Let me start by saying that I am an absolute beginner, and I realize that any change will take time (measured in months or years). I understand and acknowledge that. At the same time, I'm beginning to wonder if I'm doing something wrong, because I should have seen SOME change by now.
I've been lifting for 5 months. I'm 39, 6'1". When I started, I was 215 lbs, 20% BF, and had trouble with the empty bar for many lifts. I couldn't do a single BW pullup, nor a single BW dip. 3 pushups would wipe me out. 4 flights of stairs killed me.
Today, I'm 230 lbs, 18% BF, and on a 5x5 program 3x/week. My working lifts as of today:
Squats: 265 lbs
Bench: 170 lbs
Overhead press: 110 lbs
Barbell row: 165 lbs
Deadlift: 250 lbs
Weighted pullups (pronated grip): 10 lbs
Weighted dips: 35 lbs
I also run 4 flights of stairs (up and down) at least twice daily, and usually 3 times (they're to/from my office), and do 20-30 minutes of moderate-intensity interval cardio on my off days.
I know the weights are puny compared to many (most?) people on T-Nation, but like I said, I'm a beginner. And though it's not much, I'm proud of my progress when I look back from where I started.
I'm not really worried about the weights. The weights will increase in time as I continue to lift.
My concern and frustration -- and the reason for this post -- is how my body responds to the exercise and my diet. In short, it doesn't seem to be responding at all. Sure, my weights are increasing, so my strength must be increasing, but my bodyfat is staying steady at about 18% (measured by calipers).
Here's a typical diet (it is, in fact, my food for today):
4 Alpha Male
2 Carbolin 19
4 double espressos
4 liters water
1 cup cooked rolled oats
6 tsp cinnamon
3 scoops Grow! Whey
3 scoops Low-Carb Metabolic Drive
12 oz. porterhouse steak
3 6 oz. cans tuna
1 oz. cashew nuts
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 boiled egg
4 cups raw spinach
That's a typical day for me. It puts me just below 11x BW in kcals, 59% protein (just under 1.5x g/lb), 26% fat, and 15% carbs (just under 0.5x g/lb).
I try very hard to eat the carbs only post-workout, and am religious about my diet. On non-lift days, I only have 2 scoops of Metabolic Drive, no Grow! Whey, and in general fewer carbs and fats.
I'm sort of at a loss at this point. Again, I realize that I am not going to see overnight changes, but my diet seems right according to everything I've read, my routine doesn't seem horrible, I'm making strength gains, but my weight is increasing and my BF% isn't going down.
I'm eating the cinnamon as an anti-estrogen aid, to help the Alpha Male, which I love. I realize I'm getting a lot of stimulants between the coffee, Alpha Male, and Carbolin 19, but I'm used to it and I sleep well. Last night, for example, I had 9 very peaceful hours of sleep.
I'm not eating just before bed, either. I'm also cycling the Alpha Male as directed (I do 5 days on, 2 off. The 2 days off is usually the weekend).
I do have cheat meals every now and then, but "cheat meals" is usually dinner out on Friday nights with my girlfriend. And even then, it's healthy choices (lean meats, veggies).
I feel frustrated because my waist size is increasing, and many days I feel bloated. I'm just not sure what to change. If I take my calories down any further, I'll put on fat (I've tried).
I'm afraid to add more lift volume, or begin lifting on my off-days, or increasing my cardio because I don't want to harm my strength gains or hinder my recovery.
I'm sure I'll get suggestions that run the gamut of things to try, but since I've run out of ideas, I'm willing to listen.