2

votes

Paleo for a hardgainer and endomorph couple

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 10, 2011 at 8:42 AM

Hi all, this is my first post so I just wanted to say what a great resource this is first of all; sharing all your experiences and knowledge is an amazing resource for others. I've tried looking around the archives as much as possible, but couldn't find anything specific on this topic so thought to raise it as an interesting question:

My wife and I would both like to live a healthier, more natural lifestyle, the problem being that I'm a hardgainer (as far as I know from experience) and she's pretty much the exact opposite. How can we tailor going Paleo (Paleo-like) to change our lifestyle as a couple? Further details below, and sorry if it's a bit long - I'm not sure of the protocol and trying to give as much detail as possible for those happy to give advice.

I'm 5'10" or so and currently just under 63kg (approx 138 pounds), whilst my wife is 5'7" and around 75kg (165 pounds) or just over. I come from a background of martial arts training, gymnastics and general outdoor physical activity since my youth, though have not trained regularly in anything for the last 6 years besides regularly walking to work etc. and jogging every now and then with my wife. Over the years (I'm 31 now), I've tried all manner of training to gain muscle weight healthily with little success. I definitely became stronger, but my weight only increased by a few kilos. The heaviest I have ever weighed was about 67kg (147 pounds).

My wife, on the other hand, is a fitness fanatic and regularly hits the gym for circuit training, spin bike etc. Since her teens she has almost always either been on a "diet", or watching what she eats. For a time she also counted calories religiously and did manage to lose a little weight, but achieved it at the expense of having a healthy lifestlye so wants to avoid that. Although not formally diagnosed, she also has many symptoms of PCOS (a little facial hair, extremely painful periods etc.) and currently takes an oral contraceptive pill to manage it. Originally we thought her using the pill might be causing 'water retention' and explain why she's not shifting the weight even though regularly working out hard and eating fresh food as much as possible etc., but I'm now wondering if it's simply a side-effect of PCOS itself. There's simply no way that someone who eats little junk and works out 5 days per week for an hour each time shouldn't lose weight - and in some cases she's also gained slightly! She also has noticed that she experiences highs and lows when it comes to eating foods with sugar.

So, back to my question: How best to transform our lifestyle as a couple towards a Paleo approach? I am worried that my metabolism is so fast that I need more carb-based foods, whilst for her, if she even looks at a slice of bread she gains weight. We basically do all of our own cooking from fresh foods, eating out from time to time but nothing too processed. Due to our background, our diet is very Mediterannean and Middle Eastern, but not exclusively so.

For myself, my aim would be to try and gain strength and functional muscle; I'm very interested in bodyweight systems and free-weights and prefer training at home/outside to in a gym with all of its machinery etc. My wife is interested in retaining/building on her strength and endurance but simply slimming down and becoming more toned. We're wondering if a Paleo-type system can help us both achieve our goals, though are 'new' to the whole thing.

Sorry for the length, but I'm just trying to give as much detail as possible after noticing requests for more information on other posts. :)

Thanks for reading!

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on July 12, 2011
at 04:46 AM

Thanks, Andy. And yup, it just makes sense and it *works.*

095ef76482234d3db444b77d7ed01c29

(2755)

on July 12, 2011
at 04:21 AM

Nice reply. When one is eating more fat, including some saturated fat as is likely to happen when one is eating paleo or primal type diets, hormone production seems to improve. Better production of the right hormones at the right time certainly would help with these symptoms.

095ef76482234d3db444b77d7ed01c29

(2755)

on July 11, 2011
at 12:10 PM

>> Cliff...it is very much like the old anabolic diet by DiPisquale, and it does work very well for building lean muscle. And yes carbs certainly do make gaining muscle much easier than eating fat...that has never been doubted nor questioned by anyone. However carbs also contribute to fat gains easier than fat does. The anabolic diet does utilize carbs for 24-36 hours...the ancestal anabolic approach does the same...just with better, more healthy carb choices than the old anabolic diet utilized. And I've been doing this ffor many years...and in my body...carbs are a shortcut to fat gains.

