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View Full Version : Mass Gain w/ Paleo and Wendler 531


Andrew Midmer
12-03-2010, 08:16 AM
Wondering what's the best way to gain mass with Wendler as the main strength program with some met cons. Best things to eat while maintaining Robb Wolf dietary habits????

Júlíus G. Magnússon
12-03-2010, 08:29 AM
"Robb Wolf dietary habits" - no offense to Robb Wolf, he's awesome, but that just sounds wrong. I can just see myself buying veggies and grassfed meat with a Robb Wolf stamp of approval on it - you know, a sticker with the portrait that's on his website.

Seriously, though. Since we're talking about Robb Wolf, he would tell you to get lean first (if you're not already), eat lots of meat and fat and maybe some dairy depending on how you handle it, and don't do the metcons while you're building mass.

Andrew Midmer
12-03-2010, 08:36 AM
Thanks for the response.

For brevity's sake Robb Wolf's dietary habits include: lean meat, veggies, eggs, a ton of coconut flakes/milk etc, zero dairy, zero legumes, zero grain/wheat.

Met Cons are roughly 3 times a week - using Crossfit Football, nothing over 7 minutes.

I weigh 205, 6'6". low body fat. Desired weight is 220, without a significant conditioning trade off.

Arien Malec
12-03-2010, 09:03 AM
Boring but big, more of this:

lean meat....eggs, a ton of coconut flakes/milk

And sweet potatoes post workout.

Derek Weaver
12-03-2010, 04:35 PM
First, what Arien said is a good start. More food, sweet potatoes/yams/starchy tubers PWO and all throughout the day.

Make a choice, stay in condition, or get bigger and get back in condition.

For just about everything you need to know when it comes to nutrition in order to grow, go here:
http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/category/muscle-gain/eating-for-muscle-gain
http://www.alanaragon.com/articles.html

Interesting stuff in the second part on Paleo, which I am now kind of "meh" on regarding that everyone needs to eat Paleo or they'll die tomorrow:
http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/research-review/static-stretching-and-refined-grain-intake-by-paleo-man-research-review.html

Bottom line is that by going Paleo, you exclude a lot of foods. Not a bad idea if a lot of foods give you a problem. The problem though is that people equate Paleo with low carb eating, which is not a universal truth. When trying to be athletic, carbs are your friend and should be ingested at a rate consistent with your activity and goals. Don't discount the need to balance out your fat and eat enough protein, but carbs still get a bad rap.

Also, at your current weight assuming 4 workouts per week you'd need ~3000 cals to maintain current BW. Adding 500 cals/day to add 1lb per week (assuming you don't want to go with the GFH approach), you'd need 3500 just to start out. To maintain 220, you're in the neighborhood of 3300-3500 as a conservative estimate, using 15kcal/lb of bw as a baseline equation for maintenance. You may very well end up needing in excess of 4000 cal/day.

Andrew Midmer
12-04-2010, 06:29 AM
Thanks for the response Derek,

will definitely check out those links. I went through a phase of measuring, Zone like, and was hitting around 3000kcals, I'm not afraid of carbs and will look to the nutrient dense tubers and squashes to fill out some of my diet, was thinking of adding an extra can of coconut milk to round out the day.

thanks for the help.

Justin Arnold
12-04-2010, 09:09 AM
I tried this template earlier this summer, albeit with quite low carbohydrate and couldn't gain any weight, despite a 1000+ calorie excess and almost no "met-con" work. I chock it up to 2 problems: 1) like mentioned here, you need to add way more carbs than 'seem' right on paleo, and 2) 531 simply didn't feel like enough volume.

That said, I felt awesome, and was certainly getting stronger, I just wasn't putting on weight.

I ended up adding in more sweet potatoes, rice, and fruit, doing the weekday programming of CFFB (amateur SWOD and off-season DWOD), and starting up half-GOMAD (on workout days) and the weight gain commenced.

Two things to keep in mind: Paleo (especially low-carb) does an amazing job of managing insulin levels. Insulin is a very anabolic hormone.

The other thing worth note is what Robb said in one of his podcasts with reference to mass-gain cycles. It is probably worth your time and money to seek out a good naturopath and make sure your baseline is good with respect to hormone/mineral levels and systemic inflammation. You could, in theory, eat a 2k calorie excess, but if your cortisol levels are high and test levels low, just gain fat. If you start all of this with everything functioning as well as possible, you'll get the most bang for your buck on food bills. And let me tell you, with that kind of calorie intake on Paleo, they add up quick.

Arien Malec
12-04-2010, 10:27 AM
I tried this template earlier this summer, albeit with quite low carbohydrate and couldn't gain any weight, despite a 1000+ calorie excess and almost no "met-con" work.

No way you ate 1000 calories/day over baseline needs, and didn't gain weight. You were either doing NEPA like a speed freak, throwing off heat like a volcano, or weren't eating as much as you thought. If you aren't gaining weight, you need to eat more.

531 simply didn't feel like enough volume.

