Maintaining
Moderators: imlosingw8


Maintaining weight but trying to gain muscle


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I want to tone up, strengthen up, gain muscle and slim down a little.

Alright, so we always hear how muscle weighs more than fat. If I want to maintain my current weight, but gain muscle, wouldn't that mean that I would gain weight? Or would the losing of fat and the gaining of muscle cancel each other out?

Should I perhaps try to lower my calories as if I were trying to lose weight, to account for the muscle-weighing-more-than-fat-phenomena?

Hmm, I have been at maintenance calories (or perhaps a tad under, since I tend to overestimate a little), and so I shouldn't be gaining anything, but that scale seems to be telling me otherwise. I've been gaining almost a pound this week.
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Try not to focus so much on the numbers, but how you look and feel. Lots of folks ditch the scale and adopt the tape measure.
I agree with ix. The tape measure is a good way to go. You probably won't gain huge amounts of weight via muscle anyway, unless you have very unusual physiology. It takes a lot of work to gain a pound of muscle. Congratulations on getting to this point.
Just keep in mind that 1 lb of muscle is a whole lot more compact then 1 lb of fat.  So if you want to look about the same weight, but just change your body fat composition, you may gain 5 lbs or something.  I've gained about 5 so far in muscle after losing about 10 of fat so...  and I'm not done yet.
If you lower your calories you won't be feeding the muscle-growth. So you'll be losing a lot of muscle instead.
Similar problem...I think I'm losing muscle mass!  I'm still trying to lose a little weight...but maybe I'm not eating enough?  I have really small bones and tiny arms, and I'm pretty thin, but being 5'9 and such a small frame it look scrawny but I can't build muscle!  I lift almost everyday and can life more than a lot of my friends who are like on the varsity crew team....However, I don't have any muscle that you can really see.  I try to get enough protein and eat balance/zone bars and such.  Any suggestions?
Fat and calories are directly related.  Muscle and calories are ONLY related in respect to your body needing calories in order to aid in the building process.  Building muscle is more of a "healing" process which occurs regardless of your calorie abundency.  Fat is nothing more then stored calories.

In other words, having a low cal diet with tons of protein will basically flood your system with the building blocks to repair torn muscle while forcing your body to use energy from your food + fat to create the building process.
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wolfpack, i'm bumping this up because i think you've stated some really important facts here.   

i'd just like to add that it's also important to remember that in order for muscles to move, which they have to do in order to get stronger, it requires a lot of calories.   so it's very important to get a clear idea of how many extra calories you are burning while muscle-building so that you eat enough.     

i was just worried a little when you said "having a low cal diet with tons of protein" because for a person at maintenance level cals, they should not be lower than the amount required for "expenditure."  figuring out expenditure to include all the workouts is really important.

otherwise you would continue to lose weight, and if i understand you, and xuraiya, that is not what you are looking for, right?

but you are absolutely right about the protein, and i think it's important not just to build up muscle, or repair it, but to maintain every part of your body.  every cell in your body has to have protein.   and all the cells that are replaced continuously (including skin and blood cells) probably need more protein than we realize.  some of it is re-cycled, but there are some ("essential") amino acids that are not.
I have relatively recently started trying to build lean muscle mass, I've been with a trainer for 2 years, and 3 months ago I showed him a pic of a beautiful totally cut woman and said "I want to look like that", silly me he took me seriously and "turned up the heat".  I have found that while I am trying to maintain I have tried to increase my protien % just a little (about 5%) and have built a signifigant amount of muscle in a pretty short time as opposed to the year or so before.  I increased my protien actually not for that purpose but more to have sustainable energy to make it through my workouts.  I have increased my cals just a little (mostly because of the higher protien), and thrown the scale out to be replaced by the tape measure.  I am sure I have gained weight, but my clothes fit the same and my abdomen has actually shrunk a full inch (the ever eternal quest for abs!) which my trainer said was a good thing on the way to a 6 pack.

