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Beginner with questions

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Hello everyone!


I have been exploring body building lately and I have made the decision that I am ready to aim for higher goals and once and for all achieve the level of fitness I know I can reach eventually. I consider myself knowledgeable in nutrition and have a passion for health and wellness. I have been vegan for quite awhile and eat a very clean diet, that being said, I still am new to this sort of fitness and have a few questions where I am still a bit confused!


First off, my goals are to decrease body fat and increase muscle mass. While I am at a healthy weight, I do have extra fat to lose. I am a 5'6 female and about 140 lbs. However, based on measurements and calculators online, I am about 28% body fat. I have looked up pictures of this online and it looks a bit bigger than I actually am, so who knows it may be less! Someday, I would like my body fat low enough that I have visible abs and lean muscle definition. But one day at a time! Right now, I want to aim for about 20% body fat, and around 130 lbs, an achievable goal, I believe.


My questions are:

1. If I want to lose weight AND build lean muscle mass, do I eat in a calorie deficit or will that inhibit me from forming muscles? I've read it is better to start with weights and cardio rather than trying to just do cardio in the beginning in the effort of losing weight. But if I am lifting, I need to increase protein and calories to support muscle growth, right? How can I do that if I'm trying to lose weight?


2. According to Livestrong.com's formulas, I should aim for 1800 cal a day to lose either .5-1lb a week (this supposedly already includes a deficit). When I add in exercise, it bumps up my calorie requirements for however much I burned. Does this mean I need to eat the calories I burned? Won't that cancel out my hard work?


3. I have just begun taking thyroid hormone replacement because i have low thyroid. I've always had a slow metabolism and gain weight incredibly easy. I feel like I should weigh 10-15 lbs less than I actually do, with as clean as I eat. So I'm not even sure if these calorie requirement formulas will work for me! I guess this isn't really a question....


4. If I run (say 200 cal a day), I need carbs to fuel that. But if I'm lifting weights, I need a higher percentage of protein than carbs. What is the correct ratio percentage if I'm doing both these activities?


Like I said, I'm pretty educated about what foods to eat, it's just the science of sports nutrition in regards to macronutrient ratios and the calculations of calories to eat.


Thank you! P.s-still trying to find a plant based personal trainer? Just bought Robert's book though!

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I can't believe nobody at all has responded to this.


Let me preface this by saying that these are only my personal opinions based off self experimentation for the last several years. Of course those experiments were influenced along the way by reading a small library of books on bodybuilding, health and nutrition too.


1. Building muscle and cutting fat can be difficult, but since you are just beginning it's more likely for you to be able too accomplish this than someone that's been working out for a while. Counting calories is relative to what you eat. The raw vegan fruit ladies at 30bananasaday.com boast that they are eating 2500+ calories a day and doing little more than running a few 5K's a week and doing some yoga. I don't know that it's necessary to give up cooked food, but one thing I do believe strongly is that not all calories are equal. You want to stick to real foods (fruits, vegetables, rice, quinoa, potatoes, beans, anything from the ground). I believe those are calories your body knows how to use. For example I was eating a high protein low carb diet on 2500 calories/day and switched to High carb low fat and low protein eating 4000 calories a day and lost 20 ibs. I've also not been to do a single workout where I haven't either added weight to the bar, or added reps to the same weight I was previously pushing. So I personally sold.


You do need protein of course, it's essential for tissue repair and recovery. But all nutrients are related. Someone eating 200 (g) of carbs/day is going o need more protein than someone eating 700(g) of carbs a day. At 185 ibs I eat around 1000 (g) of carbs a day and around 80 (g) of protein. Again, I've taken an excessive and extreme approach, but I'm building muscle and I don't have a defined 6 pack, but I'm not a fatty either. So what I'm saying is carbs should be the foundation of your diet. I take the 80/10/10 approach (carbs 80%, protein and fats 10%'s). You don't have to follow that exactly, but making carbs from whole foods the foundation of your diet is a wise decision.


2. You need to give your body the nutrients it needs to function properly and for a active 5'6" woman 1800 calories/day seems dangerously low. If you were just sitting on your couch watching TV all day it would be different, but that's no way to live. If your fats a relatively low and you aren't eating processed oils(vegetable, olive, canola, cocoanut, or High fructose corn syrup) then 2000-2500 cal's/day would be a good goal, but you'll have to test it for a month to see how your body reacts. A 500 calorie gap is a pretty fair gap.


3. that's another difficult one. You're on a medication that effects your hormones. All of the above could react entirely differently on you because of your medication. I would recommend reading some materials by Dr. John McDougal. He also has some great information on youtube.


4. I'm a big fan of 80/10/10 as I mentioned above. I've built what I think is a pretty good body on mostly carbs.


Good luck with finding a trainer. The information I shared above is of course just my opinions, but they are base on what's worked for me and what I've read.

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1. I'd say first and foremost make sure your training consistently and don't expect progress to come overnight. There's way too many people who jump into their goals via diet and lifestyle and not actual training (or correct training). I've got guy friends who want to "get big" so they begin gorging, taking many supplements, but are not being aggressive in they gym. Same goes for women they say they'll want to incorporate bodybuilding into their routine and it's more of just adding a few machines at the end of their usual treadmill session. To answer your question directly you probably don't need any sort of calorie reduction (although I don't know how much and what you're eating). A general rule of thumb is yes do strength training first before cardio. This is only really a big deal if you're truly lifting for strength as your cardio session prior would deplete the glycogen stores needed to lift heavy weight for a good about of time. Now if it's a few light weights sets at the end this wouldn't be a big deal. Again don't worry about all the ratios right off the bat. I've experimented more times than I can imagine with various diets, keep your training consistent and you're body will know what to do with the calories. I would recommend eating low fat though.


2. Ignore that post on livestrong. I believe that once your body adapts to a CONSISTANT sound training regime results will come. Not only that common sense will be there. I'm also a fan of 811 especially for a female with your goals.


3. That's a whole thing all together. It seems almost every female I talk too is on some sort of thyroid medication (among others). I definitely am not trying to diminish your condition, but again going back to consistency, I've seen many people ditch their medication and otherwise lifelong illnesses by sticking to a healthy lifestyle. Dr. McDougall and Dr. Campbell have many talks about this as Justin noted.


4. Again with the ratios don't get too hung up on it for now. Clean calories are important, but imo the jury is still out for the ideal ratio for bodybuilding. Not to mention your definition of tone and fit will different from someone else.


Also I train a few female clients that for the most part look very lean and fit, but are not. They get by eating nothing are still weak and are shocked when they do their body fat. A female can still look very fit and yet have a high body fat %. This is because they got what they wanted the wrong way by under eating, not by sufficient calories and sound training.

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  • 1 month later...


Also I train a few female clients that for the most part look very lean and fit, but are not. They get by eating nothing are still weak and are shocked when they do their body fat. A female can still look very fit and yet have a high body fat %. This is because they got what they wanted the wrong way by under eating, not by sufficient calories and sound training.


I'm one of them (not of the ones you train, though ...)and now I'm really afraid of going higher on calories... I have about 1100 /day, being 5"2 weight: 107 lbs. I go to the gym about 5 days a week and do 1 hour cardio and 1 hour light lifting... should I increase my calories...? I want to lose fat and if possible a bit of weight too...am I doing it wrong? I'm having about 45% C. 35% P. and 20% F...

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