Wits & Weights | Smart Science to Build Muscle and Lose Fat

Weekend Q&A: Stop Creatine to Drop Weight, Best Diet for Cholesterol, Building Muscle in Deficit with High Protein, Realistic Body Recomp

April 20, 2024 Philip Pape, Nutrition Coach & Physique Engineer
Weekend Q&A: Stop Creatine to Drop Weight, Best Diet for Cholesterol, Building Muscle in Deficit with High Protein, Realistic Body Recomp
Wits & Weights | Smart Science to Build Muscle and Lose Fat
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Wits & Weights | Smart Science to Build Muscle and Lose Fat
Weekend Q&A: Stop Creatine to Drop Weight, Best Diet for Cholesterol, Building Muscle in Deficit with High Protein, Realistic Body Recomp
Apr 20, 2024
Philip Pape, Nutrition Coach & Physique Engineer
Should you stop taking creatine to drop weight as a runner, and will it kill your gains? What is the best diet to lower your cholesterol? Can you still build lean muscle while on a calorie deficit, as long as the protein is high? And is body recomp realistic if you are 200 pounds, 5'10 with 25% body fat or really whatever your stats are and your background?

We are answering 4 questions today:

  1. Should I stop taking creatine to drop weight as a long-distance runner and will it kill my gains?
  2. What is the best diet to lower my cholesterol (omnivore, carnivore, keto, Mediterranean, etc.)?
  3. Can I still build lean muscle while in a calorie deficit as long as the protein is high?
  4. Is body recomp realistic for me at 200 pounds, 5'10", 25% body fat. I lift 5 days a week, cardio 2-4 days.
Get the answers in today's Weekend Q&A bonus episode.

Mentioned in the episode:

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This is a special Weekend Q&A edition of the Wits & Weights podcast, where we supercharge your Saturdays with an answer to one burning question so YOU can put it into action this weekend.

These questions are taken from the weekly #AskPhilip thread in our free Wits & Weights Facebook community. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the endless amount of information and, let’s be honest, MISinformation online and just want a straight up answer without the jargon, that’s what this free service is for.

With the weekly #AskPhilip thread, you can post a specific question relevant to your unique, individual situation that week and have it answered live by me on Friday. If you’d like to experience it yourself, I invite you to use the link in the show notes to join the Wits & Weights Facebook group. It’s totally free and you’ll quickly find out what a positive and supportive community it is.

Join our FREE community here to get access to the #AskPhilip thread!



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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers
Should you stop taking creatine to drop weight as a runner, and will it kill your gains? What is the best diet to lower your cholesterol? Can you still build lean muscle while on a calorie deficit, as long as the protein is high? And is body recomp realistic if you are 200 pounds, 5'10 with 25% body fat or really whatever your stats are and your background?

We are answering 4 questions today:

  1. Should I stop taking creatine to drop weight as a long-distance runner and will it kill my gains?
  2. What is the best diet to lower my cholesterol (omnivore, carnivore, keto, Mediterranean, etc.)?
  3. Can I still build lean muscle while in a calorie deficit as long as the protein is high?
  4. Is body recomp realistic for me at 200 pounds, 5'10", 25% body fat. I lift 5 days a week, cardio 2-4 days.
Get the answers in today's Weekend Q&A bonus episode.

Mentioned in the episode:

---

This is a special Weekend Q&A edition of the Wits & Weights podcast, where we supercharge your Saturdays with an answer to one burning question so YOU can put it into action this weekend.

These questions are taken from the weekly #AskPhilip thread in our free Wits & Weights Facebook community. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the endless amount of information and, let’s be honest, MISinformation online and just want a straight up answer without the jargon, that’s what this free service is for.

With the weekly #AskPhilip thread, you can post a specific question relevant to your unique, individual situation that week and have it answered live by me on Friday. If you’d like to experience it yourself, I invite you to use the link in the show notes to join the Wits & Weights Facebook group. It’s totally free and you’ll quickly find out what a positive and supportive community it is.

Join our FREE community here to get access to the #AskPhilip thread!



Send me a question for Q&A!

Support the Show.


🎓 Join Wits & Weights Physique University

👩‍💻 Schedule a FREE nutrition/training audit with Philip

👥 Join our Facebook community for live Q&As & support

✉️ Join the FREE email list with insider strategies and bonus content!

📱 Try MacroFactor for free with code WITSANDWEIGHTS. The only food logging app that adjusts to your metabolism!

