Calorie surplus and body composition question

Discussion in 'Health and Fitness' started by Timmy Boy, Apr 23, 2013.

  1. Timmy Boy

    Timmy Boy Man on a Mission

    Hi guys,

    Got a question for you nutrition gurus regarding "calories in vs calories out".

    I've switched to the StrongLifts diet to compliment the strength training programme of the same name. My goals are to (1) get strong and (2) lose my beer gut.

    Now, the usual argument (as Mehdi himself says) is that these goals conflict, because to build muscle you have to consume more calories than you're burning, which means that you will inevitably put on a bit of fat along with the muscle; although there are steps you can take to streamline your diet (e.g. more fruit and vegetables, cut down on carbs and stick to whole grains if you consume carbs at all), the fundamental rule remains constant. Therefore, if you are "skinny fat" you are better off bulking up first and then cutting, using your newly acquired muscle to help expedite the process.

    I don't know a lot about nutrition (hence I'm asking!) but... there's something I don't get.

    If I'm a fat git at the start of the programme, then my crappy diet is giving me a calorie surplus already, right? So in theory, by (a) reducing the size of the surplus (though not getting rid of it altogether) and (b) making it more nutritionally streamlined (cutting out bread and pasta, replacing them with veggies, laying off the beer), then (c) I will still consume more than I burn, but not to the same extent (meaning less wasted calories getting turned into fat) and (d) what I do consume is much more efficient, which again means less wasted calories getting turned into fat; therefore (e) I can have a calorie surplus and still reduce my body fat percentage... right?

    For example, using rough hypothetical numbers... say I need 2500 calories for maintenance. At the moment I am eating 3500 calories' worth of crap food a day, which is making me fat. I sort my diet out and cut my overall intake down to 3000 calories. Therefore, I still have the surplus I need for weight gain, but nowhere near as much, and since I am not consuming "empty" calories anymore, a much smaller proportion of that intake is going to get turned into fat, ergo my belly will start to go down over time... right?

    Does any of this make sense?
  2. CrowZer0

    CrowZer0 Assume formlessness.

    I think I have a slight idea of what you're on about.

    If your surplus is less than before, but still a surplus you will continue to gain weight, just not as much as before. But with the added exercise, the increase in muscle mass. You might end up making more efficient use of it.

    You will lose fat with a caloric deficit, you will gain muscle by adequate stimuli (from training) and nutrition. Depending on your strength levels and amount of fat. Keeping a caloric surplus, but increasing muscle mass might actually be healthier for you/might end up making you look better.
  3. righty

    righty Valued Member

    Your body does not care about where calories and macros come from. Eating the same calories of junk vs. Clean eating will result in the same gains or losses as each other. Eating too much of "good" food will of course make you fat.

    When starting a weights training program fat people can change their body composition I. E. Lose fat while gaining muscle. To do this you will need you train hard and experiment with calorie intake while keeping protein levels decently high. I would suggest starting with a slight caloric deficit and go from there. Leaner people will have much more trouble with trying to do both at once.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2013
  4. Timmy Boy

    Timmy Boy Man on a Mission

    So although I will add some fat on, this will be more than offset by the increase in muscle mass, thus giving me a leaner appearance?
  5. CrowZer0

    CrowZer0 Assume formlessness.

    Depends on your current levels of Body fat/strength.

    For example. 20% Bodyfat, but not being able to Bench Half/Bodyweight, Squat Half of Bodyweight, Dead Half Bodyweight is not the same as.

    20% Bodyfat Bench 1.5x Bodyweight, 2xSquat, 3xDead.

    Same height, same fat % But guaranteed totally different looking.

    So without knowing your %, and strength/muscle levels it's hard to say how it will affect you.
  6. Timmy Boy

    Timmy Boy Man on a Mission

    But while weight gains will be the same, surely there is a difference in terms of what proportion of your intake gets turned into fat and what proportion gets turned into muscle? I accept that a clean diet with a calorie surplus will still result in some wasted calories getting turned into fat rather than just muscle, but not as much as if I ate the same amount of calories in the form of beer and cheeseburgers, right?
  7. holyheadjch

    holyheadjch Valued Member

    This isn't true. You should read "Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health" by Gary Taubes.
  8. CrowZer0

    CrowZer0 Assume formlessness.

    No, ANY surplus whether it is 100cals of Broccoli, Pasta or Pure Lard, will all turn into fat. If it is SURPLUS.

    The only thing that gets used for muscle is Protein, and how much of that goes into your muscles is dependant upon how much repair they need.
  9. CrowZer0

    CrowZer0 Assume formlessness.

  10. Timmy Boy

    Timmy Boy Man on a Mission

    So going low-carb is a waste of time?
  11. holyheadjch

    holyheadjch Valued Member

    Read the Taubes book I posted, or the shorter less sciencey version (I think it's called 'Why we get fat". He breaks the science down.

    The idea that calories in/out is the only thing that matters is one of the greatest myths in a science that is full of myths.

    It's in the same league as 'Saturated fat causes heart disease'.
  12. CrowZer0

    CrowZer0 Assume formlessness.

    Not necessarily no.

    Depends on your situation.

    If you want strength and muscle.

    You need a certain amount of protein, if you want to maintain/lose fat, you need a calorie deficit.

    So if you want both, you need a bulk of your calories to be protein, and some carbs/fat. In this scenario low carbs is not a waste of time.
  13. Giovanni

    Giovanni Well-Known Member Supporter

    at any rate, cut down your carbs and replace with protein and green veggies. won't do you harm.
  14. CrowZer0

    CrowZer0 Assume formlessness.

    That isn't what the book is about.
    He doesn't agrue about fat loss, he looks at good/bad calories from the point of view of heart disease, coronorary disease etc.

    Ofc there are good and bad calories. But whether the calories matter in regards to weight loss. No.
  15. Timmy Boy

    Timmy Boy Man on a Mission

    I'm doing this anyway, I'm asking out of interest as much as anything else.

    So if I create a calorie surplus to build muscle, but do so on a clean, low-carb, high-protein diet, will I gain fat and muscle in the same proportion as if I had created the same surplus on a low-protein, high-carb diet? N.B. I am talking about fat gains relative to muscle gains rather than mere "weight" per se.
  16. CrowZer0

    CrowZer0 Assume formlessness.

    No. High protein will feed your muscles better, so obviously the proportion of muscle will be more than low protein. This in the short term, (especially if you are new to weight training/lifting) might INCREASE your weight, but lower fat.
  17. holyheadjch

    holyheadjch Valued Member

    All you're doing now is showing that you haven't read the book.
  18. Timmy Boy

    Timmy Boy Man on a Mission

    This is what I was getting at in my previous response to Righty.
  19. CrowZer0

    CrowZer0 Assume formlessness.

    Are you saying I'm wrong? I have read the synopsis, and a few threads on this book on BB, you're putting it out there like it's the gospel truth, but in fact it's quite controversial and not many people, agree.
    What has that got to do with calories in vs calories out?

    I don't have to read Twilight to know it's teen fiction for girls about sparkly vampires.

    "Taubes is considered as THE low carb hero, paving the way for good nutrition, and giving relief to diets such as primal, paleo, atkins and south beach. But not based on his opinion or his own research...based on a thorough, detail, systematic and objective review of literature from the 19th century to today."

    Sounds like confirmation bias for your IF diet.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2013
  20. Timmy Boy

    Timmy Boy Man on a Mission

    I thought his argument was that refined carby foods like white bread are pretty much just pure, "empty" calories with little nutritional value that just end up getting turned into fat, therefore what you eat is more important than how much you eat, to an extent.

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