Fear of Catabolism
November 30, 2007 3:07 PM   Subscribe

Is running 3+ miles 4 or more times a week hurting my muscle mass gains? I'm alternating jump rope in 1-2x a week with it for 30 minute sessions.

The real question is: do any of you have experience with making terrific muscle gains accompanied by good fat loss? I know we gain, as well as lose, muscle and fat in tandem when we're in an anabolic state. What about you guys?

I am estimatedly around 16% bodyfat right now, looking to bring that down without losing (or while building more) muscle. My nutrition is great; only natural foods (occasional sweets, but never regularly, I don't like them much), good protein and carbohydrate sources, as well as moderate saturated fat intake. I shoot for around 60-20-20 macronutrient breakdown, but definately not always on target with that.

I also drink 1-2 cups of coffee a day (with honey), and unfortnately chew around 1/2 can of tobacco a day. Are these greatly affecting my results?
posted by gmodelo to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It's possible. As with anything exercise, you're going to get a lot of conflicting opinions. I'd recommend switching at least some of your runs to interval training. Instead of running 3 miles, run 4-8 400m repeats (about 2 minutes rest in between) or something similar. Obviously, your running abilities and fitness level come in to play here.

I doubt the coffee or tobacco are having any impact on your results. Your diet might. 60-20-20 is a pretty heavy protein intake. Even if you're only eating 2000 calories a day, that's 300 grams of protein! I usually aim for 30-40% myself. Do you have plenty of energy throughout the day?

Making "terrific" (i.e. anything close to maximal) muscle mass gains while achieving "good" body fat loss is a difficult proposition. It sounds like you've got a decent program, I'm guessing the biggest factor you're missing is time.

One other factor to remember: sleep. Even if you're doing everything right, make sure you're getting 8 hours (or close) of solid, uninterrupted sleep every night. You can do all the exercise in the world, if you're sleeping 5 hours a night, you won't see maximal benefits.
posted by christonabike at 3:30 PM on November 30, 2007

Best answer: Running 3+ miles probably lands you in catabolism. For strength training (and fat burning) purposes you would be better served to use the same amount of time doing intervals instead.

It sounds like you eat pretty well (though you might want to shift to something more like 45-35-20 C-P-F).

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are also going to serve you well here (reduction in muscle inflammation, improved metabolism). You might also incorporate a recovery drink of some form to stay anabolic.

The website T-Nation has reams of information on all sorts of related topics, and it provides it with humor and intensity. Looking around on there might provide a little more info on the effect of the tabacky and coffee.

Keep up the good work!
posted by milqman at 3:34 PM on November 30, 2007

+1 COAB's comments. Here's some science on HIIT vs ET.
posted by 0xFCAF at 3:42 PM on November 30, 2007

Response by poster: Christ on a Bike: I meant 60% carbs, not protein. I'm not that crazy ;-).
posted by gmodelo at 4:10 PM on November 30, 2007

Response by poster: Further C.O.B., thanks for pointing out the sleep issue. That's an area where I lose. I can't usually seem to put together 8 or more full hours on a weeknight. I know I need more. I've even heard that people who exercise intensely need 9-10 hours, ideally. That would be awesome.
posted by gmodelo at 4:14 PM on November 30, 2007

Christonabike's recommendation for protean intake is a good one. I am not sure how much protean you are getting and how many calories as you just gave a ratio. But the conventional wisdom I hear is that you should have a gram of protean for every pound you weigh.

Additionally, without knowing your weight training routine it is difficult to make recommendations.
posted by munchingzombie at 4:57 PM on November 30, 2007

60% carbs? You ARE crazy. That is not exactly the diet for muscle retention. I'd up the protein (1g/lb of body weight is an easy rule of thumb), and nthing the intervals instead of steady-state cardio. Don't hold your breath for terrific muscle gains while losing fat, though. Protein, heavy lifting, and losing fat through diet instead of relying on a lot of cardio are the general "best practices" for minimizing muscle loss while losing fat, the only best practice for gaining while losing fat is steroids.
posted by ch1x0r at 5:00 PM on November 30, 2007

I had a pretty experience with gaining muscle and losing fat with a cycled ketogenic diet. you can search for it online.

You sound like you're already pretty disciplined with nutrition, so if you're ok with a ketogenic diet (basically 35-5-60 prot/carb/fat) you'll see good results if you stick to the diet and lifting program.

it's kind of a pain to stick to, but it worked amazingly well for me before I got sick of it and went back to a more standard 40-40-20 ish diet.
posted by I like to eat meat at 5:36 PM on November 30, 2007

Oh, I just noticed that you're only running for fat loss. I thought you were doing it for a sport or something.

In that case, I'd drop the cardio completely and do the cycled keto diet I mentioned. Nothing will drop fat and add muscle as well, in my opinion.
posted by I like to eat meat at 5:39 PM on November 30, 2007

Response by poster: I like to eat meat: I've avoided all Atkins-style carb-supressing diets. Never tried it, but learned a lot about it during my trainer days, and what will happen is your muscles have no glycogen stored for needed energy, and you feel like shit. That, and after long enough, you body goes into ketosis from too much protein being used for energy metabolism. What I have noticed works is long, long-term work ethic in conjunction with proper dieting. I guess getting impatient is the bane of bodybuilding! I'll check out the cycled Keto diet *(is that keto for ketones btw?) -thanks
posted by gmodelo at 1:35 PM on December 3, 2007

Response by poster: My weight training routine split looks something like this (though I modify on-site if I'm not feeling restored yet in that anatomical area):

Day 1 - Chest/Traps, 30 min. sprinting intervals
2 - Back/Shoulders, 30 min. sprinting intervals
3 - off
4 - Abs, 30 min jump rope
5 - Arms, 30 min. sprinting intervals
6 - off
7 - off (might start working in a leg day with some cardio)

Thanks everybody for your suggestions! It's appreciated!
posted by gmodelo at 1:43 PM on December 3, 2007

Your leg muscles make up around 2/3 of your total muscle mass. Working them out is a very good idea for a whole variety of reasons.

Working your legs can kick start your body into muscle growth mode. Since most of your muscle mass is in your legs working them out releases hormones needed for muscle growth which in turn are used by muscles in the entire body. There is a non-academic article here on the topic.
posted by munchingzombie at 5:27 PM on December 3, 2007

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