The "Skinny Fat" Dilemma - can someone offer some help

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 25, 2008 6:57 AM GMT
    I'm 5'9 150 and in pretty good shape. I've always struggled with my midsection. I dont store fat on my body ANYWHERE, ANYWHERE, but my abdominal area. Even at 7% bodyfat, i dont have visible abs, and my ab muscles are very strong (I can feel the ripping under there!)

    The problem has always been that I would like to put on some more weight, but no matter how slowly or carefully i do it, I always get a little belly, even when im packing on muscle.

    Ive had trainers build me up to about 170 (which is HUGE for me) with a lot of muscle, with the strategy of "muscle first, then lose the fat". Didn't work. Tried this MANY times with different approaches and different trainers. Always the same result, doesn't work. For some reason, this seems to be an issue that all trainers THINK they know how to address, but can never successfully do it, probably because its a matter of genetics.

    Just seems like my body always goes back to a homeostatic state of lean/muscle with a little belly no matter what i try. I've basically accepted that I wont ever have a 6pack (boo hoo), but would love to hear about anyone who has PERSONALLY made some progress on this problem.

    Thoughts?
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    Jun 25, 2008 8:40 AM GMT
    Couple things:

    1) Abs are almost all about diet. They are the last place on the male body where you lose fat, and the first place you store it (on women, it's the "hips").

    2) Trainers, with very few exceptions, know SHIT about diet.

    So, I'd give up on trainers helping you with visible abs.

    A nutritionist (not one for diabetics, or old folks, but one for bodybuilding) is going to be more help here.

    In lieu of spending money on a nutritionist, I've found that you often have to adopt a much lower notion of your target body weight to have visible abs. For many many years, I always had this same issue: if I could just put on 10 more pounds of muscle, then "lean out" to get abs. What this is ignoring is your basic personal metabolics -- i.e. what is the equilibrium weight/calorie ratio that your body will start shedding the last bit of fat off your midsection.

    The fact is that you can look BIGGER at a lower body weight, because of the decreased body fat percentage. You can even keep all your "heavy" body weight tape measurements. I dropped 10 lbs while keeping all my tape measurements the same, and I looked much bigger when I did -- to the point where everyone said I looked liked I GAINED weight. It's the miracle of definition. Nobody believed me when I said I dropped 10 lbs.

    There's a ton of other factors that are in play here too (e.g. size of meals, number of meals, types of food, when you're eating which components, and yes, even ab exercises), so just to be clear, I'm not saying the issue is JUST that you may have the wrong idea about target body weight, but speaking from personal experience, as well as watching many other guys struggle with this -- it does seem to be a common denominator.

    K
  • bigguysf

    Posts: 329

    Jun 25, 2008 9:37 AM GMT
    I agree with iguanaSF. I recently set out to totally lean out, get ripped with a visible 6-8 pack. And it was all about diet. Eating multiple meals with lean proteins, low fats, almost no carbs or sugar. Doing that (along with sports, cardio, and some light lifting) helped me drop about 20 pounds of sustainable weight. I got the abs I wanted, and many people say I look bigger.
    Go figure... icon_wink.gif

    I wish you luck with whatever you set out to do man.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Jun 25, 2008 10:00 AM GMT
    This is basically a definition problem
    with the amount of excess weight you have
    which isn't much by any standard
    you need to go on a cut regimen
    and that is all diet more or less and this is pretty hard to do because it involves some real commitment
    First cut out all fat and processed foods
    then add on a modified Adkins diet
    where you can eat all the fruits and vegetables you want but no other carbs
    lots of lean meats for protein
    now up the cardio... while still maintaining the same weight training that you have
    *** remember there's no such thing as spot training so upping the ab work ain't gonna do squat
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    Jun 25, 2008 10:12 AM GMT
    One question here for GQjock:

    where you can eat all the fruits and vegetables you want but no other carbs

    Whenever I hear or read this sentence it's sometimes (but not consistently) followed by a vague exception about starches like rice, potato, peas, corn and so on.

