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losing fat vs. muscle

 
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Merry



Joined: 22 Sep 2008
Posts: 1454

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 5:14 am    Post subject: losing fat vs. muscle Reply with quote

I was doing a little bit of reading over the weekend on this topic, and it started me wondering how we make sure we're losing fat and not muscle. With a slow weight-loss plan like No-S (and I only lose about 2 lbs. a month at most), is this still a concern?
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Homeschool Mom and No S returnee as of 11-30-15.

28.5 lbs. down, 34.5 to go. Slow and steady wins the race.

"...slim cultures...value not overeating. They don't eat more of a food just because it's good. They enjoy the food more."--Oolala
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LifeisaBlessing



Joined: 02 Jun 2016
Posts: 290

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 10:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Merry!

You've touched on one of my favorite topics of research! Smile

Short answer to your question: you have nothing to worry about! Slow and steady weight loss pretty much ensures that you're losing fat versus muscle.

Another short answer: Muscle loss is more of a concern when body fat amounts are nearing, or already at, essential levels. For men, this is around 2-5%; women, 10-13%.

Longer answers: Most of the arguments and debate concerning muscle loss center around the important fact that since the body needs protein to survive and thrive, if you don't get enough in your diet, no matter what your weight/fitness level/body fat percentage is, your body will dip into its own muscle to provide its own protein needs--thus, why there are recommendations for minimum amounts of protein to consume to counteract this. For most adult sedentary males, this is around 56 grams per day; sedentary females, 46 grams per day.

If you look at some of the fitness and bodybuilding websites, you'll see the protein debate is going strong. Depending on activity level, age, sex, and life state, protein needs can vary widely throughout a person's life. New research over the last year has concluded that increasing protein is very important for aging.

Personally, I always aim for 60 grams of protein per day minimum, but I like to get close to 100 grams a day if I can. My body fat percentage is in the 15-16% range. The added benefit is that protein is the most satiating of all the macronutrients, so it does make eating reduced amounts of food a bit easier.

Hope this helps! Smile
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I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.

~Jimmy Dean
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oolala53



Joined: 06 Oct 2008
Posts: 7943
Location: San Diego, CA USA

PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2017 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

With all due respect, I found that I lost muscle over the years of slow loss. You don't want to know how much. I can't prove why, but I suspect it was because I did A lot of sitting in those years. I may have lost that muscle anyway, but it did happen. I can't guarantee that some kind of consistent exercise will preserve muscle, but changing body composition is not the only or even most important reason to exercise consistently. I wouldn't abandon No S if I didn't exercise consistently, but I think it's a very good habit to add.

I also think I'm still better off even with the loss of muscle along with the fat. My body fat is still lower than it was, even though it would probably be a different ratio if I had consistently done my 14 minutes and my walking. Or even 10 minutes!
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Count plates, not calories. Three a day. 7 years & counting
Age 63 SBMI Jan/10-30.8 Jan/12-26.8 Mar/13-24.9 Dec/15 24.8 held steady +/- 8-lb. for two years Mar/17 22.8

There is no S better than Vanilla No S.
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Merry



Joined: 22 Sep 2008
Posts: 1454

PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 5:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How does one even know if one has lost muscle? (I'm not especially well-toned...) How did you know you lost a lot, Oolala?

I do think it's normal to lose muscle when aging, and also when leading a more sedentary life (both things that are making me realize that some kind of regular exercise is valuable/important. I mean, I always "knew" but didn't always act on that knowledge, LOL! Now I'm more motivated...).

Part of me thinks that some muscle loss with significant weight loss would be normal--I mean, doesn't it take less muscle to carry around 50 fewer pounds?

I was more thinking about excess muscle loss (and also wondering if that's the main thing that affects metabolism when people do these extreme diets)--whether that's a danger when losing slowly.
_________________
Homeschool Mom and No S returnee as of 11-30-15.

28.5 lbs. down, 34.5 to go. Slow and steady wins the race.

"...slim cultures...value not overeating. They don't eat more of a food just because it's good. They enjoy the food more."--Oolala
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oolala53



Joined: 06 Oct 2008
Posts: 7943
Location: San Diego, CA USA

PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've had my bodyfat measured at various points. The percentage is rather high, and hasn't changed much, meaning the loss of muscle and fat have been at about the same rate, instead of a higher proportion of fat. It's possible a different ratio of macronutrients or something eating related might have changed that, but it demands a level of either luck or precision that I think most of us are not willing to give.

As far as I know, consistent bouts of resistance work are one of the best ways to get the body to use its intake to preserve muscle.