Did you do boring but big? (i.e., 5/3/1 for the main movements + 5x10 of the main movements for backoff?). I would be surprised if that isn't enough volume....

Another option is the Dan John variant: do a some heavy squat sets of 20 after the main movement.
http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/mass_made_simple

(BTW, the 25x20 notation is, I think, either 20-25 reps, or a total joke for the foolish). It's way simple than the article lays out: Just do a heavy set of 20 in the squat, and go home. If you can do another heavy set of 20, you didn't do a heavy set of 20.

Justin Arnold
12-04-2010, 11:01 AM
~4000-4300/day according to fitday, "Just north of vag" variant of 531, I ran once a week and NEPA included bouldering 2x. I do "throw off heat", but again, my theory was insulin management was so tight I simply wasn't storing/using much of the calories.

I've done a couple of 20RM squat exercises.. the after effects are quite interesting.

The point I forgot to make about 531 and the volume was that I am far too much of an amateur for it to be the best program. I had (and have) a ton of weight/strength to gain before a true intermediate program becomes the best available option.

Anyway, just my experience/2 cents.

Derek Weaver
12-04-2010, 12:56 PM
A few truths:
a) Insulin has gotten way too much credit for its ability to circumvent the laws of thermodynamics. If you have 1/5 of the normal insulin level and eat 1000k/day in excess, you'll gain weight. Something is wrong if you're not.
b) If you're running once a week, bouldering 2x/week, fidget, walk to work or walk a lot while you're at work, your surplus can get blown out pretty quickly.
c) Didn't Cordain even said something to the effect that: If someone is eating Ad Lib while on a Paleo diet, their dietary percentages will likely fall within Zone ranges (not even a paraphrase). Not a low carb diet.--- Okay, this one is a question, not a truth.

Arien Malec
12-04-2010, 01:52 PM
Insulin has gotten way too much credit for its ability to circumvent the laws of thermodynamics.

Yep. You eat 33% more calories than normal, they have to go some place. They either go to building body tissues (muscle, fat, tendons, etc.) which leads to weight gain, or they go to movement or heat.

Continuous bouldering consumes a ton of calories (although I tend to see folks do a route, rest, do another route, rest, etc. so the calories/hr may not be as high as the 700-900 claimed).

Bouldering isn't NEPA, BTW, it's exercise - NEPA accounts for fidgeting, toe tapping, spontaneous moving around, etc.

It's possible that when Justin started eating more, he started moving more, during bouldering (he had more energy to stay on the wall longer), and during the day (more walking, etc.) that took up the extra 1000 calories.

On the intake side, unless there's hyper-obsessive WAM by an objective party, even Fitday is a guide, not truth. For instance, I'm trying to lose a bit of fat. Today, I ate some roast beef. The total calories I ate are highly determined by how much fat I managed to strip off, and how much I actually ate. It's possible that if Justin and I both maintained a Fitday account and entered the roast beef, he'd overestimate his intake (eating more is hard for him and he wants to believe), and I'd underestimate intake (same dealio in reverse).

The basic basic truth is that if you aren't gaining weight, you need to eat more. If you aren't losing weight, you need to eat less.

There are tricks to mass gain and weight loss outside that basic truth (amount of protein consumed, IF, cyclic carb intake, etc.), but 90% of it is captured by that basic truth.

Arien Malec
12-04-2010, 01:55 PM
I've done a couple of 20RM squat exercises.. the after effects are quite interesting

Jelly legs? Walking like an old man? Crippling DOMS? Massive appetite?

Andrew Midmer
12-04-2010, 03:06 PM
From a recent lalonde seminar he basically said 30% protein, 60% fat, 10% cho. His science behind it was very impressive. I can't see how the premise that: kcals in - kcals out = weight gain/loss. There's more to it.

Arien Malec
12-04-2010, 03:39 PM
From a recent lalonde seminar he basically said 30% protein, 60% fat, 10% cho. His science behind it was very impressive.

If it works for you, do that. There are healthy populations (paleo and neo) who do different stuff from that, and it's hard to believe that the human body is hardwired for one magic macro breakdown (that would violate the basic assumption that paleo is built on).

I can't see how the premise that: kcals in - kcals out = weight gain/loss. There's more to it.

The variables aren't independent, so the equation isn't so simple as "skip desert, get lean"

More protein in --> more energy out from digestion/TEF
more calories in --> more energy out from NEAT/NEPA and RMR

It's also certain that some people have lower appetites, better leptin sensitivity, and better nutrient partitioning, and it's possible that some of that can be affected by stuff like macro ratios, IF, and empirically, cyclic dieting works well for both fat loss and mass gain. And it's always better to eat nutrient dense food than to eat crap.

But yes, before messing with any of that stuff, if you aren't losing, eat less, if you aren't gaining, eat more.

The trick in any diet is how to do that: for some people, eating less is hard; and the reverse is true as well.

Justin Arnold
12-04-2010, 10:11 PM
So, have any "truths" about mass-gain on a ketogenic diet?