🩷 Enjoyed this episode? Share it on social and follow/tag @witsandweights

🤩 Love the podcast? Leave a 5-star review

📞 Send a Q&A voicemail

Philip Pape:

Should you stop taking creatine to drop weight as a runner, and will it kill your gains? What is the best diet to lower your cholesterol? Can you still build lean muscle while on a calorie deficit, as long as the protein is high? And is body recomp realistic if you are 200 pounds, 5'10 with 25% body fat or really whatever your stats are and your background? Get the answers today on the weekend Q&A bonus episode.

Philip Pape:

Welcome to the Wits and Weights podcast. I'm your host, philip Pape, and this twice a week podcast is dedicated to helping you achieve physical self-mastery by getting stronger, optimizing your nutrition and upgrading your body composition. We'll uncover science-backed strategies for movement, metabolism, muscle and mindset, with a skeptical eye on the fitness industry, so you can look and feel your absolute best. Let's dive right in. Hello and welcome to the special weekend Q&A edition of the Wits and Weights podcast, where we supercharge your Saturdays and Sundays with an answer to one burning question so you can put it into action this weekend. These questions are taken from the weekly Ask Philip thread in our free Wits and Weights Facebook community. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the endless amount of information and, let's be honest, misinformation online and just want a straight up answer without the jargon. That's what this free service is for. With the weekly Ask Philip thread, you can post a specific question relevant to your unique individual situation that week and have it answered live by me on Friday. If you'd like to experience it yourself, I invite you to use the link in the show notes to join the Wits and Weights Facebook group. It's totally free and you'll quickly find out what a positive and supportive community it is. With that, let's get to today's Q&A. His question is hello, I've been taking creatine daily three to five grams.

Philip Pape:

I lift four days a week in the morning. I run three times a week anywhere from 15 to 20 miles, so serious endurance runner, some long distances in there. I would like to drop some weight and I'm considering stopping creatine for a bit. I'm 5'10", 210 pounds. I would like to get under 200 for a couple of half marathons late spring, which, I'm assuming, is like what is that? Like May or June timeframe? Um, I don't know how long I could go off creatine before I lose some of my gains. Okay, so I was thinking about this a little bit.

Philip Pape:

Um, creatine in the context of endurance athletes. We know that creatine is beneficial for power and strength, for, uh, intense bouts of activity, whether you're lifting or even doing cardio, believe it or not Sprinters and so on can benefit. It helps you with increased muscle energy stores is what it comes down to right Now. I think something like 20% of people are non-responders and 80% are. So, first, have you responded to it? Do you find it gives you performance gain? If it does, or if it doesn't, I would just go off it anyway. But if it does, I think the benefits of creatine for you as an endurance runner are in the training and much less so on race day. However, that little bit of extra muscle store capacity may also help in certain aspects of the race where you need that extra burst of energy maybe. And so, if you have the time, tom, I would experiment. Actually go off creatine right now and give yourself like three weeks and see if, like in that third week, you notice any decline in any performance of your running or anything. You may notice a decline in your training performance, like your strength training, but actually test it on yourself as if you're in the race. Do you notice a difference? That's what I would say.

Philip Pape:

As far as weight, using it as a weight management strategy, some people don't gain a lot of weight with creatine. Some people gain barely any at all. Did you gain a popping weight when you started Like, was it meaningful? Like three, four or five pounds, or was it negligible? If it was negligible, I don't think that's a strategy for dropping weight for a race.

Philip Pape:

I think with all the time you have um, proper energy balance and diet, you know nutrition is going to be helpful. Now, I'm not an endurance coach, but I've learned enough to know that. You know there's a that. You know protein comes down, carbs go up as you get closer to the race and you definitely don't want to be low energy Like it's. It's good to be training, maybe a couple of days a week, and to fuel that training and stay more or less at maintenance. Um is my understanding, uh, if not even gaining. But the problem is you're over, quote, unquote, over the weight you want to be, and so, if you have enough time, I would say do a mini cut. Do a mini cut right now for, like, I don't know, six weeks maybe, and cut the weight through diet. That's going to give you a much more meaningful cut than just dropping creatine.

