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  #1  
Unread 02-04-2014, 04:22 AM
Giorgi Giorgi is offline
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Post Finally broke set point with cardio

Hello,

Short intro: haven't ever been able to go under 16-17%BF no matter what diet I tried (even the hardest PMSF) and even coupled with moderate cardio. I finally broke this set point by doing a lot of cardio everyday. I am posting this long message describing my situation because iit seems to contradict the general philosophy that I had gained from reading this forum some years back.

My present experience shows that creating a severe dietary deficit doesn't always work (even though it's supported by "energy in vs. energy out") and in these cases cardio seems to help. Of course I am not saying that energy is lost and thermodynamics is somehow wrong. I am merely stating that in my casethe body adapted to extreme dietary deficits (eating 1 000 or less cals per day while weighing 165-170lbs, and still not losing fat or weight) and only started reacting when I added cardio everyday. This was very surprising since research shows that your body can decrease it's energy expenditure by a maximum 40-50% which requires months of "starving" (I am referring to the famous military study). In my case this adaptation is instant when I hit the set point or at least that's what it seems like.

The type of training and dieting I do right now is not usually advised by Lyle since it has the obvious drawback of being really tiring (there's a real chance I might burn out soon). I sort of expect a comment from Lyle telling me I am stupid (for a number of reasons), but this is the only approach that has worked for me.

BTW: I have counted calories for a while now, so please don't challenge the fact that I am eating less than 1K, it's certain.

Back on track: this time I dieted down to 16-17% which I can do easily on a normal diet. I then had 1 month rest off the diet.

Then I started my usual diet + hard cardio:

1000 or less cals per day (I should require at least 2000 calories per day to maintain based on my weight of 165 lbs, but without the cardio this diet even coupled with moderate cardio never worked under 16%).

+ 50 mins/1H on the treadmill 6 times per week. My cardio shape sucks: I run at 9-10km/h and my HR is always at 170-180 (so it's pretty hard to do this). The treadmill says that I spend something like 600-760 cals, lets drop 15% off of that: 500-600 cals x 6 times week = 3 000 - 3 500 deficit from just the cardio.

After two weeks of doing this I dropped 2kgs under my set point first time in my life. Now, most people are going to say "duh, of course you would lose fat with such a deficit". SURE, but it's strange that a very low calorie diet is somehow insufficient and HAS to be coupled with buttloads of cardio, even fora guy who's nowhere close to single digits.

This is the part that I know some of you will refute as bro science, but in my case it seems to be at least partially true: my body only reacts to deficit generated by cardio, ie. my body is super efficient at adapting to dietary restrictions. This is what leads me to wonder whether I would've reached the same results if I ate 1600-1800 calories and did the same amount of cardio. This would've been the standard Tom Venuto diet which he describes in his book: to keep calories pretty high but add loads of cardio when you get stuck.

I've been stuck again for 10 days after piercing the set point by 2kgs. I did two poorly structured refeeds (1 week interval) that might've slowed me down. Gonna keep running for another week and see where that leads me.

Last edited by Giorgi : 02-04-2014 at 05:04 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 02-04-2014, 05:21 AM
BigPecsPeter BigPecsPeter is offline
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You are a superior being. You are able to maintain a healthy fat level for years on super low energy consumption. If the rest of humanity were like you, world hunger would cease to exist.

Either that, or you need to take a math class.
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  #3  
Unread 02-04-2014, 05:40 AM
barbells barbells is offline
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You don't specify for how long your PSMF attempts ran in the past - it might also be that cardio helped with water retention (less carbs, less cortisol) making the same results visible more quickly.

You might also be like me, if I do a lot of cardio I feel bouncy throughout the day meaning NEAT ends up increased rather than the other way around. Overdo it and this won't last though.
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  #4  
Unread 02-04-2014, 06:05 AM
Giorgi Giorgi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigPecsPeter View Post
You are a superior being. You are able to maintain a healthy fat level for years on super low energy consumption. If the rest of humanity were like you, world hunger would cease to exist.

Either that, or you need to take a math class.
Well, you underestimate the extent of my dietary obsession. I used to calculate calories very meticulously so I have a very good eye for it now. And I eat really small portions so there's no danger I might be over 1K calories. With that in mind:

2000 (minimum maintenance estimate) - 1000 (maximum estimate of calorie intake) = 1000 calorie deficit => should be losing fat like mad.

Say I adjust to caloric deficit like a normal person that is by maybe 25% (40-50% happens after months of starving)...

1500 - 1000 = still a 500 calorie deficit => should be losing fat.

Since I wasn't losing any fat or WEIGHT (!) it must be that my metabolism adjusts to 1000 calorie maintenance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by barbells View Post
You don't specify for how long your PSMF attempts ran in the past - it might also be that cardio helped with water retention (less carbs, less cortisol) making the same results visible more quickly.

