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Nutrition Diet, supplements, weightloss, health & longevity

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Old 04-08-2007, 01:40 PM   #1
Stephen Kichuk
 
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I am aware of the consensus that reducing calories will cause muscle loss if one does not weight train. However, something about that strikes me as inconsistent. I was thinking the following:


1-The body will only maintain as much muscle as is necessary for its daily activities, and no more.
2-The body will not get rid of muscle that it needs.
3-If a person has X amount of muscle (without weight training), then he needs that muscle for his daily activities.
4-Even with caloric reduction, the body won't dump that muscle because that is the precise amount needed.
5-Therefore, caloric reduction should not cause muscle mass reduction, and weight training is unnecessary to maintain muscle (since it will be maintained through daily activities).

Any errors in the above? I have also heard about studies that found that dieting without exercise does not cause muscle loss, as well as studies that indicated that muscle gain from weight training does not really affect metabolism. If anyone can provide links to those, that would be great.




(Message edited by dark_knight on April 08, 2007)
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Old 04-08-2007, 03:59 PM   #2
Skylar Cook
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Your assumptions are mostly correct, but I believe the "theory" has you mislead. I'll go through your points and comment:

1- True. The body will only maintian as much muscle as needed for what you put it through.

2- True, UNLESS you are in a calorie deficit; the body will then break down fat and, then, muscle to keep you alive.

3-True, usually. If you have just stopped weight training, you will have more muscle than you need for "daily activities."

4- False. If you reduce calories enough (especially without exercise and with a low BF%), your body will indeed break down muscle to sustain itself.

5- T/F, depending on context. If you have not been weight training, then you do not need to start to maintain the muscle you already have. If you don't use any given muscle(s), then they will atrophy over time because you have not given them cause to grow.


Basically it boils down to, if you don't use it, you lose it. If you haven't been weight training, and don't reduce activity, you will keep your current muscle. If you have been (weight training), you will lose muscle if you become sedentary or reduce your frequency/work/intensity. The "consensus" pertains mainly to those who have done weight training (or other muscle-building activities) in the past, but now have stopped; they will indeed lose muscle.

(Message edited by surfreak on April 08, 2007)
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Old 04-09-2007, 06:03 AM   #3
Larry Lindenman
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Good answer Skyler. I'm curious about the question behind the question, what are you looking for Stephen? Yes, you could survive on low calorie diets...look at the life extension dudes, Personally, I don't want to live like a rabbit. You get the same benefits of CRAN from intermittent fasting (IF), but you eat your normal calories, within a compressed time window (5 to 7 hours or so). If you are attempting to lose fat, low calorie with exercise is fine. Once you go under 7 or 8% bodyfat, performance will drop and you should raise calories (preferably with protein and fat...mostly fat).
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Old 04-09-2007, 06:58 AM   #4
Craig Van De Walker
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Skylar, Great response.

Stephen, Think of a concentration camp victim worked hard everyday but not fed. Even though muscle is needed for activity the body is self digested to keep it alive for however long it can manage.

I would add to Skylar's response that the answer to everyone of your numbered responses is "it depends"
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Old 04-09-2007, 09:48 AM   #5
Skylar Cook
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I'm curious about the motivation behind the question, too...

Need to add to my response that muscle gain definitely increases BMR (metabolism).
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Old 04-09-2007, 02:30 PM   #6
Stephen Kichuk
 
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I was overthinking this a bit. I failed to keep in mind the body's foremost concern- that is, meeting immediate energy requirements. The value of muscle comes second. (Excuse my brain hiccup.)

Anyway, it came from thinking about my friend. He had anorexia and lost a significant amount of weight. He was, needless to say, skinny. However, upon kicking the disorder and eating well, he gained weight back. One would think from what is constantly told he would have gained back a lot of fat, but this wasn't the case. It was mostly muscle he gained back (he didn't weight train). This left me questioning all sorts of aspects of the starvation response. I was having a hard time explaining my thought process in my original post (which went off on a tangent from my original thoughts), and if what I’m saying seems disjointed or like doublespeak, that’s because I’ve got all sorts of thoughts floating around that are hard to explain.

More appropriate to his case is this:

-It didn’t seem like he lost much muscle, though he likely did. When he began eating more, he gained weight back, though he did not return to his original weight. Actually, he looked better after this weight gain. He had less fat, but any muscle he lost seems to have returned. I assume that the body, upon realizing that the “famine” was over, gave an okay for the muscle (whatever was lost) to return. We hear all the time that people on starvation diets will gain the fat back plus interest. This did not happen with him. I suppose that is because he didn’t pig out, but instead ate reasonably, and the weight gain went to supporting the return of muscle tissue.

Thoughts?

All this also relates to a concern of mine which I discuss here:
http://www.crossfit.com/discus/messages/22/39604.html




(Message edited by dark_knight on April 09, 2007)
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Old 04-09-2007, 02:44 PM   #7
Lincoln Brigham
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Nature makes no distinction between "daily activities" and "training". If you are weight training, then that is counted as part of your daily activities. Training is simply more intense than most modern daily activities. The body was designed for a higher level of daily activity than sitting in a chair - it was designed for hunting, gathering, hauling, lifting, running, jumping, etc. on a daily basis.

The body desires a certain amount of muscle but it also desires to survive. When survival is in doubt - signaled by calorie restriction aka starvation - muscle will indeed be sacrificed.

Coaches of weight-class sports such as wrestling, weightlifting, boxing, martial arts, and powerlifting have known FOREVER that an increase in bodyweight almost always results in an increase in strength. That means an increase in muscle. They have also known that dropping into a lower weight class almost always means that the athlete will be weaker, i.e. they will suffer a loss of muscle. This is the very reason WHY these sports have weight classes! The lighter weight-classes are INVARIABLY weaker. No fancy lab-coat studies are needed to prove this - it has been an accepted fact within the athletic community for eons.

Stephen, if what you are saying is true, then concentration camp survivors would dominate the world records in the lighter weight divisions.
http://www.crossfit.com/discus/messages/23/39606.jpg
The next flyweight champ?

Dieting does not cause muscle loss? If there is a study that found no evidence of muscle loss with calorie restricted dieting and no exercise, I'll guarantee they didn't run the study long enough.
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Old 04-09-2007, 02:59 PM   #8
Stephen Kichuk
 
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Reread my second post... what I said is much the same thing you just said. ("The body desires a certain amount of muscle but it also desires to survive. When survival is in doubt - signaled by calorie restriction aka starvation - muscle will indeed be sacrificed.")

Just a disclaimer: I never said I believed this, that was just something I had been thinking about. But again, I made a silly error.
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Old 04-10-2007, 05:17 AM   #9
Kurt A Gross
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Muscle is "expensive" (calorically) to maintain. If you reduce calories enough, you will lose muscle. You will lose muscle before losing fat if you aren't using it. We are genetically predisposed to hold onto those fat reserves as anti-starvation insurance. Losing fat and maintaining muscle takes a slight caloric deficit, while keeping enough protein and essential fats in the diet.
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