095ef76482234d3db444b77d7ed01c29

(2755)

on July 11, 2011
at 12:06 PM

...and I get the rest of my fats from my food. Oily fish like salmon is a good choice. I also eat beef and dark meat poultry...by doing that, the macros just seem to take care of themselves. For example: Meal 1: 2 whole eggs, 2 slices lean ham, 1 ounce cheese Meal 2: 1 whole chicken leg quarter, 1 cup turnip greens Meal 3: 1 can tuna, 2 tbsp home made olive oil mayo, 1 cup lettuce Meal 4: 1/2 lb beef, 1 cup broccoli. This gives me 1700 to 2000 calories at 50-60% fat, 35-40% protein, 5% carbs.

095ef76482234d3db444b77d7ed01c29

(2755)

on July 11, 2011
at 12:01 PM

Shots of olive oil? Haven't heard of that for quite some time. I used to do that when I was more hardcore into bodybuilding...that was when I survived on fish, chicken breasts, whey shakes (made with water)...and my food was cooked with olive oil...and shakes were the chaser for a 1tbsp "shot" of olive oil. I honestly don't suggest that just because it's so nasty. I get my fats from food. I use olive oil and whole eggs to make mayo with and mix that with my tuna. I use it in my salad dressings (recipes on my web page). I use bacon to season my green veggies with when I cook them.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 11, 2011
at 11:59 AM

Some starchy tubers and protien food are probably the best after workout recovery foods.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 11, 2011
at 11:57 AM

Carbs promote muscle gain much better then fat. Your plan sounds kinda like the anabolic diet which supposedly works but being scared that carbs are gonna make you fat is ridiculous. Overeating and not enough exercise makes you fat, carbs make you build thats why elite bodybuilders eat 700+grams a day.

345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on July 10, 2011
at 09:15 PM

@Dawood, I'll have to defer the answer to someone else for #4 because I'm also trying to figure PWO intakes out myself. I hope someone here can answer that correctly for you!! sorry!!! I'm also more convinced that if she's working out and working out at work she's probably doing way too much and might need to up her calories, it just sounds like her body is in protective mode. But it would be a good experiment to give it a try for 2 wks and see what happens.

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on July 10, 2011
at 08:47 PM

Dawood I meant that she may need to eat more specifically rather than just a "healthy paleo diet". Women with PCOS do far better on low carb than another diet. I would strongly encourage her to look into this.

5bc8779de32569aeece8ee55cf70010b

(10)

on July 10, 2011
at 04:48 PM

@Kelly: Thank you for your response, it's definitely something to consider. Besides being a fitness fanatic in general she does a lot of physical training as part of her job, so I'm not sure how feasible 1) would be. 2 and 3 are definitely something to consider and do further, so thanks for the suggestion. 4) is also something I've not considered - what would be the most optimum food/drink for a post-workout intake in this case? (Sorry, very new to all this stuff) Thanks again for your advice! :)

5bc8779de32569aeece8ee55cf70010b

(10)

on July 10, 2011
at 04:43 PM

@Andy: Thanks for your response, it's been very helpful and I look forward to trying it out to see what happens. One further question though (again, I'm new to this whole thing): I've read that I should be eating more fat - but where is the best place to actually get this from if I've to make it a main part of my diet? I use olive oil for most things (salads, cooking etc.), though am not quite ready to drink shots of the stuff yet. :) Would avocado be my best bet?

5bc8779de32569aeece8ee55cf70010b

(10)

on July 10, 2011
at 04:38 PM

@cliff & ben: Thanks a lot for your responses - they've been most helpful! I'll give it a go and see how it works for me over the next little while.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 10, 2011
at 04:30 PM

Eat 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Then equal parts carb. Make the remainder of the cals fat. This breakdown has worked for tons of litters for ever. Works for me too. To really make the lofting sessions turn into new strength you gotta EAT: try 3000 daily. That works for many men around6' if they're somewhat lean already

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 10, 2011
at 01:21 PM

For additional cals upping the fat some would help too.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 10, 2011
at 01:20 PM

One of the reasons why you probably feel so stuffed on your current food intake is because protein is very satiating. At your weight you could definitely lower that to almost half(I would shoot for 140-160g). For carb intake the best option is tubers imo maybe some fruit if you tolerate it.

