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Old 02-15-2011, 06:48 PM   #1
Daniel LeGrand
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Trying to lean down but at a standstill...

It's a long post/question, but tried to give as much background info as possible to better aid anyone willing to give me some suggestions.

Here's a quick overview of where I stand before I get to the real question. I'm a 22-year-old male, height 5' 11", 200#, with 14% BF.

Quick stats:
DL: 450#
BS: 350#
Press: 170#
Clean: 225#
5K: 20:45
Max dead-hang PU: 25

I have been trying to lean down for a while but am having some difficulty with that. I've read a ton of posts relating to this, but nothing seemed to answer my specific question.

My specific goal is to lean down to about 9% BF so I can see some nice definition on my abs. I know function trumps form, but this is a goal I have had for a while but have been unable to obtain thus far. Call it ego or whatever, but I really would like to look leaner.

I eat very clean Paleo foods so I'm acquainted with "what" to eat. As a quick summary, I eat lean meats (mostly fish and chicken with occasional red meats), nuts/seeds (lots of almonds/pecans and almond butter), healthy oils (olive and coconut), lots of veggies (eat pretty much any vegetable), and fruit (apples/bananas/berries). I don't drink anything besides water and an occasional green tea drink. I hardly eat any processed foods if I can avoid it, although I sometimes use a whey protein drink for quick meals if pressed for time. So I'm pretty sure I'm about 95% clean on the diet. I don't usually plan any "cheat" days in as I'm pretty happy eating good food. However, I probably have a bad meal once every 2-3 weeks or so because I'm eating out or something that messes up my normal schedule. Even then I don't eat much "junk" food.

So I've come to the point where I know what to eat and am pretty sure I got that nailed. However, I can't seem to shred body fat. I believe I may be eating too much food, even though it's good food.

Recently my CF gym started an 8-week paleo/zone challenge that I'm participating in. I eat paleo foods in zone blocks, and I'm prescribed 17 blocks. I followed it pretty religiously, but was eating a bit too much fruit, which I worked on. In 2 weeks my weight dropped about 5# and it looked like I leaned down a bit. However, a bad weekend where I had to travel a lot messed up some of that loss and I'm now back up a few pounds. So it seems that the paleo/zone does work at first glance for me if I can sustain it.

However, it's an absolute pain in the butt to eat the required amounts of carbs in vegetable amounts. Each block has about 9g carbs in it, so each day I'm eating 17*9=153g of carbs. From the Primal Blueprint, this is more of a maintainance level, not a losing level. Now most of these are from veggies and fruit. On this paleo/zone diet I also cut out a bunch of the fats, because a block of fat is like 1/3 TSP olive oil or 1/2 TSP almond butter. I know I was (and probably still am) eating too much fruit, about 4-5 blocks a day. That's mostly because I find it insanely hard to find enough veggies to get the required blocks in. So that's where I stand at the moment.

The question is, if my goal is mainly reducing body fat to around 8-9% (mostly for physical appearance), is there a better approach than what I'm doing? I don't think I can truly maintain this eating pattern for a long period of time (tons of veggies and less meat/fat than I used to consume). It's difficult to maintain whenever I travel.

Before I did this paleo/zone challenge, I ate paleo (in the proper sense, basically no cheat foods), but I believe I ate too much meat/fat and not enough veggies. Most of my carbs came from fruits and I would eat a TON of olive oil and almond butter (pretty much douse fish or chicken in the stuff when I cooked it).

From my research on this forum and others, it looks like I was eating the proper foods but maybe in improper ratios. For fat loss, I'm pretty sure I was eating too much fat and not enough veggies, resulting in lots of sugars from the fruit.

Would I be better served in returning to more of a pure paleo diet with more veggies (not as much as the zone blocks though...) but increasing my fat intake (but to a level less than what I had before)?

I've read that for fat loss you should limit some of the fats (such as nuts) and carbs (such as fruit), but that's nebulous saying. I don't know exactly what "limit" is. Does that mean an apple a day max, and like 12 almonds a day? I understand the logic and concepts behind losing the fat but I'm not really sure on the particulars.

Also, if I'm working on leaning down, do I need to WAM the food? I've read lots of thoughts on this, but was wondering how it would apply to my specific goal and situation. If I understand it properly, I still need a net calorie deficit to lose body fat regardless of what I'm eating. So my thinking is that I should eat paleo foods like I did previously with less fruit, a little more protein, and a moderate amount of fats to create a lower carb intake (somewhere between 50-75g each day) and net calorie deficit (by limiting the fats to a decent amount). If that's a good plan, though, how will I know what amounts to eat them in? Or how much fat is too much? Being a decent-sized guy (200#) in fairly decent shape, what is an ideal calorie intake for losing body fat?

I know this is a long post, but it's something I've been trying to do for several months and I'm really kinda frustrated with it all. I hear lots of good advice and concepts, but I don't know the particulars for what I'm trying to achieve. I thought the zone portions would be what I was looking for, but it's incredibly difficult to maintain that long-term and goes a little bit against what I've been reading elsewhere (rather large carb amounts and limited fats).

If anyone has some specific advice or thoughts, I would greatly appreciate them! The goal is 8-9% BF with a maintainable nutrition plan.
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Old 02-15-2011, 07:13 PM   #2
Jonathan Vechet
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Re: Trying to lean down but at a standstill...

Have you tried intermittent fasting?

A lot of people have had success with it and this guy just might have what you're looking for.

http://www.leangains.com/ WFS
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Old 02-15-2011, 11:20 PM   #3
Katherine Derbyshire
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Re: Trying to lean down but at a standstill...

