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Gaining mass on a paleo diet

by (5)
Updated September 16, 2014 at 8:05 PM
Created March 21, 2013 at 3:12 AM

HEy guys I am new to paleo but have read to many good things to not try it. I normally compete in long distance running, but due to a new opportunity I am refocusing my goals. A little background and what I want to achieve. I took a few months off and have been doing some bodyweight exercises and eating terribly. Im used to pounding carbs all day from running long distance and this has caused me to gain some unwanted fat and not much muscle. Im currently 6', naturally skinny frame but 190lbs. So I have some fat I could lose for sure. My goal is to be 190-200 lbs at less then 10% bf. Right now I am easily at 19-20%. Good news is I lose weight very easily. I want to eat a higher fat diet due to the posotive effects it has on energy, overall health and testosterone levels. But at the same time I need to build mass. I believe it can be done without shoving carbs down my throat all day. I will be doing a full body workout 3x a week, with minor bodyweight stuff on rest days.

What I want to know is would it be sufficent to do carbs in my post-workout shake, then have my first post-workout meal with a few sweat potatoes and still be able to replenish glycogen stores this way? Ill eat veggies at every meal, and will be drinking raw milke throughout the day. But as a whole every meal will consist of hgih fat, high protein foods. I understand the mass gain comes down to calories in and calories out. I have been very good in my running career at properlly managing calories, this is the first time I let myself slip.

Second question, Would it be acceptable to use a dextrose powder post workout with my shake? I know avoiding sugar is important but this would be my only non healthy source of sugar for the day, and I wont be eating sugar heavy fruits.

Please give me any extra insight you might have.

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286 · March 21, 2013 at 10:10 PM

Sugars would not be Paleo, so I'd follow up and ask you how important it is for you to reach your goal? If you're new to Paleo I recommend you start off being being super strict. And then as you begin to reach the goal you want, start to self-experiment with your diet. Adding Dextrose to your shake isn't Paleo, but at the end of the day it's your dietary choice to make.

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10984 · March 21, 2013 at 2:00 PM

I agree strongly with this.

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10984 · March 21, 2013 at 4:26 AM

Okay, so then it sounds like you're asking if these things are paleo, not if these things will get you the results you're after. If that is the case, then no, dextrose is not paleo. Dairy and tubers are grey for paleo. If you're asking for my advice, then I say hell yes to dairy (if you tolerate well) and tubers (especially white potatoes since they're more calorie dense).

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10984 · March 21, 2013 at 3:58 AM

Dang dude, I have some stuff to say, but you're definitely not going to like it. If you posted this on bodybuilding.com they'd tear you a new one. Mainly because cutting from 20 to 10% bf while bulking goes almost completely against the grain. Mass gain (muscle mass) is not calories in, calories out, macros are very critical here. Overall your goals seem very unrealistic (this is coming from an ectomorph). Using post workout dextrose shake seems like a bad idea to me if you're trying to cut bf. let me get real with you. If you want actual results you're going to need some HIIT training at least twice a week on top of whatever resistance training you do.

I'd also focus on increasing my metabolic rate (just my opinion) and eat some damn carbs (NOT DEXTROSE). Decide if you want to bulk or cut first. If you decide to bulk then eat, eat, eat, no grains, no seeds,no seed oils, no HFCS. Eat clean (which includes tubers) and workout. Do HIIT when you decide to lose bodyfat. Take what I say with a grain of salt, know that ive bulked on a skinny frame, but listen to your body. I think that the regimen you suggested will give you modest results over 6 months, if that's all you want that's fine. But if I were you I'd cut to roughly 15%bf then bulk up where you wanna be plus some, then do HIIT 3 times a week till you drop bodyfat.

This post is a little scattered, but I'm tired and I think it'll help, post questions if you have 'em.

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15385 · March 21, 2013 at 12:06 PM

I'm not as serious as this stuff about you but my experience might be somewhat informative. Like you my original goal going Paleo was to lose fat. I went strict paleo, no grains or sugars, and low carb. Low carb diets have often worked for me so I went super low carb, <= 25g per day. This ends up being a high fat diet.

At first I lost about 5-10 pounds and felt great but then leveled off. At the time my only form of exercise was running, you'll laugh at my wimpy mileage but I was doing about 12-15 miles per week. I never felt that great with the running and I was not improving my times much nor feeling much stronger. I was still strict with the diet, though had added back more carbs (the ultra low carb was hard to maintain).

