I've recently joined a local gym to try and supplement my martial arts training, and as a result I have been getting a lot more exercise recently (I'm still in the over-enthusiastic early phase where I need to watch out for over-training).

I'm 193cm, 88kg. Body fat is currently at 26%. I used to be one of those people who could eat anything and not get fat, but in recent years the combination of stress, age and a sedentary lifestyle have lead to me developing a modest potbelly.

The recent upswing in exercise seems to have kicked my metabolism back into high gear, my appetite has increased dramatically and so have my energy levels. I'm finding myself regularly hungry, even after eating a decent lunch.

Now, my primary aim is to try and correct my body composition (increase muscle, reduce fat) to bring my body fat down to at least 18% (quite possibly further depending on results). From what I can see, my primary concern at this stage would be to gain the muscle, with losing the fat being a lesser concern.

I can see two strategies I can go with here:

  1. Keep my diet the same and simply let my body go to the fat reserves if it needs to. This would certainly help me come down to target, but may make it harder to gain the lean mass I'm trying to replace it with.

  2. Give my body all the carbs / protein it wants and let it build up the lean mass now, not worrying about fat until after I've made the gains in muscle mass that I want. My increased metabolism should help make this process easier.

I'm currently leaning towards option 2, does this seem like a sensible approach?

  • @Adam-can I please ask how your progess is going? Have you seen any changes in your energy, hunger levels etc? Thanks!
    – Bee
    Jul 4, 2012 at 8:04

2 Answers 2


Because you said you are an ectomorph, I say exercise and eat. Exercising and then not eating will increase your cortisol. Just eat healthy. (I find exercise makes me hungrier but crave healthier foods.) Eat lots of protein with carbs after your workouts.

Also, focus on big complex moves to increase your muscularity, especially squats and deadlifts. (Deadlifts tend to be easier for ectomorphs). But remember that good form is very important on such big moves that handle lots of weight. A rep range of five reps probably serves your purposes, but everyone is different.


Option 2 seems more in line with your goals. However, I would provide a word of caution about allowing your feelings to dictate how many Calories you get. You might get too many or you might not get enough.

You might want to try the Three Coach Macro-nutrients Calculator to customize the distribution of macro-nutrients to best address your specific goals. The distribution of protein, carbs, and fat (yes fat is important) can affect how much you gain/lose and the nature of what you are gaining and losing.

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