T Nation

Running and Bodybuilding Nutrition


Hey all! I'm a long-time lurker who decided to finally suck it up and create an account here.

An intro: I'm a 5'4" 19-year-old girl, 119lbs. I'm fit enough, I've got some muscle, but my goal is to have visible abs (how cliche, I know). I was a fat kid for a few years and then anorexic for a few months so I've probably got metabolism issues galore, but I've been stably eating well for over a year now and I'm willing to work twice as hard to overcome all of that.

I'm currently looking for a nutrition plan that can accomodate my running AND my lifting, and I wanted some input from you all. I'm willing to cut down on the running, but I love it too much to stop. I plan to run 5 miles every morning on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and 10 miles on either Sunday or Saturday.

I love strength training, so I'm willing to work out 6-7 days a week, although if you all think I should have a different schedule due to the running then I can do that, too. A previous plan I really liked was working out every day with a three-day rotation of chest&back/arms/legs. That was before I started running, though.

As far as nutrition goes, I'm thinking of trying either Berardi style or carb cycling. I've had no experience with Berardi aside from reading up on it like hell, and I tried carb cycling once for a short period of time and liked it. If I went that way, I would probably have high carb days on Wednesday and whatever weekend day that I run.

But of course, I'm completely open to whatever you all reccomend. Thoughts? Thanks in advance!


Ok. Let's just make it clear what your goals are. Your goals are to have visible abs which for most people means losing enough bodyfat to ....well, have visible abs.

This is important to define because far too many people work out without a clear idea of the path they need to take to reach a goal. Thus they train and eat haphazardly, usually making very little progress.

So, with your goal in mind, a few things need to be done:
1)Follow an eating program conducive to fat loss.
2)Strength train to maintain your current muscle mass. If you're lucky, and do everything right, you might gain a little bit, too.
3)Use your running as your energy systems work for additional fat loss.

Excellent! Congratulations on overcoming that, and continue to stay on top of it.

Hate to break it to you, but most folks around here do not recommend such long-duration running when trying to achieve a lean, muscular, physique. It tends to be too detrimental to maintenance of muscle mass. However, I think if you don't overdo it you'll be fine. You're are going to have to make sure your caloric deficit isn't too great so that you don't burn up too much muscle tissue.

I personally think that is too much, especially if you are trying to lose the remaining bodyfat you have hiding your abs. If you are in the gym that often I don't see how you'll be training intense enough. Physiologically, you're going to need some off days where you do nothing intense.

Both seem like good plans. For the amount of aerobic work you are doing a highER-carbohydrate diet would probably benefit you more than a low carb approach, and carb cycling could combine the best of both worlds. On your off days you could try going low carb, higher fat, and then cycle your carb amounts based on your activity levels. Berardi style is awesome, too.

My final thoughts are to:
1) Pick a calorie level.
2) Split up your macronutrients accordingly.
3) Set up a moderate running schedule.
4) Set up a three-four day a week strength routine centered around heavy lifting in the core exercises such as the bench press, military press, squat, and deadlift variations and try to maintain or gain strength on those lifts in the rep range you are working at from week to week. Add in accessory work a couple of days a week, too.

You sound like you've got a good grasp of things, just realize that the amount of running you do, although you like it, may not be the optimal way to achieve the body you want at the moment. But if you're in decent shape this should not take forever, and then when you reach your goal you can reevaluate and pick a new goal and go from there.

Best of luck.


I'm willing to modify my running down again if need be, but I'd like to try this and see if I can make it work. I'll follow your advice and cut my strength training down to 3 days a week, on days that I don't run and make sure to use a conducive plan.

As far as nutrition goes, I think I'm going to go with a Berardi-ish carb cycling plan that fits my running. I'll have high carb days on Wednesdays and on my longer running days (we'll say Saturdays), with for the first 5 of 6 meals, I'll have moderate carb days on Mondays and Fridays, the first 3-4 out of 6 for the day, and I'll have 2 of 6 on my lifting days, one being my first meal and the second being post-workout.

Feedback? Thanks!


I'll begin this by stating that I'm relatively new to T-Nation, but I think I can contribute some additional advice.

My mental imagery is failing me, but I wouldn't assume a 5'4" 19-year-old-girl at 119 lbs, who does energy systems work as much as you do, would have very much fat on her body.

Visible abdominal muscles in a majority of already-lean individuals is hindered most often by their diet. Eating quality protein, carbohydrates, greens and fruits is of utmost importance.

Also consider, the amount of calories your body burns per day is dependent upon your overall lean-muscle mass. The more lean-muscle mass your body contains the more calories you can eat per day.

It might be beneficial to consider gaining more lean-muscle before you try to lose those last few pounds of fat. This would give you the opportunity to maintain a larger caloric intake per day as opposed to an even lower caloric level given your present body weight.

Although, in either case the diet is the most important part.

Hope that helps.


Wow, I'm thoroughly impressed, that sounds excellent. Good luck and keep us informed, its great to see someone who's done their homework.