And because it's my plan to stick with this and not go back to my old eating patterns, it's not a concern that I will gain back and gain more fat, so for me, while not ideal, I'd say it's been worth the tradeoff.
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Count plates, not calories. Three a day. 7 years & counting
Age 63 SBMI Jan/10-30.8 Jan/12-26.8 Mar/13-24.9 Dec/15 24.8 held steady +/- 8-lb. for two years Mar/17 22.8

There is no S better than Vanilla No S.
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LifeisaBlessing



Joined: 02 Jun 2016
Posts: 290

PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 10:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Merry, you can track muscle loss a number of ways. There are medical tests, scans, etc., or you can even track it yourself at home using calipers and/or any of the various bioelectrical impedance devices out there. I use a BI combo scale to keep tabs on both my weight and body fat percentage.

You are correct when you mention that it is normal to lose muscle as we age. That's why recent research emphasizes the importance of increased protein consumption for aging, basically to counteract this tendency.

And of course the less active a person is, the less muscle the body needs -- basically because there is no reason for it to be there. Ever have a cast on a body part? Remember what it looked like when you got the cast off? The casted limb was noticeably smaller than the un-casted limb, partially due to atrophy/muscle loss. So moving, exercising, and staying active are all very important parts of keeping the body healthy and retaining as much muscle as possible.

You are also correct when mentioning that some muscle loss with significant weight loss is normal. Since the body is no longer carrying around excess weight, the muscle needed to assist the body in carrying said weight is unnecessary. So yes, it does indeed take less muscle to carry around 50 fewer pounds.

Honestly, you really don't have to worry about excess muscle loss as you lose weight, provided that you keep your protein intake adequate. And there is some debate over whether there really is a difference between losing weight slowly versus quickly. What affects metabolism isn't so much the loss of muscle per se, or the rate of weight loss, it's the simple fact that when your body weighs less, it needs less calories/food to exist. The problems enter in when the person on the extreme diet gets tired of eating that way, then goes back to eating "normally" or even more than he/she would have before. Then that annoying law of thermodynamics really kicks in! More calories ingested=more weight gained.

It's also interesting to note that for all the fuss and hand-wringing over muscle, muscle tissue burns only around 4-6 calories per pound more than fat. That doesn't amount to much! The real calorie burn comes from the exercise to add or maintain that muscle. Think of what professional athletes and bodybuilders do: they spend a great majority of their day exercising, conditioning, practicing their sport. That adds up to a lot of calories burned from activity. And even they still have to watch what they eat.

The main takeaway from all of this is to eat your protein and stay as active as possible as you lose and eventually maintain your weight--you'll be fine! Smile
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I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.

~Jimmy Dean
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oolala53



Joined: 06 Oct 2008
Posts: 7943
Location: San Diego, CA USA

PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And some of that activity should be resistance work. I really wish I had done it. Even at my BMI, I'm at nearly 30% bodyfat, and I doubt I'd be there if I had done my 14 minutes with some weight while I was losing. Very Happy But it's your call. And I wouldn't chuck the program over it either way.
_________________
Count plates, not calories. Three a day. 7 years & counting
Age 63 SBMI Jan/10-30.8 Jan/12-26.8 Mar/13-24.9 Dec/15 24.8 held steady +/- 8-lb. for two years Mar/17 22.8

There is no S better than Vanilla No S.
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Merry



Joined: 22 Sep 2008
Posts: 1454

PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 5:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

oolala53 wrote:
And I wouldn't chuck the program over it either way.


I wouldn't either! In fact, I purposefully didn't track exercise at all the first year I was on No-S--I didn't want to discourage myself from sticking with it by trying to make myself do TWO things I'd never been consistent with in the past! One at a time was enough! Around October last year, I started really wanting to add in some exercise (and I mean really basic stuff--walking, 20 minutes on an elliptical, a 14 minute T-tapp workout...). So I've added a Habitcal for that, but I only track positively (green for elliptical or T-Tapp, yellow for walking--just so I know the difference between the workouts that make me sweat & taking a walk). I don't get reds for not working out, and I just see how many days I can get in a month. Some weeks might be 2 days, some might be 4-5. But I think this is the most positively motivated I've ever been about exercising (and kept it up). I attribute that to the self-control gained from doing No-S (and I used to pray I could develop self-control--it's exciting to see God answer that prayer, though I still have plenty of room for improvement!).

Some day I hope to be at the current recommendation of 150 minutes a week of some type of exercise. I work a desk job, so I'm seeing that movement is important--and I'm just glad I want to move! But, I know I have to work up to that--if I try to jump there all at once, I'll just rebel & give up. We have to know ourselves and know how we work, right?!
_________________
Homeschool Mom and No S returnee as of 11-30-15.

28.5 lbs. down, 34.5 to go. Slow and steady wins the race.

"...slim cultures...value not overeating. They don't eat more of a food just because it's good. They enjoy the food more."--Oolala
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Merry



Joined: 22 Sep 2008
Posts: 1454

PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 5:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LifeisaBlessing wrote:
I use a BI combo scale to keep tabs on both my weight and body fat percentage.


What's that? Do you have a link to one?