5bc8779de32569aeece8ee55cf70010b

(10)

on July 10, 2011
at 01:10 PM

@Joe: Thanks for your encouraging comment. Being of Mediterranean/Middle Eastern background, olive oil is a staple so that's no problem at all! Barbell training is definitely something we enjoy, so hopefully with a change in diet the benefits will gradually show. Thanks again and all the best!

5bc8779de32569aeece8ee55cf70010b

(10)

on July 10, 2011
at 01:06 PM

@cliff: And as for the pill issue, it's the only thing currently which makes her menstrual cycle manageable; without it she suffers excruciating pain due to the PCOS and often needs to be taken to hospital when that happens (it's really very sad). So I'm not sure if stopping the pill is a possibility, but we have read that a Paleo or Paleo-like diet has helped many women who suffer from PCOS so are definitely interested in that.

5bc8779de32569aeece8ee55cf70010b

(10)

on July 10, 2011
at 01:04 PM

@cliff: Thanks for your response. Maybe it's the extreme quantity of food which makes it 'hard'? I've tried over the last few days to record what I'm eating on FitDay, and the average seems to be around 2,000 cal (which is almost 500 cal above my BMR anyway). I've upped what I eat slightly to just over 2,600 cal (220g protein, 255g carb, 84g fat according to FitDay), but even increasing 600 cal has made it extremely difficult to literally stomach. If I need 300g of carbs per day, what would you recommend as the best way for me to do this? Thanks once again.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 10, 2011
at 01:04 PM

"hardgainer" just means you refuse to eat enough. I come from years and thinking the same so I understand you. The issue for most who claim this is that they are reluctant to gain bodyfat by over-eating so they refuse and claim to be “hardgainers.” For me what worked? Eat more food. Specifically protein and carbohydrate, but fat as well. Eat more calories and you will grow larger – very simple. No magic involved.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 10, 2011
at 01:01 PM

spot on. I agree whole heartedly.

5bc8779de32569aeece8ee55cf70010b

(10)

on July 10, 2011
at 12:55 PM

Thank you esque and Shari for your comments. :) @esque: Great achievement! I wish you all the best. @Shari: We're actually wondering if it's an issue more related to her PCOS because it seems others also suffer from this problem. As I said, I'm a newb at all of this type of stuff, so don't really know what the latter part of your comment meant - but it sounds interesting and something to look into!

98bf2ca7f8778c79cd3f6c962011cfdc

(24286)

on July 10, 2011
at 12:50 PM

I really relate to your wife's story. Your statement "There's simply no way that someone who eats little junk and works out 5 days per week for an hour each time shouldn't lose weight - and in some cases she's also gained slightly!" however is absolutely incorrect. Just "eat healthy and exercise" is just not enough for many women. She will most likely need to look at her macros and do some manipulation of those in order to lose fat.

Ee7c5b7b9d4cd48d61dc259e6966a725

(90)

on July 10, 2011
at 11:38 AM

I am fairly new to this so don't feel qualified to give an answer, but regarding the carbs part, it's fairly easy to eat together and manage this, if you do decide on a different intake. I still like my kids to have some carbs, so when we eat together, we eat the same meal, but they have a side of rice, potato or gluten-free pasta. As a word of encouragement to the endomorph, I gain weight very easily like your wife, and am finding the paleo diet a painless way to lose weight at a slow but steady pace - 10kg since March. No urge to quit or "cheat" :-) I'm sure you'll find it a big change!

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5 Answers

4
095ef76482234d3db444b77d7ed01c29

(2755)

on July 10, 2011
at 04:25 PM

You aren't a hard gainer...you are an undereater. You simply need more food to provide the excess above what you are using for to meet your metabolic needs and your activity level.

