2

votes

Seriously need help, not gaining muscle, paleo

Answered on March 06, 2015
Created April 16, 2013 at 9:24 PM

Hey guys, so I am in need of dire help. I am a person who does crossfit most of the week, and if I get too sore, I take a break. I have been doing this for a couple years. I eat healthy but claim that I'm not 100% perfect on doing Paleo (I rarely eat junk food, but other things like Peanut Butter, Beans, 100% natural stuff).

The problem is although I have leaned out in the first few months of doing crossfit, the rest of the time I have spent doing it in vain from what I feel like. I have not put really any muscle on and STILL look the same as before!

I'm a 28 year-old male and about 6 feet currently on average at about 175lbs.

I don't know if it's that I don't get enough calories in or carbs or protein or whatever. It's that I am not making progress and it's pissing me off!

I'm pretty sure this is about diet at this point and I have been trying to self-teach myself how to make it all work, and I feel it's frustrating me too much and there truely isn't a 1 size fits all.

Paleo is apparently composed of Protein, Carbs, Fat. How do I ensure I'm getting the right foods at the right times and not feel hungry. I'm trying to build muscle and make gains.

Is it like 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, what is the difference between carbs and veggies/fruit (veggies/fruit is a carb), and how much should I take in for fat like almonds, avocado, etc...?? Not sure if it's not enough calories or what.

What frustrates me even more is people that I do crossfit with are making better gains than me and they have been doing it for a much shorter time.

What's the best pre-wod and post-wod meal??

I also have stubborn fat on my sides that will not go away and I thought all the working out I do would eliminate this. I'm absolutely going crazy!

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

+1 Interesting to read that.

9b0a4701e373d4dd13831cfb9b13f42d

(1677)

on April 17, 2013
at 03:26 PM

Ive been fortunate to watch this play out first hand via a special program set in place a few years ago to get "average people" near the physical fitness levels of some of the worlds best tactical athletes, so they can work with them.

3806d8d2d78746ce55d8201e67ef3128

(244)

on April 17, 2013
at 03:24 AM

I generally have two or three meals during the day, during which I just stop when I feel full, and at dinner I eat until I can't anymore. I generally do not pay attention to calories. The way I figure is that if I'm already eating as much as I possibly can, why do I need to know how many calories I should or have consumed.

D05f3050dc3d973b8b81a876202fa99a

(1533)

on April 17, 2013
at 03:13 AM

this. Although you'll regret paying for your CF membership if you really dig into this stuff.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 17, 2013
at 02:58 AM

Yes to what greymouser said.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 17, 2013
at 02:43 AM

Yes to what grey user said.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 17, 2013
at 02:33 AM

This is good advice.

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on April 16, 2013
at 10:32 PM

Carbs and protein do help with gaining muscle, albeit not to the point where having protein shakes is going to help gain significant mass (all signs point to shakes not helping). However, compared to fat, carbs and protein will help more. Consider any fats you get with your meats or for cooking your carb-dense root and tubers ancillary - i.e. focus on the first two, and also dont worry about "too much fat".

6a8f63ea06241c38c03f22ef9344d517

on April 16, 2013
at 09:59 PM

All types (except trans fat). Animal fat, coconut, coconut oil, olive oil, eggs, avocado... Carbs have 4 calories per gram, fats have 9 per gram.

6648bcb8c4e4d4d2a3a6e1799a9d78b9

on April 16, 2013
at 09:57 PM

Do you work towards a goal on calories or just feeling full?

6648bcb8c4e4d4d2a3a6e1799a9d78b9

on April 16, 2013
at 09:46 PM

I have recently begun doing Protein shakes to get more protein in throughout the day, 30 grams of protein per shake. Breakfast would typically be like 5 eggs, a sweet potato, avocado or 2-3 Tbsp. almond butter Lunch would be like 5-6 ounces of chicken with veggies or fruit and more almond butter. Dinner would be beef with sweet potato or veggies and almonds or avocado. Pretty bland and very natural. I have been mixing my foods up a lot lately because I get frustrated and nothing seems like it's helping. I've been doing something more like just chicken, veggies, and nuts lately.

