PDA

View Full Version : Leanness v. Strength- for chicks


Sarah Markle
02-16-2009, 03:11 PM
I know this has surely been addressed before, so I apologize in advance if this seems redundant. I am a 12B, 2x girl, 5'6", bw these days about 135. Pretty tight Paleo/Zone, 4-5B carbs/day, skinning the zone on fat, love my diet for the most part. Loving CF goes without saying- suffice it to say I dig the Kool Aid from all aspects. Back in Sept 08, I was pretty dang lean, dropping down to 126 lbs, finally starting to see the lower abs I knew were there- but didn't feel strong, and after lots of tinkering and talking with my cf coach, realized that I prolly was as strong as I would be at that weight/body comp. My TOTAL is 470 (11/1/08)- not all that impressive to many, and currently, I'm not losing any sleep over it, but am interested in getting more (breaking 500 would do for starters). Decided a few months ago to drop all extra running outside of WODs, bump fat to 3x, and focus on lifting and strength work as we entered the New Year, all efforts to get stronger. I have noticed my 1RMs now are 3 & 5 RMs, more visible upper body mass, good stuff! But, also what's happening is thickening of thighs, midsection, and biscuits (butt)....not good for me. Just recently (last week) reeled my fat back to 2x because I was not digging those secondary side effects, and am here to ask the question: Is it possible to get stronger and keep lean? Am I even thinking correctly that scaling back fat is the way to go here? (given the diff between 2x and 3x is 324 cals/day). I am starting to get that 'fat does not make us fat', although I gotta say there's many years of old propaganda in my head that I am purging these days! I always try to make sure I have my full 12B protein/day, and keep carbs and fat a little more of a moving target, but always keeping carbs low. I have dabbled in IF, and plan to learn more about it and do more of it this year. I want to get stronger, but LOVE being lean. Can I have both simultaneously? THAT is the question! :confused:

Blair Lowe
02-16-2009, 06:41 PM
Anabolic diet comes to mind which I only know a smidgin about. I'm not sure about training with lots of metcon on so little carbs but I know next to nothing when it comes to nutrition.

I think it was basically 5 days of less than 50g/d carbs with carb load on the weekend. Sounds like it might be ok for strength training but again, I dunno. As we used to say in philosophy...B'dunno.

Steven Low
02-16-2009, 06:50 PM
But, also what's happening is thickening of thighs, midsection, and biscuits (butt)....not good for me.

Is this FAT or is it muscle gain? Or is it part both?

See the problem with getting significantly stronger is that it's easier to do while putting on muscle and some fat at the same time which it looks like you were doing.

Keeping an isocaloric diet and doing heavy strength work will make you stronger but it will be significantly slower. On pure CF you might not see that much strength gains, heh.

Derek Weaver
02-16-2009, 07:06 PM
Sarah,
I don't know everything, but I know a little bit. Here's my take:

One, don't sweat your carbs. If you want to get stronger and perform more, you'll need carbs. Insulin is important, but people tend to skip over the fact that protein causes a decent insulin spike on its own. Coupled with carbohydrate it's a bigger insulin spike. If you are insulin resistant, then reduced carbs make perfect sense. Fat doesn't make you fat, eating too much does. Try keeping carbs targeted around workouts a bit if you have trouble managing hunger and insulin the rest of the day

Like Steven said, is your increased mass in the thighs, midsection and "biscuits" fat, muscle, combination?

And to answer your question a little bit more directly. Yes, you can get stronger while staying lean, but linear gains may or may not happen (it sounds like it wasn't happening if I read your post correctly). You're not going to gain muscle in a deficit, but you can get stronger through other means.

Blair Lowe
02-16-2009, 10:19 PM
My ass and legs have gotten only bigger with the lifting which makes me look more ape-shaped than I naturally do ( long limbs while being really short and wide ). I wouldn't say they are fat as most of my body fat is around my middle still.

My old track coach used to say look at all the sprinters and don't be ashamed of the booty. Whenever I have gals who are getting self conscious about their thighs and rear, I tell them this ( as gymnasts tend to develop big thighs and glutes in some gymnasts ). I'm not even talking about cottage cheese thighs and big muscles ( as in some of the college gals ) but just big muscles period.