Try this.

Lift weights 3x a week, full body routine involving squat, deadlift, dips or bench press, pendlay rows, and an overhead pressing movement... M, W, F if you can.

Eat fat/protein meals (like primal) M-F, keeping carbs relatively low so that your excess food doesn't promote fat gains...you do want muscle after all - unless I misunderstood your first post. Each day your meals should total up to between 16 and 20 calories per pound. Put your protein at about 1g per pound... make up the rest with fat and green, garden type vegetables.

Sat/Sun... carb load for 24-36 hours, preferably eating "safe starches" like butternut squash, potatoes, acorn squash, sweet potatoes, fruits, etc... keep your carbs and fat high and don't worry about protein so much on these days.

I call this an ancestral anabolic approach. It's taken from the old anabolic diet but done with foods that "we" eat. And occasionally, just to keep it easier to live with... it's ok to have a rare "cheat" meal with unhealthy things, even fast food/processed food.

For her... It's also easy. Do the same thing but with only 10 to 15 calories/lb of LBM.

095ef76482234d3db444b77d7ed01c29

(2755)

on July 11, 2011
at 12:01 PM

Shots of olive oil? Haven't heard of that for quite some time. I used to do that when I was more hardcore into bodybuilding...that was when I survived on fish, chicken breasts, whey shakes (made with water)...and my food was cooked with olive oil...and shakes were the chaser for a 1tbsp "shot" of olive oil. I honestly don't suggest that just because it's so nasty. I get my fats from food. I use olive oil and whole eggs to make mayo with and mix that with my tuna. I use it in my salad dressings (recipes on my web page). I use bacon to season my green veggies with when I cook them.

5bc8779de32569aeece8ee55cf70010b

(10)

on July 10, 2011
at 04:43 PM

@Andy: Thanks for your response, it's been very helpful and I look forward to trying it out to see what happens. One further question though (again, I'm new to this whole thing): I've read that I should be eating more fat - but where is the best place to actually get this from if I've to make it a main part of my diet? I use olive oil for most things (salads, cooking etc.), though am not quite ready to drink shots of the stuff yet. :) Would avocado be my best bet?

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 11, 2011
at 11:57 AM

Carbs promote muscle gain much better then fat. Your plan sounds kinda like the anabolic diet which supposedly works but being scared that carbs are gonna make you fat is ridiculous. Overeating and not enough exercise makes you fat, carbs make you build thats why elite bodybuilders eat 700+grams a day.

095ef76482234d3db444b77d7ed01c29

(2755)

on July 11, 2011
at 12:06 PM

...and I get the rest of my fats from my food. Oily fish like salmon is a good choice. I also eat beef and dark meat poultry...by doing that, the macros just seem to take care of themselves. For example: Meal 1: 2 whole eggs, 2 slices lean ham, 1 ounce cheese Meal 2: 1 whole chicken leg quarter, 1 cup turnip greens Meal 3: 1 can tuna, 2 tbsp home made olive oil mayo, 1 cup lettuce Meal 4: 1/2 lb beef, 1 cup broccoli. This gives me 1700 to 2000 calories at 50-60% fat, 35-40% protein, 5% carbs.

095ef76482234d3db444b77d7ed01c29

(2755)

on July 11, 2011
at 12:10 PM

>> Cliff...it is very much like the old anabolic diet by DiPisquale, and it does work very well for building lean muscle. And yes carbs certainly do make gaining muscle much easier than eating fat...that has never been doubted nor questioned by anyone. However carbs also contribute to fat gains easier than fat does. The anabolic diet does utilize carbs for 24-36 hours...the ancestal anabolic approach does the same...just with better, more healthy carb choices than the old anabolic diet utilized. And I've been doing this ffor many years...and in my body...carbs are a shortcut to fat gains.

