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Old 02-16-2009, 07:59 PM   #1
Steven Sloss
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Help, please. Four weeks of Zone Diet: fatter, less muscle, slower, and weaker

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)
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:07 PM   #2
Steven Sloss
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Re: Help, please. Four weeks of Zone Diet: fatter, less muscle, slower, and weaker

And yes, before anyone asks, I have indeed become extraordinarily sick of salmon.
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:15 PM   #3
Brian Bedell
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Re: Help, please. Four weeks of Zone Diet: fatter, less muscle, slower, and weaker

How many blocks is that? Are you doing 25?? You should be doing 18-19.
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:26 PM   #4
George Mounce
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Re: Help, please. Four weeks of Zone Diet: fatter, less muscle, slower, and weaker

You are eating too much. I can't stand the block prescription, and I have always thought it was wrong. You have to eat the number blocks for where you want to be, not where you are at.

The V-diet for whatever its worth, does a much better job of prescribing an amount of calories than the Zone calculator does.

You want to be a 220# man, you are eating like one. You want to be a 175# man, you need to eat like one, drink water like one, do a bunch of things like one.

Last edited by George Mounce; 02-16-2009 at 08:29 PM..
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:26 PM   #5
Tom Seryak
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Re: Help, please. Four weeks of Zone Diet: fatter, less muscle, slower, and weaker

imo, using the "block prescription" is about as accurate as using 220-age to find your max heart rate. go get your rmr tested and base your blocks off of that; otherwise, you will more than likely slow down your metabolism b/c you are not eating ENOUGH calories to support your rmr let alone your daily activity and exercise. there is such a thing as having too large of a caloric deficit and it is not good for performance, weight management or body composition...
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:27 PM   #6
Steven Sloss
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Re: Help, please. Four weeks of Zone Diet: fatter, less muscle, slower, and weaker

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Bedell View Post
How many blocks is that? Are you doing 25?? You should be doing 18-19.
22 for the first two weeks, then 25P/25F with a smaller amount of carbohydrate for the second two weeks, per a Robb Wolf article.

I'm totally willing to try 18, but if I'm having muscle wasting problems at 25P, how will I not at 18?
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Old 02-16-2009, 09:18 PM   #7
Steven Low
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Re: Help, please. Four weeks of Zone Diet: fatter, less muscle, slower, and weaker

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Originally Posted by Steven Sloss View Post
22 for the first two weeks, then 25P/25F with a smaller amount of carbohydrate for the second two weeks, per a Robb Wolf article.

I'm totally willing to try 18, but if I'm having muscle wasting problems at 25P, how will I not at 18?
You're not muscle wasting... all the fat is covering up your muscle so it looks like you're muscle wasting.

When you switch to a new diet, especially one from high in carbs to one fairly low in carbs, the body isn't adapted to it. Energy levels and performance drop is normal.

However, if you're training hard during this time, the easier it is to overdo it and "overtrain" so to speak (well, underrecover in this case). Therefore, I would definitely suggest taking some rest since you are indeed highly active.


Therefore, as previously stated... eat less. And do less while your body adapts THEN ramp up the intensity and # of workouts once you feel your energy levels coming back.
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Old 02-16-2009, 09:24 PM   #8
Benjamin Goodale
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Re: Help, please. Four weeks of Zone Diet: fatter, less muscle, slower, and weaker

i'd recommend reducing the amount of fruit, and dropping the pasta, oatmeal, and any other starches completely. Try a few weeks of complete paleo quality with zone quantities. Get your carbs from veggies alone, keep the fruit to 2-4 blcoks per day, preferably PWO.
If it really doesn't work for you, drop it! just go Paleo and eat all the lean meat and veggies you want... and see what the effects are.
Or try IF.
Good luck.
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Old 02-16-2009, 09:28 PM   #9
Steven Sloss
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Re: Help, please. Four weeks of Zone Diet: fatter, less muscle, slower, and weaker

Hmm ... that's probably something else I should have mentioned.

Previously, before switching to zone, I was still eating like a powerlifter, only a powerlifter on a "diet". So instead of eating everything that wasn't nailed down, I was at about 3000 calories per day, which seemed to be maintenance for me, while trying my best to limit carbs to essentially nil.

Still, though, it seems unanimous that I should restrict the blocks to 18. I'll do that and report back how it goes.

Should I keep the higher protein/fat and fewer carbs, or switch back to a real zone ratio? And do the carb sources check out? (Granted, I still only like to change one thing at once, so I'll try lower blocks first, and then other tweaks).

Last edited by Steven Sloss; 02-16-2009 at 09:36 PM..
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Old 02-16-2009, 10:58 PM   #10
Rachel Izzo
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Re: Help, please. Four weeks of Zone Diet: fatter, less muscle, slower, and weaker

Why fix it if it ain't broke? You were doing fine beforehand, why the switch? Especially since you were doing paleo, your food choices have definitely gone down. The pasta, oatmeal, and fruit is probably NOT helping at all. You don't have many veggies in there, which is an issue.

IMO if what was working for you before was actually working, just stick with that. I think the zone is over rated ... but that's just my opinion.
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