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Super strong but getting chubby

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created April 26, 2013 at 11:55 PM

Hello all!

I am a 5'7, 24 year old, 175-180lb female. I do crossfit, olympic lifting and powerlifting type workouts 4 days a week. I am in the process of getting a professional degree so stress is sometimes an issue, but I manage to get 7 hrs of sleep per night. I also moved to a new city and there is less sunlight than I am used to but I am supplementing with 5000 IUD vitamin D per day + multivitamin + Probiotics.

My problem is this:

I am starting to get chubby (again)! I leaned out to about 168lbs last November and was feeling great about myself. I had good strength and my pullups and other body weight exercises started to get way easier. I have always been strong, and recently after doing a few cycles of Wendler 5-3-1 I got my deadlift to 315 lbs, press to 115lbs, squat to 235lbs and bench to 150lbs. I think those are decent numbers (or at least they are in my gym...) So it looks like to me my strength is good, but the issue is that I have put on weight and am not feeling so great. I have a bit of a gut again and my face is widening out.

During this time I have been paleo (minus a few drinks per month and some Christmas cheats). I did a whole30 and stuck to it for a few months (when I was leaner) but now I am wondering what I am doing wrong. I eat more fruit and nuts, and have some emotional eating issues too - I have started seeing a counsellor to help with these issues. This is what a typical day of eating looks like:

Breakfast:3 eggs, handful of kale and a slice of turkey bacon scrambled in 1 tbsp coconut oil served with 1/4 avocado, 1 cup coffee

Lunch: piece of chicken, served with 1 1/2 cup spaghetti squash + salsa

Snack: kombucha, a few squares dark chocolate OR a handful nuts/dried fruit OR veggies and a hard boiled egg

Dinner: same as lunch!

If I am studying there tends to be two snacking periods per day. What should I change about this? Cut out fruit and nuts completely? Cut out nightshades? (I have never tried that before) Watch portion sizes? I know that athletes like Lindsey Valenzuela and Michele Letendre kept there strength but lost 20lbs - couldn't find out what they did to create those gains though...

Please hack my diet! Thanks a ton for reading :)

048dd52752c45129c1212bfffb37ca72

(3150)

on May 31, 2013
at 07:28 AM

+1 as this answer make me discover about Anabolic Burst Cycling, cool.

Cc69a51b427eaad36251cce9dcca4d3a

(1074)

on May 11, 2013
at 05:11 AM

you seem like you're already super low carb. i have the same problem, very strong but weight is my dilemna. however i lost the last 20-25lbs not by adding in carbs but rather by going fully zero carb. I only eat meat and water, very little seasoning and no vegetables. for some ppl a bit of carbs/plant foods seems to stall weight. read more at Zeroing In On Health. until you do it, you won't realize how much difference there is between ZC and very low carb

915ff04e55a5883c0bfd81c250ebd2ba

(0)

on April 27, 2013
at 03:13 PM

Yup spaghetti squash! And yes I know I am not going to have the performance in the gym.

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on April 27, 2013
at 12:40 PM

This is really true - you can EITHER gain muscle, or lose fat. You've gained the muscle. When I'm losing fat, I have to mentally prepare myself to not do so great in the gym, and be ok with that for a while.

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on April 27, 2013
at 12:38 PM

Yeah, that's kind of how I started IF. Just waiting until I was really hungry to eat in the morning. Don't feel like you have to do it every day either. 3-4 days a week would be a good goal.

A3a4696c919e916ec971691559e9c942

(2043)

on April 27, 2013
at 08:12 AM

Panda, you are eating spaghetti SQUASH, right? Not pasta spaghetti?

915ff04e55a5883c0bfd81c250ebd2ba

(0)

on April 27, 2013
at 05:25 AM

Great point, thank you. It sounds like what I need to do is cut out some things from my diet and change my training mindset. I needed some tough love.