    Your thoughts?
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Jun 25, 2008 10:19 AM GMT
    Peas are fine...
    but potatoes I agree are really something you don't wanna chow down on for a meal
    They're really just a bucket of starch and little else
    but as a side dish or in a soup they're okay
    just hold the butter !icon_wink.gif
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    Jun 25, 2008 10:50 AM GMT
    GQjock saidThis is basically a definition problem
    with the amount of excess weight you have
    which isn't much by any standard
    you need to go on a cut regimen
    and that is all diet more or less and this is pretty hard to do because it involves some real commitment
    First cut out all fat and processed foods
    then add on a modified Adkins diet
    where you can eat all the fruits and vegetables you want but no other carbs
    lots of lean meats for protein
    now up the cardio... while still maintaining the same weight training that you have
    *** remember there's no such thing as spot training so upping the ab work ain't gonna do squat



    Caveat: YOU STILL HAVE TO WATCH YOUR FRUIT CONSUMPTION! Yes it takes a larger consumption of fruit to equal the caloric intake of most other foods, but you can still gain weight if you eat too much of it.

    Although the fruit contained in sugar is "fructose" (monsacc), if the sugar consumed is not needed it will still eventually lead to production of long term energy storage molecules (i.e. lips/fat/etc...)

    different sugars enter the most basic metabolic cycle (glycolysis) at various points. But regardless of sugar type there will always be a method for eventual conversion to fat if your glycogen stores are already at filled to capacity!

    fruits high(er) in sugar: melons (especially watermelon), grapes, berries, bananas...)
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    Jun 25, 2008 1:13 PM GMT
    Ooh, awesome thread; thanks for writing it and for all the helpful responses so far!

    Yeah, I just recently realized that my goal to get a six-pack really is all about losing fat.

    iguana, bigguy (awesome profile vidoes, btw), and GQ: would love to hear more details about your regimen. Do you guys (and any other six-pack owners) make sure you take in a more or less exact calorie amount? with certain carb-fat-protein proportions?

    So I've been reading that controlling carbs are key to losing fat, and that you will definitely need some fat in your diet. It sounds like simple carbs should be cut down on (not entirely though), which includes most fruits (and orho mentioned this too). Complex carbs are better cuz they take longer to digest whether they be starchy (unprocessed) or fibrous (leafy veggies). This seems to be a little bit of a contradiction of what you said GQ. Thoughts, anyone?
  • Mikeylikesit

    Posts: 1021

    Jun 25, 2008 1:38 PM GMT
    Ever think it may be Genetics, Does have alot to play with it also.......icon_biggrin.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 26, 2008 7:37 AM GMT
    I get what you guys are sayin about target body weight, but im 5'9 150, how much less should i realistically weigh? I might have a flatter stomach at 135lb, but 5'9" 135lb isnt a man, thats a child!
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    Jun 26, 2008 7:41 AM GMT
    You look like a man to me. Hopefully you don't lose (much) weight trying to achieve your goal 'cuz you're right... you don't want to come off like a child. Unless you're looking for NAMBLA love... but you don't appear to be looking for that. (And I'm not knocking you OR NAMBLA.)
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    Jun 26, 2008 7:45 AM GMT
    You're exhibiting exactly what I'm talking about.

    You have some pre-defined notion of what the scale "should" say. Just stop weighing yourself and focus on the mirror and the tape measure.

    My ex was 5'9" and 140 -- he was lean and muscular and hot at that weight - and more than held his own with me when we wrestled. He could have told people he weighed 150 or even 160 and nobody would have batted an eye.

    What do you want?

    Do you want to be "big?" (Whatever that means).

    Do you want abs?

    Or do you want the scale to equal some arbitrary number that means "boy" or "man" or "overweight" or "underweight" or whatever you have in your head.

    What is more important?

    You need to decide.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jun 26, 2008 8:17 AM GMT
    What i 'want' is to be able to put on a little muscle and tighten up the midsection. At the end of the day, im not unhappy with where im at now, but i just get bored at not being able to move the needle because im always torn between the two. I dont have target body weight, nor was i the one to bring that up, i just want more effective workouts.

    The whole point of the post is that there are two opposing forces here, i want to get a little stronger, pack on a little more muscle, but tighten up the midsection a bit. Its not just vanity, I want to be able to get better results from the time spent in the gym and gain some power for performance purposes.

    I think that for alot of people, its simpler, you either want to cut down or bulk up. Pick one. My problem is, I kinda want both. Whats the best way to go about doin that for someone like me who has a really, really hard time gaining, but needs to be at like 5% bf to have good definition?



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    Jun 26, 2008 9:01 AM GMT
    I don't want to get all "scolding" here. That's not my intent at all. So I'll say this and step aside for the other folks to chime in.

