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  • Plateau - IF/Leangains

    Hi All,

    I've posted here before, although infrequently and I've been Primal for 4 - 5 months. Last year I was following the Paleo diet for about 8 months although I wasn't incredibly serious about it, I only really started to focus this year when I picked up Primal. In total I've lost 47 lbs and body fat has dropped from roughly 34% to 27%. I'm currently about 224 lb, I honestly don't know what my goal weight will be, but my appropriate weight is meant to be around 162 lb (I'm 5'9 and 36 years old), but I figure I'll stop when I feel healthy. My question for everyone is where to go now? Technically I have another 60 lb to lose, but lets call it 50 lb as a nice round number. I'm not setting any speed records on my weight loss so far, which is fine, but I have felt like I needed something to kick start the next 50 lb effort. I'm not expecting 5 lb a week or anything crazy, although I do try to aim for averaging a 0.5-1 lb a week over the long term. Three weeks ago I decided I would introduce IF as a way to kick start things and who knows, maybe find a metabolic hack that will speed things along, again, if it resulted in a 0.5-1lb a week loss, I'd be perfectly happy, just want to move in the right direction, I'll get there eventually. I have been fascinated by compressed eating window approaches like Leangains and The Lean Saloon although initially Leangains was a bit daunting given it's seemingly hard core body builder audience. However, I decide to go ahead and follow his protocol and it turned out to be fairly simple with pretty much an 8 hour eating window with 20% additional calories on workout days and -20% on rest days. I would lift weights three days a week at around noon, followed by lunch as the first meal of the day. I did find it tough at times, especially if I was busy and ended up breaking the fast later in the day but I've stuck with it for three weeks. Sure, my birthday occurred during that time, 4th July etc. making some days tough, but overall I stuck to it, lifted heavy things, did some walking, and fasted for at least 16 hours every day for three weeks. End result, ZILCH. No weight loss, no apparently muscle gain, no changes in measurements, body fat % is unchanged.

    Perhaps three weeks isn't long enough, but I felt like I should see something in that time period otherwise, why am I doing this? After three weeks it's still a struggle and I suffer a lot of irritability and fatigue. I realize there is an adaptation phase but should I be listening to my body which seems to be telling me, "wtf?". Mark did post recently about skipping breakfast and mentioned that if you are struggling that you shouldn't kill yourself trying to adhere to the fast but listen to your body (I'm paraphrasing of course).

    Am I writing this approach off too soon? Should I stay the course and suddenly I might start seeing some fat losses? It's a bitter pill for me to swallow but it seems like this particular metabolic hack doesn't work for me. Should I go back to a standard eating pattern and maybe throw in the odd 16-24 hour IF from time to time? Losing 100 lb is pretty damn hard and I'm half way there so introducing some variation and a new approach like a compressed eating window seemed like a great way to reinvigorate my efforts.

    Thoughts? Have others lost large amounts of weight with approaches like this? What was your experience? Any suggestions on how I can shake things up a bit? Maybe introducing some sprinting (working up to it gradually of course)?
    My Self Optimization Blog

  • #2
    IF got popular without the "fine print." It's better for people who are already fit and need to tune up. It's not for people who have significant weight to lose. Lose the weight first.

    I would read up on the leptin reset, and focus on that before doing the IF. If you have 50-60 lbs to work on that is going to be a hormone issue one way or the other. IF at this point may just make it worse, just like over training would.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by DFH View Post
      IF got popular without the "fine print." It's better for people who are already fit and need to tune up. It's not for people who have significant weight to lose. Lose the weight first.
      Totally agree, also you haven't mentioned what you're eating during those 8 hours - if its very high fat and/or large quantities I'd look to that first - ie cut out nuts and dairy. Its well worth checking the calories and nutrition of a couple of average days to give you an idea of what you are actually eating as again "don't count calories" seems to have been mangled into "calories don't count" on these forums when of course calories do count they are simply not the be all and end all of CW.
      1st June 11 to 30st Aug 11 - 36lb removed in 13 weeks
      Messed about on and off for the rest of the year

      June 2012 - Had the practice - now time to do it for real

      Comment


      • #4
        I think DFH has a point. Most of Martin Berkhan's (leangains blog author) success stories are of people who are just slightly overweight and/or undermuscled when they start his protocol. It might be best to try something else.

        However, if you do decide to stick with Leangains, my only advice is to do it a prescribed. I tried doing my own low-carb version with my extra calories in my post-workout meal coming mostly from fat. This did not work well at all. I recommend doing the plan as outlined and eating low-fat and high-carb post-workout.

        Also, good point from Solldara. Tracking your food for a day or two can be eye-opening. I know many people start Primal and go overboard on nuts and maybe even on fat and end up getting WAY more calories than they need. It wouldn't hurt to check.

