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I have been doing Calisthenics for 2 months now. I can see that muscle increase from my arms, chest, legs, etc. The problem is that when I look in the mirror all I see is that fat covering my muscle. I have been trying to keep a steady diet. Eating 5 small meals a day. Each meal containing Protein, Carbs, Unsaturated Fat, and Lots of water. I drink 6 bottles of water each day. Eating 5 fruits or veggies a day. The only exercise I do to burn fat is High Knees, Mountain Climbers, Jumping Lunges, and Burpees with Push ups. I want to burn this fat badly. I also don't want to lose my muscle by doing to much cardio. What should I do?

  • If you don't want to count calories, eat 4 meals a day. If you're still not losing weight, eat 3. – Antrim Nov 11 '15 at 10:44
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In my opinion the best way to lose fat is by counting calories.

It's great that you are eating healthy and often and such, however if you are still eating more, or the same amount of calories as you are burning; you will not lose fat.

In order to lose fat you will need to create a calorie deficit, ie. Eat less calories than you are using. A deficit of 400-1000 calories a day would be typical for most people aiming to lose fat. The greater the deficit, the faster you will lose fat. However if you have too large a deficit you may become lethargic, have trouble maintaining your current strength and may lose some muscle mass.

In order to know how many calories you are consuming a day you need to keep a log of all the calories you eat each day, there are plenty of websites, programs, apps that will do this easily for you. In a lot of countries packaged food is required to have a nutritional information label that will tell you how many calories or how much energy in kj (you can convert these two units easily, 4kj roughly approximates to 1 cal) is in that food. You can approximate all other food by weighing the amount you eat and then looking online for its approximate calorie content. (Google itself will show you the calorie contents of certain foods; If you google "calories in carrots" for example). Make sure you log everything you eat even healthy things like salads, it all adds up. Also make sure you overestimate or round up as there are many factors that could easily mean you consume more calories than you think you are.

The next thing to do is to work out how much you are burning each day. This is most easily achieved with a heart rate monitor like a Fitbit or something, but again you can always approximate it yourself. The largest source of calories out will be what is called your BMR which is basically how many calories you burn by just being alive. You can approximate your BMR online with a BMR calculator. Then you can approximate how many calories you burn from any exercise that you do that day, again by looking it up online. Make sure you underestimate or round down to provide a buffer zone just in case you aren't actually burning that much as every body is different. Note that unless you're doing hours of high heart rate activities, the total calories burnt from exercise won't be all that much and you can probably just use your BMR for your calories consumed.

Then simply make sure that your calories consumed each day (from food) is 400-1000 calories less than your calories burnt each day (from BMR and exercise) and you will lose fat.

  • Overall good advice, but I find that TDEE is a bit easier to use as it allows for a constant calorie goal each day and can potentially limit bad relationships between food and exercise (i.e. "I ate something I shouldn't have, now I need to run 5 miles"). – Alex L Nov 12 '15 at 1:40
  • @AlexL isn't tdee just BMR plus exercise? – Aequitas Nov 12 '15 at 2:09
  • it's more of an average daily impact from all physical activity (physical jobs, walking a lot at school, etc.) BMR + exercise is more of on-the-fly and can lead to overestimating the effect of exercising and / or neglecting any other non-exercise activities. – Alex L Nov 12 '15 at 2:14
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Try carb cycling. See here and here, for detailed explanations.

In a nutshell, you spend 2 to 3 days eating very little to no carbs then one day eating plenty of it. The no-carbs days deplete your glycogen reserves and make your body start tapping the fat reserves, then the carb day resets the counter before your body swithes to store-it-all mode, where it would store everything you eat as fat because it's been so starved recently.

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In order to lose fat and not the muscles, I suggest you cut the meals. That means, you should eat less because no matter how much you work out, if you don't burn more calories than you have, you won't lose fat. For example, men need 2000 calories a day and you should cut to 1500 calories a day. Women need 1500 calories a day, so 1000 calories is their goal. Keep working out. That way you don't have to worry about losing muscles.

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