I keep increasing calories but weight keeps fluctuating. Help!
- 11-28-2009, 01:32 PM
I keep increasing calories but weight keeps fluctuating. Help!
Since I stopped dieting down and decided to bulk back up slowly. My main has been to add .5lb per week. This has been my weight the past two months, I usually weigh in every saturday, and sometimes sunday to see how much it changed from one day to the next.
I weigh in first thing in the morning after I get up and use restroom.
October 10th - 180.6
October 17th - 180.8
October 24th - 179.8
October 31st - 183.2
October 1st - 182.4
November 7th - 183.8??
November 8th - 181.8??
November 14th - 182.4
November 15th - 181.8
November 21st - 182.8
November 22nd - 183.0
November 29th - 181.8
I increase 250 calories every week or stay if I think I'm gaining. Back in October I started at around 3,500 a day, now I'm up to 4,250 on training days (3x a week) and 3,850 on off days. My strength has been going up every week and making VERY slow, too slow, muscle gains.
I cannot accurately gauge whether I'm gaining one week to the next, because even between one day and the next my weight can bounce a pound - pound and a half. I cut cardio out a month ago also.
Any advice? If I go up to 4,500 next week, I may find that I weight 183.8 next saturday and believe I gained two pounds, only to find out sunday when I weigh in that I'll be 182.8.
- 11-28-2009, 11:51 PM
The fluctuations, especially that small, are normal. Something as small as extra sweating and using the restroom can cause fluctuations of that magnitude. It just seems that your body has a set point that it wants to maintain around 182 and you are going to have to increase your caloric intake further to push past that.
11-29-2009, 12:07 AM
Would you recommend that I increase by 357 calories to each day now? Also, is adding more calories to training days a logical approach rather than eating the same amount every day?
11-30-2009, 11:44 PM
Whether I train or not, I maintain a constant of around 4500 calories a day. On the days you dont train your muscles will still need an adequate amount of calories from protein, carbs and fats to continue to grow on those ever so important non training rest days.. IMO
12-04-2009, 11:59 AM
swap your training up maybe
if your doing compounds mainly try some isolation drop sets and super sets one week then back to compounds, keep ur body from adapting to ur training
12-04-2009, 02:57 PM
Small fluctuations in weight like what you described are most likely due to changes in glycogen storage and water weight.
Stop counting calories. I believe that counting calories only makes sense if you are trying to lose fat. If you are trying to gain muscle then eat until you are fully satisfied and then maybe eat a little more than that. Instead of counting calories count reps, sets, and poundages for your exercises and count inches on a measuring tape around your arms and legs. If you don't feel very hungey then don't force yourself to eat just to consume a certian amount of calories because your muscles and liver might become less sensitive to insulin and then any weight you gain will just be fat. A mass building diet should be more instinctive and less regimented than a fat loss diet.
Do some mild cardio. Doing mild cardio(like walking on a treadmill) while trying to gain muscle will increase your insulin sensitivity so you will metabolize nutrients more effectivly. It will also speed up your metabolism; you may be thinking that the last thing that you want to do while trying to gain muscle is to speed up your metabolism but this will actually help you gain muscle by increasing your appetite and it will allow you to eat more frequent and larger meals without gaining much fat. Having a faster metabolism and eating more food will also speed up your recovery from weight training because you will be able to supply your growing muscles with more nutrients while burning any excess energy that might decrease your appetite or be stored as fat. Doing mild cardio will also speed up your recovery from weight training by increasing peripheral blood flow. When doing cardio during a mass building phase it is especially important to stay near your target heart rate so that your body does not switch from burning fatty acids and blood sugar to glycogen and creatine phosphate. Also don't do your cardio in the morning on an empty stomach or before you sleep like you would if you were trying to loose fat and don't do it very often, maybe once a day only 2-3 times a week. You may be thinking that most professional bodybuilders don't usually do cardio during a mass building phase but consider that they are usually using alot of performance enhancing drugs, they often weight train twice a day, and they already spend a large portion of the year dieting very strictly and doing alot of cardio.
Cycle your carbohydrates. I suggest that 3-4 days a week you dramatically increase the amount of high glycemic carbohydrates. You could buy a large bottle of grape juice(avoid high fructose carb sources) and consume it over 3-4 days with meals or even sip on it between meals. When the bottle is gone wait 3-4 days before you open another one and return to your usual carb intake. Taking breaks between these short high carb cycles will allow your body to remain sensitive to insulin and it will hopefully prevent all of this extra sugar from being converted to fat. Temporarily dramatically increasing your carb intake like this should increase your strength and muscular endurance because it will increase the amount of glycogen stored in your muscles and liver, and you will probably notice more muscle fullness and great pumps in the gym, it will cause a fast gain in weight because for every gram of glycogen your body stores three grams of water is also stored along with it(this weight gain caused by cell volumization has also been shown in studies to trigger protien synthesis), and the increase in carbs will correspondingly increase your insulin levels(insulin is released in response to rising blood sugar) and as you probably know insulin is the most anabolic hormone in the body because it signals cells to take in amino acids, sugar, and fatty acids.
