Where to start in caloric intake if both high BF% and weak? Where to start in caloric intake if both high BF% and weak?

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Thread: Where to start in caloric intake if both high BF% and weak?

  1. #1
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    Default Where to start in caloric intake if both high BF% and weak?

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    Hi all,

    I'm a 28 year old Male, 5'11 and about 195lbs.

    My bodyfat % is currently around ~25% as measured with calipers, i've got a belly and fat dispersed around the usual places (chest, arms, some on the face etc).

    I've run the program as a novice lifter for a few weeks now and have the following numbers:

    Squat: 170lb
    Deadlift: 220lb
    Bench: 170lb
    Press: 100lb
    Dip: 5 + 20lb plate
    Pullup: 4 from dead hang.

    My main concern is to do with what sort of caloric intake i should be aiming for.

    I started the program on around 2000 -2100 calories and the lifts increased from the empty bar to the numbers above, the scale went down so i did lose some weight, but the lifts have stalled. I started it in a caloric deficit as i wanted to lose fat.

    I want to get stronger and build muscle, however don't want to push my already high BF% to something which could be a health issue. So i'm really stuck in what should i do to meet my goals from a caloric standpoint. I would like to improve my physique by building a strong foundation of muscle then focus on fat loss afterwards to a reasonable zone, i don't want to be sub 10% like a bodybuilder.

    I can't imagine eating a very large caloric surplus per day whicy is recommended by some on the program as i'm not underweight (e.g. 160lb with 10% BF), as i fear this may push me to just gain large amounts of fat and make me look out of shape even more.

    It feels like i'm stuck in a rock and a hardplace, i'm overweight with a high BF% but undermuscled - like a dad bod! I just want to fix it!


    Should i eat at maintenance? Slightly above maintenance or go for a large caloric surplus?

    I have already visited a SSC to check my form on thr lifts and i'm good in that regard.

    Any help is appreciated!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by tryingtogetstronger View Post
    I started the program on around 2000 -2100 calories and the lifts increased from the empty bar to the numbers above, the scale went down so i did lose some weight, but the lifts have stalled. I started it in a caloric deficit as i wanted to lose fat.

    I want to get stronger and build muscle, however don't want to push my already high BF% to something which could be a health issue.
    Your percent body fat is high because your lean body mass is low. 5'11" 195 lb @ 25% body fat means "not enough muscle" not "too much fat." You're going to need to increase those calories to 3000 for a bit and make sure you are getting at least 300-400 g/d carbs and you'll see that plateau break. You won't become unhealthy and fat, you'll fill out and the "usual places" will start to appear more and more solid. Skinny fat is another word for under muscled.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Santana View Post
    Your percent body fat is high because your lean body mass is low. 5'11" 195 lb @ 25% body fat means "not enough muscle" not "too much fat." You're going to need to increase those calories to 3000 for a bit and make sure you are getting at least 300-400 g/d carbs and you'll see that plateau break. You won't become unhealthy and fat, you'll fill out and the "usual places" will start to appear more and more solid. Skinny fat is another word for under muscled.
    Thank you Robert for your response - really appreciated!

    I'll run the novice linear progression program whilst increasing my caloric intake to 3000, and break through those plateaus. I will keep training hard and increase the weight on the bar every session, then every week as it begins to slow down - I should hopefully look somewhat better by the end of it and appear more solid.

    I feel so silly for trying to train in a deficit hoping to transform that skinny fat physique!

    Just a quick question, how do you know how many calories one should consume as in my case? Are there any calculators that provide a good reference and starting point, or is the value of 3000 from the thousands of people you've trained in a similar position/knowing that a slight surplus on top of maintenance will sort out the issues?

    Appreciate the help so far!

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    Combination of calorie calculators and experience. Most males fall within the 2500-3500 range, with the lower end on early LP and lower end on mid-to-late LP. More than this has value but you may gain a little more fat and that's fine if you don't have a psychological problem with it. The metabolic furnaces have to go upwards to 5k. Lots of variability but what I do know is sub 2500 does not end well for most, if not all, male lifters.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Santana View Post
    Combination of calorie calculators and experience. Most males fall within the 2500-3500 range, with the lower end on early LP and lower end on mid-to-late LP.
    Thanks for the response Robert!

    Is that to say when starting out one should typically be on the higher end of caloric intake focusing on progressing with LP as far as possible. Then once LP has run it's course (approaching late novice territory) that this when one can start to assess caloric reduction as appreciable muscle and fat gain has now been accumulated along with strength?

    I guess my initial hesitancy to increase calories at an already high body fat% will push me to being an out of shape unhealthy mess.

    Out of curiosity for someone in my position when employing more calories should i be looking at the scale of weight going up, down or staying roughly the same, and possibly at which rate? E.g. stays same, 2lb a month gain, 2lb a month loss etc - or will i only know with practise?

  6. #6
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    You are not already overweight you are undermuscled. Do you realize that 5'11" 195 is not that heavy? I am 5'9" and weigh that and my waistline is 35 or so. I wear a size 32" pant. This is all relative and much of this is the result of training experience but your numbers are low right now and with adequate nutrition and time under the bar you will recompose.

  7. #7
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    I always assumed anything over around 160 for my height was normal weight - clearly it's not though!

    I assume from "recompose" you mean gaining muscle and losing fat the same time as a novice trainee, whilst not seeing a dramatic drop in bodyweight?

    I've always understood it as;

    Caloric deficit = lose weight
    Maintenance = no change (unless novice?)
    Caloric surplus = gain weight

    Thanks for the responses!

  8. #8
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    Given your age and how much you are lifting, you are most likely an under-trained novice.

  9. #9
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    Thanks Robert for the help much appreciated, i've bumped those calories up and continuing with my NLP. I will update on how my progress goes!

  10. #10
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    starting strength coach development program
    Anytime. Get it done.

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