Young muscular female

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created March 13, 2013 at 8:54 PM

So, I've been eating primal for about a year and a half. I'm a 21 year old petite female, who has always had a naturally athletic/muscular build. I started paleo in an effort to be healthier, without intent to modify my weight or body composition, but over the past year or so I've noticed that I have inadvertently gained more muscle, but not had any significant fat loss, and the result is that I feel very bulky for my stature. The question is, is there any way I can modify my diet or training to lean out my muscles? I eat fairly low carb and high fat, because it is a ratio at which I enjoy the best mood (I feel very anxious with higher levels of carbohydrates). I sprint, and lift weights, and walk everywhere throughout the week. Have any other women had a similar experience? I feel like my body is looking more masculine (not stronger) than I would like. Could it be hormonal imbalance? Or too much protein? Or just being completely silly? Thanks!



on May 30, 2013
at 01:38 PM

The crossfit gyms around here are filled with women like this. Here is what has worked for them. 1) Replace sprinting with long slow runs 2) Replace lifting weights with Zoomba or Yoga. 3) Experiment with intermittent fasting.



on May 09, 2013
at 10:31 AM

I don't think I was the only one hoping for pictures.



on March 14, 2013
at 06:59 PM

The idea of less meat makes me sad, but I will start experimenting. Thanks



on March 14, 2013
at 06:57 PM

Glad to know I'm not the only one. I'll see if I can modify my protein and carb intake see if that helps. Thanks



on March 14, 2013
at 03:05 AM

I'm going through a similar phase. I strongly feel it's due to higher protein to carb ratio in my case. You might want to tweak the protein and starchy carbs content in your daily diet.

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6 Answers


on April 11, 2013
at 02:35 AM

I think this could be attributed to the fact that you are eating higher protein and lifting weights - I am definitely NOT SAY to cut out either, but I do think that maybe focusing on pilates and performing more cardiovascular exercise will help you feel less bulky. This at least has worked for me.



on March 28, 2013
at 01:06 AM

I would suggest keeping protein high and dropping the fat A LITTLE BIT. When I first started paleo, I didn't yet know how it worked. I ate pretty low carb, high protein, and pretty low fat. Sure, I lost a ton of weight, but I became skinny fat! I lost a lot of muscle on my upper body, which made my hips look bigger--UGH!!! I found that I lose some fat without losing all that muscle by:

  1. eating carbs smartly. I do not eat high carb. I eat around 100g per day on training days. I eat them after my workouts, kind of like the carb backloading strategy
  2. don't go too high fat or you won't burn your own. this does not mean go low-fat, it just means don't go crazy adding butter and oil to everything
  3. this is always a sore subject, but you may have to be mindful of calories. I am also a short girl, and if I eat way more calories than I need, it shows


on May 30, 2013
at 12:07 PM

Sounds like you just need to lose body fat, and then you'll feel less bulky.

After all, it's virtually impossible to get "bulky' naturally from just being muscular. 1 lb of muscle is more dense than 1lb of fat. That is, the more muscles you have and the less body fat you have, you will end up occupying less space than someone of the same weight but who carries less muscle mass than you have.

M*Oral of the story- MUSCLE IS NOT WHATS MAKING YOU BULKY- FAT IS. Drop the fat.*

You could try carb cycling;

High carb days eat approximately 1.4g protein/lb bodyweight. 1.4g carbs/lb bodyweight, and 0.3g fat/lb bodyweight.

Low carb days eat approximately 1.2g protein/lb, 0.6g/carbs, and 0.5g fats/lb bodyweight.

That should have the fat off you in no time (provided you're still lifting weights) and you'll appear much less "bulky." Like a ballerina with clothes but a sculpture without.



on April 11, 2013
at 02:41 AM

You are not alone! I am in a very similar situation. 21, female, muscular but too "bulky" for my liking.

Currently my plan is to "cut" as bodybuilders call it. I like my muscle and i'm an athlete but but extra chub has got to go. (I want my abs back!) I'm watching calories to a certain extent and cycling my calories/carbs too (leangains kinda style). I'm hoping that this will help. I'm cutting back on fruit (3-4 servings per week) and incorporating some long distance runs. (working my way up to 10miles, never running more than 3-4 days of the week.

I've been kinda watching what fitness models do to maintain muscle, but get extremely cut. It seems a tad drastic but i'm modifying a plan to hopefully work for me.

I'm not dropping my protein, because I don't think losing muscle is the answer. Hormones also play a role too, as far as what you can control, make sure you get enough sleep. Doing some fasted cardio might help? Best of luck!



on April 11, 2013
at 02:11 AM

Try bodyweight exercises or dance (ballet/jazz/african/modern, etc) instead of lifting.


on March 13, 2013
at 11:03 PM

Try eating less protein. You could lift lighter weights for more reps, or just stop working the muscles you think are over-developed. Maybe do some longer, slower cardio?



on March 14, 2013
at 06:59 PM

The idea of less meat makes me sad, but I will start experimenting. Thanks

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