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        • #5
          If you're trying to loose quite a bit of weight then I wouldn't expect to be gaining much muscle. In order to lose you'll need a calorie deficit and that won't help with muscle gains. That said, when you are losing weight it's still a good idea to keep working out to avoid muscle loss. While I do think that IF could work for you I think that a weight loss diet and a muscle building diet are not the same thing. I would suggest either focusing on losing your weight of building muscle just not both at the same time. You're likely not to make progress in either direction that way.
          http://www.facebook.com/daemonized

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          • #6
            I would just do two 24 hr fasts per week.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Daemonized View Post
              If you're trying to loose quite a bit of weight then I wouldn't expect to be gaining much muscle. In order to lose you'll need a calorie deficit and that won't help with muscle gains. That said, when you are losing weight it's still a good idea to keep working out to avoid muscle loss. ..


              PB for losing weight is also low carb. Low carb theory is not based on a caloric deficit. It's based on lowering insulin. This is the whole point of Taubes "Why We Get Fat" book.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Sue View Post
                I would just do two 24 hr fasts per week.
                That is the last thing I would do!

                What’s the Deal with Intermittent Fasting (IF) vs Leptin Resistance?

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                • #9
                  LC lowers insulin - reduces cravings - allows access to fat stores - you usually end up eating less- ie calorie deficit.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Did I say calorie theory? I think not. Did I say anything about carbs? No, I didn't.
                    http://www.facebook.com/daemonized

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                    • #11
                      Thanks everyone for the quick replies, I'll address each of your comments here:

                      @DFH - I've noticed the same thing, in fact leangains seems to be mostly for people going from 12% BF - 6% BF (wish I had that issue). I will read up some more on leptin resistance. I have read Mark's posts and figured since I've cut the majority of grain, try to get good sleep, eat little fruit that I'm doing all I can there. Should I dig deeper?

                      @Solldara - I'm actually a fastidious tracker. I track using MyFoodDiary.com and I have a daily food journal going back 6 months, I also track exercise and err, believe it or not, stool type (although only sporadically). I've had people tell me, just eat primal and don't worry about tracking calories but I've noticed they are usually people who are fairly thin. The fat bastards (current or formerly) all say, track calories. I'm definitely in that camp.

                      @yodiewan - Nice nick. Agreed, the nature of the success stores for leangains initially turned me off it, but then it's very similar to The Lean Saloon which is more Primal/Paleo so I figured what the hell. What I tried to stick to (with moderate success) was pushing my carbs up around 100g on workout days and 50g on rest days. Also, 21 lb of fat in 6 weeks, that's awesome!

                      @Daemonized - To clarify, I'm not really trying to "build muscle" in terms of "get huge", I'm really just trying to maintain muscle mass while losing body fat. My workout is one prescribed by Tom Venuto and is a total body workout, pretty straight forward, some body weight exercises, some dumbbells. Not looking to be the hulk here. Spiderman would be cool though. My end goal is really more about body fat %, I'd like to be in a normal range, maybe floating around 15-18% would be pretty good, not 6-pack territory, but healthier at least. That would do for now.

                      I can't tell how much I appreciate your replies, I have felt myself wavering for the first time in 6 months and really need to renew my focus.

                      Diet Example (I just picked a 7 day period in the last month):

                      Average daily calorie intake: 1696
                      Fat: 90-100g
                      Carbs: 70g
                      Protein: 130g

                      Example Meals:

                      Lunch:
                      - Greek yogurt smoothie with strawberries, half a banana (recipe posted on this site)
                      - Frittata (egg, spinach, peppers, a little uncured bacon and sausage, cheese)
                      - Big salad with some meat thrown in
                      - Left over steak, chicken from dinner
                      - Al fresco chicken sausages, bacon with some frittata if I'm feeling like I need some fat.

                      Dinner:
                      - Steak, chicken etc.
                      - Big pile of steamed vegetables or vegetables in a stir fry

                      Snacks:
                      - Blueberries with raw almonds and whipped cream
                      - Tim Tam (chocolate cookie - yes, bad, but one every now and then until they run out LOL)
                      - Very occasional 0.25-0.5 cup of ice cream

                      I have a cheat meal on Saturday night which usually consists of a burger or occasionally a few slices of pizza. My calories on those days rarely exceeds 2200.

                      I know the last couple aren't primal, but I'm well within the 80/20 rule and I always record the calories.

                      Recently I will admit the nutritional quality of my diet has slipped somewhat (baby due at any moment, lots going on) although calorie intake has not. After reviewing last week's intake I realized I could definitely increase my vegetable consumption, it was somewhat lacking last week.
                      My Self Optimization Blog

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                      • #12
                        Love, the ST:TNG pic.

                        I think 50g-100g carbs per day is considered low carb (it's a hell of a lot lower than it used to be for me), but just eating primal does not shift the weight for me. I have to track calories. I've experimented with different approaches to losing weight and I've found I can lose weight on any of them provided I keep the calories under control. I choose primal because I believe it's healthier and it's easier to adhere to IMO.

