in terms of the type of sport exercises you choose. If I were you, I would concentrate on simply eating more – a lot more. But, it should be good quality food. Increase the portions a little, but just a little - more importantly is to add a couple of meals to your day.

I get what you are after I think. You want to stay lean while getting bigger but not have a poof of fat around the belly– you want to be exactly as you are with more mass and no loss of definition. I say good luck with it but don’t get weird and let in control you.

Spade and JC said some normal and easy things – “If running and cycling are your goals, just do that and call it good” and “I think you should stop obsessing about weight, and just train in your sports and eat a balanced diet”
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
At your height and weight, you're probably built to be thin. I tried for several years to bulk up and I simply got more toned. If running and cycling are your goals, just do that and call it good.
Actually only a few months ago I was around 10kg heavier, before I started exercising more intensively. So far getting lighter has been good for me, I feel fitter and move with less effort and even feel healthier (doesn't catch cold as often).

I guess it might be the exercise that has been making me healthier and that losing weight is just a symptom, but I don't feel any real bad side-effects of being lighter (other than the fact that I don't feel like superman). So I have been aiming at getting to the borderline of underweight.

Now that I am almost there I am starting to consider adding strength and might even consider putting on a little weight to add strength. I also came across this article by a boxer who said he got injured more easily as his BMI got too low. Now I am not a boxer but it made me think about experimenting with upping the BMI a little :)

SecondsOut Boxing News - Training & Conditioning - So you want to become a professional boxer
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
At your height and weight, you're probably built to be thin. I tried for several years to bulk up and I simply got more toned. If running and cycling are your goals, just do that and call it good.
Actually only a few months ago I was around 10kg heavier, before I started exercising more intensively. So far getting lighter has been good for me, I feel fitter and move with less effort and even feel healthier (doesn't catch cold as often).

I guess it might be the exercise that has been making me healthier and that losing weight is just a symptom, but I don't feel any real bad side-effects of being lighter (other than the fact that I don't feel like superman). So I have been aiming at getting to the borderline of underweight.

Now that I am almost there I am starting to consider adding strength and might even consider putting on a little weight to add strength. I also came across this article by a boxer who said he got injured more easily as his BMI got too low. Now I am not a boxer but it made me think about experimenting with upping the BMI a little :)

SecondsOut Boxing News - Training & Conditioning - So you want to become a professional boxer
 

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Why exactly are you trying to gain weight? Some upper body work isn't a bad thing on the bike. Trying to bulk up probably isn't going to do much for you on the bike.

I've been able to gain weight before, but not in a useful way. I mostly did it to "fight" being such a lightweight after hearing for so long that I'm underweight. 5'6" and 120lbs is light, but it's a very healthy weight for me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
No I don't want to gain weight but I want to gain power and muscles. Ideally I can stay light and still build up muscles. I am weak in actions related to burst of power/speed like sprinting fast (running or cycling), or standing up to get over a small hill fast. Also given my low weight I am expecting to be able to do pull-ups more easily for example.
 
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