T Nation

Love to Lift, Hate to Diet, the Right Way at Least

I’ll preface by saying, i’m not looking to compete at lifting, ever. I want to be strong, and I certainly have steep goals for my lifts. I’m a 40 year old male, 6 feet, relatively strong, not fat, definitely not skinny. Am I happy with my physique? Who is?

current stats:
40 yo male, 6 feet, 215 pounds
BP 285
Squat 415
DL 450
Press 175

I eat meat, and lots of it, M-F. Mostly beef, eggs, Whey Protein. Very little veggies and fruits, and little to no dairy. Basically ZERO Carb

On weekends, its game on. I make sure the protein is there, but I love life. Chocolate chip pancakes, honey nut cheerios, chicken parm, pasta, cake, whatever.

This has kept me compliant. My weight never drops below 215, never creeps above 220.

I simply cannot comply without the cheat days, and when I do get anal about the calories, and run a balanced diet for awhile, I start to hate eating AND Lifting.

Its gotten me somewhat strong, but id like to get to a 350-400 pound bench, 500 pound squat, and a 600 pound DL. Then see what my physique looks like at that time.

My question is, and its probably a dumb one, but how achievable are my goals with this diet of mine. No carb M-F, and eat whatever on weekends.

Im no expert but i think balance might benefit you. Why restrict yourself 5 days a week and go crazy on weekends? Couldnt you aim to just eat a balance diet 7 days a week if your going to have those carbs either way? Then you have no reason to “diet” at all

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I just find that when I eat carbs daily, I gain weight, im lethargic, and constantly hungry. When I go those 5 days without them, I don’t feel that way. Usually by day 6 my body starts to feel a little depleted, so I eat whatever I want. I don’t really feel sluggish from all the carbs until the end of day 7. By that point, its bed time and I wont be consuming any carbs again for 5 days. I know this way of eating isn’t ideal, but it requires very little effort, and keeps me motivated to lift. When I eat carbs daily, I feel lousy, when I go too long without them, I feel lousy. Having 5 days of no carbs, and two days with them, has been a good balance for me. Im just wondering if anyone else has had success with tis type of approach of weight maintenance? And/or if this is a dangerous way of eating in general?

I’d be looking at that weekend. I’d make a small change, like either introducing an eating window (instead of whatever being 7AM to 11PM it might be 7AM to 7PM) or cutting your usual quantities a bit. If you eat an entire pack of biscuits, try buying a smaller box or putting the box away after eating 3/4 of it.

If that makes you binge you might want to try a few different strategies, like having a protein shake and a big cold glass of water before any of your weekend meals or keeping only the food you intend to eat on the day in the house - which you buy on the Monday (ie. before all the cravings come back) after you have had a meal (ie. Not when you are hungry).

Consider this 6 months of small changes and it will not be a big deal. When you stop dropping weight (for 2 weeks) then make another small change

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Until you address this, I don’t envision success.

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IMO If its keeping you going over long term then dont need to radically change

Id’add some green veg in the week day, i wont affect your low carb status/make you feel sluggish. -Your body will work better and you will have more energy in life and gym over time

Lean away from choc crap/cake and more towards pasta, fruit, rice etc

Run through templates like this for training…

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Thanks guys, some small changes mentally and physically are in order. Even if it’s one baby step at a time. My lifts have been going up like this, perhaps when they inevitably stall, it will be the kick in the a$$ I need to start making serious change. Appreciate all the feedback

Apart from eating more vegies, there probabluy isn’t too much you need to change and that’s just for general health.

A few brisk walks a couple of times a week are always worth doing.

Bottom line, if you find yourself a little stronger overall in six months you’re doing fine.

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It’s achievable maybe. Probably not the best way to go about it though if you want to get stronger and build muscle along the way as fast as possible.

You can get strong and build muscle with low carb. Powerlifting style or power building and whatever it’ll work. If it’s working for you in all kinds of ways go right ahead.

Strictly maintaining weight especially if you don’t wanna compete so don’t consider weight classes is probably less efficient than strategically gaining weight. If you want to be most efficient or even most effective I reckon for most people carbs are very important in many ways including being good for the soul:

Maybe eat like a strength athlete lol. Consume what and as much (within reason) as u want including enough nutrients to fuel training and recovery including all macronutrient groups, micronutrients and fluids.

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OP, this is the most valuable advice you can get on the matter (and I believe in life, in general).

Your mindset is everything, and nothing is limiting you more than your self-made preconceptions.

“I simply cannot comply” is a silly thing to say, as it somehow implies that there’s something external on acting on you and preventing you from sticking to your diet. Replace that with, “I won’t comply,” so now we are dealing with the real cause of your issue. That’s good, because now you also know the solution: that’s you.

