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Eating More at College

I already know the answer to all of my weight/strength problems is to eat more. However, I am in need of some practical advice.

I am 19 years old, 6 ft. tall, and a Pre-Architecture student. I have Hypothyroidism and fairly severe IBS. To lessen the numerous symptoms, I take a handful of pills every day. Since starting my medications approximately two and a half months ago, my weight has increased from 123 lbs to my current weight of 143 lbs. Beginning at the same time, I have been following Starting Strength.

In that time my lifts have slowly but steadily improved, particularly my squat which has increased by 50 lbs. However in the last month my weight has plateaued along with my lifts. Obviously this is because I am only able to down somewhere between 1k â?? 2k Cal each day. Thus I am convinced my short term gains were due to my medications. My long term goal is to hit 175 lbs. by this summer.

I am however a determined perfectionist with my academic and musical schoolwork. I am well aware of the hard work and dedication it takes to achieve something great. Living amongst out of shape and overweight friends and relatives, few people take me seriously as of yet with regards to fitness. Along with everyone else on this site, I want to be huge â??yesterdayâ??.

So I find myself in the cafeteria near my dorm room, and it offers everything. Problem is, itâ??s very inconsistent. Some days there are no meats at the salad bar, or nothing but tofu burgers at the grill. What is consistent is the sub sandwich bar and the omlette/quesadilla grill. Following advice from this website, I know itâ??s most important at this point to eat as much as I can of whatever I can. I know olive oil is great, but what can I take with me to eat at class and in my room? (Shakes are really out of the question at this point as my parents think Iâ??m â??fineâ??) I donâ??t have a car for grocery trips, and all the nearby shops just sell junk food and pop.

New Problem: Because of my over-reactive digestive system, I get full after just a five-inch sub and a half glass of 2% milk. And I stay full for hours, due to the bloating. As a result, I never eat breakfast and that leaves only two meals a day. (with a bunch of wasted meal credits after the week) Even though my body is being stubborn, I refuse to let this continue. I donâ??t know if itâ??s possible to reverse my bodyâ??s chemistry, but I do know I can find ways to cram more calories in the food I am able to down.

All in all, Iâ??m a little overwhelmed and itâ??s causing me to make some bad eating choices. Eating enough is my biggest concern, but how? Be brutally honest. If you need more specific information, just ask.

Thanks in advance for your help!

[quote]PianoMan7 wrote:
I already know the answer to all of my weight/strength problems is to eat more. However, I am in need of some practical advice.

I am 19 years old, 6 ft. tall, and a Pre-Architecture student. I have Hypothyroidism and fairly severe IBS. To lessen the numerous symptoms, I take a handful of pills every day. Since starting my medications approximately two and a half months ago, my weight has increased from 123 lbs to my current weight of 143 lbs. Beginning at the same time, I have been following Starting Strength.
[/quote]

I’ll preface this by saying I had thyroid cancer, do not have a thyroid, take medication every day, and am in college.

If you’re 6’ and 143 pounds, you have hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid. I take pills too, it sucks, get over it.

[quote]PianoMan7 wrote:
In that time my lifts have slowly but steadily improved, particularly my squat which has increased by 50 lbs. However in the last month my weight has plateaued along with my lifts. Obviously this is because I am only able to down somewhere between 1k â?? 2k Cal each day. Thus I am convinced my short term gains were due to my medications. My long term goal is to hit 175 lbs. by this summer.
[/quote]

Why can you only down <2000 calories a day? I took 16 hours last semester, played intramural volleyball, and still got down ~5200 a day. I will admit, I am lucky enough to not have to work. If you aren’t growing, you need to eat more. My roommate is one of those people, and eats pasta almost constantly all day, while making sure to get enough protein per day. Because of his body type, he doesn’t gain much fat if at any, but is making progress in the gym.

[quote]PianoMan7 wrote:
I am however a determined perfectionist with my academic and musical schoolwork. I am well aware of the hard work and dedication it takes to achieve something great. Living amongst out of shape and overweight friends and relatives, few people take me seriously as of yet with regards to fitness. Along with everyone else on this site, I want to be huge â??yesterdayâ??.
[/quote]

Get used to it. People suck.

[quote]PianoMan7 wrote:
So I find myself in the cafeteria near my dorm room, and it offers everything. Problem is, itâ??s very inconsistent. Some days there are no meats at the salad bar, or nothing but tofu burgers at the grill. What is consistent is the sub sandwich bar and the omlette/quesadilla grill. Following advice from this website, I know itâ??s most important at this point to eat as much as I can of whatever I can. I know olive oil is great, but what can I take with me to eat at class and in my room? (Shakes are really out of the question at this point as my parents think Iâ??m â??fineâ??) I donâ??t have a car for grocery trips, and all the nearby shops just sell junk food and pop.
[/quote]

With your body type, I think you should stop worrying about eating so clean. Take as much food from the cafeterias as you can.