Gittit Shwartz
02-17-2009, 01:40 AM
Some carb cycling or targeted carbs approach might work for you to gain strength without too much fat. You'll have to play around with the carb numbers a bit to find the right amounts.

More protein comes to mind too - 12 blocks on the Zone is not that much.

Big glutes are awesome. (I'm female BTW)

Sarah Markle
02-17-2009, 02:15 AM
Thanks, guys and gals....I always assumed (I know) my 'gain' was fat, not muscle....esp. the umbilical/abdominal thickening...that being said, that's what I chalked up the legs and rear to be, as well...it's as if they are widening...jeans def fitting tighter. As a woman, it seems there's a delicate balance between working for muscle gain and keeping the desired level of leanness...for me, at least. Again, thanks so much for the comments.

Blair Lowe
02-17-2009, 07:25 AM
470 CFT would put you in the advanced category according to Rip, so that's very good. Yeah, the smaller CF gals are pushing some insane numbers but compared to most CF gals you are probably crushing them...and pressing them.

Most of the CF elite gals are pushing about mid 500s to 600 besides Gillian and Tamara ( who are roughly your size ).

Play with numbers and compare your CFT to where it would be at 3-5rm instead of 1rm. Big difference methinks. Gillian and Tamara are like tigers compared to the other smaller CF elite gals who are more like leopards.

Only way to really know whether it's muscle gain or fat gain to settle it would be a BodPod or DEXA scan. However, you could calculate how much stronger you are by that 3-5rm in place of the extra 9 pounds.

Do you do as much as metcon while adding more of the strength work or have you ditched the metcon stuff?

Sarah Markle
02-17-2009, 03:26 PM
Blair- thanks for the words. Did not know Coach Rip's categories! And, yes- I'd ike to think I am more like the leopards!

My metcon these days is pretty much just from daily WODs. I am 5d/wk, with an occasional Sat WOD. Back in the Fall, I was doing some cyclic running (first week, 2mi; second week, 3mi; 3rd, 4mi; etc. up to 6mi/wk) as well as additional bw work ON TOP OF WODs. Pushing overtraining; insulin and cortisol levels were up. This was bringing me into Dec 08, when my trainer and I decided to reel it back in to only daily WODs- period. (more rest during the holidays.) As of the New Year, a few of us (Crossfit Ft. Myers, by the way- check us out) have started adding in more lifting, in addition to our daily WODs which now also have more emphasis on weights...all in an effort to get stronger. So, to answer, not near as much metcon since I've been told it interferes with strength building....so I 'get' that the weight gain is from all of these things in combo...I know that if I start running again, I'll lean out fast, I just don't want to undo any gains in strength just yet....but am so tempted! (sick, I know)

Steven Low
02-17-2009, 05:16 PM
All about the diet. If you don't wanna gain mass don't eat for it.

If you know your BMR only eat slightly above it so most of the cals will go towards building muscle.

Derek Weaver
02-17-2009, 08:12 PM
I just re-read my response and realized it's a little disjointed (at best).

The main point I was trying to make is that you can get stronger through other means besides mass gain. Although, heavy weights provides a nice growth stimulus, and excess calories will fit in nicely with that stimulus.

Like Steven said, keeping cals. in check will keep mass in check. The laws of thermodynamics still apply to humans.

Gant Grimes
02-18-2009, 07:07 AM
More protein comes to mind too - 12 blocks on the Zone is not that much.

Big glutes are awesome. (I'm female BTW)

Thank you. On both points.

Sarah, you're eating 84g protein to support 135 lbs. bodyweight. You want to get stronger but stay lean. Fortunately, there's a macronutrient for that.

Steven Low
02-18-2009, 08:16 AM
Thank you. On both points.

Sarah, you're eating 84g protein to support 135 lbs. bodyweight. You want to get stronger but stay lean. Fortunately, there's a macronutrient for that.
Yeah, agreed with Gant here. If you're trying to gain strength while maintaining weight then you probably need to be over 1g/lbs per day.... if not 1.25-1.5g/lbs.

