T Nation

Plan For Woman, 5'6

Hey guys, I have a friend in my classroom who is wanting me to help her lose weight, get healthy, and fit. She is 5’6" 225lbs, and from what I have seen, seems to have a great desire and drive to lose the weight.

I told her I have no doubt I could get her to just about any body type she wants, it’s just a matter of her sticking to a solid diet program that i make for her, along with a solid/proper lifting program. The thing about this is though that could be problematic for me when figuring out what to have her eat is that I eat purely for performance, not for taste or anything.

i’m used to the whole eating dry oats to a specific measured out amount, olive oil, tuna out of the can, etc. that sorta stuff. I think this woman will only go so far in terms of losing taste.

Does anyone have any suggestions or starting points? I usually read all up on Berardi’s stuff, but the most stuff i’ve found from him has been the massive eating calculator. Thoughts? thanks, I’m really looking forward to helping her and at least saying i tried.

I’m not sure where you got the idea that JB only has stuff to get big. Anyway, start with JB 7 Habits of a Highly Effective Nutritional Programs

Habit 1: Eat every 2-3 hours.
Habit 2: Eat complete, lean protein with each feeding opportunity.
Habit 3: Eat vegetables with each feeding opportunity.
Habit 4: Eat veggies/fruits with any meal. Eat “other carbs” only after exercise.
Habit 5: Eat healthy fats daily.
Habit 6: Don’t drink beverages (soda, beer, etc.) with more than 0 calories.
Habit 7: Eat whole foods whenever possible.
Here’s the link:

Given where she’s at she will see a huge difference. Also, most women I’ve worked with don’t eat enough protein and getting them to eat more protein is the biggest challenge.

I’m not a big fan of Bill Philips, but his exercise program in his Body-for-Life is good for most people starting out.

thanks for the info. yeah, i know jb doesn’t just do bulk up stuff, but i just usually can’t find his other articles pertaining to losing weight. and yeah, the 7 habits, i know all about that, sometimes it’s easy for me to forget about them just cuz they’re applied to my own diet without second thought.

I was thinking of getting her on something like supersets in the gym with all compound lifts. something like squats with leg press, db bench press with dips, bent over rows with pull ups, deadlifts with crunches or something, finished off with 15-20 minutes of HIIT on the elliptical machine.

obviously not all that stuff together on the same day, but maybe a upper/lower split of mon/tues, wed off, thurs/fri, sat and sunday off. maybe light cardio on wed and saturday.

another question is, where would i start off this woman in terms of caloric intake. so far the most i know about is calories for myself to massively bulk up because my metabolism is off the hook. where would i start off, calorie wise per day with a woman like this?

i am also thinking of incorporating the p+c / p+f meals into the diet, as i’ve always found if i really stick strict to that philosophy, it is next to impossible for me to hold on to my current weight, regardless of how much i eat.

so here is all that i have written for her so far in terms of diet. I think it’s pretty well said and thought out.

Top 7 habits that need to be in place first before anything else.

  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).
    Examples of foods (in order from best to good)

? Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, peas, zucchini, spinach, etc)
? Fruits (apples, bananas, berries, oranges, etc)
? Brown rice (and only brown rice)
? Old fashioned oatmeal (NOT the flavored kind or packaged kind)
? Fat free milk (no other kind)

? Grilled chicken
? Turkey
? Lean steak
? Egg whites (no yolk)
? Cottage cheese
? Tuna
? Fat free milk

? Fish oil
? Flax seed oil
? Olive oil
? Natural peanut butter (and ONLY natural peanut butter)
? Any form of nuts with moderate sodium to no sodium

? Whey protein
? Multi vitamin
(Note: supplements are just that, a supplement to a sound diet program. Too often people rely fully upon supplements to do the work for them. They are just an aid to fill in any gaps)

Extra things to learn about that help the process

? Keep meals in a protein+carb combo or protein+fat combo. This allows your body to keep insulin levels low, so that your blood sugar never rises more than it should, and keeps body pretty resistant to gaining fat. Fat can be gained fast if an overabundance of carbs and fats are together in a meal, due to the high level of insulin spike.