86c97b2779feab3c330f5e1c5fea7e25

(2312)

on April 16, 2013
at 09:38 PM

You need to post what you're eating now or there's really no way to help

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on April 16, 2013
at 09:34 PM

*Paleo is apparently composed of Protein, Carbs, Fat.* These are just macro nutrients - *paleo* is not *composed* of them, but all any diet's food can be viewed through the macronutrients that food brings

6648bcb8c4e4d4d2a3a6e1799a9d78b9

on April 16, 2013
at 09:32 PM

What kind of fats? What is the best way to calculate how much I should even be eating? I thought carbs helped with gaining muscle?

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15 Answers

9
9b0a4701e373d4dd13831cfb9b13f42d

(1677)

on April 16, 2013
at 10:05 PM

Crossfit does not add muscle to most men the way it does women (the difference I believe is hormonal), if you want to add muscle consider working out like a bodybuilder.

Two of my good friends are ranked top 10 for the upcoming CF games and both of them without a doubt had more muscle before they ever stepped into a CF gym (probably because they did standard heavy bodybuilding type weight lifting, simply because thats all there used to be).

MetCons work differently on men than they do on women, I know guys who have been doing CF for years and other than leaness they look very unremarkable while having a very high work capacity.

9b0a4701e373d4dd13831cfb9b13f42d

(1677)

on April 17, 2013
at 03:26 PM

Ive been fortunate to watch this play out first hand via a special program set in place a few years ago to get "average people" near the physical fitness levels of some of the worlds best tactical athletes, so they can work with them.

Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on September 07, 2013
at 01:28 AM

+1 Interesting to read that.

3
Ca2c940a1947e6200883908592956680

(8574)

on April 16, 2013
at 10:51 PM

Frustrated,

Sign-up for the free 5 day series: http://www.scrawnytobrawny.com and have a read through the free PDF: http://www.biggersmallerbigger.com which is fascinating!

The guy's at Precision Nutrition know there stuff and have worked with thousands of people. You can apply the methodologies within the paleo template (no grains etc). But honestly the major things you need to realise...

  • Eat more calories than you expend.
  • Progressively overload your muscles.

If you are CFing five days a week, then you are gonna have to eat, eat, eat and be careful that you are not over-taxing yourself. Also (which is my issue) it is difficult to slap on muscle if you are only doing conditioning workouts. You may get lean and fit, but from experience you wont be making changes on the scale at any significant rate.

If you are skinny and struggling to build muscle, you are not eating enough food. You may be eating what you consider 'a lot', but if the weight on the scale isn't going up you are not eating enough; and that's the difference 'a lot' versus 'enough'. Nate Green. http://www.scrawnytobrawny.com

I am in the same boat since I only do TACFIT workouts and run, which are basically conditioning, HIIT and LISS. Not a recipe known for building sizeable muscle. I am trying to break through the same range of weight since the beginning of the year. I move between 75Kg and 78kg constantly which drove me to start investigating further.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 17, 2013
at 02:33 AM

This is good advice.

2
Adb6852b4f2f42904da67708ffcd59f5

on April 16, 2013
at 09:45 PM

Hi 'Frustrated',

Im currently in my third month of weight training. I am gaining strength aswell as a bit muscle but since my routine is geared towards more strength, it makes perfect sense why i am gaining more strength,less muscle.

IMO the best routine is centered around compounds. They are simply hard and exhausting but pays off. And yes the next day it is sore and maybe for a couple days but I have found out if i increase my carbs(rice n potatoes) and protein PWO then i recover quicker,but thats me.

You got to experiment as we are all different.

Go for this routine: 'Starting Strength' and increase calories to increase weight thus increase strength. Buy the book if you can to get the form and technique down.

Eat loads of food. My main staples are rice, lamb and goat milk(because i cant tolerate cows milk). I have gained so much strength already and happy to say that I believe the milk has helped. Yes its not paleo but its not harming me so if its not harming you then drink it!