Is it possible you won’t stick to the diet because you haven’t put much effort into finding a “balanced diet” (there are many different meanings to that phrase btw, it doesn’t mean much by itself) that you can enjoy and be happy to adhere to? Or maybe you’re not being 100% honest with yourself and you need to be more disciplined about it?

No carbs five days a week and then lots of carbs in the weekend can surely work, they even found a name for it: cyclical keto.

But you need to ask yourself if that’s just an excuse to absolutely binge out and feel less guilty about it. That can hide other issues. Are you sure you can’t have small amounts of junk during the week while still keeping the total amount consumed low and avoid the binging habit?

This is true if and only if you are eating at a calorie surplus. There is no reason carbs would make you fatter if eaten during the week. Try and keep an eye on total food consumption (no need to get anal about it either) and you’ll see that if doesn’t matter how often you have carbs.

All of the above are changes that no one but yourself is stopping you from making. Remember that your mind is the most powerful tool you have got; you can achieve almost anything, including changing lifelong habits if that’s important enough to you.

All of that being said, let’s talk about your goals…

You seem to be a little confused in your post when it comes to your goals. Are you trying to get leaner? Are you trying to get shredded? If so, diet is the single biggest factor.

But, you mentioned getting stronger as your primary goal, is that the case? Then, training is the most important factor. Your diet needs to support your recovery, but the specifics aren’t as important. Get in enough calories, get in enough protein, and the rest kinda falls into place.

So you seem to have stated mostly strength related goals, but asked diet questions. I think you can get strong with any diet.

If your goals are health, strength, and not getting fat, then focus on:

  • not eating too many calories overall (single most important one)
  • eating enough protein
  • eating enough veggies
  • eating enough healthy fats

Everything else is secondary. If you do these 4 things, you’ll get where you want to, and you won’t have to sacrifice the pleasure of eating (I love food too).

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Thanks for the reply. I agree completely that this is a “me” thing. Right now, I am having a lot of fun, running Wendler stuff, setting some PR’s, bodyweights been around 215 lbs. since Jan. 1, so not time to panic yet. I plan to make some small changes each week going forward, mainly to just take a less defeating approach to diet in general. The feedback I have received on here kind of has me where I was hoping to be. Listen to my body, apply some common sense, and adapt. I had mentioned above, i’m not gaining fat, i’m adding weight to the bar, i’m sure as soon as one of those things change, i’ll take a healthier approach, body and mind

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Well I’m fully satisfied with my physique and don’t care about getting strong so there’s that. I guess I’m an odd one.

That being said: there’s zero advantage to eating veggies. None.

There are advantages in terms of cortisol & CNS recovery to eating carbs intraworkout. Bananas, watermelon. Some interesting nutrients in there. You can have some rice or sourdough for dinner that will net you some serotonin and a deeper sleep. YMMV.

I like going carnivore with a cheat day or two. I’ve done this strict week + loose weekend for months on end with my girlfriend it’s fun. Don’t need to overthink any of this. It’s training that matters most. If you’re stuck making strength gains you’re probably overtraining, too much too often. Read these words of wisdom:

Evidence please

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Dems is fighting words

You won’t find any, because that’s absolutely bullshit.

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Just enjoy your life man. Train, eat and enjoy yourself. You’re doing great at your age maintaining your weight and strength. Keep a balance, you’ve no intention of competing.

I’m in a similar boat but over ten years older. I train four days a week and love it, it’s important to me. I’m careful about refuelling during the week but have what I want at weekends, including booze. I’m healthy and content with my lifestyle.

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GOTTA have my brown spirits

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I think at the very very least we can agree they give you more food volume at a very low caloric price.

So you can eat more on your diet, making compliance easier. That’s a practical advantage.

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I'm not a pro in this sphere but I think you need to increase this weight and number of rounds every gym session. I used to go to the gym couple of years ago. And I wanted to be able to make 4*30 squads with 150 pounds. So everytime my 1st and 2nd rounds were simple. I mean, I used the same weight I used last time. And my 3rd and 4th rounds were with additional couple pounds. It took me about month and a half to achieve my goal. Hope this will help you.

That’s a ticket to burnout at best with someone like OP who has already developed a reasonable level of strength.

The principle is sound, it’s progressive overload. The issue is that adding load and volume every session only works for a short time (four to eight weeks on average); and with a relatively untrained individual. It also tends to work better with lighter loads and higher reps (20+) because the aspect being developed is primarily muscular endurance.

With someone like OP who wants to develop strength, and who already has a reasonable base of strength to work from, the rate at which load is increased needs to be much slower in order to allow sufficient time for recovery. Without this, adapation will not occur. An effective strategy in this scenario is to accumulate volume primarily with moderate loads in the exercises where OP wants to see improvement while stimulating muscle growth with specific assistance exercises. This allows for adequate recovery from the accumulated fatigue, resulting in adaptation.

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