    In my experience (myself included), we ALL want both: we're always just "10 lbs of muscle" short of our goal, no matter where we are, and we want to be lean at the same time.

    The problem is that, without chemical assists, for the vast majority of people who weren't born with exceptional genetics, having a weight gain target will cause you to put on both muscle AND fat, and it's EXTREMELY difficult to control the balance.

    I'm not saying it's impossible, but that it's going to take, uh, maybe a decade of keeping at it; tinkering with your diet, and often just maturing and waiting for your body's metabolism to slowly evolve. Personally, it took me just about a decade to put on 15 lbs and stay reasonably lean, altho I'm still not at lean as I was 15 lbs ago.

    I think if I would have just stopped trying to "have both", I wouldn't have wasted so much time. Every single person I've ever known personally who has made significant progress naturally (including myself) has dumped one key thing:

    The simultaneous, conflicting, and supremely challenging goal of achieving some arbitrary weight gain and losing body fat at the same time.

    What I'm saying is: give it a try. Stop trying to climb Mt. Everest. Focus on leaning out. Ignore the scale. Your muscle definition will come out. People will think you are getting bigger cause you will LOOK bigger. And then, when you've got at least 1 of your two goals in hand, work on ways to slowly, over a period of years, working hand-in-hand with your own evolving metabolism, put on that additional muscle over a period of months and years.

    If it doesn't work after 5/6 months, then dump it, report back here, and tell me I'm full of it icon_smile.gif

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    Jun 26, 2008 9:46 AM GMT
    dr_jackl saidiguana, bigguy (awesome profile vidoes, btw), and GQ: would love to hear more details about your regimen. Do you guys (and any other six-pack owners) make sure you take in a more or less exact calorie amount? with certain carb-fat-protein proportions?

    So I've been reading that controlling carbs are key to losing fat, and that you will definitely need some fat in your diet. It sounds like simple carbs should be cut down on (not entirely though), which includes most fruits (and orho mentioned this too). Complex carbs are better cuz they take longer to digest whether they be starchy (unprocessed) or fibrous (leafy veggies). This seems to be a little bit of a contradiction of what you said GQ. Thoughts, anyone?


    I think one could write a few volumes in answer to these questions. There's a TON of general info on diet out there, a lot of it here on the RJ site. You can learn a lot, and sounds like you're doing your research, which is great.

    As for your question about targeting a specific calorie amount, the answer for me is, roughly, yes. Roughly, because in practice you have to be fanatical to get an accurate daily count -- or you get on the Weight Watchers plan -- which is essentially calorie counting.

    The "big knob" in weight loss is calories in relative to calories burned. A ratio > 1 -- you gain weight. A unitary ratio -- you maintain. < 1 and you drop weight. Simple. In theory. But if you're not on Weight Watchers, you need to play around with exactly what is that calorie count that is the right number for you, with your current level of activity. It's different for everyone. If you're on Weight Watchers, then their system does it for you -- and it ALWAYS works -- cause they are based on the one single, sound principle: calories in relative to calories burned.

    So I answered and didn't answer your question. Which is kinda my thing icon_smile.gif

    As to carbs fats etc. Yes all that stuff you said is good and true. Compared to calories, that stuff is smaller knobs tho. One simple thing I learned is to think of carbs as fuel. You need fuel before an activity. Which means that WHEN you have your carbs is as important as what and how many you have. Thus the sensible rule (for the average person) of "no carbs after 7/8 PM." The implicit assumption behind this rule is that you're a day shift, 9-5 Joe, who relaxes in front of the TV after dinner, then after 3 hours of vegitating on the couch, slouches off to bed. If that's not you, and you go to the gym at 10PM (like I do), well, then you may want to modify that rule. In fact, it help me to think of my carbs only in conjunction with my activities (including brain work, which takes a LOT of energy) -- like an athlete.

    When you want those carbs (simple or complex), just think about what you are going to be fueling for the next 3/4 hours. If the answer to that question is "nothing, really" -- then stick with the proteins, fats, and veggies. So, for example, nice pre-bedtime foodies for me might be: super chunk peanut butter right out of the jar, or a 1am breakfast featuring my special turkey scramble. Yum. I'm eating that now, in fact.

    And to end all this long-winded hoo ha on a simple note: what was my breakthru?