You might also be like me, if I do a lot of cardio I feel bouncy throughout the day meaning NEAT ends up increased rather than the other way around. Overdo it and this won't last though.
My PSMFs ran for an unlimited amount of time back in the day - like 1 month, short break, another month, 2 weeks break then another month (tried every refeed/diet break combo I could in the process). By the end I was quite lethargic but this was due to being constantly fatigued from the extra long diet. I would do very mild cardio to compensate (just walking for an extra hour which didn't burn much of course). None of it worked. I know Lyle advises against such long periods of PSMF but I wasn't losing weight so I thought that giving it a "one last try" would finally solve it, hoping that, as you said, the results were not showing up due to some water retention problem.

I do feel like a normal person right now, in the sense that I am not a walking zombie like I was during my extended periods of dieting. NEAT is definitely higher but I doubt the 100 calories that might give or take are relevant. 600 calorie deficit per day from the cardio is what seems to drive the fat loss.

Last edited by Giorgi : 02-04-2014 at 06:10 AM.
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  #5  
Unread 02-04-2014, 07:20 AM
spmurph spmurph is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Giorgi View Post
I am posting this long message describing my situation because iit seems to contradict the general philosophy that I had gained from reading this forum some years back..
I don't see how it does. I've never read here that a prolonged severe deficit was good for fat loss. Maybe you can provide a link?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Giorgi View Post
I then had 1 month rest off the diet.
Well, there's your answer.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Giorgi View Post
I've been stuck again for 10 days after piercing the set point by 2kgs. I did two poorly structured refeeds (1 week interval) that might've slowed me down. Gonna keep running for another week and see where that leads me.
My guess is you'll burn out again. Maybe time for a non-poorly structured refeed?
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  #6  
Unread 02-04-2014, 07:31 AM
farrenator farrenator is offline
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Congratulations, seriously, but I don't think you are unique! To put things in perspective, 1 hour of cardio burning around 500 calories per day is not hard cardio. I do this 5-6 days a week, have been doing so for years. I can gain weight doing this (hello beer!) and I can lose weight, depending on what I consume. Hard cardio IMO is marathon training, triathlon training, etc. where you have to work to eat enough to keep your weight.

It looks like you have found something that works so keep at it for the time being. You may want to revisit the 1,000 calorie deficits for many days in a row however. As you mentioned, you might burn out if you go with that too long. I have been creating deficits of 3500-4500 calories per week for the last 3 weeks and things have been going well. At least 2 days a week I am at close to 1,000 calorie deficit per day, but the rest are more moderate with fairly unstructured weekends.
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  #7  
Unread 02-04-2014, 10:16 AM
beatle beatle is offline
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Watch out for a rebound.
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  #8  
Unread 02-04-2014, 10:24 AM
Giorgi Giorgi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by farrenator View Post
Congratulations, seriously, but I don't think you are unique! To put things in perspective, 1 hour of cardio burning around 500 calories per day is not hard cardio. I do this 5-6 days a week, have been doing so for years. I can gain weight doing this (hello beer!) and I can lose weight, depending on what I consume. Hard cardio IMO is marathon training, triathlon training, etc. where you have to work to eat enough to keep your weight.

It looks like you have found something that works so keep at it for the time being. You may want to revisit the 1,000 calorie deficits for many days in a row however. As you mentioned, you might burn out if you go with that too long. I have been creating deficits of 3500-4500 calories per week for the last 3 weeks and things have been going well. At least 2 days a week I am at close to 1,000 calorie deficit per day, but the rest are more moderate with fairly unstructured weekends.
Thanks for the input.

What I meant by "hard" cardio is purely subjective. My heart isn't used to this stuff, my heart rate is at 170-180 all the time, which feels very uncomfortable over the span of an hour.

Quote:
Originally Posted by beatle View Post
Watch out for a rebound.
Yes. I think I'll keep 45 mins of cardio 3x per week during maintenance.

Last edited by Giorgi : 02-04-2014 at 10:29 AM.
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  #9  
Unread 02-04-2014, 10:51 AM
farrenator farrenator is offline
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The good thing is, if you are consistent, you will adapt quickly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Giorgi View Post
What I meant by "hard" cardio is purely subjective. My heart isn't used to this stuff, my heart rate is at 170-180 all the time, which feels very uncomfortable over the span of an hour.
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  #10  
Unread 02-04-2014, 11:24 AM
AlphaBettor AlphaBettor is offline
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There are a lot of possible pitfalls when counting calories. Like maybe you are measuring cereal or whatever but not taking into account settling of ingredients (weighing would be much more accurate in this case.)

- Or I've seen people use non-stick, "non-calorie" pam in place of cooking oil, not realizing that the only reason it is labled as non-calorie is clever marketing/serving size manipulation, and it actually is olive oil or whatever. Then they spray a bunch in the pan and think that pam is magic.

- forgetting treats/snacking, underestimating the calories consumed while binging

- Counting all drinks as ~100 calories when sometimes bartenders pour doubles or whatever. Or the person conveniently ignores the pop or juice in the drink.

- Misjudging dressing/sauces etc. Restaurant listed serving sizes are often hilariously off the mark. Yeah a meal might be listed as 1 tablespoon of sour cream; look at what you are actually getting.

There are countless more variations of these types of things but the end result is that people often underestimate caloric expenditure. I know you went out of your way to specifically say that isn't the case but I have my doubts. I've seen this way too many times.
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