I'm losing weight, not in a good way

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nfine
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Aug 11, 2010 4:02 pm UTC

I'm losing weight, not in a good way

Postby nfine » Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:07 am UTC

Quick bit of background: I'm 20 years old, 5' 10", and currently 140 pounds.

Last January I was 120 pounds, then I started to take up weight training (low rep, high weight). Over the course of 5 months I increased my weight to 153 pounds, as you can imagine I was very satisfied with the results. This was a result of weight training and a change in my diet. I was consuming much healthier foods with a good amount of protein. Here comes my dilemma, I am now losing weight. I started to notice this 6 weeks ago when I stepped on the scale and it read 150 pounds. I thought this had something to do with water weight fluctuation so I ignored it. Over the coming weeks the trend continued and I am now 13 pounds lighter.

I still weight train 3 times per week, although admittedly, I am leaning more towards endurance training, that could be my problem right there. Additionally, 1 month ago, I started cycling 30-50 miles twice a week. I consume an insane amount of food, I can't count calories because I eat in a residence hall (all you can eat) but if I had to guess it would be somewhere around 3,000 to 3,500 calories per day - maybe more, although it's hard to tell.

My diet looks something like this:
Morning: Big bowl of granola, yogurt, and fruit
Mid-morning: A piece of fruit, usually a pear
Noon: Some variety of meat, vegetables, bread, and granola bar
Mid-Afternoon: Snacks such as raisins, sunflower seeds, maybe a carrot or banana
Dinner: Another variety of meat, vegetables, carbs, dessert (nutella on toasted bread anyone?), glass of milk
Late-night: More raisins, trail mix, something unhealthy if I'm feeling stressed of have a test the next day

I eat until I feel full, I eat a lot - why am I losing weight? Any suggestions or tips would be much appreciated. It might be as simple as switching back to high weight, low reps instead of medium weight, medium reps.

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Nath
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Re: I'm losing weight, not in a good way

Postby Nath » Fri Aug 20, 2010 6:34 am UTC

Well, you've pretty much answered your own question. You've switched to less intense weight training and added a bunch of endurance work; of course your body will adapt to the changed stimulus.

Judging portions is hard in a college dining hall, but even if you're getting 3000 calories, that's not much for a skinny 5' 10" 20-year-old who trains hard. Plus it looks like most of your protein is coming from two servings of meat a day. Keep some milk handy and drink it through the day, and have a bowl of cottage cheese before going to bed.

Maalstroom
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Aug 14, 2010 6:27 pm UTC

Re: I'm losing weight, not in a good way

Postby Maalstroom » Sun Aug 22, 2010 4:41 pm UTC

First post (and I have no idea how this forum is run, even after rules-reading)! :D

Even with (or without) the disclaimer and everything, no health/allied health professional should be dispensing advice online.
nfine wrote:I eat until I feel full, I eat a lot - why am I losing weight? Any suggestions or tips would be much appreciated. It might be as simple as switching back to high weight, low reps instead of medium weight, medium reps.
I don't know much about working out, bulking up, and all that; but, considering you're gaining muscle and losing fat, you should be weighing more.

Several factors could be influencing this net weight loss, including diet, diseases (e.g., metabolic (e.g., cancer, diabetes mellitus), infectious (e.g., AIDS), autoimmune (e.g., varieties of connective tissue diseases, Crohn's disease)), and exercise, to mention a few.

The high-weight, low-reps affects the load on your muscles and, from theory (and you may know this and all, so all apologies), merely affects myocyte hypertrophy/atrophy and/or muscle transformation; from "fast fibres" to "slow fibres". Considering the fact that this is strength/weight training, your muscles are performing (near-/)maximal eccentric and concentric contractions. If you perform at a lesser weight, it would be expected that each myocyte would become not as large (a greater load will force your muscle cells to hypertrophy, or increase in size; conversely, a lesser load and disuse will result in atrophy, or a decrease in size) but perhaps able to perform more repetitions.

Either way, neither regimen should be substantially affecting your weight in such a drastic way.

Edit #1: As intake has remained constant but the regimen has changed, perhaps you've not lost as much fat and gained as much muscle, resulting in ... .

Edit #2: Have you considered giving the weight training a break and trying to pack on a few pounds? This way you could (kind of) rule out your training as a factor.

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TheNorm05
Posts: 73
Joined: Wed Aug 04, 2010 11:36 pm UTC
Location: Dallas, TX

Re: I'm losing weight, not in a good way

Postby TheNorm05 » Thu Aug 26, 2010 8:46 am UTC

The biking alone would be enough to start cutting your weight down simply from calorie loss, though I'd imagine changing your weight routine might help you regain some of that weight back. I'd suggest mixing strength and endurance training either throughout the week or during your work out. I usually start with the upper end of my comfort zone and do a few sets before working my way down to endurance, simply because it gets you tired faster to where you really start to feel the pressure even on lower weight. It's almost like starting in the middle of a training session. Also keep in mind that some people are predisposed to losing weight which may be a factor for you. Eat early and eat late, and a little more protein should do wonders.

