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Paleo + Milk + Powerlifting = Losing Weight + Losing Strength! Please Advise?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created January 18, 2012 at 2:18 PM

Hi all, Abaddon here.

For several months now I have been on a strange variation of the Paleo diet, and have had some great results.

I started getting concerned with my poor nutrition and began training again (mostly hypertrophy stuff to begin with) nearly 2 years ago now, back when I weighed in excess of 330 lbs.

Many things have changed in both my diet and training approaches (I now train Strongman/PLing 3 times a week), and since perhaps October last year I quit drinking alcohol completely and went full Paleo... with one exception. Milk.

My results are really good, from a weight loss point of view. I'm now down to <300 lbs with significant increases in muscle mass and bone density, etc. And about half that weight loss has come since the change to Paleo.

Each and every day I drink 2 litres (half a gallon) of whole milk. It roughly constitutes 70% of my daily calories. I drink it throughout the day with a handful of nuts, sometimes a piece of fruit and 1 black coffee in the mornings. This is my total food consumption until I get home. If I'm training I will eat some frozen mixed berries and/or some cheese slices and/or cold cuts of meat prior to leaving again for the gym. If I'm not training I will drink a little more milk early evening. And I always eat a solid dinner of meat (and sometimes green veggies) around 9:00 PM. I sleep at 11:30 or so, and wake refreshed and ready for each day.

I really love this approach and what it's doing for my weight loss. But the major problem is my strength is going way down! My efforts on a couple of my major lifts have actually been going down from one week to the next this year! I didn't experience a loss of strength last year...

Sorry for the long post. I hope someone can advise me on what to do? I need to build my strength back up or at least maintain it while I'm cutting fat. I'm considering eating brown rice and/or oats, as I understand these grains to be the most easily digestible around...

Thanks in advance.

072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on January 19, 2012
at 02:45 PM

They did that WOD this last weekend. I plan to do it Saturday.

6371f0ae0c075ded1b8cd30aafd4bf16

on January 19, 2012
at 05:17 AM

I lost 60 lbs last year and in the process lost some strength. I was able to PR on my DL and Bench after a while but my back squat went way down. I never could understand why until one day I did a cffb wod were you have to walk 2 miles with 40 to 60 lbs. It was quite the experience. After 2 miles of carrying 60 lbs I understood why weight mattered in strength. I could barely stand to carry 60 lbs for 20 minutes or so much less all day long.

700622d6e9cdf17030e98e27d8ce462b

(110)

on January 18, 2012
at 03:08 PM

Ralph - I think you're right. Another meal would be the best and most logical thing to add.

700622d6e9cdf17030e98e27d8ce462b

(110)

on January 18, 2012
at 03:07 PM

Hi all - thanks for the great responses. I had no idea brown rice had the same protein uptake-inhibiting stuff in it as the dreaded soy! I will look at a controlled dose of WHITE rice on some days. Some brief answers to questions: 1. I eat a bunless double burger with cheese on nights I am lazy, and (much more often) I eat a range of both lean and fatty meats for dinner - from steak and chicken to lamb ribs, and fish (but not enough of late) 2. My evening portion of protein is - from my own basic math - the majority of my protein intake per day. I will eat easily 225-250+ grams of just meat

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10 Answers

best answer

1
Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

on January 18, 2012
at 02:28 PM

First, you don't need to rush into the most easily digestible grains around, there's plenty of room to add some carbs in if you feel that'd support your workouts better - I'm not sure it's necessary though if you've been doing ok like this for a while, it may be good just to have a weekly 'refeed'. However before that you need to check you're eating enough protein. Milk and one meal with some meat may not be enough. Lastly, you may just need mroe rest or a break. If you're definitely going backwards then your muscles need time to recover, whether or not you're technically overtrained you still need to give them time. And the bigger they get, the longer it takes to rebuild them after a workout.

So the simplest thing to me would be to take a week, skip the heavy lifting, switch things up with the diet - fruit, potatoes and more meat - give your body no excuse not to recover and then get back on the weight loss afterwards. Nothing bad can happen in only a week.

And a heads up on the grains, standard procedure here would allow white rice - which is actually healthier than brown - but there's no need to be grabbing the oats.

best answer

-1
66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

on January 18, 2012
at 02:40 PM

Ok, let's try to break this up. I have a few questions...

Is there a particular reason that you're getting 70% of your calories- and it looks like the majority of your protein from milk? What is the quality of the milk/dairy you are getting?

I understand that some people who are really trying to put on size do the GOMAD protocol because milk is a cheap and easy way to get a large amount of protein. However, it sounds like you are trying to do the opposite- while keeping strength. Coming from a similar place and having had that same goal, I suggest that you Keep your protein levels to .7-1grams per pound of lean body mass. That should keep your strength levels steady during your body recomposition. Try to get that protein from ruminants, poultry and fish and lay off that much dairy- especially if it isn't of the highest quality.

What is your current food quality overall?

I see that you mention cold cuts and cheese slices as things you regularly partake of. Cold cuts usually have a lot of stuff in them that aren't that great as well as processed cheese. I would definitely be cognizant of trying to get food that is as close to it's natural, unprocessed state as possible.

As far as the grains go, I think WHITE rice wouldn't be a bad idea(potatoes and sweet potatoes as well) being that if you are looking for some kick in the gym, then making sure your glycogen is topped off is a good way of going about it. Brown rice has some lectin issues that are ameliorated during the processing of white rice. You're operating in a calorie deficit so I'd monitor the rice input in correlation with your weight loss and the rate of that loss and tweak from there.