    I lived with two fish-eating vegetarians for a month in Sydney. It was that simple. I just ate what they did and I dropped 10 pounds in 4 weeks and felt great. I have no idea how many calories, but I didn't eliminate desserts either. It just happened to be exactly what my metabolism needed at that time (incorporating a fairly high level of walking every day).

    So now I'm recommending that diet to people. So far, only one taker (he's on this site), so we'll see how he does. Today he freaked out and wanted a Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee and got all crazy -- in the end he denied himself. I never diet like that! It's not "you are what you eat" as someone else has said on this site, but "you are what you eat most of the time." But I'm kinda laid back, and he's kinda type A so we are who we are.

    Wow, now bigguysf should really chime in, as he is the one with the 8 pack, not me!

    *goes back to view bigguy's videos again*
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    Jun 26, 2008 6:19 PM GMT
    Thanks iguana! That was helpful, I think. I've been mostly following this plan where you lose as little muscle as possible while losing fat, and perhaps I'm still eating too many calories ...

    Yeah it's crazy to calorie count as I've been finding. Well I been tracking everything in a spreadsheet and trying to cook my own foods.

    Also, I think I've lost the big picture of calories in < calories burned = weight loss. Well, the part I've been focusing on is that if I don't have enough calories, the body will start holding onto the fat.

    The carb philosophy makes sense too. I've been eating an extra 400 calories in carbs in my post-workout meal to recover and I'm wondering if I really need to do that.

    But I think it's key that I adapt my workout and nutrition cuz I know everyone's different. And now's the time to change that.
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    Jun 26, 2008 6:31 PM GMT
    Hey chitown,
    Didn't mean to make this thread all about nutrition, but I think these guys are onto something. And that is the fact that you seem very workout focused (at least you haven't said anything about nutrition yet). I can relate to that because I've been skinny fat most my life and ever since college I wanted to change by eating healthier and going to the gym more. Well, I still am skinny fat so in a sense I'm in the same boat, but I never really focused on the eating aspect of things.

    I agree 7% fat is low and your proportions at least on paper may make you seem skinny, but it does sound like that these numbers are really acting more as a crutch now. As iguana said it sounds like your goal is visible abs, NOT these numbers which are really holding you back now.
  • atxclimber

    Posts: 480

    Jun 26, 2008 6:59 PM GMT
    This is a concept I'm very curious about lately, too. Notably, I lift 3x a week for an hour, and I eat ~30g of protein about every 3 hours, every day (except when I'm sleeping -- but I have a glass of pure protein right before bed, too.)

    I'm probably 9-10% body fat right now and delightfully visible abs, they say, are around 5-6% body fat. I've been 205lbs since January when I started lifting, so I'm definitely putting on muscle and losing fat simultaneously, but it's slow going and I want to burn that last 8lbs of fat or so quickly.

    So I started bike commuting; it's 15 miles each way and with all the stoplights and intersections, that's about an hour of intense biking; all the various calorie-estimating things agree it's about 1,000 calories each way, or 2k calories a day. So bike commuting 3x a week is 6,000 calories. On days I bike I eat more food, for sure, but probably only about 500-1000 calories. So even at the high end I'm burning an additional 3,000 calories a week, which is almost a pound of fat.

    The problem is, how do I help ensure those 3,000 calories are coming from my fat stores? There's lots of ways my metabolic pathways can provide energy, including catabolizing muscle. And I hope that consuming 30g of protein every 3 hours (which seems to be the consensus about the "most protein you can get into your body that your body will use for muscle building") would help prevent catabolism but I don't actually know for sure.

    The problem with the "calories in versus calories out" thing is it only tells you how to lose weight, but it doesn't help you control what kind of tissue you're burning.

    I would love to understand that better; how to continue gaining muscle or keep the muscle I have while convincing my body to burn fat.
  • UncleverName

    Posts: 741

    Jun 26, 2008 7:11 PM GMT
    I might've missed the boat on what Iguana was saying, but my take on it was: figure out what works for your body. Try different things and find out what your body responds to. Everyone is different, and you don't figure this stuff out overnight. No magic bullets.