After deciding this wasn't working I decided to drop the running completely and switch to exclusively high-intensity strength-based exercises with body weight and kettlebells. I immediately lost another 10 pounds or so and felt amazing. I was actually spending about half as much time exercising per week but was seeing much better results.

In retrospect, I wonder if it was the combination of low carb and running that didn't work. I think that running just requires a different kind of fuel and replenishment. I am not sure but wonder if there are any long distance runners that successfully use a high-fat, low-carb diet. On the other hand, I think the high-fat diet supports high-intensity exercises.

After a few months more I joined crossfit which has been awesome, though it was interesting, I continued to lose "girth" (inches off of my waist, became noticeably leaner) but now my weight stopped dropping. Over the past few months my weight has actually increased about 5-6 pounds but my waist has not changed and I am getting leaner with better muscle definition. I can only assume that I'm putting on muscle, mostly in my upper body. The lifting at crossfit is generally high-rep, low-weight so I'm not bulking up but getting great muscle definition.

When doing crossfit 3+ times per week I definitely need more carbs, but I eat them only after workouts and make sure they're paleo-acceptable, mostly sweet potatoes, plantains, tubers, and root vegetables.

So this is a long way to say that I am doing approximately what you're talking about -- first lose fat, then gain mass, but also feel and look a lot better. Basically it was a pretty low carb paleo diet to lose fat, then start to add carbs after losing fat in order to gain mass, meanwhile the only exercise was high-intensity strength-based workouts.

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10984 · March 21, 2013 at 2:00 PM

I agree strongly with this.

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3150 · March 21, 2013 at 10:43 AM

I'm also and endurance runner and I must say, putting on serious muscle mass when doing endurance training is very hard to do, if not impossible. Endurance training seems to interfere with strength training (seems the body cannot get it's best from both worlds at the same time). Also endurance running is very catabolic and does not help in providing a good hormonal balance to support muscle building, in fact the opposite seems to be the case. At least, strength training seems to preserve some muscle, it seems to be and that's what I've found in my personal N = 1 experiment trying to maintain doing both things as I like them both, I'm happy with It so OK, now I'm more focused on running, but If I were on body-building I guess I'd have to consider some things.

In addition to this, going low carb won't help much, maybe high carb is not good for overall health but it has shown to do a pretty good job promoting protein synthesis in the muscles so that's why body-building CW is dead on on post-workout shakes and weight gainer stuff.

That being said, in contrast to @Stephen R. opinion I'm not sure that you have to bulk first then cut as a good strategy to have success. Keep in mind that once fat body cells differentiate and create new cells it's very difficult to get rid of them. They can shrink but hardly ever got into apoptosis so they are completely get ridden. Christian Thibaudeau speaks about this and I think that he nailed it. http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/the_truth_about_bulking

I'd stay slightly hiper caloric, with plenty of protein, good fat, and good carbs, mostly fibrous and tubers and some safe starches, trying to focus on post-workout recovery and of course I'd leave aside simple sugars as dextrose and the likes. A whey shake post work-out plus a good meal some time after should do the deal and support your goals long term (be patient and persistent) provided that you're putting the right effort into your workouts and training wise and hard.

Good luck!

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5 · March 21, 2013 at 4:09 AM

My post was a little unclear. I will be cutting down in bodyfat which will not take me long... Im asking for the future because I am currently trying to plan out what I am going to do. Dropping 5-10%BF will not take me long as I have done it going from off season into season many times before for running. The only questions I had however were HIGHLIGHTED. Once I drop my bodyfat I will be building to my desired size. Im only asking about paleo cause I have zero experience with it outside of what I have read.

As a side note, I am heavily invovled in the fitness industry as my career, I put ZERO trust in anything that comes out of the keyboard jockys over at bodybuilding.com, its nothing but bro-science 99% of the time.

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286 · March 21, 2013 at 10:10 PM

Sugars would not be Paleo, so I'd follow up and ask you how important it is for you to reach your goal? If you're new to Paleo I recommend you start off being being super strict. And then as you begin to reach the goal you want, start to self-experiment with your diet. Adding Dextrose to your shake isn't Paleo, but at the end of the day it's your dietary choice to make.

Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5
10984 · March 21, 2013 at 4:26 AM

Okay, so then it sounds like you're asking if these things are paleo, not if these things will get you the results you're after. If that is the case, then no, dextrose is not paleo. Dairy and tubers are grey for paleo. If you're asking for my advice, then I say hell yes to dairy (if you tolerate well) and tubers (especially white potatoes since they're more calorie dense).

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