Diet and Body muscles

This topic contains 11 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  BrownMason 6 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • Hi,
    I am interested to know if 5:2 days diet will affect body muscle and fat ratio.

    I am generally a healthy and active person. Being a woman in 50s, I had a body weight around 58kg (1.63m height) and body fat of 21% in 2014. This was a result of Dexa scan. In 2016, I had another scan result which shows my body fat increased to 29%, a big surprise to me. During the two years, I had very strict control of diet with daily calorie intake between 1200-1800 a day. There were days around 600-800, possibly once a week. At the same time, my activity level increased. I have been doing ballet classes for about 16 years. while I did about 3 times a week around 2014 (2 hours session), after 2014, the classes increased to 4- 5 times a week, occasionally 6 times a week. After a lot of research, I came to a conclusion that the increased body fat may caused by several factors: 1)Menopause; 2)No enough daily calorie intake, so that my body converted muscles to quick calorie use. I then went to see a nutritionist who seems confirmed my view. I then started to change my diet and also tried to have proteins after dancing. The problem is now I am struggling with weight,which is around 60kgs. The daily calorie intake I think now might be around 1800.
    I would like to know: 1)Am I doing the right thing? 2)I also usually only eat a piece of fruit in morning, almost only eat in 10 hours time during a day. 3) My total cholesterol level also increased to over 6 and fasting blood sugar level is almost 6. My resting heart rate is always below 60. My GP and husband tend to think that I am a hypochondriac with extremely good health. I am very skeptical about this view. Would like to know other views.

    Thank you for your reply.
    When we talk about nutrition, I do care about it. I make sure that I have vegetables, protein, cab etc. I try to eat everything but in a controlled way. The reason I had my daily food intake mainly within 10 hours was because there was a research showing food intake with 8 hours in a day is a better way to control weight.
    I have started to change my diet since last year, however I am struggling to keep the weight down at around 58kgs.

    Hi there, I’m Niv, and first of all, I would like to applaud you for your dedication, proper thinking, and curiosity in your health.
    Second of all, I would like to tell you that, although you are doing fairly well, there are a few mistakes you are making which you can change very fast.
    1. Workouts shouldn’t take more than 1 hour a day. I’m not including walking to tour friend’s house in that workout. I mean actual intense training. If you do classes for losing fat, rather than building some lean muscle, than your sessions can come up to 20 minutes a day. 2 hours a day isn’t very good since your body starts to store fat like that.

    2. Don’t stress about it. If you get anxiety. and stress because of it, you are cutting yourself a hormonal imbalance, and are cutting yourself to gain fat. That’s not to say don’t go through the lengths you have to reach people results, but don’t become stressed out because of it. Stay chill when you can, and your body will thank you for it.

    3. Make sure you are eating right. Most women I know who do diets eat very low calories, and aren’t getting the nutrients they need, as a consequence of that. Eat healthy, and sustainably and you’ll see better results.

    4. When you get older, it is perfectly natural to gain weight. Don’t see it as your failure. See it as a sign you are fairly well for a women your size, and age.

    5. Make sure you are hydrated properly. If you don’t drink enough or drink too much, you will store waterwieght, which you might confuse for fat.

    Goodluck, and hope these quick tips will help you in your journey 🙂

    If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.

    I can help.

    C-O, It is typical to lose muscle mass as we age. But we can build more muscle, even in OLD age with strength-building [vs endurance exercise. Which one would ballet be — endurance?] exercise and attention to protein in the diet. On Fast Days, we eat eggs for breakfasts and lean protein for dinner, aiming at 15%+ protein for breakfast and 20-30% protein at dinner. On Slow days, I work on meal planning that increases protein choices: roast on Sunday, leftover roast on Tuesday, Fish on Friday.

    Some people will try to push the protein to huge amounts, but that works only for young body-builders. Don’t go there. Specific exercises for triceps + biceps + pectorals + upper back would be good to add to your routine, as ballet and walking don’t address those.

    I’m 69 yrs old and have been Fasting and paying attention to my health for 5 years. Fat = 15%
    Good luck.