Consume most of your carbohydrates in the morning and immediatly after your workout. I'm sure that you already know that it is extremely important to ingest a high glycemic carbohydrate after your workout, but the point I'm trying to make here is that it is wise to let your blood sugar and insulin levels fall in the evening before you sleep. The reason for this is three fold. Doing this will increase your growth hormone release while you sleep. Growth hormone is released in response to exercise, REM sleep, and low blood sugar. If you let your blood sugar fall before you sleep your night time growth hormone levels will be higher. Letting your blood sugar levels and your insulin levels fall at night will give your insulin receptors time to upgrade and you will be more insulin sensitive in the morning when you ingest a larger amount of carbs. This last reason might be the most beneficial reason to let your blood sugar levels fall at night. If you eat something high in fat and slowly absorbed protien like steak, salmon, or whole eggs for your last meal of the day your body will have a constant flow of nutrients throughout the night which will allow you to build muscle while you sleep, which is the most anabolic time because this is when the body uses most of its energy to grow and repair itself.
Take longer rest periods between sets. This will allow you to lift more weight and perform more reps. The longer you rest between sets the more your body will be able to re-balance PH, remove waste products, and regenerate local energy storage. Some might say that waiting too long between sets may prevent you from getting as pumped up as possible and this can sometimes be true, but I have a solution for that. At the very end of your workout pick 3-4 exercises for the same muscle group and while using a weight that is not much heavier than what you would normaly warm-up with do 15-30 reps of each exercise, one after another, with no rest in between each set; this should get you extremely pumped up before you leave the gym. Another similar technique you could try at the end of your workout for a great pump is either FST-7 or crazy 8's which requires that you do 7 sets of 7 reps or 8 sets of 8 reps with a relativly light weight with very little in between sets.
Change up your exercises. If you normally do back squats then try front squats instead. If you normally do over-hand bent-over rows try under-hand bent-over rows. Small changes like this will stimulate new growth and maintain the muscle mass that you already have and you might also find a new favorite exercise.
Finally. DON'T GIVE UP. Hitting a plateau can be frustrating but I assure you that you can find a way to break through it, whether it is going to take a change in your dietary habits, your exercise technique, your lifestyle, your training philosophy, your motivation level, or your attitude, you can succeed. Set realistic and logical goals and work towards then one step at a time. It is great that you are willing to ask for advise from others who are chasing the same goal(although at this point you might be wishing that you hadn't because now you have got this crazy guy rambling on and on in your thread). Don't make your goal simply to gain X amount of pounds, the only people that want to just gain weight, regardless of how much of that weight is muscle, are sumo wrestlers. At one point, after bobybuilding for many years and then hitting a plateau, I set a goal to just put a quarter inch on my arms and legs. Since then, after trying different things and learning what would cause my body to gain that quarter inch, I have put an inch and a half on my arms and two inches on my legs, gotten stronger than I ever believed I could be and lost alot of fat in the process. Set small goals like that and chase them, but when I say don't give up I don't just mean don't give up on the small goals you may have relating to bodybuilding, I mean don't give up on what is really important to you. If you have things in your life like work, school, or family that are getting in the way of these smaller goals recognize that neglecting these priorities, even though in the short term it may help you achieve your smaller goal, might actually prevent you from being able to do the things you love, like bodybuilding, in the long term. I say this because the things that are holding you back from achieving a short term goal like gaining some muscle might not have anything to do with your diet or exercise technique but may be something unrelated, and more important, that simply keeps you from putting enough energy into chasing your short term goal. If this is the case, as it has been for me in the past, then don't beat yourself up or wonder what your doing wrong but understand that you might need to wait for a better time in the future to achieve your short term goal, but don't give up on it.
12-05-2009, 12:06 AM
Thanks for the posts guys. This past week I've been eating 350+ carbs each day (off days included) and upped my calories by 357 calories on top of what I was eating last week. Tomorrow I'll weigh in and see where I'm at, I'm sure I'll have some higher glycogen storage than normal.
As far as my training goes, I switch lifts up each week, except for squats and deadlifts I do them every single week because I am continually progressing in those lifts. My isolation exercises rotated every week.
Hermit, the only reason I count calories when bulking is because I am very suspectible to packing on a gut when I bulk too quickly. I become bloated and my stomach pushes out when I wear my t-shirts. It would be ideal if I could start gaining .5 pounds a week. Right now the only simple sugars I'm taking in is dextrose (usually 80g postworkout) and simple sugars in milk sometimes throughout the day, always cut off before 6pm. But doing a few days cycling on and off high glycemic carbs sounds interesting and will try that out. Did you notice a difference since practicing this?
