• Hello all. Although this is my first post, I'm in my 5th week of the challenge and I have already lost 10 lbs. and 3 in. around my waist. i was not obese to begin with. I'm doing this get my cholesterol and blood pressure and get in shape. 

    My question is in regards to calories. I've been doing the 6 meals a day and figure I'm lucky to get in 2000 calories. I'm a landscaper by trade, so I'm pretty active besides the workouts. I'm doing fine and hitting my protein goal, but 2000 seems low. Can I build muscle with that kind of calorie deficit?

    Here is and example of my meal plan

    breakfast: two pieces of dry whole wheat toast and 1 cup of egg substitute 

    Snack: 12 oz protein shake and apple

    Lunch: 1/4lb of low sodium turkey on whole wheat bread with 1 tbs of fat free mayo and 12 baby carrots

    Snack: Strawberry banana protein smoothie or Protein bar

    Dinner: 6-8oz of lean meat, potato and green vegetable

    Snack: 1/2 of cottage cheese and fruit or yogurt

  • Your body will resort to your fat to make up for the calorie deficit, your protein is high enough to build the muscles and your carbs are sufficient to help emulsify protein and provide some energy. You're doing well. But I noticed that your greens intake is really law. You need more greens for minerals and healthy tendons and bones.

  • I would add veggies, and I would replace that breakfast toast with a 1/2 cup (or even a cup if your landscaping job is very active) of oatmeal with some fruit in it along with the egg substitute.

  • You're right on track with your thinking.  If you're at a 500-800 calorie deficit, you will have  REALLY tough time adding muscle mass.  You may still gain strength, more as a product of "noob gains."  That phenomenon when you first get back into working out.  

    My advice is to prioritize your goals and build your diet around your top 2-3 goals.  If cholesterol, blood pressure and overall fitness are your top goals, continue with the calorie deficit until you've satisfied those goals.  You are not likely to lose muscle mass during this time, but you probably won't add much either.  Once you've accomplished those goals, if you feel you need to add more mass, adjust your diet and workout to accomplish that goal.  It's a marathon not a sprint, and building muscle takes time.  

    Sounds like you're off to a great start, and you're definitely on the right track.  Your goals were much like mine when I started.  I destroyed my cholesterol and BP during Challenge 1, and have gained a lot of strength and about 5-6lbs of muscle during challenge 2.  Keep up the hard work.