Derek Weaver
02-18-2009, 07:47 PM
Some carb cycling or targeted carbs approach might work for you to gain strength without too much fat. You'll have to play around with the carb numbers a bit to find the right amounts.

More protein comes to mind too - 12 blocks on the Zone is not that much.

Big glutes are awesome. (I'm female BTW)

+3 on this one. At least 1gr/lb of LBM, preferably per LB of total body mass. If you're going off LBM 1.5 grams/lb is completely within reason.

Sarah Markle
02-19-2009, 02:05 AM
Thanks, guys. Dully noted. I would just increase the protein, and roughly leave c & f alone? (2x fat, about 4-5carbs/day)

Arien Malec
02-19-2009, 08:59 AM
Thanks, guys. Dully noted. I would just increase the protein, and roughly leave c & f alone? (2x fat, about 4-5carbs/day)

Try that and see what happens. Other things you can do are to move most of the carb blocks PWO and to look at subbing fat for carb (unless performance suffers).

Ben Fury
02-20-2009, 01:24 AM
Try that and see what happens. Other things you can do are to move most of the carb blocks PWO and to look at subbing fat for carb (unless performance suffers).

If you take carbs low enough you'll go ketogenic and you'll get a temporary performance dip as the body goes through keto-adaptation. This lasts anywhere from 1-4 weeks and can include some uncomfortable side effects. Keeping sodium/potassium sufficiently elevated helps alleviate this some.

Once fully keto-adapted, performance returns to near normal. The only thing that tends to suffer is extreme top end endurance intensity. Cutting back on training volume a little usually makes up for this without affecting performance significantly.

Keeping protein up will also help since your PRO will end up supplying the carbs your body wants through gluconeogenesis.

Darryl Shaw
02-20-2009, 06:53 AM
Thank you. On both points.

Sarah, you're eating 84g protein to support 135 lbs. bodyweight. You want to get stronger but stay lean. Fortunately, there's a macronutrient for that.

84g/day of protein works out at 1.38g/kg/day for someone weighing 61kg which is a perfectly adequate amount of protein for a recreational athlete.

www.nsca-lift.org/Perform/articles/PTJ060605.pdf

Is it possible to get stronger and keep lean?

Yes. If you're worried about gaining fat keep you carb intake fairly high in order to replenish your glycogen stores between workouts and control your calories by manipulating your fat intake as this is the macronutrient most likely to be stored as fat when consumed in excess.

Note: I know this is contrary to what most people on this board will tell you but any decent book on sports nutrition will confirm what I said.

Blair Lowe
02-21-2009, 01:40 AM
May be enough for a rec athlete. A better question would be if she wants to be "ok", good enough or be "smart" about it.

Ben Fury
02-22-2009, 01:36 AM
Yes. If you're worried about gaining fat keep you carb intake fairly high in order to replenish your glycogen stores between workouts and control your calories by manipulating your fat intake as this is the macronutrient most likely to be stored as fat when consumed in excess.

Note: I know this is contrary to what most people on this board will tell you but any decent book on sports nutrition will confirm what I said.

"Any decent book on sports nutrition"? Name me one that can stand up to scrutiny. The high carb nonsense has run its course and is falling into the dust bin of failed metabolic theories where it belongs.

Carbohydrate directly converts to triglycerides in the liver and is most readily stored as fat.

"Fortunately, elevated triglycerides is one of the easiest problems to correct with the appropriate diet. Simple restriction of all sugars and grains."
http://www.healingdaily.com/conditions/triglycerides.htm

Steven Low
02-22-2009, 10:40 AM
Cool it Ben. No need to resort to ad hominem. Consider yourself warned & post editted.

I disagree as well UNLESS you need to glycogen load for another workout or endurance even the next day.

Arien Malec
02-22-2009, 02:30 PM
Other things you can do are to move most of the carb blocks PWO and to look at subbing fat for carb (unless performance suffers).