? Keep the protein+carb meals before and after your workout, and keep all the protein+fat meals around times when you aren?t working out. So for example:
Meal 1: p+c
Meal 2: p+c
Meal 3: p+c
Meal 4: p+f
Meal 5: p+f
Meal 6: p+f

This is a very tedious task at first, and will make you feel odd. However, after the initial first 2 weeks are over, you will definitely start to feel a difference.

? Keep higher glycemic carbohydrates for after your workout, because the insulin levels do need to be slightly spiked right after a workout to ensure nutrients get sent into the muscles. Such carbs would be brown rice or milk or oats, but especially simple sugars such as something like Gatorade. The other carbohydrates need to be low on the glycemic index, which would be vegetables and fruits.

? While fish oil might sound something that isn?t too appealing, when you know about the reasons for it, it becomes something you want to take. A big benefit of fish oil is that it reduces inflammation. This helps recover between workouts because when you lift, your muscles tear, and become slightly inflamed. This helps keep that to a minimum. As well, the best health factor is that as we age, our heart starts to gain inflammation around it, and obviously can cause problems. Fish oil will reduce the inflammation around the heart, keeping it very healthy.

? Not all proteins are equal. Whey is a protein that comes from milk, and is released fast in the body, lasting approximately 2 hours. This is perfect for right after a workout, as you want a fast supply of proteins to go to your muscles. Casein is a protein that is slow digesting, lasting up to 8 hours at a time. Example of a casein protein is cottage cheese, and is best used right before bed, due to the prevention of catabolism in the muscles.

? Catabolism refers to when the muscles run out of protein fuel sources, and will start to eat away at muscle to compensate. You want to stay in what is termed as an anabolic state, where your muscles have a constant supply of protein, therefore never needing to resort to muscle to burn away. And you WANT muscle, believe me!

? A simple known fact but often an important one that most all of us forget?Often times hunger is mistaken for simply being dehydrated. Always keep water around, and drink too much if you have to. (of course, not taking this to extreme measures, everything in proportion.)

Making sense of it all / Putting it into a daily diet program
At the given weight of 5?6? 225 lbs, we?ll start out at 2,500 calories a day. A diet setup will look something like this: (in a calorie, carb, protein, fat breakdown)

Meal 1: (p+c)
? 1 cup oats
? 1 cup fat free milk
? 1 scoop whey protein
510 35/38/3


Meal 2: (p+c)
? 2 servings brown rice
? 5-6 oz grilled chicken
? 1 cup fat free milk
550 60/35/3

Meal 3: (p+c)
? 1 apple
? 1 cup oats
? 6 egg whites
570 70/30/3

Meal 4: (p+f)
? 5-6 oz turkey, chicken, or can of tuna (keep tuna to a max of 3 times a week)
? 2-3 servings vegetables
? 1 serving fish oil
370 4/29/24

Meal 5: (p+f)
? 5-6 oz turkey, chicken, or lean steak
? 1 serving fish oil
? 2-3 servings vegetables
170 0/25/4

Meal 6: (p+f)
? 2 servings lowfat cottage cheese
? 1 flax seed oil
320 8/28/14

TOTAL: Calories- 2490, Carbohydrates- 177, Protein- 183, Fat- 53

This diet should be enough to lose a lot of weight, if kept to strictly. Strictly meaning no more than one cheat meal a week, and the cheat meal should not be a binge time. It should be something controlled, like a small pizza with vegetables on top, or something like that. This will keep the cravings basically to a minimum.

Do not forget that this program will be very hard on you the first 2 weeks, as this is the biggest transition period for anyone. All throughout my 5 years of distance running, I almost never got proper nutrition down to where it should have been. It took me numerous tries to get past that 2 week mark, only to fail and fail again.

