I am about average weight (145 pounds, 170cm tall) and about 2 months ago I joined gym and doing 1 hour cardio (pretty intense) then 1 hour lifting (targeting each different muscle group, really push myself) about 5 times a week. I try to eat around 1200-1400 cals everyday with 80-100g of protein. My primary aim is to lose weight and gain muscle and have that sexy shredded look. I haven't been weighing myself to avoid disappointment but have noticed I've lost weight and gained some muscle. However I've read limiting calories makes it nearly impossible to gain muscle. I realize I am gaining muscle now as I'm new to it so its easy to gain muscle but how long will this last for? How can I continue to gain muscle & lose weight without increasing my calories then leading to weight gain?

  • 3
    Newb gains will taper off rather quickly, maybe in a few months, probably earlier seeing how you drive your metabolism into the ground. With all your activities (assuming a desk job) you're looking at >2600kcal energy expenditure while only taking in ~1300kcal. That's way too little to keep up over a long time and will most likely hamper any muscle growth.
    – user8119
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 8:13
  • @LarissaGodzilla, isn't "Tori" a woman's name. I think the numbers you've listed work for a man with those dimensions, but for a woman would be somewhere around 1950 Calories. 1400 Calories would be a 1 lb a week deficit in that case. Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 17:35
  • @BerinLoritsch: I wasn't sure, so I kept my guesses at the lower end. An hour of 'pretty intense' cardio should be ~300-400kcal, an hour of full body lifting ~200-300kcal. Baseline amount for women according to the FDF is 2000kcal, so it's ~2600kcal overall. Did I miss something?
    – user8119
    Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 18:38
  • @LarissaGodzilla I'd give an hour of 'pretty intense' cardio at least 500kcal, although its difficult to be very accurate without more information. Commented Jul 23, 2014 at 18:47

1 Answer 1


Based on the information provided and your name, I'm going to make some assumptions (required to provide a wild guess at maintenance Calories).

My assumptions used to fill in the blanks for a calorie calculator are:

  • Female (based on name, body weight, adjectives used in the question)
  • About 25 years old (default on the calculator, calorie requirements go down the older you get)
  • 170 cm / 5' 6" (provided above)
  • 145 lbs / 66 kg (provided above)
  • Moderately active (based off of exercise only 5 days/week)

You can correct the numbers and enter it in for yourself here.

The results I get back from those numbers are:

  • 2,200 Calories to maintain weight
  • 1,700 Calories to lose 1lb / week
  • 1,200 Calories to lose 2lb / week

Based on that information, the numbers you listed aren't too crazy, but long term they will hurt you.

It sounds like you are working primarily on your physique. In that case, it's better to think in terms of body fat rather than pounds gain/loss. I've seen a number of transformation stories (mostly women) where the person actually gained weight and lost inches. I've also seen some where the end weight was the same, but they looked and felt better. Based on your starting weight (only 145 lbs), you might be in the same boat as the women I mentioned.

I would focus on the following:

  • Start by finding what really is your maintenance Calories. This is where you neither gain nor lose weight. It's your starting position. Adjust your calories up or down by 100-200 a week until your weight stabilizes.
  • Since your starting point is what I would imagine very normal size and body fat, focus on getting stronger while maintaining that weight.
  • If you don't really have 2 hours a day to burn at the gym then I would start with a slightly different plan. 3 days a week should be in the weight room to get stronger, with 20 minutes tops for cardio those days. The two in-between days can be cardio days.
  • Find an approach you enjoy. Nothing will help you stick with the plan more than really liking what you are doing. Try different approaches, and then focus on the one you like the best.
  • After 3 months of really improving your strength and activity decide if you need to change your weight. You may find yourself very happy at 145 and a different body composition. Whatever you choose, only make minor modifications at a time. No more than a pound a week (and if trying to gain weight no more than 3/4 pound per week).

I would increase your protein a little bit. Your macros should be something along the lines of:

  • 1.8g / kg protein (118g based on the information given)
  • 20-30% of total calories as fat (48-73g on a 2200 Calorie diet)
  • all the rest as carbs (~1000g based on this example)

This is just a rough starting point that can be adjusted to something that works better for you. If you eat 4 times a day, that's only 30g of protein in a meal or just over 4oz of meat. Adjust the fat and carbs until it's something you are comfortable with, but don't go under 20% total calories as fat to keep your body happy).

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