LifeisaBlessing wrote:

The main takeaway from all of this is to eat your protein and stay as active as possible as you lose and eventually maintain your weight--you'll be fine! Smile


Not sure I do eat enough protein (and the info out there is confusing on that front too). But one way I have changed on No-S is that sometimes I opt to drop the bread from my meal if something else is more appealing/flavorful (like having a brat or hamburger w/o a bun, things like that). Tonight I had baked chicken on fresh greens from a friend's garden (SO yummy!) and some baked beans. But sometimes I'm just hungry for cereal and milk, and there's not much protein there!
_________________
Homeschool Mom and No S returnee as of 11-30-15.

28.5 lbs. down, 34.5 to go. Slow and steady wins the race.

"...slim cultures...value not overeating. They don't eat more of a food just because it's good. They enjoy the food more."--Oolala
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oolala53



Joined: 06 Oct 2008
Posts: 7943
Location: San Diego, CA USA

PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 8:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, the protein thing is controversial to me because what is recommended to build muscle is higher than some of the longevity experts' recommendations I've read. Many sources don't identify what low protein, moderate protein, or high protein is, either. One of the last articles I browsed on it said at least in an animal study, higher protein led to more muscle/ less fat, but earlier death. Yippee!

An ex boyfriend from my '40's used to say,"Have fun, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse." (To which I'd say, Honey, it's too late for us to die young.)

A "habit" guy someone on Spark likes agrees that trying to start changing food and movement at the same time usually causes willpower overload.

But I think even four minutes of something with weight, body or otherwise, could make a difference. I noticed a difference in strength and peppiness after a few weeks of that. But did I keep it up? No. To me, it's harder to add a behavior than to reduce one, ie. exercise vs, not eat S's.
_________________
Count plates, not calories. Three a day. 7 years & counting
Age 63 SBMI Jan/10-30.8 Jan/12-26.8 Mar/13-24.9 Dec/15 24.8 held steady +/- 8-lb. for two years Mar/17 22.8

There is no S better than Vanilla No S.
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LifeisaBlessing



Joined: 02 Jun 2016
Posts: 290

PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 3:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"BI" stands for bioelectrical impedance. The devices use a very low level electrical current sent through your body to determine fat percent. Don't worry, it's not Frankenstein electric current level lol! It's perfectly safe for most people, but pregnant women and people who have electrical devices in their bodies (pacemakers, implanted cardio defibrillators, etc.) should NOT use them.

Here is the one I use from Walmart. There are many mixed reviews on it, but I've found it to be very reliable and easy to use. My body fat percentages match up with pictures of other people with similar numbers (simply Google images of "examples of different levels of body fat" to see). The key is to measure yourself at the same time every day, preferably after a "good" bathroom visit.

The undebated minimum amount of protein recommended for sedentary individuals is 0.36 gram per pound of body weight. So if you're a 150-pound woman, that would amount to 54 grams per day. This is a minimum.

The protein amount controversy beyond the minimum occurs when you factor activity and other life circumstances into the equation. How much activity? What type--more cardio or more strength training? Are you ill? Pregnant? Recovering from chemo? Elderly? The list goes on and on.

From my research, the general safe consensus that could broadly apply to all the above situations is 0.8g - 1.5g of protein per pound of body weight. A safe guess is the classic "1 gram of protein per pound of body weight." That seems to be the "gold standard" amongst bodybuilding circles.

As I mentioned above, I personally aim for 60-100 grams of protein daily. I found that to be my personal "sweet spot" lol. Eating 20 grams of protein per meal is doable for just about anyone, and doesn't necessarily require supplementation, unless you prefer it. It's funny you mention the cereal and milk--that's my breakfast of choice, but I always add a protein bar to my breakfast to up the protein level to meet my goals. It's very easy to do, and enables you to still eat foods you like.

Regarding strength training and exercise in general, I try to walk as much as possible and designed my own strength routine to do anywhere I happen to be. It's very basic, and gets the job done quickly, and can be broken up if needed (done altogether it never goes beyond 15 minutes). It includes isometric squats, push up variations, and other exercises I've found to be effective at shaping my body the way I like. It's just enough to keep the muscles working, but not so much that I feel like it's taking over my life, or becoming a dread to do. I think that's the key for everyone: find something you like that fits into your own unique life situation that you will have no problem doing.

Good luck in your journey--and please feel free to PM me if you'd like more details on some of the above points. Smile
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I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.

~Jimmy Dean
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Merry



Joined: 22 Sep 2008
Posts: 1454

PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Smile

LifeisaBlessing wrote:
So if you're a 150-pound woman, that would amount to 54 grams per day.


Heh-heh-heh! Some day Smile.
_________________
Homeschool Mom and No S returnee as of 11-30-15.

28.5 lbs. down, 34.5 to go. Slow and steady wins the race.

"...slim cultures...value not overeating. They don't eat more of a food just because it's good. They enjoy the food more."--Oolala
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