    Iguana looks pretty hot to me, so I'm gonna take his advice. He's got an awesome body fat percentage, he's got a small waste, some nice muscles, and he's around the same height as me. Plus, he's been doing this for a long time. He knows what he's talking about.
  • DiverScience

    Posts: 1426

    Jun 26, 2008 7:22 PM GMT
    It's possible that some of the belly is weak muscle and not fat. Try things that work your core, especially the deeper muscles (vacuums, hanging crunches, twisting things, etc). Especially if you have done large numbers of situps in the past, you may have a large band of muscle there that's now hanging slack.

    Not a definite, but it is a possibility.
  • atxclimber

    Posts: 480

    Jun 26, 2008 7:24 PM GMT
    Well, sure, but that's kind of the default, empirical fallback in all cases, right? "Try things and see what works" isn't a solution so much as what you do when you have no solution. icon_smile.gif

    I'm just curious for the basic principles. The human machine is very similar from instance to instance. How does it decide where to pull energy from? In all cases, it will use glycogen stores if the muscle has them for short, high-intensity bursts of energy. But in what cases will it crank up the fat catabolism pathways, versus the muscle catabolism pathways? Fat metabolism is not generally high-bandwith enough to provide all the energy for strenuous exercise, so what's the right way to supplement it? If I wake up in the morning, eat no carbs, and ride hard for an hour on my bike, what will that do? Am I better off eating a slice of whole-grain toast first? Will that help me preserve muscle, or will it prevent fat burning?

    Etc.

    I agree though, people on here obviously know what they're doing. That's why I ask! icon_smile.gif
  • UncleverName

    Posts: 741

    Jun 26, 2008 9:53 PM GMT
    Hey ATXClimber, I get what you're saying.

    My gut tells me, from what I've read on these forums and at bodybuilding.com, is that even knowing the basics doesn't help you too much. To get from 25% body fat percentage down to 12%, the basics work and seem to be true for everyone. To get down from 12%, it seems to be a crap shoot. So many guys on here say that they can't do cardio, or these lose muscle. The same is what I've read on bodybuilding.com. So a pretty standard thing that I've read is that if you do low intensity exercise for 1 hour, the last 30 minutes is all fat burning. My own experience was that that doesn't work for me. Seems pretty basic/standard, and yet not true for me. The way I finally took off fat to go from 12-14% bodyfat down to 10%-ish body fat, without losing any muscle, was to do tons of full body workouts, and not eat a ton more (except for post-workout protein shakes with tons of calories).

    The thing I keep hearing over and over again is to experiment till you find out what your body responds to, and use the mirror as a measure, not the scale.

    It's already been touched on, but I'd really say that if you're below 10% body fat and you aren't seeing results, assuming that you actually do have a strong tight core, do one of the following:

    1) find a good personal trainer and get them to figure what works for your body, fast. Note that you need to find a really good one for this, and probably will have to pay them a huge sum per hour (like 2 or 3 times what most inhouse gym trainers charge).

    2) option 2: get liposuction done to remove the belly fat. Fat cells don't disappear. They can shrink, but they don't disappear. If you weighed more at one point, you might just have fat that no amount of exercise can take off. Seek surgical means if you're at that point.

    The last thing I'll mention is that, from what I can tell, you both look great. For me, it's about looking good to me. The problem is, I'm not unbiased, and when I look in the mirror, I'm way fatter than I actually am. Keep that in mind while you strive to get the perfect midsection. Maybe you have it already, and you just can't see it.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Jun 26, 2008 10:38 PM GMT
    [quote]
    So I've been reading that controlling carbs are key to losing fat, and that you will definitely need some fat in your diet. It sounds like simple carbs should be cut down on (not entirely though), which includes most fruits (and orho mentioned this too). Complex carbs are better cuz they take longer to digest whether they be starchy (unprocessed) or fibrous (leafy veggies). This seems to be a little bit of a contradiction of what you said GQ. Thoughts, anyone?[/quote]

    Absolutely...orthojock touched on this also
    I brought this up just as a rule of thumb
    but if you then go and eat sensibly remember that when you train you need 4-5 smaller meals
    no simple carbs and processed foods
    no fats
    complex carbs are good but you have to be careful of them too because they are all pretty calorie packed
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    Jun 26, 2008 11:07 PM GMT
    Thanks ATX for helping to fine-tune what i'm trying to get at. I'm not rejecting the advice given by Iguana, i actually think it may be something worth trying, since I've never really tried it before - Ive never let myself get below 140.

