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How to be sure not to 'burn' muscle?


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I am exercising quite a bit...60 mins minimum of cardio 5 days a week and 3 days a week of weights. As I read articles and posts on how your body gets its energy, I am worried I am taking muscle instead of fat. Is there something I should do, say eat more protein, to make sure I dont use my muscle as an energy reserve, instead use my fat. Not only do I want to keep what muscle I have, I want to build them up some. Anyone know what steps help ensure fat burning instead of muscle burning?
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The only way to ensure you keep your muscles and build some more is by resistance training. Lifting weights, basically.

otherwise, yes, you are burning SOME muscle as well as some fat.
I've lost quite a bit of muscle by doing something close to what your doing laurenz, however I did not lift heavy weights nor make sure I was taking in as much protein as I should have been.
I think as long as you keep a high protein intake with your cardio being long+slow, plus heavy resistance training you will be fine.  (In my opinion, no promises)
#3  
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Get enough carbs. 
Wow hkellick, I just read your bio which sent me to your post which was awesome. Thanks for that. So, if I am going to burn some muscle as well as fat would I just need to be sure and build more muscle than I burn? Like, taking 2 steps forward by working out, and 1 step back from my body munching on my muscle? I can deal with a 2 step forward 1 step back approach.
Unfortunately it is extremely hard to tell where fat burning turns into muscle burning. 

One thing to make sure is that you are consuming the appropriate number of calories so that your body does not go into 'starvation mode' and starts 'feeding off you muscles' (finding muscles as an energy source instead of fat). 

For weight loss, it is important to keep your cardio in the fat burning zones and if you go into the aerobic zones, only do so every few days with rest in between and consume more calories on these days.

I Googled "burning fat not muscle" and here are a couple of websites that came up.  I just glanced at them and they looked pretty informative.

http://www.exrx.net/WeightTraining/Myths.html

http://www.bodybuildingforyou.com/articles-submit/je sse-cannone/fat-burning-workout-13minutes.htm
#6  
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when your doing cardio your body wants to burn Carbs and fat, in that order. The first part of your cardio workout, the first 20minutes is fueled mostly from carbs. After that your body switches to a higher combination of stored fat/available carbs. This combination can last for hours mattering on what your doing, how long your doing it, and what condition you body is in. Protein is also burned but that takes much more effort for your body then fat and carbs so its the third option. If you have enough fat stores on your body then having to use protein may not be necessary at all.

The best thing to do is to eat more carbs the day before or night before a workout. Also eat them in the two hours after your workout (they are replenished better). This will leave a large fuel source for your workout to run on.

Second remember that eating protein does not dictate the size of your muscles. If you eat protein and it is not used for muscle repair,energy, or other uses then it is converted straight to fat. If you want to maintain and expand the size of your muscles while also having a major cardio workout the only option is to lift weights. Increase protein the more you lift so that the protein is used for muscles rebuilding and not energy.
As said by sns33,  he is right about how your metabolism works BUT I don't suggest you eat the amount of carbs as he/she described.

First of all, it takes your body a way longer time to convert carbohydrates into glucose and ATP (which is what your body uses as energy) and secondly, carbohydrates will not burn itself if you don't exercise. 

Now I know you mentioned that you do a lot of cardio and that's terrific!  If you want to keep your current muscle mass, just make sure you eat a lot of lean proteins and not too much sugar products and processed carbs. 

You just have to realize that your body works as a give and take sort of system.  Your body needs protein to burn energy, if you eat a high carb diet, it takes longer for the energy to be processed and thus you'll probably end up with a gut if carbs are all you eat. 

If you want a lean muscular toned body, i would suggest you do mild resistance training (not even weight training), things like sit ups, chin ups, push ups, etc. body weight training.  Cardio is the natural way to keep in shape.  But if you want to make sure you stay fit and not burn yourself out, you should pay attention to what you eat. 

Eat small well balanced meals throughout the day and remember, you are what you eat.
Wow, thanks all for the help. Really sounds like for the most part I am doing the right stuff...just a few tweaks here and there.

