T Nation

New Beginning

First post here in 3 years. A little background…I’m a 33 year old, female former personal trainer, who had a son 2 1/2 years ago and have not set foot in a gym since. Before my pregnancy, I was a solid 135 lbs at 5’5".

After lack of proper diet and being constantly on the move, I’m now 107 lbs and hovering around 10% bodyfat. While I like the leanness of my physique (first time I have had a six pack in life, even when I was religiously dieting and working out…go figure)…I’d like to put on a little more mass.

So, what I’m looking for are diet recommendations for gaining a little more muscle without getting fat. This isn’t a problem I’ve ever had before, so I’m a little green in this particular area.

Check out Berardi’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful Nutritional Programs.

http://www.T-Nation.com/findArticle.do?article=291seven2

In fact, read everything he’s written. He’s pretty much a nutritional genius.

[quote]Modi wrote:
Check out Berardi’s 7 Habits of Highly Successful Nutritional Programs.

http://www.T-Nation.com/findArticle.do?article=291seven2

In fact, read everything he’s written. He’s pretty much a nutritional genius.[/quote]

I agree. You may also want to read CT’s Carb Cycling Codex.
http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=811783

What is your training like now?

Thanks for the link. Looks like what I’ve started to do but I had some very high calorie binge days over the holidays.

Training is high rep, circuit training and tons of walking (just comes with having an active 2 year old). Nothing special…standard free weight exercizes with moderate weight 3-4x a week.

Oh, and I just noticed a typo in my OP. Bodyfat is around 16% not 10%…I wish.

The other thing I wanted to mention and get advice on…I tend to gain weight very easily, both fat and muscle. I know that severely limiting calories is said to slow metabolism but every time I try a 6 meal a day plan, I gain weight (has to be fat because my “lines” blur, abs and vascularity disappear . I’m not eating anything but macros and in small quantities but the fat weight piles on every time.

I seem to stay much leaner on a 3-4 meal a day plan, still eating small portions, which usually puts me well below my calculated BMR. If I eat past my BMR, even with my high activity, I gain fat. Any insight?

I’m no expert, but my thoughts are that you need to change your training from a high-rep circuit to more of a muscle building hypertrophy based program if you want to gain some muscle (lower reps, heavier weights - there are a lot of good ones in the archives). This combined with good nutrition (and maybe a little HIIT) should help you gain lean muscle.

I suspect you may need to give your body a couple of months to adapt to eating 6 meals a day. Just stick it out - train hard and eat right. Try not to obsess over the leanness factor until you’ve given it enough time to work (hard, I know).

It will depend on how your body reacts, but to make some decent gains, you may need to spend some time focused simply on gaining muscle and then focus on leaning out again later.

I read somewhere(I’ll try to find the source) that the difference in metabolic rate between 3 meals a day and 6 is negligible.

Thanks Jilly-

I used to train very heavy and low rep before I had my son and my body took a beating…I’m not as young as I used to be…lol. I also have 3 herniated discs which, knock on wood, have not bothered me in some time but I’m a little afraid to get back in the squat and deadlift racks. Oh and not to mention that I am training at home and have limited equipment. I just don’t understand why my body refuses to put on muscle without gaining a lot of fat. It’s like I either have to be super skinny or muscular and fat. Anyway, I’ll toy with some heavier weight and lower rep ranges and see what happens this time. I appreciate all of the advice.

[quote]DeadOnArrival wrote:
I read somewhere(I’ll try to find the source) that the difference in metabolic rate between 3 meals a day and 6 is negligible.

[/quote]

Please find that source for us. I’ve read about 1000 articles that support the belief that 5-6 smaller meals are superior to 3.

By eating every couple of hours, you keep your body from entering a catabolic state. I don’t know of anyone on this site that is looking to use muscle as their primary source of fuel.

Assuming you spread your calories out evenly (rather than simply adding 3 more meals) I can’t imagine anyone would be better off eating 3 meals instead of 6. From there, it is just a matter of evenly increasing calories to gain weight (presumably muscle)or decreasing calories to lose weight (presumably fat).

[quote]Modi wrote:
DeadOnArrival wrote:
I read somewhere(I’ll try to find the source) that the difference in metabolic rate between 3 meals a day and 6 is negligible.

Please find that source for us. I’ve read about 1000 articles that support the belief that 5-6 smaller meals are superior to 3.

By eating every couple of hours, you keep your body from entering a catabolic state. I don’t know of anyone on this site that is looking to use muscle as their primary source of fuel.

Assuming you spread your calories out evenly (rather than simply adding 3 more meals) I can’t imagine anyone would be better off eating 3 meals instead of 6. From there, it is just a matter of evenly increasing calories to gain weight (presumably muscle)or decreasing calories to lose weight (presumably fat).[/quote]

I’m with you on the science. I guess what I need to do is just split up what I’ve been eating over 2 extra meals but it becomes almost a negligible amount of food. My metabolism is and has always been very slow.

I would be very surprised that a woman able to achieve 16% bf would have a slow metabolism. Give it 2 months and see what happens. :slight_smile:

What equipment do you have to train with?