                        Taubes doesn't really say calories don't matter, he simply says that to say getting fat is caused by excessively calorie intake is a tautology, it's obviously true. It doesn't explain why someone is consuming more calories, that is where the carbohydrate theory can be applied. I sometimes found him a little contradictory in this area but my interpretation of his books is that in a nutshell, the amount of calories do matter, but so do the type, which is the contradiction with CW. Someone enlighten me if I'm mistaken...

                        I wish just eating primal and low carb caused the pounds to "just melt away", but sadly, it doesn't work for me. I even tried very low carb, the whole ketogenic thing, and found it didn't seem to do much for me either, other than I missed vegetables (never thought I'd say that). I only tried it for a week, I've occasionally thought about trying it again.
                        Last edited by tidmutt; 07-18-2011, 07:48 AM. Reason: Edited for clarification after reading more posts in this thread
                        My Self Optimization Blog

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                        • #13
                          I'm not a fan of cheat meals and the 80:20 rule while I'm trying to lose the weight, as every time I've used them in the past (on other diet plans) the cheat meals have signaled the beginning of the end.

                          It's good as a tool to stop people stressing over micro ingredients as it covers the posts where people have gone to extreme and seen to be worried about imo trivial amounts ie do I dare eat out, as the plain steak I ordered may have been cooked in the same pan is a fragment of sugar ?, but for general day to day eating I think its a mistake to count it.

                          If you're aiming to lose weight I'd cut the dairy and nuts out of your normal eating plan and use them as cheats if you feel the need to have special reward meals - ie a bowl of strawberries and cream etc. Primal is a way of eating for life so if you keep "cheating" with CW or junk foods you'll always feel deprived whereas if you can find primal foods that you really like that stay special you'll find it much easier to stick to as you'll not be missing the old foods.
                          1st June 11 to 30st Aug 11 - 36lb removed in 13 weeks
                          Messed about on and off for the rest of the year

                          June 2012 - Had the practice - now time to do it for real

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by tidmutt View Post
                            Love, the ST:TNG pic.

                            I think 50g-100g carbs per day is considered low carb (it's a hell of a lot lower than it used to be for me), but just eating primal does not shift the weight for me. I have to track calories. I've experimented with different approaches to losing weight and I've found I can lose weight on any of them provided I keep the calories under control. I choose primal because I believe it's healthier and it's easier to adhere to IMO.

                            Taubes doesn't really say calories don't matter, he simply says that to say getting fat is caused by excessively calorie intake is a tautology, it's obviously true. It doesn't explain why someone is consuming more calories, that is where the carbohydrate theory can be applied. I sometimes found him a little contradictory in this area but my interpretation of his books is that in a nutshell, the amount of calories do matter, but so do the type, which is the contradiction with CW. Someone enlighten me if I'm mistaken...

                            I wish just eating primal and low carb caused the pounds to "just melt away", but sadly, it doesn't work for me. I even tried very low carb, the whole ketogenic thing, and found it didn't seem to do much for me either, other than I missed vegetables (never thought I'd say that). I only tried it for a week, I've occasionally thought about trying it again.
                            It takes much longer than that. Understanding low carb weight loss requires understanding insulin. There are short term insulin spikes at each meal, but I am not convinced those are the main driver. You also have a fasting insulin level that is critical. Staying low carb over time lowers this fasting insulin level, and enables you to start burning fat.

                            If you don't know your fasting insulin level, there is no way of knowing if your way of eating is working. The next thing people think of, naturally, is calorie counting because they don't know what else to do.

                            It doesn't look like you gave reducing carbs a chance to work, or didn't reduce them enough. The only way to know would be to look at your fasting insulin number.

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                            • #15
                              I know what you mean, as a veteran of many failed diets (a few successful ones, lost it all once, then put it back on three years later) I know some of the signs of the beginning of the end. However, I've used cheat meals for 6 months now and believe they can be a healthy especially given that eating primal can be tough in some social situations. My usual cheat of a burger is barely cheating IMHO, it's not like I'm eating a a large bowl of pasta and a dozen twinkies. Still, I've considered dropping it from time to time. I also have a wife who occasionally would like pizza etc. primal is great, but the world isn't primal and we have to live in it, but it's also easy to backslide and suddenly you're having three cheat meals a week.

                              The ice cream has been a recent addition as were the cookies (still infrequent) but I think much of what brought that on was the compressed eating window, but I do want to stress that I wasn't downing half a gallon a day, it was half a cup every now and then (and recorded in the food diary) and the fact that my mother sent me a large box of stuff I shouldn't eat. Thanks mom. LOL

                              Eating nuts is very rare and small amounts, they are too damn calorie dense. Dairy, yes, I've seen that suggested before and it's worth a try, I'll miss the yogurt smoothie if I do. I don't need regular cheat meals other than once a week, I find primal foods quiet satisfying.
                              My Self Optimization Blog

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