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losing weight but increasing strength

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created December 07, 2012 at 12:58 AM

mid 20's female, competitive crossfitter. would like to lose 5-10lbs but want to increase strength. i've been eating paleo for 2 years but recently got stricter to be a better competitor. so i've been eating the way below for about 2 months and it doesn't seem to be working, but maybe i'm just impatience, and when it gets down to the nitty gritty it's supposed to be this hard?

  1. i workout fasted 6x/week or do doubles 4x/week
  2. post nutrition is lean protein and a stacrhy carb (banana or yam)
  3. i eat 2-3 meals a day-usually 2 meals-consisting of beef, fish, turkey, chicken, or eggs with veggies that are of low glycemic index
  4. i limit fruit to two servings a day and that includes my post nutrition and sometimes it's the only fruit i eat all day
  5. i do absolutely no nuts, seeds, or dairy
  6. i never have cheat days and don't drink

currently am 5'6 and weight 138, 137.5 on a good day. i like feeling leaner at the gym because i move faster, but i feel like my strength is dropping. i need to keep my strength up, any suggestions?

27e79ef3308bb5f2d7bd04ee7eea7b79

(2038)

on December 08, 2012
at 09:15 PM

Wow... thanks, UncleLongHair! I'd upvote you twice if I could. This really gave me some perspective for myself. I definitely can afford to lose some bodyfat but this helps me think about what's realistic.

C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

(637)

on December 08, 2012
at 04:21 PM

Also, if you can incorporate some kettlebell workouts, particualarly the kettlebell swing - if you can only choose one, choose the swing! It's where a cast iron bell can give you a cast iron butt!

E8fbc8067e64d0994aa70171601e68fd

(297)

on December 07, 2012
at 08:06 AM

You have nearly the same height and weight that I do right now. Do you happen to know your bodyfat percentage?

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4 Answers

1
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on December 08, 2012
at 09:06 PM

Your workout regimen is impressive, I do crossfit 3-4x per week and find that I really need the recovery time, 6x per week or 2x per day sounds tough!

The top competitive crossfit women tend to have a height/weight almost exactly the same as yours or a little heavier, like look here:

http://games2011.crossfit.com/finals/competitors/female.html

My somewhat uninformed opinion is that in order to do the crossfit exercises effectively, you need to be carrying a significant amount of muscle all over your body, and I just don't think you're going to get away with being 5'6" 127.5# (your goal, you said you're 137.5# and looking to lose 5-10#). The women from that link who are 5' 6" have these weights:

151.8 145 136.4 130 145 155

At 127.5# you'd be the lightest of all of them. It might be possible but might be a really tough goal, and you'd almost certainly sacrifice some strength to get there.

Aside from diet and exercise I would consider other factors such as sleep and stress. With that training regimen you should be getting serious sleep, at least 9 hours of quality sleep per night, maybe 10. You must like crossfit if you do it that much, but be sure it isn't another job for you and keep it fun and light and try to mix it up. If you have sources of stress in your life, try to get rid of them.

Finally, that kind of training can take a toll on your body, and I'd be totally sure that you're getting the full range of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Even with my 3-4x workouts per week, I find that I get low on magnesium and manganese, and I think I might be low on zinc and some other minerals (the Paleo diet is fairly low in these). I would eat offal at least once every week or two, or more often if you can (I eat a fair amount of liver). Make sure you get a "big ass salad" on a regular basis.

Something that opened my eyes to how and why to get enough micro-nutrients was the story of Dr. Terry Wahls, who effectively put her MS into remission by changing her diet and focusing on getting the full spectrum of micro-nutrients. Battling MS and trying to maximize fitness aren't exactly the same thing but I think a lot of people are low on key micronutrients and don't realize it.

27e79ef3308bb5f2d7bd04ee7eea7b79

(2038)

on December 08, 2012
at 09:15 PM

Wow... thanks, UncleLongHair! I'd upvote you twice if I could. This really gave me some perspective for myself. I definitely can afford to lose some bodyfat but this helps me think about what's realistic.

1
D05f3050dc3d973b8b81a876202fa99a

(1533)

on December 08, 2012
at 02:02 PM

I would consider kicking the fruit altogether. I found that was enough to stall my fat loss when I got really lean on an otherwise strict paleo diet. Yams or something similar are probably just as good if you really need a higher carb PWO snack or meal. Just my opinion. You may also want to decrease your training volume. Especially since it's CrossFit, you may be overtaxing your body and inducing a cortisol response that's keeping you from getting very lean. I know more than a few friends who found dropping down to 2x a week actually got them leaner than going to the gym 5 or more times a week. Just a thought.

0
C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

on December 08, 2012
at 04:12 PM

I agree with the above, too much exercise! How is your sleep? Where is the fat? Are you not doing any resistance work?

Try lifting heavy stuff and reducing high intensity as well as reducing the carbs. You may be scared and it may seem counter-intuitive to eat more fat, fewer carbs (particularly of the starchy kind) and reducing the one thing you want to improve on but be patient. Try dropping the doubles and if you must exercise 6 times a week then reduce the exercise to 3xcross-fit and 3xresistance. Although I would encourage more than one rest day, it's the rest days where your body builds the muscles and encourages growth and repair.

You could change you diet to the leangains style but see how you go for now with that.

Also, for the resistance work ditch isolation workouts, they're for vanity really. Do more compound movements such as:

  • Squats (front or back)
  • Deadlifts
  • Bench press
  • military press
  • chins/pull-ups

For every push movement, do a pull both in upper body as well as lower. People say higher reps for strength and lower for size but I wouldn't be too certain. I would suggest a 5x5 approach, attempting to incrementally increase the weight added each session but if you can't don't worry, you will the next!

Just make sure you get more rest, increase the fat (and with it, increase salt consumption) and ditch the fruit as well as incorporating more resistance work.

Good luck!

C68f0b374156e5ce7a9b8358232bfed0

(637)

on December 08, 2012
at 04:21 PM

Also, if you can incorporate some kettlebell workouts, particualarly the kettlebell swing - if you can only choose one, choose the swing! It's where a cast iron bell can give you a cast iron butt!

0
0382fa263de4c83328dc34a56e25437f

on December 08, 2012
at 02:17 PM

That sounds like a lot of workout to me. Possibly cortisol is an issue.

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