Shakes are a must in college in my opinion. I take them with me to drink in between classes. If you’re parents won’t buy protein powder for you, you need to find a way to make an extra $30-60 a month to spend on powder.

Waylander and I also both drank a gallon of whole milk a day for an extended period of time. It’s some of the cheapest calories out there and also the easiest to consume. A gallon is 2400 calories. Almost all ‘corner stores’ that sell junk food also sell milk.

If you don’t have a car for trips, my suggestion would be to make a girl with a car fall in love with you. They are young and stupid, it should be easy. If this isn’t a viable option, get a bicycle. If a bicycle wont work, it’s gonna be a long walk.

[quote]PianoMan7 wrote:
New Problem: Because of my over-reactive digestive system, I get full after just a five-inch sub and a half glass of 2% milk. And I stay full for hours, due to the bloating. As a result, I never eat breakfast and that leaves only two meals a day. (with a bunch of wasted meal credits after the week) Even though my body is being stubborn, I refuse to let this continue. I donâ??t know if itâ??s possible to reverse my bodyâ??s chemistry, but I do know I can find ways to cram more calories in the food I am able to down.
[/quote]

This confuses me. If your thyroid was really under active as you claim, you would be fat, not skinny. Since IMO it is actually over active, I’m not sure why you have trouble eating.

However, I do know that every skinny guy I know had trouble at first eating the amount of food that it is going to take. Try to eat constantly all day long. I weigh 260lbs, and even though I look like I eat a cow at every sitting, I actually eat like a little girl, and get full pretty fast. I conquered this by eating small meals pretty much constantly all day long.

[quote]PianoMan7 wrote:
All in all, Iâ??m a little overwhelmed and itâ??s causing me to make some bad eating choices. Eating enough is my biggest concern, but how? Be brutally honest. If you need more specific information, just ask.
[/quote]

Do you have your blood work for your previous doctors visits?

We need:

TSH
T4
T3 Uptake
Free Thyroxine

Just saw your other thread where you said you can’t drink large amounts of milk, so disregard that idea.

[quote]PianoMan7 wrote:
I already know the answer to all of my weight/strength problems is to eat more.[/quote]

In your situation, this is on par with telling an asthmatic, “Hey, just take a deep breath.” It is not that simple, and all blanket statements/“hardcore” slogans don’t quite apply here. (I’m mainly directing this towards anyone else who plans on replying.)

Do you know what foods trigger your IBS more frequently or more intensely? That’s going to be key to designing any kind of effective eating plan. Also, with that “handful of pills,” check to see if any side effects are specifically appetite or weight loss-related. If possible, consider talking to your doc to find alternatives.

If you think your gains were caused by the medications… and you’re still on the medications… why do you think the gains would’ve stopped? If anything, it’s a combination of newb gains (folks new to weight training usually experience big gains when they start) brought to a halt by your reduced calorie diet.

For your own long-term progress and sanity, you really should try to understand that you have a legitimate medical issue that requires attention, and you might not want to go by the timeframes or goals of people who can’t relate to those issues. And for future reference, I’m on this site and I don’t want to be huge. :wink:

Again, a lot of this will come back to foods you can actually tolerate. You might want to look into calorie-dense foods, rather than high-volume foods. That is, things like nuts, sauces/dressings on meat, etc. rather than just “lots and lots” of food. The more food/nutrition you can get from smaller portions, the better.

Two things here: 1) At 6’ tall and 143 pounds, you absolutely are not “fine.” I hate to say it, but your folks are not being helpful.

  1. At 19 years old, I don’t see why you can’t start taking control of your own health, and look for some useful medical help. Even if it’s just the medical station on campus for now, sit down with a doctor and explain that you feel you’re in danger of malnourishment, since you’re severely underweight. Take it from there. Hopefully they take it seriously. If not, find someone who does. Or, talk to your gastroenterologist.

Again, if you know your primary triggers, avoid them even if they’re “ideal bodybuilding foods.” If milk causes more problems, it isn’t worth it, even though it’s Rippetoe’s favorite size-builder with Starting Strength.

If vegetarians and vegans can build muscle on a limited diet, you certainly can. Find out what foods your body tolerates, and we can form a plan from there.

Dude, if a diabetic walked around saying, “I don’t care about this malfunctioning pancreas. I’ve got to have my carbs to get jacked,” would it make much sense? Like I said before, take a step back and acknowledge that you need to address your issue intelligently, not just power through it.

I also agree with what Chris Colucci said. At 19, you are old enough to take care of your own health, without your parents. I am still on my mothers insurance, but I do everything doctor related without her. Because she is a registered nurse, I do tell her whats going on. If you have to do it behind their backs, do it, it’s your health.