[quote]Jillybop wrote:
I would be very surprised that a woman able to achieve 16% bf would have a slow metabolism. Give it 2 months and see what happens. :slight_smile:

What equipment do you have to train with?[/quote]

Jilly-

I’ll admit to the shocking gasp practice of eating less than 1000 calories a day for probably the last 2 years and over the summer, I was probably active 80% of the day, figuring my day starts at 4:30am and ends at 9:30-10:00pm and during that time, I was moving all day except meal and car time…that’s why I am so lean. If I eat like any normal human being, I gain wait. If I slow down, I gain wait. Example, with the exception of Christmas and New Year’s, which were “binge” days, I ate probably 1,600-1,800 calories/day (admittedly not all “clean” foods) and I can watch the scale move up every day.

Equipment? Lol Let’s just say I’ve had to be very creative in my training. Dumbbells only.

GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

just kidding :slight_smile:

Figure out what your calories should be and slowly work your way up to that, adding 100-200 calories a week until you are in your ideal calorie range. A lot of women seem to do well with the carb cycling, you may want to consider eating that way while you up your calories.

You are simply going to have to eat more if you want to change your physique. If your db’s are heavy enough, you should be able to work in lower rep ranges effectively. Good luck!

[quote]T4 wrote:

Jilly-
I’ll admit to the shocking gasp practice of eating less than 1000 calories a day for probably the last 2 years and over the summer, I was probably active 80% of the day, figuring my day starts at 4:30am and ends at 9:30-10:00pm and during that time, I was moving all day except meal and car time…that’s why I am so lean.[/quote]

Even at 107lbs, with your activity level, you should be eating atleast 2000kcal/day just to maintain.

You have probably trained your metabolism to be slow. If you follow the 7 habits consistently (90% of the time) you should be able to increase you caloric intake.

The trick is eating clean. If you are putting junk in, that’s what you can expect for results. I would start by cleaning up your diet. Add 250kcal/day, and spread it out over 6 meals. Increase kcal by 250/day every 2 weeks until you get up to maintenance levels.

Just to reiterate the 7 habits:

  1. Eat every 2-3 hours, no matter what. You should eat between 5-8 meals per day.

  2. Eat complete (containing all the essential amino acids), lean protein with each meal.

  3. Eat fruits and/or vegetables with each food meal.

  4. Ensure that your carbohydrate intake comes from fruits and vegetables. Exception: workout and post-workout drinks and meals.

  5. Ensure that 25-35% of your energy intake comes from fat, with your fat intake split equally between saturates (e.g. animal fat), monounsaturates (e.g., olive oil), and polyunsaturates (e.g. flax oil, salmon oil).

  6. Drink only non-calorie containing beverages, the best choices being water and green tea.

  7. Eat mostly whole foods (except workout and post-workout drinks).

If you were a personal trainer, you know the science of it. You just have to take the leap of faith.

Thanks for your replies Jilly and Modi. Don’t think I’m ignorant and don’t know that what I’ve done diet-wise flies in the face of every nutrition principle known to man/woman. LOL But I have ALWAYS been this way (slow metabolism), even before training and “dieting”. I’m tellin’ ya, my body is just MADE to store fat. haha

I do eat clean about 90% of the time (holidays withstanding). For example, so far today I have had 1/2 cup cottage cheese, Natty PB (1 tbsp), lowfat string cheese 1 oz and a large green salad with 3 oz chicken breast, no dressing. I can’t eat fruit or starches, they do not “pass go” and are immediately stored on my small but flabby rear end. For dinner I’ll probably have some grilled chicken with salsa and a veggie. Sorry, I can’t (read won’t) eat veggies before noon. :wink:

Anyway, I’ll take both of your advice and try to “up” the calories and weights. I appreciate the time you both spent to respond. Wich me luck and a fat free, more muscular physique!

P.S. Funny that we are all from Massachusetts!

I couldn’t agree more with whoever mentioned to SLOWLY increase your kcals to what they should be. The last thing you want to do is go from eating 1000 kcals per day, to 2000 per day. That’s a recipe for fat gain.

Also, I think implementing some more strength based training would bode well for you. Say, 2 days of classic strength training (3-4 movements, 5-8 reps) and 2 days of more “metabolic” training. High(er) reps with some complexes mixed in.

Additionally, fluctuate your caloric intake. Training days will be higher than non-training days. This way, you’re providing an anabolic environment to grow (more LBM, which is a good thing) on your training days, AND also providing a temporary caloric deficit to off-set any fat-gain on your non-training days.

Granted, this is a simplified post. But I am sure you get the idea.

[quote]Tony Gentilcore wrote:
I couldn’t agree more with whoever mentioned to SLOWLY increase your kcals to what they should be. The last thing you want to do is go from eating 1000 kcals per day, to 2000 per day. That’s a recipe for fat gain.

Also, I think implementing some more strength based training would bode well for you. Say, 2 days of classic strength training (3-4 movements, 5-8 reps) and 2 days of more “metabolic” training. High(er) reps with some complexes mixed in.

Additionally, fluctuate your caloric intake. Training days will be higher than non-training days. This way, you’re providing an anabolic environment to grow (more LBM, which is a good thing) on your training days, AND also providing a temporary caloric deficit to off-set any fat-gain on your non-training days.

Granted, this is a simplified post. But I am sure you get the idea.[/quote]

Thanks, Tony…and trust me, I had no intention of jumping up my calorie intake that fast. And to be quite honest, I don’t think I need to get to 2,000 a day now. I’m not as active in the New England winter. I will change up the training methods and slowly increase the calories.

P.S. Welcome to Boston, Tony. The local ladies don’t know how lucky they are. :wink:

This isnt the article I was referring to, but it makes some good points http://www.arthurdevany.com/2005/07/four_meals_a_da.html