915ff04e55a5883c0bfd81c250ebd2ba

(0)

on April 27, 2013
at 05:23 AM

Thanks for the comment :) I am interested in IF and just read a few threads - I think I will give it a try next week. I am thinking 9:30am-7pm. Right now I eat breakfast at 6:30, so it will help a bit. And if I am not super hungry maybe I can push back the start time... Keep working on that deadlift, it will come! :)

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2 Answers

1
5983854773a45b09a77a09ee97bdef42

on April 27, 2013
at 03:58 AM

It sounds like you're telling your body to push and pull at the same time. You're either gaining or losing, but you can't have both. If your goal at this juncture is to lean out, then spaghetti for dinner, and chocolate snacks are holding you back. Not to mention the simple breakdown of those processed foods isn't going to support weight loss or strength gains.

I am not sure if Anabolic Burst Cycling is still around, but back in the 90's it was a great way for natural bodybuilders to push and then pull, or gain muscle with some fat, and then lose fat with some muscle. Two weeks in each direction for an extended period led to an overall net gain of muscle/strength and loss of fat.

A3a4696c919e916ec971691559e9c942

(2043)

on April 27, 2013
at 08:12 AM

Panda, you are eating spaghetti SQUASH, right? Not pasta spaghetti?

915ff04e55a5883c0bfd81c250ebd2ba

(0)

on April 27, 2013
at 05:25 AM

Great point, thank you. It sounds like what I need to do is cut out some things from my diet and change my training mindset. I needed some tough love.

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on April 27, 2013
at 12:40 PM

This is really true - you can EITHER gain muscle, or lose fat. You've gained the muscle. When I'm losing fat, I have to mentally prepare myself to not do so great in the gym, and be ok with that for a while.

915ff04e55a5883c0bfd81c250ebd2ba

(0)

on April 27, 2013
at 03:13 PM

Yup spaghetti squash! And yes I know I am not going to have the performance in the gym.

048dd52752c45129c1212bfffb37ca72

(3150)

on May 31, 2013
at 07:28 AM

+1 as this answer make me discover about Anabolic Burst Cycling, cool.

0
32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on April 27, 2013
at 01:16 AM

Congrats on the 315 deadlift! I'm 160 lb and only at 225 deadlift, but I'm creeping up, slowly but surely. :)

You may want want to look into intermittent fasting. I've been stalled at my current weight for 3 years, bulking and getting stronger, but unable to lean out. After reading (here, and other places) about IF I decided to give it a try. It works best if you are already paleo, and pretty much a fat burner.

Basically, you eat the same calories, but limit it to an 8 hour window. I eat between 11am and 7pm each day. Well, sometimes more like 10:30-7:30... This gives your body the downtime to do housekeeping, and maybe even utilize some of that extra fat. It's not dramatic, but it's working (I've dropped about 1/2 lb every 2 weeks, which is huge for me). The appearance of leanness is actually more dramatic - I've had several comments from people who know me well.

There are a few details you can dig up, like when to work out, etc. A lot of people work out fasted before their first meal each day. I find that I cannot do crossfit totally fasted (and I don't want to get into supplements), so I eat a cup of berries before I go and that gives me the boost I need. But the days I don't crossfit I try to do something fasted, usually rollerblading, cycling, swimming, or walking for 30 minutes. (I do it with my kids and make it fun - some sprints and chasing, interspersed with leisure).

915ff04e55a5883c0bfd81c250ebd2ba

(0)

on April 27, 2013
at 05:23 AM

Thanks for the comment :) I am interested in IF and just read a few threads - I think I will give it a try next week. I am thinking 9:30am-7pm. Right now I eat breakfast at 6:30, so it will help a bit. And if I am not super hungry maybe I can push back the start time... Keep working on that deadlift, it will come! :)

32652cb696b75182cb121009ee4edea3

(5802)

on April 27, 2013
at 12:38 PM

Yeah, that's kind of how I started IF. Just waiting until I was really hungry to eat in the morning. Don't feel like you have to do it every day either. 3-4 days a week would be a good goal.

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