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Nutrition/General Review Desired

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  • Nutrition/General Review Desired

    Greetings. I've been Primal for 4 weeks now and I was hoping some experienced members would take the time to review and critique my lifestyle changes. I went Primal because I realized my low-fat diet was unhealthy and I have several fitness injuries/inflammation issues that I hope to correct with this lifestyle. I posted this under "nutrition" because I'm mostly interested in how I'm doing in that area.

    Background: I'm in my early 30s, 6'1", and weight around 155 lbs. I've always been active and thin. I started lifting weights in my mid 20s, added quite a bit of muscle and was finally happy with my body composition (weight at 170 lbs). However, as I didn't really know what I was doing, I kept doing the same routines and eventually hurt my shoulder (overuse injury). After a couple years sans lifting (which lead to increased cardio) and being unable to recover from the injury, I had lost most of my muscle mass and about 15 lbs body weight. I'm one of those gym nuts that goes 5-6 times per week. I actually enjoy working out and staying active, though it took years to feel that way. I have a strong will power so sticking to PB lifestyle isn't difficult, though learning to enjoy healthy fats has been a challenge.

    Fitness: After talking with doctors and doing another round of physical therapy, my shoulder has improved and I'm finally lifting again (for the past 8 months). I'm more careful with lifting now and focus on total body (small and large muscle groups). I've incorporated PB fitness into my routine. Unfortunately I've lost about 5 lbs since going Primal. I suppose I could be classified as a hard-gainer though I probably just need to eat more. Easier said than done when you're use to avoiding all fats for the past 10 yeas of your life. I would like to gain weight, ideally to 170-180 lbs. Currently I work out 5 times per week, about 50-60 min of lifting and 10-15 min of cardio (been experimenting with sprint drills on elliptical machine).

    Diet: I've adopted the PB plan and stopped all processed carbs/sugar/dairy while eating healthy fats. I take a multivitamin daily and fish oil supplements twice a day. Here's a typical day:
    Breakfast - 2 eggs/1 egg white omelet with ground beef. Protein shake (~ 70g worth of protein) with water.
    Lunch - large salad with lots of veggies, 1 can tuna fish and PB olive oil/vinaigrette dressing, often with a piece of bacon or 1/2 avocado. Lately been including a piece of fruit to help increase energy.
    Dinner - meat (beef, pork, or chicken) with lots of veggies, cauliflower rice (made with coconut oil) and a piece of fruit (apple or peach).
    I don't snack during the day. During week 2 and 3, I experienced strong carb-flu weakness/lack of energy. I believe I am getting past it now as I've started feeling better with increased energy. Sometimes I will add an additional protein shake or piece of fruit in the afternoon if I know I'll be having a late dinner.

    As mentioned, the carb-flu was bad but I hope to be pulling out of it. The lack of energy was terrible. I wonder if I'm not eating enough (or good carbs) for my level of activity. I want to continue working out because I'm finally seeing decent gains and getting some of my muscle mass back. I've lost some body fat since going to the PB lifestyle (I don't know exact numbers, I can see when looking in mirror) which is nice, but the weight loss isn't as appreciated (I suppose I can't have one without the other).

    - any glaring dietary changes you would recommend? I've read the discussions on protein powder and after consideration, I want to include it in my diet.
    - suggestions for gaining weight (beyond the "eat more" concept)? I'd love to hear stories about people trying to put on weight as most discussions revolve around losing it.
    - should the PB lifestyle lead to increased/maintained levels of energy? Should I eat more carbs from fruits/potatoes since I'm working out so often? Again, I'd enjoy hearing personal stories from active people about how they felt after coming out of the carb-flu, as well as using potatoes to carb refeed.
    - any other advice that someone of my body type and level of activity could benefit from?