In the hopes that there's still more room for light, rather than heat, in this thread, I thought I'd add three points to what I wrote above:

1) When I suggested dropping carbs until performance suffers, I was definitely not recommending ketosis unless Sarah is willing to accept sucking at CF, which I suspect she isn't (ketosis will kill glycolitic work which is the energy sweet spot for CF workouts)
2) I wanted to give Robb Wolf credit for informing what I wrote above and
3) I wanted to provide some Robb Wolf greatness references. Unfortunately, the organization of his blog isn't the easiest to work with, but I found these blog postings:

http://robbwolf.com/?p=272
http://robbwolf.com/?p=110

And definitely read his PM articles, neatly packaged here:

http://www.performancemenu.com/zen/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=168&zenid=982f3905cf1872bb280944db88514f6a

Ben Fury
02-22-2009, 04:27 PM
Cool it Ben. No need to resort to ad hominem. Consider yourself warned & post editted..

I apologize to all involved. Both Darryl and you as well, Steven. What grumpy mood would get me to lapse into ad hominems is beyond me. I'm glad you edited the post. Thank you.

With a name like Fury, we can only guess what sort of barbaric ancestors I descend from. I will endeavor to wear the veneer of civilization and play nice. :)

Darryl Shaw
02-23-2009, 06:37 AM
"Any decent book on sports nutrition"? Name me one that can stand up to scrutiny. The high carb nonsense has run its course and is falling into the dust bin of failed metabolic theories where it belongs.

Carbohydrate directly converts to triglycerides in the liver and is most readily stored as fat.

"Fortunately, elevated triglycerides is one of the easiest problems to correct with the appropriate diet. Simple restriction of all sugars and grains."
http://www.healingdaily.com/conditions/triglycerides.htm

Clinical Sports Nutrition (3rd edition) Edited by Louise Burke and Vicki Deakin.

Sarah Markle
02-23-2009, 04:30 PM
Thank you to all for the candid comments and suggestions. I hope I didn't ruffle too many feathers. ;)

Since going Paleo/Zone, I did learn that lowering daily carbs did not mean I'd drop dead of malnourishment, and hence began the process of cutting my daily intake. What I do know is that 3B/carbs/day make me bonk during daily WODs. Will not go back there! (approaching ketosis, I presume?) I am not directly opposed to ketosis, just can't do it while keeping a heavy WOD schedule during the week. I've since been in the 4-6B/day range, adjusting my daily fats to compensate (per RW, 42 Ways) and this seems to work OK so far....but I always wonder if I am not maximizing my opportunities to burn fat and build muscle simultaneously! I usually don't tinker with the PWO loading too much, since my daily amount was pretty low anyway, and my meal timing is not consistently 30-45 minutes PWO...it's more like 60 min or a little more- although, on triple mod days, I sometimes bring protein and sw. potatoes to the gym to put in asap. For now, 2x fat seems to work best, as well. It seems I have sufficiently repeated myself, so I'll call it at this juncture, but felt like thanking everyone for all the help.

Ben Fury
02-25-2009, 01:34 AM
Clinical Sports Nutrition (3rd edition) Edited by Louise Burke and Vicki Deakin.

Burke and Deakin? If you're into carb loading and fear fat, they're good ones to read. They'll support that position.

If you're into hearing an alternate hypothesis; enjoy reading a few papers by SD Phinney, JS Volek, and EC Westman.

A close reading of Phinney's:
http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/pdf/1743-7075-1-2.pdf
Ketogenic diets and physical performance
can be quite informative.

Darryl Shaw
02-25-2009, 05:29 AM
Burke and Deakin? If you're into carb loading and fear fat, they're good ones to read. They'll support that position.

If you're into hearing an alternate hypothesis; enjoy reading a few papers by SD Phinney, JS Volek, and EC Westman.

A close reading of Phinney's:
http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/pdf/1743-7075-1-2.pdf
Ketogenic diets and physical performance
can be quite informative.

Thank's for posting the link. You're right it was quite informative, particularly the conclusion.......