After effects of 20RM did include jelly legs.. but the most interesting one was the serious head-buzz.

Point taken on NEPA and bouldering. Though I would point out I do a whole lot more resting than climbing. Maybe that's why after 10 years I still have trouble thinking of it as exercise.

Arien Malec
12-04-2010, 11:13 PM
So, have any "truths" about mass-gain on a ketogenic diet?

When I did it, it was on a crap-load of coconut milk and shots of olive oil. Today, I'd go cyclic ketogenic, with carbs post workout.

Derek Weaver
12-05-2010, 01:51 AM
From a recent lalonde seminar he basically said 30% protein, 60% fat, 10% cho. His science behind it was very impressive. I can't see how the premise that: kcals in - kcals out = weight gain/loss. There's more to it.

I don't know Lalonde, and won't attack him or his specific practices, but I've never seen any science in favor of a) percentages, b) fat intake having to be that high for any reason.

Most of the studies that support that type of an approach are faulty at best. People noting that they lose more weight on a low carb diet are usually doing a few things:
- Unintentionally lowering caloric intake through the restriction of carbohydrate.
- Not actually losing much past the initial phase of a few weeks. Depleting carbohydrate/glycogen stores is going to result in a pretty big loss of water. It's easy to lose 5-6 lbs in a week, even for a small person, when first restricting carbohydrate. the weight loss then either flattens out, or stops.
- Aren't done under metabolic ward conditions.

I'm not saying low carb is bad, but assigning ketogenic diet percentages for speedy fat loss has several flaws. One being that it's not required for health or fat loss. There was no singular paleo diet, I believe it's a cop out to say that Asians do better on carbs because they're carb adapted Asians. Asians do better at not getting fat because they usually don't eat as much as us.

So, have any "truths" about mass-gain on a ketogenic diet?
....

Like Arien said, CKDs are best if the need to be ketogenic is present. Carbs are required for decent performance. Cycling them can ease the psychological burden for most.

Trying to get enough volume to grow, with the absence of carbs can be a real problem. The "bonk" comes much faster, and then people note that they can't handle volume. I actually thought that until I started eating ~2x the carbs I was eating before. Now, I've made it through a relatively high stress and high volume program for 3/4 starting the final 4 week block tomorrow, and I've had no real issues to note.

Last note on for this long winded post:
- Often people like to point to Gary Taubes as debunking the idea that calories don't matter. That somehow, humans, but no other animals, are exempt from the laws of thermodynamics. There are certainly some populations that are going to have extenuating circumstances that make this closer to true. People with thyroid conditions would be an example

In the end though, it's about eating less. Eat Stop Eat is an effective intermittent fasting approach because it wipes out 1-2 days worth of food from the diet.

Why do people feel like calories don't really count, but when they want to gain weight, the answer is always "eat more"?

I said it in another thread just a second ago, but the issue isn't anti- low carb diets. Or anti- high carb diets. It's anti the wrong diet given the individual and the situation.

Andrew Midmer
12-05-2010, 06:27 AM
lalonde's premise was to eat in a way that restricted leaky gut and a host of other autoimmune diseases.

As for me, I just prefer low carb and higher fat diet.

As for exercise currently experimenting with the Triumvirate - with some adaptations to fit aspirations to compete in team CF challenges.

Arien Malec
12-05-2010, 09:28 AM
lalonde's premise was to eat in a way that restricted leaky gut and a host of other autoimmune diseases.

That generally is interpreted as avoiding lectins, gluten, etc. rather than arguing for a particular macro ratio.

As for me, I just prefer low carb and higher fat diet.

Generally, I do as well, and if totally keto works for you, cool.

However, if it helps performance or mass gain, don't be afraid to carb-up after exercise, and there are Paleo friendly ways to do so (e.g., squashes, sweet potatoes, celery root, parsnips, etc.), and some "not quite Paleo but not totally evil" ways to do so (e.g., white potatoes, fermented corn (mmm, corn tortillas)).

As for exercise currently experimenting with the Triumvirate - with some adaptations to fit aspirations to compete in team CF challenges.

That should be enough volume, particularly if one of your triumvirate exercises is a high rep squat session :-)

Arien Malec
12-05-2010, 09:32 AM
People noting that they lose more weight on a low carb diet are usually doing a few things:

One more thing, per Lyle: low carb promotes lypolysis. That's the rationale for cyclic diets for mass gains: the low carb maintenance or slightly sub maintenance promotes lypolysis, exercise promotes positive nutrient partitioning post workout.

But this is a bit wankery. Eat more...

Derek Weaver
12-05-2010, 05:11 PM
Indeed, increased lypolysis is only beneficial if there is a caloric deficit though. If you're still not burning more calories than are coming in, it doesn't matter if fat is mobilized.

Indeed, this has gotten to full on wank/jack assery... eating more of everything and not getting hung up on Paleo this and that, during a mass gain no less, is what's called for.