Paleo Hardgainer

Asked on March 20, 2018
Created December 19, 2017 at 8:57 AM

Been Paleo on and off for about 8 years. Paleo has helped make me healthy, but the problem still remains: gaining muscle mass is a chore at best, and downright impossible at worst. It can be cool being the skinny guy who's stronger than he looks, but at some point you won't gain any more strength without an increase in mass, at which point you naturally reach for the carbs. For me, these will include fruit, nuts, nut butters and sweet potatoes (which are not yams apparently lol). The more carbs I eat however, the more likely I will gain fat, and at my low points I'm back eating grains with an added beer gut (though I've never been a big drinker).

Anyone else have similar experiences? Eating more beef and organ meat only promotes fat loss, and never helps me push through a plateau in muscle mass. I do squats, deadlifts, and power cleans in addition to crossfit type bodyweight exercises and sprints, and obviously the compound movements really help, but again, gains are severely limited without carbs. Is there any way to gain mass otherwise? Advice / hints greatly appreciated.

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2 Answers


on March 10, 2018
at 02:41 AM

Final thoughts:


Believe. You're on paleo for a reason: the standard grain-based diet just isn't healthy, and as a hardgainer looking to build muscle mass, it can send you down a spiral toward type 2 diabetes or general obesity. Grains make you fat. You know it, I know it. Just look in the mirror.


Ignore the usual bodybuilder nonsense. But realize they do know what they're talking about sometimes. For example, compound movements are an absolute necessity in stimulating natural testosterone and human growth hormone. This means you must do deadlifts and you must do squats even if you feel like your upper body is more in need of development (deadlifts can utilize up to 13 muscle groups compared to 6 for the bench press). Nutrition wise however, their entire worldview is upside down, because:


You don't need carbs for energy. When a bodybuilder is on a "cutting phase," doing a "Keto-diet," he feels like he can't lift the same weight because of whatever dumb reason. Know that with time, patience, and perseverance you will eventually lift heavier on paleo than what you could relying on grains.


You don't need starchy grains to build muscle. You need protein. "Eat like a monster" some will say. Do monsters eat grain, or animals? If I were an animal monster, I think I'd prefer eating other animals including their bones and organs. GRRRRRRRRRR.

Of course, you need to overfeed to grow, but this is achievable on an 80-85% strict paleo diet that includes dairy (mostly yoghurt and cheese, go easy on the milk unless you have high tolerance).


Experiment with supplementation. Besides whey protein, your gains can be helped with supplements like beta-alinine, l-arganine, fenugreek, tribulus, and forskolin. These are marketed as "test-boosters" but that label shouldn't be taken too seriously. Do your research and see what could work for you.


Don't give up. You don't realize how much consistent effort it takes to truly, finally, get into shape until you go out and do it. To sculpt out your ideal body, to be your strongest, most muscular, chiseled, low body fat self, takes a dedication that borders on vanity, but it's a goal most red-blooded men have at some point in their lives. Forget the excuses and learn from your failures. Results will follow.


on February 15, 2018
at 11:39 PM

To answer my own question,


1. Eat carrots

They're 100% paleo, with enough carbs to stymie the fear of pre/post workout glycogen depletion, but not so much that you'll become dependant on it as an energy source instead of fat.


2. Eat sweet potatoes, but sparingly, and don't bake them!

When paleo first became big, there was confusion over certain types of sweet potatoes sold in stores as yams (it wasn't just me, I promise). Still, boiled sweet potato has a medium GI and relatively low GL depending on how much you eat at once.


3. Speaking of yams, eat yams, if you can find them.


4. Nuts are cool, but don't eat cashews and peanuts

Most nuts have a high omega 6 to 3 ratio so avoid nuts that are also high in PUFA.


5. Don't eat potatoes

They're tempting, especially if you lift seriously heavy weights and feel like eating a mountain afterwards. Eat a massive steak instead, with a fatty sauce/gravy, and then eat some paleo friendly carbs, but not potatoes. They will lead you back to the path of depending on grains and sugar for energy, eating 12 times a day, waking up multiple times in the middle of the night to go to the toilet (or to eat), and of course, a fat, beer drinking bear-belly.

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