Lauren
catabolism can be minimized by the following:

-make sure you are atleast getting 1 gram of protein per pound of LBM (you wanna aim for more)
-have some protein before bedtime
-make sure you get some protein at every meal. (No more than 5-6 hours between)
-up your protein intake on cardio days, and make sure you get plenty of carbs.
-remember to opt for high-protein recovery meals after a workout.

another thing about protein, your body only utilizes 6 grams of protein at a time/meal/snack.. the rest is usually broken down into glucose (but that does require more of your body calorie-wise, so protein is pretty much thermogenic in effect and you'll burn off about 20% anyway), so it's a good idea to divide your protein intake instead of having 1 or two high protein meals.

ok, so i've been hitting the bench. I 've been making steady gains, and each week i have noticible strength increase. I did a 1 hour 1/2 , a 2 1/2 hour, and 4 1/2 hour walk session. I 've been steady at my weight for three weeks but this week after the above mentioned walk sessions i lost 3 1/2 maybe 4 pounds. my chest is no sore, it's usually sore for a week before i go to the gym again. i went back to the gym after 3 days instead of 7, and i didn't want to push too hard. but i'm not really sore at all. Do you guys think i burnt chest muscle from doing the walking? what do you think? do you think the sore muscles burn off before any others? that would suck. i want to gain pecs and lose my gut. hmm

And remember: protein is made by wizards and elves and delivered by unicorns, so it has magic powers. Just ask the people who sell the stuff. 

The first thing I would ask, is why are you doing five hours of cardio a week? Are you doing it because you enjoy it, or because you feel you have to? In all honesty, you could get better results and more done in less time doing circuit training with free weights 3x per week. The weight training helps you to retain the muscle you have, and the short rest periods give you your cardio. You are essentially killing two birds with one stone and the higher intensity of the workout is better for fat loss.

However, cardio has gotten a bad rap in terms of causing muscle loss. The reason why people lose muscle from doing tons of cardio is because they don't eat properly. They don't take in enough calories or protein and when you combine that with even more calories being burnt from all the cardio, it results in muscle loss. That is why you always see the 20-30 minutes 3x a week recommendation. It is much easier to control your caloric intake, with minimal calories burnt from cardio. So if you enjoy doing five hours of cardio, keep doing it. Just make sure you are eating enough calories (stay within a 500 calorie deficit), take in enough protein (1 gram per pound of body weight) and keep up with your strength training.

Like I said earlier though, if you are doing that much cardio because you think you have to, you can get great results doing circuit training 3x per week with free weights and keeping a clean diet.

Thanks for the reply. i was looking to lose some body fat, it seems body fat is a estrogen storehouse, so i want to trim down asap. i used to hike and walk for extended periords without problems and had a very low body fat content. i was doing weights in the gym, 3 times a week, light resistance training. I was working to lose weight. i switched to once a week where i was making strength gains.  The walking is out on the trails and there's a nice scenery and plenty of varied women.  I thought the cardio might be the fastest way to burn blubber. i was doing 5 hour circuit training or something like it in the gym. pretty much hop from machine to machine and free weights different muscle groups and doing the heavy bag for 5 hours. i would do lght weights to exhaustion. I wasn't losing muscle doing any of that.  I'm thinking maybe stick with the strength gain, and not expect to lose the tummy fat.  hopefully the more muscle i get, the more fat i burn just on daily upkeep. i'd rather build up strength then lose the fat. To me it see the best choice.  perhaps the soreness went away just because of the heavy cardio pumping blood, it was walking up and down steep inclines.  i'll know when i hit the gym at full rest. i had been making pretty dramatic strength increase every week. so if i'm weaker, then it will be known. i hope that's not the case.  I was looking forward to losing 3 lbs of fat a week, then after 10 weeks, i'd be where i want to be.  Hmm. so, did i burn muscle? or just heal faster?

Ok the verdict is this. It took 1 week to lose 8 lbs. I can see it. I actually look muscular, more defined. But it is a fact i am much weaker. Where i could do 20 reps, i could only do 6 with 10 LESS lbs. That is much weaker. I lofted to exhaustion, but i don't think i'm going to feel sore. my muscles don't feel tired at all. just weak. I was really enjoying coming home and feeling ripped up, then sore for a week to find that i had gained a very noticle strength increment in one session. Now, it seems so hard. AAnd no matter how i pushed, i couldn't get the effect.  There's some questions here. perhaps it has to do with stored muscle energy. i don't know, but i'm not going to get the strength gain, (which means mass too i would think) that i was looking for. How to get back there? that's the question. This really is interesting.