Conclusions
Both observational and prospectively designed studies
support the conclusion that submaximal endurance performance
can be sustained despite the virtual exclusion of
carbohydrate from the human diet. Clearly this result
does not automatically follow the casual implementation
of dietary carbohydrate restriction, however, as careful
attention to time for keto-adaptation, mineral nutriture,
and constraint of the daily protein dose is required. Contradictory
results in the scientific literature can be
explained by the lack of attention to these lessons learned
(and for the most part now forgotten) by the cultures that
traditionally lived by hunting. Therapeutic use of
ketogenic diets should not require constraint of most
forms of physical labor or recreational activity, with the
one caveat that anaerobic (ie, weight lifting or sprint) performance
is limited by the low muscle glycogen levels
induced by a ketogenic diet, and this would strongly discourage
its use under most conditions of competitive
athletics.

Soooo... let's see; "submaximal endurance performance can be sustained despite the virtual exclusion of carbohydrate from the human diet" but "anaerobic (ie, weight lifting or sprint) performance is limited by the low muscle glycogen levels induced by a ketogenic diet." right?

In other words fat is an ideal fuel if you want to go for a really long walk in a cold climate but if you want to sprint to the finish line or lift a heavy weight above your head you'd better make sure you're eating enough carbs to replenish your glycogen stores between workouts.

Thank's Ben, glad you could help clarify things.

Emily Mattes
02-28-2009, 04:14 PM
Sarah--things are thickening, but are they more jiggly?

If you are gaining strength faster, you're probably gaining muscle faster, so you're putting on more muscle--and prime areas for someone to put on muscle in a Crossfit-like program that utilizes a lot of core and lower-body movements are the glutes, upper legs, and abdominals.

Regarding the carb debate: there is a lot of conflicting nutrition science out there. The human population differs enough in insulin sensitivity that when you throw in the fact that many nutrition studies are stupidly designed and do not contain enough subjects, you get a whole lot of confounding factors that do not produce discernible, bedrock results.

The vast majority of the population eats too many carbs, especially refined. But how much is too much, and how little is too little, is dependent on genetics, activity levels, current and desired body composition, medical history, and a whole host of other factors I'm probably forgetting. Until some kind of test is developed that can determine an individual's exact metabolic and macronutrient needs we're resigned to trial-and-error. It's not a pat answer but it's better than anything else we can give.

Derek Weaver
02-28-2009, 09:24 PM
Emily,
Well said. The one thing I'd chip in with is that there is a fairly decent test that can be done... a glucose tolerance test. That's really the only way to really know where insulin sensitivity lies.

Most people have better insulin sensitivity than they think, they just sit around too much. I've grown to think that the issue is too much food and not enough doing anything.

If we were all rice farmers who had to work 15 hours per day in the fields with rice as our main food source with maybe a little chicken or fish to go with it.... I'd wager we'd all be just fine in terms of body comp etc. Likewise if we all walked all day stalking a kill while snacking on fruits and nuts along the way, we'd all be fine.

The key is move more, eat less.

Ben Fury
03-01-2009, 12:18 AM
In other words fat is an ideal fuel if you want to go for a really long walk in a cold climate but if you want to sprint to the finish line or lift a heavy weight above your head you'd better make sure you're eating enough carbs to replenish your glycogen stores between workouts.

Thank's Ben, glad you could help clarify things.

You're most welcome.

Now you realize why many top coaches that utilize ketogenic diets to optimize body composition in their athletes require "carb up" days once per week to keep glycogen topped off for competition and maximal training.

Darryl Shaw
03-02-2009, 06:44 AM
You're most welcome.

Now you realize why many top coaches that utilize ketogenic diets to optimize body composition in their athletes require "carb up" days once per week to keep glycogen topped off for competition and maximal training.

Eating a ketogenic diet and relying on the occasional "carb up" day to keep glycogen stores topped up will inevitably mean training with depleted glycogen stores some of the time. If you train with depleted glycogen stores you will underperform and if you underperform often enough you will lose any adaptations to training you might have made. This is why athletes are advised to replenish their glycogen stores between workouts.