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Starting Strength, Protein, and Hello.


Hi, My name is John, I have been lurking and responding to a few posts for a couple weeks. I am 35 years old, 6', 253lbs, mostly fat, though I don't know my body fat percentage. I started starting strength about 3 weeks ago, and am loving it. I use to lift during the football days, so the exercises are not foreign to me. Just haven't done them in 15-20 years.

I am more interested in strength than bodybuilding, and I have a question. Starting Strength recommends drinking a gallon of milk a day. But at the same time as getting stronger, I would like to loose the fat. Should I use a protein shake (before/after workout) instead of drinking a gallon of milk? Should I do both? Any recommendations on brands? Is Starting Strength enough to loose weight, or do I need to add some walking / cardio?

My diet is good, could be better. So far I have gained a three pounds since starting the program.


Starting Strength is not enough to lose weight. Follow BB workout if you want to lose weight and do some cardio as well.


The GOMAD recommendation is for skinny guy's looking to gain weight on starting strength. Heavier guys trying to slim down a bit, should not do it.

You should just focus on eating healthy, mostly meat and vegetables with some healthy fats, plus a clean carb containing meal after your lifting days. Shoot for 3 or 4 healthy sized meals, plus a couple protein shakes.

Try here for good protein:

Losing fat is pretty much going to be 95% diet. You can train anyway you want. Adding some bouts of daily walking will accelerate the process. I'd run the Starting Strength program as is on the order of 12-16 weeks before adding any more cardio than that though, just to maximize your strength gains from the start.

When you are a bit stronger, consider a 5-3-1 boring but big template with some added cardio work, with a 90% perfect diet and you will be slim within a year.


Thank you for your input guys.

@theuofh thank you for the 5-3-1 recommend after 12-16 weeks. I have been looking into the program but wasn't sure when to switch over.


I think what theuofh is saying is don't do cardio for 12-16 weeks, not stop the program after that time. You want to focus on strength gains ONLY starting out, and then you can add in cardio.

I second pretty much everything he said, and I would limit cardio to walking for 30-45 minutes a day, first thing in the morning. You will see results that will not compromise your strength gains or recovery.

Don't worry about any other form of cardio during Starting Strength. Your priority is strength and as was mentioned, you can change your programming to ramp up conditioning after your stop progressing on SS (which can take up to 9 months or more--though if you have some experience with the big lifts, this may be shorter).


Good. Concentrate on strength. Don't agonize over the scale. As you get stronger, your muscles will get bigger, and your body fat will go down. But your body weight may go up or down, who knows? who cares?

Do a half gallon of milk. That's about 5 12oz servings. Three with you meals, two with protein powder in between meals.

Certainly you should do cardio. That will help you lose fat.



theuofh is dead on for nutrition advice. If you want more specific, start a thread in supplements and nutrition or PM me for tips, I don't do nutrition plans for free, but if you just need a couple pointers and questions answered and a simple template, that is something I have no problem doing gratis.

As someone who already has the body mass, think of your fat stores as a supplement to a maintenance or slightly lower intake diet. Quality protein, lots of veggies, healthy fats, some fruit (particularly berries) and a post workout meal with moderate quality starchy carbs is a great way to maximize your progress and should not impact strength too much.

The walking is an excellent way to get your body burning some more fat, and if done first thing in the morning, it works very well.

If you want to add something like hill sprints, your lifting may suffer for a couple weeks as your body adjusts. In such a case you would start with 2-3 sprints of 60-80 yards and focus on form and foot speed (the lower numbers are better to start). A couple times a week, maybe 3, add 1 sprint every week or two. This progression may seem low, but you would be amazed at the results. Too many people overdo these things.

Another alternative is sled pushing or pulling.


No I didnt read all the posts thoroughly as I dont have time right now, but here is my 2 cents.

WRONG, Do not drink a gallon of milk a day. STOP! Rippetoes book (which I have read, and whose program I am currently doing and refining as I go) does not recommend GOMAD for people who have determined that they need to lose weight first.

You are looking to lose weight. GOMAD is for people who are looking to gain weight. Ectomorphs who need the protein/fat/carbs are recommended to have a full gallon of milk a day with four good sized meals.

Find a healthy weight that is realistic for you (your goal). Go to mypyramid.gov and put your goal weight into the calculator there. Make sure that you don not include that you exercise. This will tell you the maintenance weight of a person at your goal weight who is sedentary, and how many servings of each group they need a day. Build a diet around those numbers that is based on healthy high quality foods that fits in the recommended number of calories. You will lose weight. (This will also be your diet when you get to your goal, so you wont even have to switch anything. Just stay the course.) Dont eat after 7 PM.

After a week of healthy eating, weigh in. If you have not lost weight, decrease calories by 500 calories and go another week before changing anything.

Weigh yourself in the morning, before you eat or drink, in your boxers, and after you use the bathroom.

Stay away from bodyfat calculations and that garbage. Just use a mirror, a scale, and your logbook to asses your progress or lack thereof, lest you start to major in the minors so to speak.

You dont have to be a diet nazi either. That is not what I am saying. You are allowed to "cheat" because if you dont, you will eventually burn out and quit your diet. So just be firm, but relaxed at the same time.

I would recommend that you continue lifting weights (safely and doing the program you have decided to do correctly as it was intended and written, and not how you heard that your friend's friend's cousin's step brother did), and that you add some cardio (whatever you enjoy that you will actually do).