3
E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 10, 2011
at 12:07 PM

There is no such thing as a hardgainer. You have to eat a lot of every single macronutrient to gain. For yourself around 3-4k cal, 1g/pound of body weight protien, ~300g carb and the rest fat would probably be pretty sufficient. Couple that with lots of intense weight bearing exercise and your muscle mass should increase fairly quickly.

Not too sure on your wifes problems but I would definitely try to stop the pill if possible. If shes low carb maybe try upping the carbs as well.

5bc8779de32569aeece8ee55cf70010b

(10)

on July 10, 2011
at 01:06 PM

@cliff: And as for the pill issue, it's the only thing currently which makes her menstrual cycle manageable; without it she suffers excruciating pain due to the PCOS and often needs to be taken to hospital when that happens (it's really very sad). So I'm not sure if stopping the pill is a possibility, but we have read that a Paleo or Paleo-like diet has helped many women who suffer from PCOS so are definitely interested in that.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 10, 2011
at 01:20 PM

One of the reasons why you probably feel so stuffed on your current food intake is because protein is very satiating. At your weight you could definitely lower that to almost half(I would shoot for 140-160g). For carb intake the best option is tubers imo maybe some fruit if you tolerate it.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 10, 2011
at 04:30 PM

Eat 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Then equal parts carb. Make the remainder of the cals fat. This breakdown has worked for tons of litters for ever. Works for me too. To really make the lofting sessions turn into new strength you gotta EAT: try 3000 daily. That works for many men around6' if they're somewhat lean already

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 10, 2011
at 01:21 PM

For additional cals upping the fat some would help too.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 10, 2011
at 01:01 PM

spot on. I agree whole heartedly.

5bc8779de32569aeece8ee55cf70010b

(10)

on July 10, 2011
at 04:38 PM

@cliff & ben: Thanks a lot for your responses - they've been most helpful! I'll give it a go and see how it works for me over the next little while.

5bc8779de32569aeece8ee55cf70010b

(10)

on July 10, 2011
at 01:04 PM

@cliff: Thanks for your response. Maybe it's the extreme quantity of food which makes it 'hard'? I've tried over the last few days to record what I'm eating on FitDay, and the average seems to be around 2,000 cal (which is almost 500 cal above my BMR anyway). I've upped what I eat slightly to just over 2,600 cal (220g protein, 255g carb, 84g fat according to FitDay), but even increasing 600 cal has made it extremely difficult to literally stomach. If I need 300g of carbs per day, what would you recommend as the best way for me to do this? Thanks once again.

1
Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on July 11, 2011
at 02:38 AM

Well, you've gotten plenty of "Jack Sprat" hardgainer advice, so, I'll just offer some suggestions and info for your wife.

In my experience, since about the late 90's, progressive advice for PCOS treatment has included at the very least a lower-carb, very low sugar diet, if not outright very LOWCARB. Here's a PubMed link which gives some very to the point info and results from a PCOS diet study:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1334192/

The other issue you mentioned is the oral contraceptive. And yes, in my experience, it can block weightloss. Atkins was on this from way back - from his intial 70's book forward. And major prescribed offenders were any kind of OCPs and hormone replacement for women. I have known many women who despite concerted, unwavering, consistent efforts for months, could not lose any weight while on any estrogen containing hormone replacement.

I used transdermal natural progesterone cream and was able to lose weight. And I have known women who used a combination of bioidentical compounded hormones who were able to lose some weight.

I would suggest, if available where you live, that you seek out a Nurse Practitioner who specializes in women's health care only. Many of these NPs who specialize in WHC are cutting edge in treatment and will spend the requisite amount of time to really thoroughly assess. This is NOT to say that a specialty GYN MD would not be good choice. I would simply say choose wisely and that in my experiece, in this particular area, specialty NPs, who are 99.9% women, are really committed to this care and very creative and progressive in this area, and motivated to treat the whole person.

My suggestion would be that I don't think your wife can go wrong initiating a LOW CARB paleo diet. Note the carb level in the cited study.

Best to you both!