Long story short, you do need more cals and protien to workout in order to increase energy and muscle building ability.  Basically I guess I am reiterating what Elin said, but it does work.
elin - my idea of a low cal diet for guys is sub-2000.  I'm not as extreme as some of these 1K calories/day people.  When I say low cal, I am talking in relation to what an athlete or body builder is use too....which is much over 2000 a day generally.

EDIT:  The idea is that muscle actually weighs a whole lot and if you eat a lot of protein with low cals, you will lose FAT weight but your net weight should be pretty consistant.

When worried about body fat composition, it's crucial to remember that calories are NOT mass.  Protein is.
yeah i've had the same problem. i've lost a lot of weight, but can't seem to gain much muscle...how much should a teenager be eating to gain a little muscle, but not gain much fat?
i have been weight training for about a year. I play a lot of sport and also do about 20+ miles of running a week.  But i seem to lose weight without looking extrememly toned or ripped. I have tried high carb diets, and high protein diets. Can anyone recommend what are the best foods to eat to rapidly gain muscle and lose fat? Also, are hard boiled egg whites good for muscle gain?
missy - I mean, are you wanting to know calorie-wise what should you eat or what?

If you mean calorie-wise, then keep in mind that it is all relative to the person.  Say that you get to the gym every day and spend an hour in there.  If you are really doing a good job and super-setting and whatnot, it's around...340-350 cal/hour.  If it's a LIGHT work-out (which probably won't make you gain muscle) then it will be more like 250 cal/hour (not sure...might want to check what this site has to say about light work-outs).

Taking that into consideration and that you are maybe similar to me (except a girl) then a 130 lb individual would probably need...

...~300-500 cal deficit?  This is by all means a gross approximation so if you are wanting something exact, you may want to ask one of these fitness students that post on here or something.  Having a little deficit is ok, but keep in mind that your muscle will grow slow.

Have you looked into creatine?  I wouldn't suggest Googling it because you are going to get a ton of wacko rumors about the stuff that all of the 'al-natural' people love to talk about.
Women have a hard time bulking up, we just don't have the hormones for it, so in all likelihood you won't gain more than a few pounds of muscle over several months of intense weight training, so I wouldn't worry too much about the scale going up from weight training.  But just a couple of pounds can make a difference in how you look, to be sure, especially combined with fat loss. 

And I don't subscribe to loading up on protein.  Do the math...muscle is 22% protein, so to gain 9 lbs of muscle in a year requires less than 2 lbs of protein.  That an additional 1/12 oz of protein day.  And most women can't gain 9 pounds of muscle in a year, so we're talking even less protein needed.  Building muscle does require adequate vitamins and minerals, though, like zinc and vitamin B6 so take a good multi-vitamin/mineral complex, food based, not chemicals (good for you, weight training or not).  And essential fats (omega 3's and 6's) also have important benefits for athletes, so nuts, seeds and their oils are an important part of a high-performance diet.

Really depends on your goals.  If you want to compete in a body building competition you need to lift heavy and fuel those workouts with extra calories.  If you're just looking to tone up but not gain a lot of bulk, you can do that on maintenance.  
     From what I have read gaining muscle while still loseing fat and overall weight is possible its just really hard to pull off.  Just have to make sure you are eating right, you can still do the common 300-500 defecit but the main thing many people do while trying to "cut up" is see what you need to maintain you weight then get the defeicit ONLY from cutting out carbs.  Muscles still need a lot of protein and healthy fat.

     Also unfortunetly you really need to up cardio workouts for this to work and do it with in a certain heart rate range for fat burning which will usually spare muscles. And of course do a 3 or 4 day weight lifting routine.

    When you add up the calories for the day it should be something like 38% Carb 38% Protein 24% Fat or find whatever works for you.  Looking for more info type in "Cutting Diets" in google should find many articles.
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