Philip Pape:

However, if you do the experiment with creatine and you know it's going to meaningfully drop a few pounds and it doesn't negatively impact your race performance, yeah, why not? I mean, it's not a terrible strategy. Because think about the other way around. I always tell people, like you know, creatine will give you a little boost in performance, but it's the tip of the iceberg compared to all the other things that increase your performance, like carbs, you know, fueling yourself, training, like properly sleep, stress, right, so those things. So then, conversely, coming off creatine shouldn't really make a big difference. But you're going to have to see what your individual response is. So I hope that answers your question. Tom, like I know you want to just a yes or no answer, um, and I think, if you have the time to try it out and see how it makes you feel, do it. But I wouldn't do it if you don't think it's really meaningful from a weight perspective. So my default is don't go off of it. If you think you can get to your weight, no problem with other means, right, like, like, why even chance losing the performance benefits of it? But then plan B is like well, if you want to experiment and you have the time, go ahead and do it. And plan B is like. Well, if you want to experiment, you have the time, go ahead and do it.

Philip Pape:

I'm currently struggling with having been diagnosed with high LDL. So that's high LDL cholesterol. Some people think of that as the bad cholesterol, so to speak. While I'm a really active person, triglycerides are at 99, hdl is at 66. I lift heavy to almost exhaustion of the muscle five days a week, hit three times a week and core All right. So that sounds like a very active program Almost. If I were to dig into the details, could it be too much? But this is not a cholesterol discussion. I'm just bringing that up. That's a separate topic. Maybe it's perfect for you, Maybe you recover just fine, and if you do recover, it could be amazing for you, for your volume and recovery. I'm just asking. This is always one of the first things that come up when I talk with people who say they're having trouble making progress. But again we're going to talk about cholesterol, so let's keep going.

Philip Pape:

I follow an omnivore diet with carbs coming from only veggies and low starch veggies, rarely eat meat mostly fish, turkey chicken and measure my macros. So this has got me super baffled and worried. I was placed on a natural supplement called cholesterol care. I'm down to do everything I need to do to be optimal at my age and have done since 16. So any possible tests or changes that can be recommended would be amazing. I'm not on HRT, okay.

Philip Pape:

So a couple statements stand out here. When you say, like carbs coming only from veggies and low-sarch veggies rarely eat meat Like these are trigger phrases for me that suggest that they tell me that in your mind you're linking those to better health or better cholesterol, and it's not necessarily the case, right. In other words, I don't want you to be overly restricting your diet for cholesterol. I think there are smart choices and there are trade-offs we definitely can make if cholesterol is a concern. The other thing is, I don't know what your actual number is and I'm not a medical professional, so definitely this is not medical advice. I would always want to know is your LDL really high or is it just high for the range? Is it high for you? Is it temporarily high and it's been higher or lower in the past? Like a lot of these things, because we want to measure that blood work over time and compare it to, you know, single variable changes to see what happens Now.

Philip Pape:

Having said that, uh, when it comes to cholesterol, let's start with nutrition, right? The? The big thing that I associate with cholesterol would be Do you have a nutrient-dense diet with plenty of fiber, soluble fiber, right? Whether it's you know, oats, beans, lentils, fruits, vegetables. And when you say you only get carbs from non-starch and vegetables, there's no problem getting carbs from other foods if you can tolerate them, like oats and other grains. Some people are definitely against grains. Some people are against gluten. I'm not, if they don't make you feel bad or you don't have any symptoms and you and you may find that having those in there could actually help with the cholesterol. Potentially Also foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. So we're talking fatty fish, which you said you eat fish, flax seeds, walnuts, things like that.

Philip Pape:

And then the big thing that I usually actually focus on is saturated fat. The rule of thumb for saturated fat is consuming no more than 10% of your calories or a third of your fats from saturated fat. So if you are tracking using Macrofactor, right, and if you're not doing that, do that right away. Go get Macrofactor. Use my code WITSANDWEIGHTS to get the two-week free trial. You're going to get hooked, you're going to love it, you're going to want to use it forever, and they had nutrient tracking in there. Turn on the nutrient tracking and you can see what your saturated fat and fiber are. If the fiber is a little bit low or the saturated fat is too high, those are definitely spots where you can make adjustments. Now, based on your diet, it wouldn't seem that the saturated fat is going to be very high, but you never know. You never know, depending on some other things you may be including in there. That's the big picture for nutrition.

Philip Pape:

I don't subscribe to a specific diet, but if you had to pick a diet that people would say, well, what's closest to a reasonable dietary pattern for low cholesterol? It might be something like the Mediterranean diet, which is very close to what you're eating, right, so yeah, so there you go. Lifestyle modifications are the other thing. Right Behaviors I mentioned. You may be doing too much, I don't know. Building and maintaining muscle mass and just being regularly active are great for your cholesterol. So if you're already doing that, awesome, great job, right, like you're above 95% of most people, and then complimentary to that is gonna be adequate sleep, adequate stress management All of these can affect cholesterol, and then you could get more advanced uh, lipid blood work which would look at the density of the cholesterol particles. I'm not saying you have to do this. This is you mentioned, optimize, optimization.