Yes, you need a calorie deficit to lose weight. And if you're eating paleo, you've already gotten rid of the easy stuff, like sugary sodas. So you're probably going to have to eat less than you want to, which means you're probably going to need to control portions in some way.

Beyond that, you haven't actually given us enough information. Without telling us your activity level, it's impossible to even guess how many calories you need. Although one approach might be to just eat as you normally do for a week, keeping a food log, then shave 500 calories per day off whatever your average intake was for the week.

Katherine
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Old 02-16-2011, 12:22 AM   #4
Zach S
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Re: Trying to lean down but at a standstill...

Drop the zone.

Drop the nuts, seeds, oils and fruit.

Eat 200+ grams of protein, keep fat high and mostly from protein sources or grassfed butter/lard/ghee.

On non training days and any meals before training keep carbs next to nothing, veggies only. Post Workout have a big starch veg (sweet potatoes are king) and protein meal.

Intermittent fast leangains approach. Best approach is to fast from 7-8pm (or after last meal) to 11am-12pm (or before first meal). Keep meals down to 2 or 3 and in between the 8 hour window.

Training either do fasted before first meal or just before second meal. Also try to get in a fasted walk every morning.
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Old 02-16-2011, 07:04 AM   #5
Darryl Shaw
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Re: Trying to lean down but at a standstill...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel LeGrand View Post
If anyone has some specific advice or thoughts, I would greatly appreciate them! The goal is 8-9% BF with a maintainable nutrition plan.
The current (fourth) edition of Clinical Sports Nutrition states in Chapter 6.36 Guidelines for Weight Loss (p. 135) that for someone in your position who only needs to lose a few pounds "moderate energy restriction without compromise of CHO or nutrient intake is optimal and best achieved by implementation of a diet low in fat (15-25% of energy), and moderate to high in CHO (6-8g/kg body weight per day). Protein intake should be approximately 1.5-2g/kg body weight per day with the upper level recommended if energy restriction is substantial, as this may assist with satiety and maintenance of lean body mass. Foods high in fiber and/or of low glycemic index may assist with appetite control."

In other words do what I said here.

*All links wfs*
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Old 02-16-2011, 07:13 AM   #6
Larry Hotchkiss
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Re: Trying to lean down but at a standstill...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel LeGrand View Post
Also, if I'm working on leaning down, do I need to WAM the food? I've read lots of thoughts on this, but was wondering how it would apply to my specific goal and situation. If I understand it properly, I still need a net calorie deficit to lose body fat regardless of what I'm eating. So my thinking is that I should eat paleo foods like I did previously with less fruit, a little more protein, and a moderate amount of fats to create a lower carb intake (somewhere between 50-75g each day) and net calorie deficit (by limiting the fats to a decent amount). If that's a good plan, though, how will I know what amounts to eat them in? Or how much fat is too much? Being a decent-sized guy (200#) in fairly decent shape, what is an ideal calorie intake for losing body fat?
If you dont weigh and measure how do you know how much you are consuming? How do you know you have the proper calorie deficit to support activity yet lose fat?

How many calories are you eating now?

One mistake many people make when trying to lose fat is cutting too many calories.
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Old 02-16-2011, 07:19 AM   #7
Eric Montgomery
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Re: Trying to lean down but at a standstill...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Darryl Shaw View Post
The current (fourth) edition of Clinical Sports Nutrition states in Chapter 6.36 Guidelines for Weight Loss (p. 135) that for someone in your position who only needs to lose a few pounds "moderate energy restriction without compromise of CHO or nutrient intake is optimal and best achieved by implementation of a diet low in fat (15-25% of energy), and moderate to high in CHO (6-8g/kg body weight per day). Protein intake should be approximately 1.5-2g/kg body weight per day with the upper level recommended if energy restriction is substantial, as this may assist with satiety and maintenance of lean body mass. Foods high in fiber and/or of low glycemic index may assist with appetite control."

In other words do what I said here.

*All links wfs*
So if I want to lean out I need to be eating 600-800g of carbs a day? Sorry, but type 2 diabetes doesn't sound very appealing to me.

OP, you've posted before about getting commissioned as a Marine officer right? So why would you be more concerned with appearance than performance? You're putting up decent numbers, you might as well keep on the track you're on. Abzzz aren't going to do anything for you in this line of work.

But if you're still determined to lean out, you should cut some of the fruit and all the excess calories you seem to be getting from easy fat sources. You'll have to create a slight caloric deficit to get leaner.
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Old 02-16-2011, 07:20 AM   #8
Ron Murray
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Re: Trying to lean down but at a standstill...

I'll catch heat for this but I would totally avoid intermitten fasting until you are 100% dialed in and only if you are someone with a daily regular routine with managed stress levels.

just my opinion.
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Old 02-16-2011, 08:02 AM   #9
Eric Montgomery
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Re: Trying to lean down but at a standstill...

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Originally Posted by Ron Murray View Post
I'll catch heat for this but I would totally avoid intermitten fasting until you are 100% dialed in and only if you are someone with a daily regular routine with managed stress levels.

just my opinion.
Nope, no heat...that falls in line with everything I've ever read about IF.
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Old 02-16-2011, 08:26 AM   #10
Ron Murray
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Re: Trying to lean down but at a standstill...

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Originally Posted by Eric Montgomery View Post
Nope, no heat...that falls in line with everything I've ever read about IF.
I just figured some people would say "naw bro I've been week long fasting for months now, my FRAN is 1:34 and I'm at 2% BF" haha. I did some different IF cycles for about a 6 month span last year, and I saw some pretty good stretches and some pretty crappy stretches. The highs were good, but the lows were draining and ultimately not worth it for me.
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