So,

Routine: Starting Strength Eat lots of food above maintenance calories Rest lots, do M/W/F schedule, whatever suits you Take creatine if it helps as its recommended around this community I train fasted btw so no Pre Workout for me :)

Lastly, IMO your going to need carbs for glycogen replenishment of sore muscles and you will need fat for energy. Ideally reach 1g/lb protein and eat the bulk of your carbs mainly after a workout with the fat being eaten throughout the day.

Good Luck mate, hopefully you will be less 'Frustrated' :)

1
7d151e981f4f5b0a3c376d257965093a

on April 17, 2013
at 09:07 AM

Try a couple of months on the 531 program from Jim Wendler - http://theswole.com/concept/531-jim-wendlers-theory-of-strength/

I was in exactly the same boat as you, doing all the right things (or so I thought). Training hard, eating right, taking all the right supplements but I just wasn't making any real gains, so I had to really look at what I was doing.

The two main problems were that I wasn't following a structured program where I could make steady progression each week/month and although I thought I was eating enough, I really wasn't...not by a long way.

After 4 months of 531 and eating like a horse (I was eating about the same as you've described but now I eat about double that), I've put on just under a stone in weight and my lifts have increased massively.

Bottom line is, lift heavy (whatever heavy is for you), while keeping good form and eat, eat, eat, making sure most of your food is protein and good fats, with plenty of veg. I'd also recommend some starchy carbs about an hour after your workout but not too much.

1
7511a8c3781efdd57b8b9a03277287ee

on April 17, 2013
at 07:04 AM

Stop doing crossfit and start 531 or starting strength

1
Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 17, 2013
at 02:42 AM

Eat a lot more. An easy source to help you gain is potatoes and meat. You know that feeling when you feel like you're gonna throw up? Yea, not saying you should do that regularly, but when purposefully trying to bulk up you shouldn't be a stranger to that idea either. Do not intermittent fast, eat protein, eat fat and carbs but get at least 25+% of your calories from protein, seriously. Like the others have said, crossfit might not be your best friend, it'll exhaust a skinny person's cns before it works their muscles so you might make strength gains with negligible mass. Check out Doug mcguff, body by science, and lift a little lighter in the beginning to make sure you have good form. I've seen studies showing even greater hypertrophy in 30%1rm to exhaustion than in 85%1rm so don't think that you necessarily have to lift big when you barely have any muscle mass, sure your cns might get stronger but you're burning out before you work your muscles which translates into less visible gains (which honestly, why else do guys work out).

Check out bodybuilding forums, follow their advice with a grain of salt.

1
C2ecbc6f2948c232d60a639c50b7f4f9

(504)

on April 17, 2013
at 02:36 AM

20 rep squat program and GOMAD, you'll make all kinds of gains.

1
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on April 16, 2013
at 11:59 PM

At 6' 175# you are probably pretty lean / thin and it sounds like you want to bulk up. At 6' 210# I am not in the same boat as you, I am trying to stay lean but with no bulk-up at all, though my main form of exercise is Crossfit.

If you want to add bulk, I think that you probably need to lift heavier, and eat more, especially carbs. Crossfit workouts (at least the ones that I have been doing for a year) generally don't include heavy lifting, for example my workout last night included 90 thrusters with 75#. That is great for conditioning but won't add bulk to anyone. At my gym they lift heavy twice per week but I generally skip those, but you might want to focus more on that.

You might be interested to hear of the diet that Daniel Craig used to add about 20 pounds of lean muscle to his body (you can Google various articles about it), to summarize it sounds like he over-ate with plenty of carbs and protein and worked out regularly including both lifting and calisthenics.

BTW you said "Paleo is apparently composed of Protein, Carbs, Fat", well there are only 3 macro-nutrients, so every diet is composed of those three, because there isn't anything else. Generally speaking most Paleo dieters eat fat the most, then protein, then carbs, but that varies a lot, depending on your goals. Most people it seems are trying to lose fat and weight so eating lots of fat and protein helps with that goal. If you're trying to bulk up then you would probably eat different than a lot of people.