#15  
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Original Post by 1200calgirl:

catabolism can be minimized by the following:

-make sure you are atleast getting 1 gram of protein per pound of LBM (you wanna aim for more)
-have some protein before bedtime
-make sure you get some protein at every meal. (No more than 5-6 hours between)
-up your protein intake on cardio days, and make sure you get plenty of carbs.
-remember to opt for high-protein recovery meals after a workout.

another thing about protein, your body only utilizes 6 grams of protein at a time/meal/snack.. the rest is usually broken down into glucose (but that does require more of your body calorie-wise, so protein is pretty much thermogenic in effect and you'll burn off about 20% anyway), so it's a good idea to divide your protein intake instead of having 1 or two high protein meals.

 I'm a bit confused by this. If the body can only utilise 6 grams of protein per meal or snack, why is it important to get 1 gram of protein per pound of LBM? Let's say I have 3 meals and 3 snacks: the most protein my body can use is 6g x 6 = 36g. What's the rest of the protein for?

Different exercise recruit a combination of different substrates for fuel, so I wouldn't get to technical with what your body is burning at any particular minute, because it may utilize ATP, glycogen, protein or stored body fat in different proportions all in one workout and throughout the day............To minimize muscle loss while in a deficit make sure your eating enough protein, weight training a minimum of 3 times a week for at least 45 minutes with heavy weights and your deficit isn't extreme............

Original Post by neanderthin:

Different exercise recruit a combination of different substrates for fuel, so I wouldn't get to technical with what your body is burning at any particular minute, because it may utilize ATP, glycogen, protein or stored body fat in different proportions all in one workout and throughout the day............To minimize muscle loss while in a deficit make sure your eating enough protein, weight training a minimum of 3 times a week for at least 45 minutes with heavy weights and your deficit isn't extreme............

sounds good sounds good. it is a complicated thing and it seems a mistake to over simply things and feel certain. There still a lot of things science hasn't come to underrstand, particulary in my opinion in how the body relagates growth and muscle hormones.  My quest goes further. i went to the gym yesterday. I though i was pushing pretty good. I decided to work more on the incline bench and i decided to use wider grips on my bench press. I even upped the wait on my inbetween rest sets. I thought i was certain to have some soreness, but today, nothing, just my joints are sore BUT.. i do feel a little bigger.  I'm thinking that perhaps i stripped but not eradicated my muscles. perhaps i have  dimished but not removed fibers. Therefore, they were not set to the point to splitting but they were set to the point to be fortified. I'm not really sore, so i can go back. i'd rather do a once a week. I know that was working. what i'm going to do is to type up a rigid workout, stick to it. Time it. and then increase it. which is what i was doing, but recently i decided to just do max reps cause i was seeing steady results.  This was unexpected to actually become weaker. So yeah, that's where i'm at. Like i said, perhaps the cardio robbed someting from my muscle mass. There but unfortified. I think that's correct.

HI Lauren, without knowing how much sleep you get every night and what your job is its hard to give you an accurate guide but from what you said I would say 3 weights sessions and 5 cardio per week is over training.  At the end of the day if your body doesn't rest enough not only can you lose muscle but it can effect your immune system.

People who train that much are usually athletes or sports people and they have a really strict diet and resting routine to help themselves through the training. For a person like yourself I would keep your weights sessions to 45 mins and then maybe do 20 mins of cardio 60% to 70% followed by stretching 3 times a week and then doing one or 2 seperate cardio days is more than sufficient.  The 2 seperate cardio days you can work more intensley.

If you feel the need to go to the gym everyday then why not go there on your rest days and do some walking to get warm and then just spend the rest of the time stretching. You will feel the benefits of this kind of a routine soon enough and avoid overtraining. This of course is my opinion and many people may disagree with me but I have been training for 20 years and in the past have done myself alot of harm by overtraining.

Oh and after reading more replies I have noticed that people are talking protein protein protein, this is good obviously but no one has mentioned fat. If you want to build muscle you need fat to do it. This is what makes muscles actually grow, I do of course mean mono and poly fats. Protein repairs muscle and therefore helps it to grow in that way but its the fat which is what makes it grow in the first place. Eat less bad fats eat more good fats and your body will thank you for it.

Avocardos are great as are nuts like brazils, almonds, walnuts and cashews.

Original Post by thewolverine:

Oh and after reading more replies I have noticed ...

Did you notice the original post was from 2007?

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