KWalker wrote: ↑
Thu May 23, 2019 4:39 am
I've been skinny fat for a lot of my life. I went from 135, up into the mid 200's weightlifting, then back down as low as 148 racing. Even at 148 and single digit bodyfat I looked less lean than I was. While I do not have a ton of time to put into responses these days, here is my advice:
1. You need to do some weight bearing activity
. Mostly for general health (my bone density from riding and losing weight all the time was absolute trash by age 31), but also because part of skinny-fat syndrome comes from not naturally having much muscle mass AND usually having a fairly low metabolic rate. Find something, anything: crossfit, weight-lifting, bodyweight/gymnastic rings, shit even running is probably better than nothing. I personally found rock climbing to be the most enjoyable and it has both a cardiac and muscular component. Strength training also tends to speed up metabolic rate slightly
2. Related to 1, you're going to have to eat a high-er protein diet
, likely at the upper end of the 1.6g/kg-1.8g/kg intake for athletes and likely higher than the 2.2g/kg recommended for cutting. Partially to build or hold on to some muscle mass, but also because protein is the most satiating macronutrient, has a high thermic cost, and will make any sort of deficit easier. If you get it from plants you might need a tad more to get the same amino balance.
3. Never take any diet advice from people who treat diet like politics or religion
. Don't buy into dogma or dogmatic claims. Building off of 1 and 2 if you're a true skinny fat you are never going to be very muscular. How you look is all a number's game and it's more than the scale. Don't worry about bulking up from 1 and 2 if you can find a diet that works for you. Read a bunch of different opinions and diets and find whatever one is the most sustainable for your liftestyle. Make adequate protein the cornerstone and fill in the other 2 nutrients as you wish. Experiment, but never go ultra high in something unless it's sustainable. There are very few, if any studies in which active athletes are put under caloric restriction and one group loses more than another when protein intakem, caloric intake, and training load are matched. Lots of people will try to claim otherwise, but if you read the citations and research there is ALWAYS a catch or scenario that makes it impossible to generalize that one diet is better than another.
For example- one of my good climbing partners works at an anti-aging lab with a lot of post docs that are doing fasting and ketosis experiments on mice. He is constantly venting about how people, often very credentialed public figures, misinterpret research or over extrapolate findings to humans. Rhonda Patrick is a great example- she often reports on research from fields that she has no firsthand expertise, but sounds really smart (and is really knowledgeable about her own areas) and has misquoted his research several times. Or you go read a study and find that it showed a huge difference in some elderly, insulin resistant, sedentary population or the control was actually terrible.
The "best" diets for weight loss all seem to have a high protein component. And by best I mean diets that maintain what little muscle mass you have AND show an even or greater loss of body fat. If you lose 10lbs and half is muscle, you will still look skinny fat. If you lose 5lbs, but only because you gained 5lbs of muscle and lost 10lbs of fat you will look far less skinny fat.
5. Just riding more is a piss poor way to lose weight unless the only thing you can do is ride
. Protein turnover rates are higher during fasted endurance exercise and studies that compare fasted to fed training and fat oxidation from adipose tissue show no net difference across a day (usually you burn more fat during the initial part of exercise from blood lipids, but also more amino acids and after the ride end it ends up balancing out pretty well). Also, a ton of endurance exercise plus a caloric deficit is a great way to spike a lot of catabolic hormones. It will also increase relative feelings of hunger when in a deficit. Lastly, it's not *f##k* sustainable. You cannot rely on your riding volume for health and well-being. It must compliment your lifestyle and body comp, not determine it. Have you ever seen a cyclist with a really good body comp and balance of health, mobility, and musculature? Most pros resemble drug addicts and snap bones whenever they fall. There's zero advantage for the general population.
6. If you're not racing, you should be focused on good overall habits. If you are racing, you should still be focused on good habits, but occasionally employ more drastic efforts only if they are necessary
. This reinforces everything above. If all you do is ride chances are you will not be very mobile or balanced and at some point you will suffer some sort of injury or pain because of it. Doing whatever strength training or weight bearing activity you can will go a long way to preventing this. Same with finding a diet that works for you. Keto is the current rage, some people love fasting, but if eating 3 meals a day works from you and they're from a well-rounded range of whole foods, then that's what matters FOR YOU.
7. Try tracking your intake for 2 weeks.
It will suck. Measure and weigh everything you can. Get an idea of what you even eat now. It will almost always surprise you. You have to learn proper portion control.
8. Never be in too big of a deficit.
Fat loss doesn't take any tricks. If you're a few hundred calories shy on a ride day, that's fine. If you strength train and are a few hundred over, that's also fine. Studies on athletes and food intake show that athletes that habitually limit intake often have higher bodyfat percentages than those that do not. They're also athletes who often have teams of people telling them what to do and when OR are very used to what is required to do their work. You will likely end up skinnier, but still skinny fat if you are truly skinny fat to start with. Others tend to lean out really well and preserve mass, but this is not a hallmark trait of a true skinny fat.
9. Most cyclists eat way too much on the bike.
If you're not riding a lot of long rides, high weekly volume, or super intense rides without adequate overall dietary CHO, you don't need to slam so much food. Maybe some drink mix per the standard Skratch/Osmo guidelines. If your macronutrients are somewhat balanced throughout a day or week you do not need convoluted post workout shakes or other strategies. You aren't churning through enough glycogen to matter.