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Old 02-05-2014, 07:18 AM   #1
Robin Danek
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Muscle v.s. Fat Gain + Caloric Consumption Question

Hi, I'm totally new to this forum and wanted to jump in with a question.

I've been CrossFitting for over 2 years and recently noticed a slow increase in my weight (about 6-7 lbs) this past fall once I increased my training from 3 times a week to 4-5 times per week (+1 CF type WOD on my own). I would chalk this up to an increase in muscle but I scaled my caloric consumption down significantly from this summer when I was training for an ultra endurance event (RAIN-160 mile bike ride across Indiana) and thought that I adjusted for the decrease calorie burn.

In the past couple of weeks I have added some cycling workouts back in and my scale actually JUMPED a couple of pounds. I wear a heart rate monitor to help with my cycling workouts and I'm burning 1500-2000 calories per week now (during my training for RAIN I was burning 3000-3500 or more per week).

I eat a mostly clean paleo diet (i.e. only cream in my tea but otherwise no dairy, legumes, grains/gluten, or sugar). I have one beer on Friday and Saturday along with my two slightly off plan meals. I eat more vegetables than anyone else I know (I mean that), meat and a very small amount of fruit. I eat some starchy vegetables at breakfast and after I workout/cycle over lunch.

So here are my questions: 1) How can I be sure this is muscle gain over fat gain? 2) As my cycling season approaches how many more calories should I add into my diet as I burn more and more (I will cut CF down to 2-3 times per week and bike 3-4 with one rest day) and not gain weight?

A lot of the folks I CF with don't do anything else so their perception of how much I should eat is way off (or they don't do paleo). Some of the things I've read other female cyclists say they eat is alarming (such as riding 100+ per week and only eating 1500 calories per day). I can't get any good advice from either the strength and conditioning camp or the endurance camp! Thoughts? Help?

Sorry for the long post. I didn't know where else to go....
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Old 02-05-2014, 07:22 AM   #2
Snir Golan
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Re: Muscle v.s. Fat Gain + Caloric Consumption Question

why not get your body fat measured? its the easiest and most accurate way of knowing.
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Old 02-05-2014, 07:25 AM   #3
Greg Warren
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Re: Muscle v.s. Fat Gain + Caloric Consumption Question

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Originally Posted by Snir Golan View Post
why not get your body fat measured? its the easiest and most accurate way of knowing.
This. A session in a Bod Pod shouldn't cost more than $20-25, and is extremely accurate. You could do it again six months down the road to see your progress.
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Old 02-05-2014, 09:10 AM   #4
Robin Danek
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Re: Muscle v.s. Fat Gain + Caloric Consumption Question

That's a great idea, however, I don't have a baseline from several months ago so I don't really know if I'm gaining or losing.

Any ideas/suggestion about my calorie consumption. Last year I could not get a good answer from anybody and I looked everywhere....


Thanks for the suggestion!
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Old 02-05-2014, 10:15 AM   #5
Jason Kelley
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Re: Muscle v.s. Fat Gain + Caloric Consumption Question

Are you worried about gaining weight or gaining fat? Two very different things.

I have never not noticed fat gain in myself. So if my weight has gone up and I don't look as if I have put on any fat then I probably haven't. It is that simple in my opinion.

As for kcals. It such a generic question. Just reduce you kcals a little at a time every 2 weeks until you stop gaining "weight".
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Old 02-05-2014, 10:27 AM   #6
Andrew N. Casey
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Re: Muscle v.s. Fat Gain + Caloric Consumption Question

on that short of a time scale there is no way to know or tell. a good way to monitor is to keep measurements on you body. certain measurements will increase with fat, some with muscle. also remember that water weights 8lbs per gallon, so anything less than a 10lb change in either direction can just be water based on sweat, carbs, salts, etc.
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Old 02-05-2014, 10:40 AM   #7
Robin Danek
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Re: Muscle v.s. Fat Gain + Caloric Consumption Question

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Are you worried about gaining weight or gaining fat? Two very different things.
Honestly? Both. I know I'm going to sound like a total girl here, but I do not like to see the scale creep upwards. I've had problems in the past with keeping my weight down. After my cycling event I was 5'2 123 pounds. Yesterday I was 129. What I'm the most worried about it this slow gain gaining momentum. If it's muscle fine, I guess, but I want to be sure it's muscle. The last time I weighed 130 was 5 months post partum.
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Old 02-05-2014, 12:43 PM   #8
Jason Kelley
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Re: Muscle v.s. Fat Gain + Caloric Consumption Question

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Originally Posted by Robin Danek View Post
Honestly? Both. I know I'm going to sound like a total girl here, but I do not like to see the scale creep upwards.
I really would work on getting over that fear of numbers. It is more about what the numbers represent.

Some will probably disagree with me but I would say weigh yourself every morning before you get in the shower.

You will learn how number fluctuate with different workouts, different levels of food consumption, periods, late nights etc. You will also see a time delay in 'what you do' and the effect on your numbers.

Once you know what causes fluctuations there is less fear in the actual number.

My partner's weight usually peaked on a Friday with a low on Monday when she was dieting purely by the accumulation of workouts through the week affecting her weight( for whatever reason).

So we learnt over a few weeks that the number to rely on was around Sunday/Monday. Everything else was just fluctuations.

From there it was easy to monitor changes.

I personally would suggest unless you are really lean, weight gain week on week over an extended period is likely to be fat rather than muscle in a female.
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Old 02-05-2014, 12:47 PM   #9
Zach Summers
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Re: Muscle v.s. Fat Gain + Caloric Consumption Question

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Originally Posted by Robin Danek View Post
Honestly? Both. I know I'm going to sound like a total girl here, but I do not like to see the scale creep upwards. I've had problems in the past with keeping my weight down. After my cycling event I was 5'2 123 pounds. Yesterday I was 129. What I'm the most worried about it this slow gain gaining momentum. If it's muscle fine, I guess, but I want to be sure it's muscle. The last time I weighed 130 was 5 months post partum.
Quit stepping on the scale then.

If you like what you see in the mirror what difference does it make?

If what you see looks too skinny; get into a calorie surplus

If what you see looks to fat; get into a calorie deficit
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Old 02-05-2014, 03:11 PM   #10
Chris Mason
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Re: Muscle v.s. Fat Gain + Caloric Consumption Question

Want a really cheap way to tell? Your waist size. It is an excellent indicator of fat gain or loss.
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