Philip Pape:

Some people love to collect a lot of this data and see if you have the larger or the smaller you know the denser more um the denser or the larger or the smaller? You know the denser, more um the denser or the larger particles belly up. Anyway, that's just a side thing. Other than that, um the supplement that you're taking, I don't know much about it. It's an. You said it's natural, so maybe it has like certain compounds that are supposed to lower LDL. We obviously know about statins in the medical industry. There's a another one. What's it called? Is it milk thistle or milk, something Somebody can chime in? I wasn't going to look it up, it's off the top of my head. That has also been shown to lower cholesterol as kind of an herbal supplement. And then if you don't get enough omega-3, I would definitely take supplementation for that. But again, consult with a medical professional specifically if none of these work for you and there's a concern about your LDL. But those are the big picture things that I usually think of and work with the clients on when it comes to cholesterol, saturated fat, high fiber, lifestyle and supplementation. Hope that helps, veronica. All right, we're going to go to the next question by Heather Can you still build lean muscle while eating in a high protein deficit?

Philip Pape:

It sounds like maybe you want to lose some weight by being in a deficit, but you understand the value of keeping protein high to maintain muscle and you want to build lean muscle. Now, a lot of people want to have both things and I will say, if you're brand new or if you've been on a long break from training, yeah, you can build some lean muscle while in a very slight deficit. The deeper of a deficit you're in, it gets harder and harder and harder. Keeping that protein high is definitely an offset to that and tells your body hey, I'm getting the amino acids and the resources I need to rebuild that muscle as much as I can. But at the end of the day, it's still going to need energy from somewhere and it's going to pull it from your fat cells, but it could also pull it from your muscle tissue, depending on how severe the deficit is. And so if it's not severe, okay, yeah, maybe you maintain muscle, maybe you do even slightly build a tiny bit of lean muscle, If you are, if you are a novice, right, or after you've taken a break, or even if you have a very high body fat percentage. So that's the other scenario.

Philip Pape:

Let's say I have a male client who's like 260 pounds, you know, five, seven, uh, five, eight, whatever, and so so that's pretty, pretty large guy and he wants to lose weight. I would say, yeah, let's go into a deficit, but let's train, let's keep the protein high and see if we can kind of have our cake and eat it too, like literally and figuratively. You know what I mean. So yeah, if the protein's high, I would say at least a gram per pound, if not even higher, if you're going for some attempt at lean muscle, right, so like 1.2, even 1.5 grams per pound, which would not be the normal recommendation, and it is also challenging to do that because your fats and carbs are lower, right, the moderate calorie deficit will help with fat loss. I would say keep it as moderate as you can.

Philip Pape:

Studies have shown that a deficit below over 500 calories is what starts to really impact the loss of muscle. So keeping it less than that and that's a pound a week that's still aggressive enough for most people. But if you can keep it less of a deficit than 500 calories, that's at least a starting point, if not more conservative than that. If you're cool, going with just a very conservative, low and slow approach and try to get a little body recomp while losing weight, I think it can be done. And then it's the fine balance between fats and carbs right, because carbs fuel your workouts, they fuel your recovery, fats support your hormones and I would say you're going to have to be down in the maybe 20% from fats, maybe 15% from fats and then the rest from carbs, because the calories are going to be tight if the protein's really high, high and then continue training really hard. Right, you just got to train. Focus on progressive overload, Don't overdo cardio. Right, incorporate it if you want to give you a little boost, but don't incorporate it. And then what's the other?

Philip Pape:

You didn't ask any other questions. Somebody else asked about intermittent fasting, which normally I'm not a huge fan of. But during a deficit, you know tightening up the feeding window can help, but anyway, that's a separate topic. A deficit you know, tightening up the feeding window can help, but anyway, that's a separate topic. So hopefully that answers your question, heather, the answer is yes. Maybe if all those other things I just talked about Now would I want you to do that optimally. No, I'd want you to be at least at maintenance, if not in a very slight surplus, to build muscle as fast as you can and then just cut it off with a fat loss phase, right, and then you'll feel great doing that too. Okay, and then John asked the question John, how's it going? New member to the group.