I’d also like to add that you may not like my ‘hardcore’ attitude or advice, and you will likely get much more from other posters. My only credentials are that I’m doing this without a thyroid, so I know what it’s like to deal with health issues and shitty doctors.

[quote]DOHCrazy wrote:
Why can you only down <2000 calories a day?[/quote]

He also has, as he said, “fairly severe IBS”.
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/irritable-bowel-syndrome/DS00106/DSECTION=symptoms

[quote]Chris Colucci wrote:

[quote]DOHCrazy wrote:
Why can you only down <2000 calories a day?[/quote]

He also has, as he said, “fairly severe IBS”.
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/irritable-bowel-syndrome/DS00106/DSECTION=symptoms[/quote]

Yea, apparently I can’t read.

kicks dirt

Oh wow, Thanks so much for your detailed responses!

I may have oversimplified my original post to avoid a novel’s worth of text, but I meant “powering through this” more as a metaphor. I apologize for any confusion in my tone.

My last doctor visit was with my gastroenterologist at the beginning of October. Bloodwork and various tests from previous doctors revealed that I have no deficiencies, surpluses, or diseases (excluding thyroid hormones). At the moment I take Levothyroxin, Cymbalta, Dicyclomine, and Nortriptyline. None of my medications have severe side effects, and I am taking fairly low dosages of each. I am in fact Hypo, but IBS overrides many of those symptoms which made discovery and diagnoses of each difficult.

My thryoid disorder is under control now, I just need to have my levels checked every few months. As for IBS, my medications have stopped my mealtime vomiting and frequent indigestion. My gastroenterologist assured me multiple times that I would not become malnourished, sparring me the details he stated that my body will just adjust itself to my caloric intake. I interpreted this to mean I will be naturally very thin, but still healthy by medical standards.

My doctor informed me that there are no â??triggerâ?? foods for my IBS, my digestive system can react unpredictably to any food or drink. Since the worst symptoms are under control, I am left with a fairly unpredictable appetite that can flare up and down throughout the day and throughout the week. My doctor informed me that thereâ??s really nothing that can be done to control this, and thus I should not worry about my weight or diet. My parents feel the same way, which is why they would discourage me going to â??extremeâ?? measures on my own to gain weight. (shakes. . . )

So now I am in need of a diet plan that works around this obstacle. Thereâ??s tons of food in the cafeteria, but I need some meal suggestions to add to my arsenal. Iâ??m not too worried about eating clean, but I know junk food will only make me feel worse, so why take the chance? The campus store does have peanut butter and milk (skim, sigh), but thatâ??s not enough to make it through the long nights at the design building.

[quote]DOHcrazy wrote:
Yea, apparently I can’t read.

kicks dirt[/quote]

No worries, man. You get a badass tip o’ the hat anyway, just for kicking cancer in the nuts. Good on ya.

[quote]PianoMan7 wrote:
My gastroenterologist assured me multiple times that I would not become malnourished, sparring me the details he stated that my body will just adjust itself to my caloric intake. I interpreted this to mean I will be naturally very thin, but still healthy by medical standards.[/quote]

This sounds like one of those difficult times when you need to vocalize to your doctor that simply remaining not malnourished isn’t acceptable to you, and you want to maximize your quality of life by determining an acceptable weight gaining diet. If the gastro can’t/won’t help, you may need to look into a dietician or nutritionist who has a history of working with athletes.

This is very confusing to hear. Everything I’ve read about IBS (which, by the way, is more in that last day or two than I ever did before) discusses how it’s most common to have trigger foods; milk, fruit, and high carb foods seem to be the biggest offenders.

But really, this is something a doctor wouldn’t be able to tell you. You should be able to figure it out for yourself by keeping a basic food log (what and how much you ate, when you ate it, how you felt during and after). That might help to see if there’s a connection. “Okay, drank 16 ounces of milk, pissed out the ass 10 minutes later. Ate three chicken breasts, felt like doing jumping jacks after.”

Dear Doctor, there’s really nothing that can be done to have my insurance pay for your Mercedes. Don’t worry about driving one. I’m sure that, in time, your body will adjust to driving a Hyundai.

Twerp.

How are you with beans? The fiber would probably be a good addition all around. You could prep some beans and brown rice in bulk, and then carry portions with you for during the day. What about yogurts and such? Again, the healthy bacteria are supposed to be, um, healthy for IBS symptoms. Any kind of yogurt should be light enough for you to knock back whenever, and the probiotics will be a bonus. If you can mix nuts or some kind of “extras” in, even better.

Another general bulking tip, especially true for your current situation: Keep your training volume relatively low. I know you said you’re doing Starting Strength, but if you decided to switch to something like WS4SB, remember that you’d be doing more work, which means you’re burning more calories. Where you’re at, we want to preserve as many calories as possible.