    But knowing how to do it the best way by preserving the most muscle and efficiently targeting the fat would be the obvious follow-up question. Seems to be alot of contradictory advice out there, not sure if anyone really knows a definite answer, if there is one.

    I'm gonna try to cut down slowly, do more core work, and not freak out when i get below 145. I just want to make sure I'm maximizing the percentage of my weight loss that is fat.

    Losing weight is new to me, seems like I'm always trying to gain. I'm not used to being hungry - I'll have to eat while looking in the mirror and calling myself a fat pig and make MOO noises every time i take a bite. Maybe I can give myself and eating disorder and get down to 110!

    icon_lol.gif joking obviously icon_lol.gif
  • atxclimber

    Posts: 480

    Jun 27, 2008 3:02 AM GMT
    I posed the same question to a friend of mine who's been in the single digits body fat for a long time, to the point that he's actually having to force himself to eat more than feels natural now to pack on more muscle, and here's some of what he had to say. (He's also an analytical type so his approach is very much based on the scientific data, so I trust him for more than just apocrypha.)

    I thought his response was pretty interesting so figured I'd copy some of it here.

    In response to me saying, I'm biking, and on those days working with roughly a 1500 calorie deficit, and I want to know / control where those 1500 calories come from (preferably fat stores):

    Yeah, it's complicated. A few things that we know for sure :

    Fat burning is a slow gradual process. Your body uses fat as a fuel only very slowly. Exercising harder doesn't make you burn more fat. In general I think the whole idea of "exercising to burn fat" is a bad idea. What you want is just to put a strain on your body, put yourself in caloric deficit, and your body will burn fat all the time.

    This is why some people (incorrectly) say that the best way to burn fat is very mild exercise like walking. Their idea is that you just do enough to trigger fat burning mode, and then hold that as long as possible. That's a bit silly because it doesn't count the post-workout time.

    When you're in severe caloric deficit, part of how your body makes that up is by stopping muscle building (and also stopping fighting disease, healing tissue, etc. which is why people who overtrain long term can get suddenly very sick).

    No matter how hard you work your body won't burn more than like 1 pound of fat a week, and that's spread out evenly over the week. Also, when you get to low body fat your body will do its damndest to put fat back on, so even if you work out very hard part of the week, if you eat a caloric excess at any time your body will use that for fat.

    When trying to add muscle and lose fat, you have to be careful not to really jam yourself deep into caloric deficit and low blood sugar states because that does put your body in muscle burn mode.


    Then I asked, on days when I really exercise a lot, I'll eat a bit more to compensate somewhat and keep myself from feeling super hungry; does it matter what the nutritional makeup of those extra calories is, i.e. is it important I eat complex whole-grains for that, or can I eat ice cream? (See other thread on "ice cream is my friend")

    No, that doesn't matter all that much. However, timing and distribution does matter. For example, consider two cases :

    1. I bike off 1000 calories and don't eat at all, then a few hours later I eat a 800 calorie meal.
    2. I bike off 1000 calories and eat continuously during biking and then a bit more when I finish.

    In #1 :
    I burn 200 calories of free blood sugar (all I can)
    I burn 400 calories of glycogen (all I can)
    I burn 100 calories of fat (all I can)
    I burn 300 calories of protein to make up the difference
    Then I eat 800 calories
    500 restores my sugars
    200 are used for muscle repair
    100 is stored as fat

    net : -100 glyco, -100 muscle

    In #2
    As I exercise my body burns sugar, glyco & protein, what I consume restores them as I go
    I burn 100 calories of fat
    I burn 100 calories of glycogen

    net : -100 glyco, -100 fat

    Obviously these are more extreme than the difference in reality.


    And finally, when I noted, adding 6 hours of hard biking a week is a pretty aggressive change, but I want to avoid muscle loss to whatever extent possible:

    It's almost impossible to avoid muscle loss from the heavy cardio (without roids), but what you can do is build enough in the other days that you are still on a net neutral or slightly positive.

    The big thing to be aware of is that the body does seem to have very binary anabolic/catabolic modes, and you do want to try to stay anabolic. Basically that means never letting yourself feel like you're "starving", never get close to a "bonk", never really run your blood sugar super low.

    When you consume nutrients, you want your body thinking it needs to get stronger, nutrients go to muscles, not "I'm in a famine, nutrients become fat and muscles are allowed to wither".


    Anyway, this seemed relevant to some of the other questions here, hope it helps.