Philip Pape:

Currently 200 pounds, 5'10", 25% body fat by the Navy standard and I'm cool with you using the Navy formula to get in the ballpark of where you are. That implies you're probably between say, 22 and 28% body fat, which is slightly on the higher side for a male right which, like if you're looking to be lean quote, unquote you often want to get below that 20%. But if you're looking to push your lifts and you're not so worried about body fat, it's cool. You know it's not, it's not bad. 30% is where we start to push the health issues. I lift five days a week, cardio two to four days.

Philip Pape:

I'd like to know if a body recomp is realistic. If so, what would be the starting points malories, macros or calories or general guidelines and would a fasting protocol help with this, all right. So again, you're asking a bunch of questions, which is cool, and I really want these, ask Phillips, to be focused on a single question, and that's what this is right. You're asking about body recomp, and then how do you do it? So body recomp is always realistic for just about anybody.

Philip Pape:

It's just a matter of degrees and how much of one side of the equation or another you're trying to get. So, for example, if you're a brand new trainer which you're not, if you're a brand new lifter, you can sit at maintenance and get a lot of body recomp. Or you could even be in that tiny, tiny deficit and get a little bit of recomp. Just the question we just answered. You could even be in a very tiny surplus, like a much more conservative surplus than I would recommend for muscle building, but enough to now maybe not add any fat, right? Maybe lose some fat and build muscle at the same time.

Philip Pape:

If you're a newer lifter, if you're a more experienced lifter like you, the body recomp is mainly going to come at maintenance and it's going to take a long time. And so the question is why do you want body recomp versus just going after one direction or another. For example, you know, if we were working together I would say like, if you're looking to get leaner, let's just do a quick fat loss phase, let's, let's get you ready for it, right, let's set all your behaviors up for success, let's get you tracking and all that and then go after, like a mini cut, you know, maybe eight weeks, eight weeks at um, of the full 1% for you, which I'm guessing your metabolism is probably higher. You're a bigger guy, you lift all that good stuff and let's say you went a full 1% a week, that's two pounds. In eight weeks you can cut 16 pounds. You may not even want to lose that much, right, but that would easily get you easily under 20% body fat right Quickly, so quickly, whereas the body recomp is going to take a while and that's why I mentioned that.

Philip Pape:

Now let me see. I think I put some notes together on my end about a body recomp. Yeah, so macros. You asked about macros. My question there would be are you tracking? If you're not tracking, track with Macrofactor, go get it. Use my code Wits and Weights, start tracking at maintenance for like three weeks and then you can switch to a goal if you want, or you can keep going for body recomp. For you as a dude who's a lifter, your size and everything else, I would almost set it to. If you're going for body recomp, I would set it to maintain and just leave it at that. Just keep it simple, right. If you're going for fat loss, of course you're going to set it to that goal. That's a whole different story.

Philip Pape:

And then you asked about you know what would the starting macros be? So we always start with protein. Protein is going to be, if you're not trying to lose weight, if you're just trying to maintain or gain, 0.8 grams per pound is fine, right, which for you would be about 160 grams of protein. And then, as a guy, I would say most guys like to eat more fat in their diet. Again, I'm generalizing most guys like to eat more fat in their diet. Again, I'm generalizing, I would say, 30% or 35% of your calories from fat and then the rest from carbs. If you use macro factor and you set it to balanced and you set it to high or very high protein, it's going to give you those numbers that I just told you pretty much in that ballpark. And then you said general guidelines to follow and then fasting protocol.

Philip Pape:

So fasting, I wouldn't fast. I'm not a big fan of fasting at all, other than if you're in a deep deficit or a fat loss phase. The calories are tight and for you and your lifestyle it works to have a tighter feeding window. Right, that's it. That's the only reason I would fast. Fasting doesn't help with anything other than adherence and lifestyle. It doesn't help with any benefits from autophagy or cellular health or any of this others according to the evidence, like there doesn't seem to be enough to suggest that the trade-offs are worth it other than adherence.

Philip Pape:

Okay, so that's pretty much my feedback. I don't think I missed anything on that. Make sure to track, john. Start tracking with Macrofactor right away. It's gonna change your life. You're going to get so much awareness, you know, even if you don't want to do it forever. That's it for today's weekend Q&A bonus episode. Remember, this is just a small part of the weekly Ask Philip live Q&A in the Wits and Weights Facebook group, which you can join totally free using the link in the show notes. I invite you to catch the next episode. Until then, stay strong.

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