It wasn?t until about a year ago that I learned REAL sound nutrition plans that worked, and then I was able to pass that point. Now, these habits are instilled in me every day without even thinking about them, and the issue of craving other foods is next to non existent.

It is all about rewiring your body and brain to work in a way so that the foods you soon crave are those within the nutrition guidelines I put up for you. It?s pretty simple actually, we have been brought up with a want for junkier foods just because those are what we are most used to. Therefore, our bodies are setup and wired to craving those things.

It is not until we make a conscious effort to rewire ourselves that the changes take place. So just remember, during these first 2 weeks, if you feel good, great. If you don?t, however, don?t be shocked, as this is very much expected.

A final thing to throw in there, when looking for foods, if you are to go off somewhat on the nutrition guideline for whatever reason, make sure to read the ingredients lists to make sure they don?t contain the following : (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed oil, High Fructose Corn Syrup) There are many reasons for why all these things that I?ve put together are put together the way they are, but if I explained that this thing would be over 20 pages long. Therefore, just trust that all that I have written is truly what should be done.

I am by no means an expert, but I started out at about where your friend a little less than two years ago. I’m 5’6" also and now about 190 (wasn’t as consistent as I should have been).

Anyway, the things have helped me the most are:

  1. Eating more frequent meals with lots more protein
  2. Learning how to actually plan my meals - the shopping and preparing things ahead of time so that it isn’t “too much work” when you’re running late for work, etc…
  3. Learning how to go to the gym with a plan (Waterbury’s Big Boy Basics worked great for me - I’m actually going through a cycle of that again now).

Also, I agree on the p/f and p/c timing. I didn’t realize how poorly I was doing with that until recently… Definitely something I’m going to work on.

One other thing - find some activity that she is interested in to get her started. For me, it was martial arts… started with TaeKwonDo - really worked on flexibility and general fitness. Then started Brazilian JiuJitsu and realized how important the strength gains were going to be to my game…

Just a thought…

I’m w/ Mounds on this one. I was almost exactly where your friend is now 5 years ago. Low carbing worked really well for me (I think that’s an individual thing some people do great on it, others don’t - it’ll take some experimenting to see what works for her) - I didn’t worry about counting calories, I just ate enough that I wasn’t hungry. By volume, most of my food was veggies, the highest percentage of calories were from fats. I made sure I got adequate protein, but looking back I would have done more, smaller meals and eaten more total protein.

One thing that I have found essential and others who have lost and maintained tend to agree with this is to eat breakfast every day. No excuses, no I’m too busy, or I’m not hungry in the morning. Just eat it, the body gets used to it.

As for the exercise, it’s good to make the program challenging, but there’s no point killing the woman when she’s just beginning.

I noticed you’ve got pullups on the program. Between the fact that even really fit women frequently have trouble with pullups (I’m consumed with jealousy every time I see some guy in my gym casually do 10 like it’s nothing) and her weight, I’m guessing that she’s not going to be even within shouting distance of being able to do a pullup unless you’ve got access to a gravitron.

I’d try to keep the exercises within the range where she can actually do at least a few reps. Same with the squats - unless she’s much fitter than I’m guessing, I’d think goblet squats with a token weight should be plenty to start with. Let her develop some basic strength and flexibility while you teach her good form.

In CT’s Carb Cycling Codex article there is a formula he uses to help determine calories that might be helpful.

She might need clarification about the 5-6 meals a day - these aren’t 1000 calorie meals. To a woman her size, these are snacks.

Oh and Marza’s right about the pullups - I’ve been training awhile now and I’m relatively fit, and I can barely do 2-3 wide grip pullups.

At this point, virtually any exercise and a healthy diet not too focussed on calories will have the pounds flying off her. Just make sure she’s eating clean, learning to cook enjoyable healthy meals, and eating boatloads of veggies but not a huge volume of fruit and grains.