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Solt
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Location: California

Re: I'm losing weight, not in a good way

Postby Solt » Sat Aug 28, 2010 4:18 am UTC

nfine wrote:My diet looks something like this:
Morning: Big bowl of granola, yogurt, and fruit
Mid-morning: A piece of fruit, usually a pear
Noon: Some variety of meat, vegetables, bread, and granola bar
Mid-Afternoon: Snacks such as raisins, sunflower seeds, maybe a carrot or banana
Dinner: Another variety of meat, vegetables, carbs, dessert (nutella on toasted bread anyone?), glass of milk
Late-night: More raisins, trail mix, something unhealthy if I'm feeling stressed of have a test the next day



3,000 calories? I'm not buying it. I see lots of fruits and vegetables, which are actually quite low in calories (unless in juice form in which case a single glass will consist of several fruits).

For endurance training you need lots of carbs. You will definitely lose some of the muscle you built up through weight training as well as a lot of fat, but you should gain a bit of slow twitch muscle in return. So it remains to be seen where the effect is coming from. But I highly doubt a few slices of bread and a glass of milk every day is going to sustain you. If I'm right you'll know soon enough as you start to feel sluggish and tired fairly soon into your rides. Also it looks like you started doing the bike riding on top of weight lifting. Definitely requires more energy.

As for the high weight/low rep vs medium weight/ medium rep... if you go down in weight you will lose muscle. That's just how the body works, it keeps enough muscle for its needs and no more. The difference shouldn't be that dramatic though.

PS I hope you're getting enough fat!
"Welding was faster, cheaper and, in theory,
produced a more reliable product. But sailors do
not float on theory, and the welded tankers had a
most annoying habit of splitting in two."
-J.W. Morris

fooliam
Posts: 73
Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2010 9:23 pm UTC

Re: I'm losing weight, not in a good way

Postby fooliam » Sun Aug 29, 2010 12:52 am UTC

I agree with Nath on this one.

Your body isn't dumb, and it isn't wasteful. If you aren't lifting as heavily or as often as you were before, you are going to lose muscle mass. No if's, and's or but's about it. Your body does not maintain excess muscle mass.

That effect will be further exacerbated by the shift towards endurance training. If you are doing more endurance training, you will not be using high-threshold motor units as much, so the muscle fibers innervated in those motor units will not be used. Since they aren't used, they shrink.

Long story short: You've changed your training and your body is adapting to it. If you don't like how your body is adapting, change your training.

*More on motor Units, muscle fibers, and muscle size - A motor unit is a motor neuron and all the muscle fibers it innervates. Motor units come in two basic kinds - high threshold and low threshold. High threshold motor units require a larger neural impulse (IE stronger depolarization) to transmit a "contract" signal. Furthermore, high threshold motor neurons tend to innervate a larger portion of "fast twitch" (Type IIA and IIX) muscle fibers. Characteristics of these types of muscle fibers are that they are relatively low in mitochondria, but high in intracellular glycogen and Creatine Phosphate, both of which can be converted to ATP (body's energy molecule) with very few chemical intermediates, making them extremely fast sources of energy. Fast twitch fibers are therefor mostly only used during high intensity brief duration efforts, such as sprinting and weight lifting. The energy supplies of these fibers are used up very quickly. When you fatigue these muscle fibers (use up all their preferred energy sources), your body responds by restoring those energy resources plus a little bit extra, as well as increasing the size of the muscle fiber and the number of organelles (such as mitochondria) in the fibers (muscle fiber = myocyte = muscle cell). Over time, this process results in visibly larger muscles.
As for low threshold motor units, they are activated with a lower neural impulse. They also inervate a high proportion of Type I muscle fibers. The characteristics of Type I fibers are that they have LOTS of mitochondria, but are low in intracellular glycogen and creatine phosphate. As such, these cells have a much longer and much slower process of generating ATP. As such, they are not capable contractions which are as strong. Furthermore, they also get their substrate molecules from extra-cellular sources, such as extracellular glycogen and lipids. There are several results of all this. The first is that these fibers, having a much larger source of energy (the whole body as opposed to just what is within "arm's reach" of the cell), fatigue much slower. Type I fibers also cannot produce as strong a contraction as they cannot generate ATP quickly enough. The practical result of this is that these cells do not undergo much change. They will become more dense with mitochondria, but the cell doesn't not get much larger. Instead, your body just gets better at delivering substrate to the cell (Higher cardiac output, increase in peripheral vascularization, better oxygen uptake, etc.) But, these cells won't get bigger.

WHAT DOES THAT ALL MEAN? Endurance training results on lots of adaptations to deliver substrate to the muscle cells more efficiently, but the muscle cells themselves go through relatively little change. Sprint/interval training results in relatively few adaptations to the delivery mechanisms (though as you reduce rest times, you start to get that too), but a lot of changes to the cell.
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