Good luck.

best answer

3
072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on January 18, 2012
at 02:42 PM

I think plenty of folks could get into the weeds analyzing this thing, and I'm sure there could be lots going on here. To me, the simple answer is that it is difficult to gain or even maintain strength while losing weight. If weight loss is your goal (and at approximately 300#, it probably should be), then I say go with it. I'd even suggest cutting the milk thing. Hit your lifts but understand some weeks will be better than others. Eat some starchy carbs, but don't overdo those. Cut the weight, get lean, and then build it back up in a non-crappy way.

6371f0ae0c075ded1b8cd30aafd4bf16

on January 19, 2012
at 05:17 AM

I lost 60 lbs last year and in the process lost some strength. I was able to PR on my DL and Bench after a while but my back squat went way down. I never could understand why until one day I did a cffb wod were you have to walk 2 miles with 40 to 60 lbs. It was quite the experience. After 2 miles of carrying 60 lbs I understood why weight mattered in strength. I could barely stand to carry 60 lbs for 20 minutes or so much less all day long.

072fd69647b0e765bb4b11532569f16d

(3717)

on January 19, 2012
at 02:45 PM

They did that WOD this last weekend. I plan to do it Saturday.

best answer

0
3bf619e0ba729b37c7815f6509d4bc41

on January 18, 2012
at 02:43 PM

My advice would be to first ditch the dairy. Although it is a common topic among Paleo eaters (to eat/drink or not to eat/drink), dairy can do some funky things to people and so as a test I would remove it entirely for a couple weeks. Once you determine if it's your problem, you can decide what side of the fence you're on and whether or not to add it back in. I would also increase your protein intake. Muscle growth requires a steady diet of protein, so it could be that the milk is keeping you full enough that you're not getting enough solid protein from eggs, and meat.

As far as your lifting routine goes, I agree with PrimalDanny, you may just need to rest your body. If you've been lifting the same routing for a while I would recommend switching it up. For example, instead of a 3x per week full-body routine, switch to a 4x per week upper/lower split routine.

Hope that helps! Best of luck on your journey, and congrats on how far you've come!

best answer

0
A4587cfef29863db612c43f89c202cc1

on January 18, 2012
at 02:47 PM

Your weight loss is significant at 10% of your body weight. Great job!

If you are drinking half of a gallon of whole milk per day, that is about 1,200 calories. If that constitutes roughly 70% of your total caloric intake for the day, I'm not sure that you are taking in enough calories. If you currently weigh about 300lbs., and you are pulling heavy weights, training hard, I think that you will need more calories. Can you add another real food meal into your day? Maybe some meat, eggs, sweet potato, etc.

700622d6e9cdf17030e98e27d8ce462b

(110)

on January 18, 2012
at 03:08 PM

Ralph - I think you're right. Another meal would be the best and most logical thing to add.

700622d6e9cdf17030e98e27d8ce462b

(110)

on January 18, 2012
at 03:07 PM

Hi all - thanks for the great responses. I had no idea brown rice had the same protein uptake-inhibiting stuff in it as the dreaded soy! I will look at a controlled dose of WHITE rice on some days. Some brief answers to questions: 1. I eat a bunless double burger with cheese on nights I am lazy, and (much more often) I eat a range of both lean and fatty meats for dinner - from steak and chicken to lamb ribs, and fish (but not enough of late) 2. My evening portion of protein is - from my own basic math - the majority of my protein intake per day. I will eat easily 225-250+ grams of just meat

best answer

0
32c63cc02fc78c97a892e3a9ea6b596c

on January 19, 2012
at 04:25 AM

Grass fed, unpasteurized milk I hope! Factory farmed milk(everything else) is not healthy, in my opinion anyway

best answer

0
D5a4ff096a452a84a772efa0e6bc626e

(2486)

on January 19, 2012
at 04:40 AM

Mllk, cheese, nuts, fruit, coffee? The first four are known as difficult for many, and I know I personally have significant cortisol trouble with coffee (although I'm fine with caffeine in general). Fundamentally, I do feel the real issue here is weight loss combined with muscle gain is a very fine line to walk, but all of your chosen foods might be hindering your progress, particularly in building strength.t

best answer

0
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on January 19, 2012
at 05:25 AM

One thought is to add 4 eggs in the morning for breakfast with some butter. And add 1 cup of cottage cheese at night just before bed. Change out the milk for water.

Eggs are an amazing source of protein and fat. Cottage cheese at night will feed your muscles during your nightly fast/sleep.

best answer

1
07243c7700483a67386049f7b67d90a4

on January 19, 2012
at 05:00 PM

In powerlifting the fat is functional in terms of ultimate power, it reduces the range of movement (ROM), allows more of a bounce at the weakest point of lift and intramuscular fat may help contraction of the muscle. Expect to lose some power especially in the bench press and squat.

That said watching a good 90/100kg class lifter lifting multiple times bodyweight, to me, is way more impressive than a super heavyweight benching with a tiny ROM.

0
700622d6e9cdf17030e98e27d8ce462b

(110)

on January 19, 2012
at 02:19 PM

Thanks to everybody for the advice.

I'm going to add a meal to the day, and try and eat more protein-rich sources in the morning.

And I'll be using a controlled amount of white rice before and after training wherever possible.

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