12-07-2009, 05:47 AM
I have the same problem of getting bloated and gaining too much fat while bulking. It sometimes makes me feel like following a strict dieting and cardio regimen was pointless except for that I looked better for a little while. Perhaps I should learn to be more meticulous and dedicated like you are while bulking. I just get so excited when I start lifting big and eating big after a cutting phase that I often foolishly convince myself that the more I eat the more I will grow and the stronger I will get. Unfortunately eating a lot doesnít always doesnít always work that way. My stomach definitely gets bigger when I am bulking, part of this is caused by my stomach and intestines stretching to accommodate all the extra food I am eating and part of it is caused by increased fat cell storage. During all of my previous cutting phases even at my lowest calorie and highest cardio level and even when the rest of my body is pretty vascular and ripped I still have a small roll of fat over my lower abs that I have not been able to eliminate yet. I just recently started dieting after a very successful bulking phase and Iím absolutely determined to burn off that stubborn roll of fat this time. In the past when I diet, after a while I start losing strength and that has caused me to eat more than I should, do less cardio, or even prematurely end my cutting phase. This time I donít care if I end up so weak that the women in the gym are lifting more weight than I am, I will lose that fat!! After I lose this belly fat that is left over from my days as a fat kid I am going to try your calorie counting approach to bulking because once I lose that fat there is no way that I am going to let myself regain it.
My reasoning behind suggesting that you stop counting calories was not to suggest that you should let yourself get fat while bulking. I suggested that because I was worried that in order to meet your daily calorie requirement you might eat more food even if your not hungry which might make you gain fat, and so that when your body does need more calories in order to grow you might not eat enough to make gains. However, after pondering it for a while I am coming around to your way of thinking. Once I start bulking again I am going to set a daily calorie limit which will not increase until I stop gaining strength and muscle mass. When I stop making progress I will increase my calorie limit which is what I do when I diet but in reverse(when I stop losing fat I decrease my calories and increase cardio). This seems to be what you are doing as you said that you have recently increased you calorie intake by 357 calories. In a previous post you asked if it is logical to increase calories on training days instead of eating the same amount everyday. I think that is an excellent idea. It is logical to assume that because you burned more calories on training day it would be smart to increase calories to make up for that caloric deficit. Do you just set a daily calorie limit that you donít always reach but never exceed or do you always eat about the same amount of calories every day? I think that I might set a higher calorie limit for training days.
I still stand by my previous statement though>A bulking diet should be more instinctive and less regimented than a cutting diet. The predicament you are dealing with is like asking the question> Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Except this situation is more like asking> Which came first, the 4000 calorie diet or the ripped 200 pound bodybuilder? The ripped 200 pound bodybuilder had to instinctively determine how to manipulate some processes that science canít fully explain. That mysterious force called instinct is sometimes more powerful than science.
Cycling carbs is one of the most powerful strategies that I use for both bulking and cutting. I have noticed a huge difference since I started doing this.
While bulking, cycling carbs causes me to gain muscle and strength very quickly, after a couple of days on high carbs my muscles feel very full and I usually get more reps on every exercise. I try to time my high carb cycle so that it begins a day or two before I train my weak points so that when I train them I have higher glycogen storage which makes me stronger and then after I train them I stay on high carbs for a few days so the higher insulin level will help those muscle groups to recover and grow( I use this timing strategy during bulking and cutting).
While cutting, cycling carbs seems to help me lose fat and retain strength and muscle mass. When cutting during a high carb cycle I dramatically reduce my fat intake during those 3-4 days so that when my insulin level increases and the insulin receptors on my fat cells are stimulated there isnít a lot of circulating fatty acids for the fat cells to store. For instance, when I am dieting I eat lean ground beef that I rinse with water half way through cooking it to remove much of the fat but during a high carb cycle I switch to eating only chicken and egg whites for protein. I think cycling carbs helps me lose fat by allowing me to severely restrict my carbs for a while and then severely restrict fat for a while without developing a deficiency in either macronutrient (actually the body doesnít need any carbs to survive but it does need a small amount of fat to survive and a moderate amount for optimal health), and by keeping enzymes and metabolic cycles that turn fat and carbs into ATP simultaneously active (the body can adapt to predominantly burning either fat or sugar for energy and when the body senses a deficiency in any macronutrient it thinks that it is starving and it switches into survival mode which slows down your metabolism and decreases energy expenditure so that it can store fat in case of future starvation, kind of like a bear before it goes into hibernation). I think that cycling carbs helps me retain strength and muscle mass while dieting by maintaining glycogen storage even though my calories are far below maintenance level, by temporally increasing insulin levels which fills my muscles with nutrients, and by preventing glucogenesis which is when the body turns amino acids into blood sugar.
I just started experimenting with cycling carbs about a year ago and since then my physique has improved alot. I learned about cycling carbs while reading a nutritionists column in a magazine. This nutritionist explained that many pro bodybuilders use this strategy while bulking and dieting and pretty much all of the pros dramatically increase their carb intake a few days before a contest to replace some of the muscle glycogen that they lost while dieting so that their muscles appear full and round. The nutritionist also specified that it is imperative that you donít try to carb load with anything high in fructose because fructose tends to be stored as liver glycogen while glucose, sucrose, maltose, lactose, and dextrose tend to be stored as muscle glycogen; when liver glycogen levels are high the body stops burning fat and starts storing fat which doesnít occur as dramatically when muscle glycogen levels are high.
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