Low-carb strength training
So I know there have been tons of threads related to this, but I am going to ask the question anyway because, for some reason, none of the threads really ask the same question I intend to or provide the answers for which I am looking.
I have a couple of questions regarding nutritional guidelines as I try to gain muscle with minimal fat gain.
I currently eat around 2200 kcal, 50-60 g/day carbs, 160 g/day protein, 150 g/day fat. I work out every morning doing bodyweight circuits (2 tbsp coconut oil 30 min. before right when I wake up, 1 orange and 1/2 lb chicken/turkey breast ASAP after). Beyond the orange, my carb intake is from about a half cup of nuts, a pound of greens, and around 2 tbsp of flaxseeds. My job is sedentary somedays (I try to stand and walk around instead of sitting when possible on these days), but some days I am walking around quite a bit. I do dabble with intermittent fasting on Saturday mornings (generally 16-17 hrs from end of Friday dinner). On the weekends, when I don't work out, I am taking in around 30-40 g/day of carbs and try to stay somewhat active going for walks, etc.
Before this lifestyle I was lifting weights in the morning on the weekdays, taking in around 100 g/day carb (banana before work out and sweet potato afterwards, with chicken/turkey afterwards or sometimes before and afterwards) and was 6'0" and approximately 158 lbs. Since I've switched to lower carb and modified my workouts to be bodyweight circuit training, I am now around 147-148 lbs. This has happened over the course of, like, 8 weeks.
I enjoy the lean look, but believe myself to be somewhat of twig now. I'm pretty cut, muscle-wise, but am still smaller overall than I'd like to be. I intend to begin strength training soon and am not trying to "bulk up", necessarily, but would like to slowly gain strength and size while not compromising definition. I would like to put on some of the lean muscle weight which I've lost, but am trying to minimize any fat gain (which, from what I've read, depends heavily on carb intake).
Here are my questions:
1) Can I switch to strength training, maintain my carb intake, and achieve my goals by virtue of solely increasing total calories through increased fat intake?
2) If I do need to increase carb intake, should I do so with a single re-feed day or should I incorporate them into every training day?
3) If I need to incorporate them into all training days, should I add them to my post workout only?
4) Any other suggestions or questions regarding my goals and/or (current or future) routines would be greatly appreciated.
Last edited by roba2686; 05-07-2013 at 02:34 PM.
Reason: typo and clarifications
Eat at a surplus of 10-20% over your maintenance and eat... let's say your body weight (or lean body mass if you know it) in grams of protein and half that number grams of fat as minimums. Minimums - essentially make your calories whatever you like after that.
If you feel better with more/less carbs, eat more/less carbs. Really doesn't matter so long as you've met your fat/protein goals and are in a surplus. Don't have to eat at specific times either (a la PWO meals or specific macro intake on training days, etc), just lift, eat more in the way you prefer and enjoy
1. Yes, but to include more carbs is likely going to make it easier to increase calories and "bulk".
2. Either that you like.
3. I like to train fasted so my biased opinion is to add em post workout only.
4. Check out the Steak and Egg threads in Nutrition section. Lots of people leaning out and gaining strength with one refeed/week.
One last thing. If your working out intensely more than 3x/week carb refeeds become a bit more important. If its 3x or less you have plenty of time to refill muscle glycogen without the refeeds.... just by eating your normal LC diet.
I train HIT mostly which means only 2 lift days a week at high intensity. Volume training tends to make carbs more of a necessity in the same way that running marathons does.
Alrighty, so here's what I'm looking at for tomorrow:
Wake up, eat a large banana w/ approx. 1/4 lb turkey breast
Hit the gym for my leg work out
Come home and have 12 oz. sweet potato w/ approx. 1/4 lb turkey breast
The rest of the day (lunch, dinner, snacks) will consist of steamed greens (1 lb), sockeye salmon (7 oz), brazil nuts (1/4 cup), flaxseeds (6 tbsp), olive oil (1 tbsp), and coconut oil (4 tbsp) for a daily total of:
2578 cals - 184 g protein (27%), 154 g fat (52%), and 139 g carbs (21%)
Does that sound reasonable for a dude of my height/weight with my goals?
Last edited by roba2686; 05-12-2013 at 03:26 PM.