1
3806d8d2d78746ce55d8201e67ef3128

(244)

on April 16, 2013
at 09:50 PM

Learn to cook well, include a lot of variety in the foods you eat, and occasionally include deserts or treats (remaining within the parameters that keep you feeling well). I found that if I work on making my food taste damn good, I eat more, and can gain weight.

Since I've been focusing more on the taste and variety of my meals, rather than perfect adherence to all paleo guidelines I've gained twenty some pounds, in about 8 months. It believe the vast majority of that to be muscle as well, because my lifts, which had been stagnating for at least six months, all shot up very quickly. I also rid myself of a few niggling health problems, which persisted even through over a year of strict paleo.

Just to give you an idea about I'm talking about, I think the inclusion of things like a bit of honey, orange juice, mashed potatoes, white rice, nut butters, and some protein powder have all helped. The big thing for me though was really learning to cook, and reducing dietary restrictions.

TLDR: learn to cook well, and you will almost automatically gain some pounds.

6648bcb8c4e4d4d2a3a6e1799a9d78b9

on April 16, 2013
at 09:57 PM

Do you work towards a goal on calories or just feeling full?

3806d8d2d78746ce55d8201e67ef3128

(244)

on April 17, 2013
at 03:24 AM

I generally have two or three meals during the day, during which I just stop when I feel full, and at dinner I eat until I can't anymore. I generally do not pay attention to calories. The way I figure is that if I'm already eating as much as I possibly can, why do I need to know how many calories I should or have consumed.

0
889af351772e13baf8c21823d873b014

(5)

on March 06, 2015
at 07:58 PM

I agree with Mash,

 

Its actually a really simple formula. Just put more high quality calories in your body than you expend, and use your muslces more than they are currenlty being used.??

 

If you just keep this pattern you will gain muscle.

 

I have had ups and downs. But I am a super lanky dude for my height. At 6'2" At my lowest I weighed 150. I was tired of it and worked out, took deer antler velvet and ate about 70% paleo for 4 months. I??put on about 20lbs with a semi strenuous workout but not as tough as crossfit. ??

 

I noticed the fastest gains when I ate about 2200 calories a day. (I am 30) whereas before, I didnt realize it but I was only eating about 1200-1500 due to my budget. Which is why I realized I was so thin.??

0
B34a6a7f0d3ed941d17e8606d83f8c3b

on April 17, 2013
at 12:57 PM

Eat full fat cream instead of milk + heavy compounds:

Day 1: Deadlift, Chin ups Day 2: Squat, Dips

Rinse repeat

This is working for me, i'm no longer classified as a 'hardgainer'

0
7d46edca72c2f8347f65d7b734d1f1eb

on April 17, 2013
at 12:18 PM

Tons of great advice here and I'm interested in this topic for sure.

One thing I don't think was mentioned/asked however is what exactly are your goals? You said others at your gym have gotten better results but are you talking Strength/PRs, Metcon Performance, or body comp? All three are going to require different diet and training. From your post it sounds like you want to get a little more lean while gaining muscle size and strength? Although at 6' and 175 pounds you must be pretty darn lean already. If you're trying to get supper cut and gain strength that is going to be a fine line to walk. I've been struggling myself the last 3 months a bit with opposing goals. I decided my primary goal would be performance/strength and a secondary goal would be to lose body fat slowly. I focus on food for performance because I work out pretty hard, but I am mindful of my diet to insure I'm not eating too much that would make me retain/gain fat.

One thing I've had a lot of success with relative to walking the line of performance vs fat loss is focusing most of my carbs in the 2 meals after working out which has been mostly sweet potatoes. I work out in the morning so I'll have carbs for breakfast and lunch but normally just protein and veggies for dinner. I tried carbs just post workout at breakfast and found it wasn't enough to fuel my body and workouts and I kept bonking out. Probably once a week if I'm feeling hungry I may add sweet potatoes or rice to dinner. Sometimes I will have some fruit instead of sweet potatoes but I've been trying to avoid it since most folks seem to think fruit consumption should be minimal if you're trying to lose fat or get cut. I haven't tinkered enough with this myself to go one way or the other on it.