    Hi Niv,

    Thank you for your detailed explanation. I think there are very good points to keep hydrated during exercise, eating well with proper nutrition and being positive about oneself. With regard to the length of workout session, I will have to adherent to the 2 hours session, as I am dancing is not only for body building but more for my lifetime passion for ballet. I found that I maintain my strength when keeping on 3+ sessions a week. While I am not too stressed about my weight, at the same time, I do hope that I could reduced my current weight, so that the stresses on my knees could be less when jumping.

    I tend to forget my age when I dance with the young girls and proud that I could still keep up with them.

    I stopped dancing for almost 6 months as I traveled intensively from late last year. I started again in later April from 3 times a week gradually increased to 5 . Recently, I found my body fat rate went down on the scale, it is now pleasingly around 25% while the weight remains unchanged. Late June,I had another blood test result, which shows three times in a row, my cholesterol level as well as glucose decreased. I take it as a sign for an improved diet.

    Thank you again for your taking time to answer my questions!!!


    Hi fasting_me,

    Thank you for your reply. I learned the nutrition food portion and our body requirement a hard way! Since later last year, I have started to change my carbohydrates and protein intake pattern, from mainly vegetables,fruits plus weekly fish and nuts to more frequent meat consumption. The blood test result as well as body muscles are improving. While dancing is an endurance exercise, I am considering to include some cardiac and strength training exercise.

    I found the time is a challenge, and I would also like to make exercise more fun than just workout.

    You sound amazing to keep your body fat at 15%, you are in the ideal range for 31-35 years old men! I guess you might be an athlete some stage in your life. Congratulation!


    CO, it sounds like you are making some progress with your body composition. I’ve been working very hard to do the same.

    First off it’s not “normal” to lose muscle as we age. It happen because of lack of resistance exercise and poor diet. I’m a 68 year old man and over the last year I’ve lost 20 lbs of fat and put on 20 lbs of muscle. The scale still says 175 lbs but DEXA says I went from 26% to 17% BF. My RMR resting metabolic rate went up 21%. and I’m much stronger.

    Key lessons learned? eat enough complete protein at each meal to activate muscle growth. For young people 25 grams does it, for older folks over 50, 35-50 may be required. Adding some betaine hydrochloride to aid protein digestion may help too. So you are looking at about 105-150 grams a day. Next is adding some intense resistance exercise. Since you are already over working your lower body and doing very little for you upper 2-25 min weight sessions for your upper body a week will do it. You must challenge your muscles. Pink Barbie weights and a million reps doesn’t build any muscle. Lastly is checking vitamin D and supplementing to get it over 50 units. I know a dozen women over 50 YO that participated in this program that had very positive results adding muscle and cutting fat measured via DEXA. They all improved their RMR as well. Blood work was done and everyone had very nice positive changes in glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol. Changing body comp can be done at any age. It can take months to make solid gains but it is worth it.

    Hi Curious,

    Welcome to the forum!

    I’ll try to be brief, and another ballet for exercise fan here, also walking flat our an hour every morning, but, 20yrs of chronic debilitating illness put paid to that. So now, I fall into the sedentary category. I’m female, late 60’s, been on 5:2 for almost 4yrs, lost 21kgs ( 46lbs) on 5:2 – weight I put on from being ill. 169cm(5’6”) and middle if BMI healthy weight range. I have not had a Dexa scan yet, but it’s on my list.

    When a young adult I did 10hrs/week of ballet, and I would say it is both muscle buildingie resistence, in the legs, quads, and endurance to some extent, but a class is start-stop-start-stop etc not a continuous consistent heart rate in a cardiac training range. So, I have some suggestions.

    1. Plies and jumps would be a form of resistance, and any centre exercise that use a plie to launch from, or uses ballon, will give give resistence training to your legs, and quads(buttocks).

    2. At your age, in my opinion, you need graded resistence exercise for your arms, at least.
    Resistence exercise is needed, particularly in women, over 45ish to help keep calcium in the bones. Calcium is in a daily state of flux. It goes in and out of calcium storage, bones, throughout the day as your body needs it. So, as well as keeping some calcium in your diet, regular resistance training helps, and helps keep osteoporosis at bay – especially needed by older women.

    2. Endurance training is needed regularly, – at least 3 x /week as well. 30mins of continuous walking 3x/week will do that.