Cbb1134f8e93067d1271c97bb2e15ef6

on July 12, 2011
at 04:46 AM

Thanks, Andy. And yup, it just makes sense and it *works.*

095ef76482234d3db444b77d7ed01c29

(2755)

on July 12, 2011
at 04:21 AM

Nice reply. When one is eating more fat, including some saturated fat as is likely to happen when one is eating paleo or primal type diets, hormone production seems to improve. Better production of the right hormones at the right time certainly would help with these symptoms.

1
345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on July 10, 2011
at 01:52 PM

I think a lot of women fall into the same category as your wife. Especially my generation (baby boomers), were taught SAD ways and our weights yo-yo'd all our lives as a result and our metabolisms don't exactly work the way they should.

Could it potentially be:

1) that she needs to back off the exercise to weekly occassional sprints (see primal)...this should also help her lean down over time, but with care not to loose her muscle mass.

2) do a full 30 day challenge where she's 100% paleo/primal to see if it might be her metabolism all out of wack??

3) even though she's tracking her intake, is she minding her %'s? I'd try and get her intake to 65%fat, 25% protein, <50g carbs day. Make sure to remove dairy if possible, nuts, limit fruit to 1 day, no starches. During a 30 day challenge you should be able to see if theres any improvement.

4) I'm no fitness expert or nutritionist, but I've seen quite a few people here talk about PWO intakes and I wonder if maybe she's not recovering with the right foods afterwards and her body is protecting itself from what it thinks is starvation mode???

As for doing paelo together, absolutely! of course she's not going to be eating the same amounts as you and I'd imagine you'd be taking in greater quantities of good fats and fruits/starches as well as a few extra meals or snack than her. You both have track your own intakes and watch for yourself but its super easy to eat the same meals and meet both your goals.

5bc8779de32569aeece8ee55cf70010b

(10)

on July 10, 2011
at 04:48 PM

@Kelly: Thank you for your response, it's definitely something to consider. Besides being a fitness fanatic in general she does a lot of physical training as part of her job, so I'm not sure how feasible 1) would be. 2 and 3 are definitely something to consider and do further, so thanks for the suggestion. 4) is also something I've not considered - what would be the most optimum food/drink for a post-workout intake in this case? (Sorry, very new to all this stuff) Thanks again for your advice! :)

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 11, 2011
at 11:59 AM

Some starchy tubers and protien food are probably the best after workout recovery foods.

345c1755efe005edd162b770dc6fb821

(8767)

on July 10, 2011
at 09:15 PM

@Dawood, I'll have to defer the answer to someone else for #4 because I'm also trying to figure PWO intakes out myself. I hope someone here can answer that correctly for you!! sorry!!! I'm also more convinced that if she's working out and working out at work she's probably doing way too much and might need to up her calories, it just sounds like her body is in protective mode. But it would be a good experiment to give it a try for 2 wks and see what happens.

0
Fbd2f71e901c267794d07c4b8cf2b5b0

on July 10, 2011
at 12:10 PM

Sir, I feel your pain. I've found that you don't "need" more carb-based food, but rather, you will see more gains with a higher caloric intake. Olive oil on everything is a great way to get an excess of fat and calories for just one person. You can just take shots of it if you're not opposed to the taste too much.

That being said, actually some barbell strength training can help both of you. An increase in lean muscle will show to help her metabolize food better, while in your case, it will add lean mass. My wife and I have the same scenario to some degree. She puts on weight by simply thinking about eating, while I ended up doing GOMAD for 12 weeks to put on extra pounds. In the end, as our diets and exercise have come closer to the same, we're both seeing major improvements towards our desired results. I'm bigger, and she's leaner. So I don't see an issue with you both using the same methods to get different results.

5bc8779de32569aeece8ee55cf70010b

(10)

on July 10, 2011
at 01:10 PM

@Joe: Thanks for your encouraging comment. Being of Mediterranean/Middle Eastern background, olive oil is a staple so that's no problem at all! Barbell training is definitely something we enjoy, so hopefully with a change in diet the benefits will gradually show. Thanks again and all the best!

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