You had mentioned that recently you started taking protein shakes - how long and any luck there? I also started doing a protein shake post workout and before bed recently on top of my normal food and within a couple weeks time I saw my size and strength bump up quick. My recovery time seemed better to and it also seemed to help curb any cravings especially at night. I know most people will poo poo shakes since they are not paleo, and probably not the best thing for leaning out, but it seems many folks get positive strength and size benefits from doing this especially if they are working out hard. I know I do. I think this goes back to your goals again and Robb Wolf has mentioned this a lot in his podcasts. Are you leaning out or focusing on overall health? Then shakes would be bad. If you're pushing yourself and want to perform better or gain strength then shakes would be good IMHO.

What about creatine? I'm a huge fan and gain strength and size for taking it pretty quick. If you're looking to get cut though it may not be for you since it supposedly makes you retain some water weight in the skin - I've never noticed one way or the other and I like the performance bump it gives me anyway.

How about sleep? 8+ hours? This is something I'm continuously struggling with. Ranking in importance diet > sleep > workout. How about alcohol or coffee? Either of those can curtail your progress in excess.

0
D05f3050dc3d973b8b81a876202fa99a

(1533)

on April 17, 2013
at 03:11 AM

Eat more.

Preferably, create a caloric surplus with most of your calories coming post workout (I would say at least 60%) and from primarily protein and carbohydrates.

Fat will more easily be stored as... well, fat when eating extra calories. When you're trying to put on LEAN MASS it is not your friend. That's my opinion, even though some people on here might freak out at that idea.

Before your WODs, go in and make sure you do some heavy ass lifting like squats, deads, and some type of press that you cycle through (low rep and high weight, not that crazy 100 reps of your body weight stuff). This is ESPECIALLY critical on days when all they have you do is muscle ups and double unders which is what happened to me this afternoon. Not saying these are bad, but I don't think double unders or jump ropes in general are notorious for producing any significant hypertrophy (nice, big lookin' muscles). If you wanna put on size you have to eat the right stuff, in the right amounts, AT THE RIGHT TIMES, when your body needs it. And you have to create that need for your body.

I'm in the same boat. Putting on lean mass in a CrossFit gym involves going against the grain in that culture sometimes. You also can't keep comparing yourself to those really athletic guys in there who were already jacked when they started. A lot of those guys were in competitive sports for years, high school football, and GOT to CrossFit in really good shape. They're drawn to it. Once three or four of them get together it can become easy to feel like you're a freak for not being really lean, busting out 50 muscle ups, and deadlifting 400 pounds with 10% bf.

0
5e5ff249c9161b8cd96d7eff6043bc3a

(4713)

on April 17, 2013
at 01:37 AM

I would read through the info over at Martin's site: leangains.com

D05f3050dc3d973b8b81a876202fa99a

(1533)

on April 17, 2013
at 03:13 AM

this. Although you'll regret paying for your CF membership if you really dig into this stuff.

0
6a8f63ea06241c38c03f22ef9344d517

on April 16, 2013
at 09:30 PM

Simple and direct: Increase caloric intake, try to add more fat to your diet (for example).

Ebb10603524dd22621c1155dd7ddf106

(19150)

on April 16, 2013
at 10:32 PM

Carbs and protein do help with gaining muscle, albeit not to the point where having protein shakes is going to help gain significant mass (all signs point to shakes not helping). However, compared to fat, carbs and protein will help more. Consider any fats you get with your meats or for cooking your carb-dense root and tubers ancillary - i.e. focus on the first two, and also dont worry about "too much fat".

6a8f63ea06241c38c03f22ef9344d517

on April 16, 2013
at 09:59 PM

All types (except trans fat). Animal fat, coconut, coconut oil, olive oil, eggs, avocado... Carbs have 4 calories per gram, fats have 9 per gram.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 17, 2013
at 02:58 AM

Yes to what greymouser said.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on April 17, 2013
at 02:43 AM

Yes to what grey user said.

6648bcb8c4e4d4d2a3a6e1799a9d78b9

on April 16, 2013
at 09:32 PM

What kind of fats? What is the best way to calculate how much I should even be eating? I thought carbs helped with gaining muscle?

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