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!
asked byDawood (10)
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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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.