Just an update regarding my weight gain experience thus far! I started lifting pretty heavily last week and have been loving it. I'm doing heavy sets, low reps (5 sets x 5-7 reps), different body group each day, which has been SUCH a nice change of scenery from the bodyweight circuits I had been doing. As stated above, my goals are to gain healthy weight, as I've lost a significant amount of muscle over the past few months, but want to do it in a controlled manner and not in some crazy bodybuilding "bulk".
My appetite is, for lack of a better word, confusing me. I don't necessarily get the "hungry in the stomach" feeling (an issue I've had for the past few years), but start to feel a bit sluggish/sore/irritable when I know I need to eat something. I've operated like that for quite some time. I've been listening to my body in terms of how much I choose to eat based on energy levels, and I've seen on Paleotrack that I've progressed to taking in about 3600 kcals/day (20% protein, 20% carb, 60% fat). A couple of weeks ago I was doing around 2200-2300.
3600 kcals sounds like a RIDICULOUS amount of calories to me for a guy of my size, but I mean, I don't really know that much about it and have been left at the mercy of online caloric needs calculators to get an idea of how realistic this amount is (which, as I understand, can be a crap-shoot). If I am under or over eating, how long would it typically take for me to notice in terms of body fat gain or muscle loss? I used to be a much larger (muscle and fat) guy years ago; could this be my body trying to get back to that?
I would MUCH rather over eat than under eat, as I've hardly got any fat left on me, but I don't want to over eat so much that I am putting on unhealthy weight. Ideally, I'm aiming for 500 cals over maintenance (based on what I've read online for gaining), but I guess I have NO idea what maintenance is. I'm totally cool with eating a ton (I mean, it's a good problem to have), but don't want to go overboard.
Should I just keep doing what I'm doing for a while and see what happens?
Last edited by roba2686; 05-21-2013 at 01:59 PM.
I've been on a Steak and Eggs diet for over 3 weeks with a refeed day on each Sunday. Kept my daily calories higher than maintenance and have gained about 4 lbs of muscle and lost a couple of lbs of fat. Carbs were consistently below 30 gms per day except on the refeed when I went over 300 gms. Training was an intense 6 day split, pushing ever heavier weights when possible and adding sets throughout the last 3 weeks as well. (Monday and Thursday - Chest and Back, Tuesday and Friday - Shoulders and Arms, Wednesday and Saturday - Legs. Sprints at the track on Tuesday and Friday evenings - 1 mile run to the track then 10 X100 meters, then the 1 mile run back home)
If i was 6' and 150 lbs i would be eating 3500 calories a day easy
why did you switch to eating lower carb in the first place? what did you hope to achieve?
dude you need to eat carbs if you want to perform in the gym. you are clearly of a victim of paralysis by analysis!
I too was once afraid of fat gain while bulking... if you are eating primal foods and listening to your body, and lifting intensely with compound exercises you will only see positive results.
it's so SIMPLE yet you are making it so difficult on yourself! (without even realizing it). You remind me of myself a little bit, I'm an analyst for a living and I tend to apply that to way too many things in my life... fitness included.
If you are consistent with the following, you will be a very happy guy. There are individual things like different rep schemes (I use RPT myself), different eating windows (I do 16/8 IF), and different macros (I eat primal and listen to my body, I counted for over a year religiously to educate myself on foods) but they all take a backseat to the following and are just added bonuses for progress!
- Train intensely at all times, mixing up rep ranges from heavy (3-5) to moderate (6-10) on the following compound lifts: Back/Front Squats, Overhead Press, Bench Press, Deadlifts, Barbell Rows, Chinups, Pushups, Pullups, Dips. Add in whatever accessories make sense, utilizing compound when possible (Romanian Deadlifts for example).
- Eat big meals, until you are stuffed. Primal foods, lots of animal proteins & eggs, healthy fats, and sweet potatoes or white rice to fuel your intense lifting sessions (99% starch, great pre workout).
- Get a great nights sleep, every night.
- Don't overdue it! 3x a week is plenty, these lifts are very taxing on the CNS and you don't want to overtax yourself.
- Monitor progress. Record your weightlifting on smartphone app, track your mirror progress with pictures, and weigh yourself every 1-2 weeks in the morning after going to the bathroom.
That's it! Don't worry about macros, calorie counting, should I isolate this or that. You have the benefit of eating the primal diet and the ability to listen to your body when it has had enough food to grow. Use your progress tools as a measuring stick, and adjust diet accordingly... you seem to understand a lot so you have the education necessary to achieve this.
Yeah but you can also NOT eat carbs and perform at the gym.
Originally Posted by dabears
It's pretty awesome.
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