    Thank you for taking the time to review my situation and for all the help and information I've already found in this forum. Much appreciated,

  • #2
    Diet looks fine ingredient-wise, but obviously you aren't counting. Tough to gain weight if you don't know what your caloric intake is. It's really quite simple, eat more than your body burns to gain. Eat 100+ carbs (at least) around your workouts. And you should actually cut your strength sessions to 3 times per week. Recovery days are huge.


    • #3
      Not a whole lot of people in your boat here, it seems. If you are fit, healthy, and eat no sugar, grain, or dairy--you are way ahead of most people. If you are just trying to bulk up with some muscle, keep eating like this and pay attention to your workouts. I don't know why you'd be going low-carb, either. That's mostly for people with insulin problems who gain weight easily or are trying to lose weight. You should probably be eating lots of rice and potatoes, shooting for the upper limit of carbs as outlined in the blueprint.


      • #4
        If you want to gain 25 lb on PB (ish), do what you are doing (which is the "weight loss" standard PB idea), PLUS daily add a quart or more of whole milk / pint of cream / can of coconut milk (one or more of those) with whey powder and fruit or chocolate, drink after working out and / or before bed. Also, eat some peeled white potatoes, sweet potatoes, and / or white rice regularly. Eat until you are full, and then eat more, and don't ever skip a meal. Look to steadily add about a pound a week. More than that and you'll most likely be adding more fat than muscle.

        As for workouts: How often do you do heavy (max effort) squats, deadlifts, etc? Are you a crossfitter, or a nautilus machine user? In order to channel those extra calories into muscle, I'd recommend you make hard strength training the cornerstone of your gym time. PB fitness - kinda weak imhop.
        If you are new to the PB - please ignore ALL of this stuff, until you've read the book, or at least and this (personal fave):


        • #5
          Thanks RezH and otzi. I've been going low carb because I wanted to go fully Primal at the start to feel any changes with my body/injuries/inflammation. I've recently been reading about eating more carbs, particularly after workouts, and thought I would add sweet potatoes to my post-workout dinners. Currently I'm lifting rather light weights as I'm trying to strengthen my shoulder as well as rebuild my overall strength after being unable to weight train the past couple years. Seems the take-home message is to try adding different foods and simply observed how the body reacts. If any others have been in this situation and have advice, I'm all ears. Thanks much.


          • #6
            tfarny, thanks for the suggestions. I think the coconut milk with whey powder is a great idea...just so hard to eat all that fat after years of CW. I'll definitely start including potatoes and some rice.

            I'm just learning to do squats and deadlifts. When I started weight training, I didn't really know what I was doing and only worked the main groups (arms, back, chest). I now realize how that was such a poor routine. I've begun with squats but I have been waiting on deadlifts because I'm so worried about overdoing it with my shoulder (this shoulder issue has hampered me for years and has been absolutely frustrating...xrays, MRIs, numerous doc/PT visits, ect). I haven't done max effort (squats) yet as I'm still working on my form. Mainly I'm lifting with free weights, mixed in with a 7 day circuit shoulder rehab (found on MDA). I'm basically in a learning phase of how to lift again while protecting my body and incorporating PB fitness concepts. Do you have suggestions for routines, other than PB fitness?


            • #7
              I recommend you learn everything you can about Starting Strength, buy Mark Rippetoe's books (Starting Strength, and Practical Programming, and his DVD), and get started on the program. Overeating without some good strength training will get you fat pretty quickly!
              I'm no doctor as to your shoulder issues, but simply getting stronger has made my joints much much better - weights are "healthy stressors" indeed.
              If you are new to the PB - please ignore ALL of this stuff, until you've read the book, or at least and this (personal fave):


              • #8
                My thought is that an hour a day of lifting is too much if you are trying to gain weight. By 60 minutes you are starting to burn muscle instead of build it. Ease off a LOT and sleep a bunch more. That should do it.


                • #9
                  My shoulder definitely feels stronger with the rehab and increased frequency of lifting. Thanks for the info about Starting Strength and Ripptoe, I'll dive into it. Learning to workout less and rest more will be a difficult but important step. Thanks again for everyone's help/suggestions.