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View Full Version : Help, please. Four weeks of Zone Diet: fatter, less muscle, slower, and weaker


Steven Sloss
02-16-2009, 08:12 PM
The title largely sums it up. In an effort to bring some precision into my diet -- before it was just eating roughly when hungry paleo-ish foods -- whilst hopefully dropping some body fat and upping performance, I've been trying the Zone Diet for a little over four weeks now. Sadly, though, I've been extraordinarily unimpressed with the results, so I thought I'd post here to see if anyone can tell me what I'm doing wrong.

Over the past four weeks, my weight (and bodyfat level) has gone up at a fairly alarming rate, I've pretty clearly lost muscle mass, and my strength and endurance have both suffered precipitous drops.

My workload is somewhat strength-biased CrossFit WODs about 5 days per week in the early morning, some very light olympic lifting technique practice in the evenings, and 9ish hours of a very mentally- but not at all physically-challenging job in between.

I'm about 220lbs, 12% body fat (average of calipers, measuring tape, verified by the mirror) although this has creeped up towards 16-17% over the past four weeks. I've been CrossFitting for a little over a year, coming from a powerlifting background prior to that.

Below is _exactly_ (the scale claims an error of +/- 1g, which my measurements were within, and I'm pretty confident in my volumetric measurements) what I have consumed every day for the past four and change weeks. When I started noticing adverse effects, I tried instigating a refeed day on Saturdays at the end of week 2, which had some positive effects, but there was still an overall negative trend in every performance and fitness measure I can think of.

Note also that in order to attempt to stave off muscle loss and weight gain, I replaced some carb blocks with fat and protein blocks. I've also been trying to slowly switch to lower-density and lower-GI carb sources, but I've found this to be particularly hard when carrying all my food in a cooler.

And, please, if you're going to call me a knucklehead for doing something obviously wrong, please give me a suggestion for how to fix it (keeping in mind that I have to pack all my meals except dinner in a cooler to take with me to work), and then feel free to call me a knucklehead, as I'm really not that good at this whole managed diet thing yet.

Week 1:
------
1 "Zone bar" (pre-workout)

4 scrambled eggs
1/3 cup oatmeal (cooked)
24 almonds

1 cup cottage cheese
2 apples
24 almonds

4 oz lean red meat
1 cup pasta
2+2/3tbsp olive oil

4 oz cheese
1 apple; 1 cup berries
24 almonds

4 oz fish
large salad
24 almonds


Week 2:
------
2 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt + 1 cup berries
12 almonds

1 cup cottage cheese
1 large apple, sliced
12 almonds

4.5oz turkey
1.5 cups apple sauce
12 almonds

4.5oz lean red meat
1 cup pasta
12 almonds

4oz fish
large salad
6 almonds + salad dressing

Week 3:
------
* (Note: changed to 5P, 5F, 3C this week)
3 eggs
1 cup yogurt
2/3 cup raspberries

5 oz tuna
5 tsp mayo
4 tsp relish + 1 apple + spices + honey mustard

5 oz chicken breast
3 oz shredded cheese + 6 almonds
1 steamers brocolli + 1 apple

5 oz pork
1 tbsp olive oil + 6 almonds
3/4 cup pasta

7.5 oz salmon
1 avocado
large salad


Week 4:
------
3 eggs
1 cup yogurt
2/3 cup bluberries
15 almonds

5 oz tuna
5 tsp mayo
4 tsp relish + spices + "honey" mustard
1 cup spaghetti squash

5 oz turkey breast
3oz shredded cheese + 6 almonds
1 steamers brocolli

5 oz ham
3 oz cheese + 6 almonds
1 apple

7.5 oz fish
olive oil dressing
large salad



(NB: this question cross-posted to CrossFit.com and Performancemenu.com)

Darryl Shaw
02-17-2009, 06:40 AM
Your weight gain and decline in performance is due to you eating a low carb high fat diet. You can't expect to perform if you aren't eating the appropriate fuel for the energy system you're using.

Steven Low
02-17-2009, 07:25 AM
As I said on CF you're:

1. Probably not losing muscle.. just gaining a bunch of fat
2. Performance decrease is due to diet switch
3. Easier to overreach now so continuing with your busy schedule = too much

Therefore...

1. You need to cut back the cals.
2. Allow your body a little time to adapt while training EASY.
3. Ramp up the volume once your energy comes back.

Mike ODonnell
02-17-2009, 07:32 AM
I don't "read" zone stuff....so first question is how many calories are you eating really every day?

Second...working out 5x a week (if all high intensity) 2x a day plus a demanding job....when do your muscles (and body) have a chance to recover? Probably just eating through muscle with all your high stress on yourself. More is not always better...smart is better.

Garrett Smith
02-17-2009, 11:34 AM
Knucklehead. :D I just had to say it.

You're doing too much. Do less stuff (including counting blocks). More sleep. More fat. More protein.

Go back to what was working. Measure that if you want to, then start tweaking things from there to see what works best.

Steven Sloss
02-17-2009, 04:42 PM
I think people are probably reading too much into "light technique training" -- it's really just a PVC or empty barbell.

Nonetheless, less workload and more rest seems like unanimous advice, therefore, I'll definitely be dialing down the workload.

(and thanks, Steven, for taking the time to answer my question twice)

Steven Sloss
02-17-2009, 04:59 PM
I don't "read" zone stuff....so first question is how many calories are you eating really every day?

Second...working out 5x a week (if all high intensity) 2x a day plus a demanding job....when do your muscles (and body) have a chance to recover? Probably just eating through muscle with all your high stress on yourself. More is not always better...smart is better.

Per fitday, the modified 'zone' diet that I started after week 2 comes in at 3113 calories, with 173.9g fat, 179.6g carbs, and 222.2g protein, which is not at all a departure from what I was eating previously (the amount of calories and protein is probably both down a little bit, with about 70g more in carbs than I'm used to)

There seems to be a slight performance increase over the standard zone diet I was following for the prior two weeks, but I'm still down from where I was before I started all this. So much for the Zone (note big 'Z') being the cure-all CF promises :-P

Still, seems like lowering the amounts might be a decent idea.

Garrett Smith
02-17-2009, 05:14 PM
Man, I just looked at your daily foods. Get rid of all the dairy and grains. Reduce the number of feedings per day (eating 5-6 times a day is not natural, it's also a great way to get fat).

Chris Salvato
03-04-2009, 02:39 PM
Man, I just looked at your daily foods. Get rid of all the dairy and grains. Reduce the number of feedings per day (eating 5-6 times a day is not natural, it's also a great way to get fat).

I agree -- dump the grains -- start eating vegetables and fruit.