    3. I suggest you see an Exercise Physiologist – (this isn’t a Physiotherapist), they are exercise scientists. Although I can’t do a lot, mine is crucial in keeping my body functioning well. They will answer some of the questions you have and will help you work out what is exactly right for you. As you hit 60 you will need to add in some balance and neurological exercises. If you continue ballet that will do well for balance, but the neurological bit is a little different. My exercise physiologist suggests having a little carbohydrate/even containing a small amount of sugar, at the end of a session to put some glycogen quickly back into the bloodstream so , as the session depletes readily available glycogen.

    4. High Cholesterol: the absolute best way to get bad LDL and VLDL’s out of your bloodstream is having plenty of fibre in your diet – the most effective for this purpose is oat bran. Forget the foods ads say x food reduces your cholesterol – it’s a fraction of what somefibre/oat bran will do. Will help protect against bowel cancer as well.

    Unfortunately, many people dieting give up grains, which have fibre, and don’t replace the now missing portion of fibre. Also, that means less B Vitamins, essential for health. So if you’ve reduced grains right down – add back the bran and BVitamins.

    Along with high LDs and VLDLs the other nasty for atherosclerosis is high Triglycerides. If you have this you need to look at your fruit/wine intake, fruit juice, other added sugar.

    5. As you age, the body gets less efficient at using protein, so you need to up your protein component a bit. Too much protein, however , is just as bad as not enough protein. 100-125gms should be enough. If that’s animal protein – that’s the anount that covers the palm of your hand, not including fingers. Too little in the diet and the body will take it from muscle.

    6. You’ve been used to dieting, or at least keeping calories low on a daily basis. If you go to the Tracker, and explore that you’ll find a measure called TDEE. Total Daily Energy Expenditure. You’ll also find instructions to work that out. That is the amount of calories you will need on your nonFast Days. On Fast Days(FDs) you have 1/4 that or 500calories.

    It is the rhythm of FDs and normal days that does the trick, gets your weight to normal and keeps it there. You only have a couple of kgs to lose, so when that’s done add a little mire to you nonFDs to keep your weight balanced, or shift to 6:1 to maintain.

    I suggest you shift your eating window to 11hrs as this apparently is the healthiest, though I have not read the research myself yet.

    Above all, stay on the forum and good luck!
    PS. Even though I can only do a very small light amount of resistence training my blood calcium levels are excellent.

    3. I don’t agree women put on weight with age. I think it’s women do less activity as they age but keep eating the same amount, the same composition, or more than they ate. Some older women also tend to drink a bit more wine which also has lots of calories. Chocolate o’clock in the afternoon energy lull or in the evenings doesn’t help either.

    LOL, not very brief….ah wel…🙂

    Hi Diverdog,

    Thank you for your thoughts from your experience! Protein intake and resistance exercise are very good points. I do find Vitamin D is very important. I was traveling with exposure to extreme sunlight for 2 month early this year and six weeks back home staying indoor reduced my D level to 30 units. The low D level did cause injury to my knee when exercise years ago. I therefore started taking tablets right away. Overall, I believe current blood test results showing I have better than reasonable RMR, glucose and cholesterol readings, however maintaining a good health is a never ending pursue. Thank you again for your input!

    Hi Merryme,
    It is lovely to hear someone who loves ballet too! I have been doing ballet as an adult for 18 years! In the past years, I have been doing 8-10 hours a week.

    Talking about my diet, I used to weigh everything I eta and found the calorie I consumed every day. I don’t do that any more as I have rough idea what is the calorie for the common food. I do include high fiber in my diet and started increasing protein intake. With Vitamin D, I am trying to have sufficient sun light exposure rather than tablets.

    I am considering to do a bit lifting, as you said for toning arms! My bone density is really good based on DEXA report, top 5% of young group. Thanks to the ballet training! My overall cholesterol level is 5.7 while glucose is 4.5.

    Thank you for the suggestion to see a Exercise Physiologist, I will try to book an appointment as soon as I can.

    Wish you keep good health too!

    Warm regards

    Whole-Grain Cereal and Skim Milk. “Milk has whey protein, which is full of an amino acid called leucine that helps build muscle and burn fat,” Ansel says. “The whole grains are a good source of complex carbs.”

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