This should all be manageble stuff.

Also if you need pointers on doing starting strength check out my log (Zep's las stand) and post your question there. Also, there is a guy on here called TheDudeAbides. From what I gather, he seems to have started in a similiar place with similar goals, and now he is strong as hell and leaner (check out the log called The Dude's Rip Log). He would be the man to ask for advice in my estimation as he has already done something similar to what it sounds like you want to do. If you want to be where someone is, then do what they did.

Do not expect over night results. They dont exist. Sorry.

To everyone else, I didnt recommend any kind of crazy bodybuilder diet or crazy shit because it sounds like the man is looking for a lifestyle change whilst getting stronger (or at least maintaining strength) in the process. I dont think it is wise to start out eating like the hardcore powerlifting crowd does (they dont care about fat loss at all from what I can tell) right away either because he mentioned that he wanted fat loss. I feel like these things fit his goals better.





You took all the time to post, but not read already excellent advice posted by theuofh.

Then proceeded give less specific advice and rant about cheating which no one mentioned. The lifestyle change he needs is the one which theuofh has outlined, with this base, he can learn to eat well while meeting his current fat loss goals, afterward, adding more of the quality carbs will allow him to gain strength and muscle even faster. As for cheating, he will have to make those decisions on his own as to what is acceptable.

As for what works for someone else, it means nothing other than it works for them.


@Peter Orban

Remember that words on a page are read how you interpret them. You obviously seem to have some kind of background in dietetics or personal training (you referenced not making diets for free, but that you enjoyed discussion on the subject), so I want to be clear that nowhere in this post am I talking down to you. I just like to be thorough and get a little animated when I am excited about something. I have a lot of respect for people in the health industry, everything from surgeons to nurses aides to trainers (I will be a physicians assistant within 3 years and am currently a junior in an accelerated masters program with 2 years of bio, chem, and a bit of biochem/ochem under my belt. I know how difficult it is to learn this shit at the rate you are expected to learn it at and to have patience/compassion for those you are working with. My knowledge is limited to conclusions that I have come to using my limited science background and personal experiences, and the conclusions that I have drawn from combining the two. I am no expert.)

Also, I see no destructive posts, so I do believe that everyone in here is trying to help the OP by providing direction based on their own conclusions. It is amazing to me that people even post at all given helping some random dude on the internet doesnâ??t help them in the least.

I tried to quote your post in parts so that you would know exactly what I am referencing.

First, as I stated, I did not read every post as closely as I could have. I never said I didnâ??t read them. (I mean I had to read a few to see what was going on.)

Second, I dont see the rant about cheating. Perhaps you could take the time to show me the part where I went on a rant, in a similar manner as I have done for your post. I also fail to see how giving a person in the beginners forum specifics about diet is helpful as they obviously are having a hard time with maintaining a healthy diet in the first place.

Just because one post overlaps or fails to go into specifics does not make it a bad post. There are actually allowed to be multiple posts in one thread so I donâ??t see how it matters if one covers more or less as/less specifically as another.

That all being said I do think the posts you wrote and referenced are solid advice, however I think beginners do better with simple information, otherwise they run the risk of getting all caught up in the numbers. I think it is important for the op to simultaneously see changes in the mirror, on the scale, and the logbook (at least two) in a realistic amount of time. (After about a month or so of determined and focused effort that is.)

This is the only part of your post that I donâ??t really understand. Recommending someone to ask for advice (a mentor) is an excellent way to keep beginners motivated and accountable. Also it provides a source of information from someone who has had similar goals and is meeting them (I pester this guy all the time about how heavy the weights should feel and determining correct weighs and progressions. He has already beaten my current goals by a country mile and even though our methods arenâ??t identical, he is still able to aid me in progressing. In short, and to cut down the on the nut hugging he has the numbers I would like to one day have and I am willing to be patient and listen so that I may apply advice that I see fit to my program.) Never once did I tell the op to do exactly what he did. If I did, then please point that out for me because I donâ??t really see it.

I have this diluted and apparently crazy methodology of listening to people who are where I want to be, looking at what they did to get there, and making it work for me based on my own individual needs and limitations. Call me crazy.

Best wishes.



Zep, I think you are totally crazy. In a good way.

I think you had/have a lot to add, excuse my colorful description of your post. I simply mean that if you had taken the time to read everything thoroughly, your opinions and experience would have been better incorporated into the course of the thread (I think you have a much better post in you, kind of like your response to me).

Based on the OP's own words, he has no issue with lifting, he has clearly stated he wishes to lose fat and wants to know about milk, protein, and walking/cardio. I maintain that the OP's needs are dietary and he can benefit most from that.

I have a Life Sciences degree, mostly biochem, mol bio, organic chemistry. Previously was a strength coach, and dropped out of final year of Econ degree (that's right I graduated, then dropped out - how many people can say that).

I am lucky to have worked with genetic freaks, kids, grannies and normal people, I definitely learned more from each than they did from me and claim no credit for any of their successes. However, I also know that most people in what seems to be the same situation react very differently and thus have different needs, this is why in this case I think diet is the focus. I believe if you reread all from the beginning you would come to the same conclusion.

I think your dilution is not the case, you seem to be distilling the main factor, but maybe I am deluded. Your crazy.


OP, if you get one thing from the novels I wrote up there make it that complex things are hard to use and take a lot of maintenance for them to not break. Simple things may not be fancy, but they will be durable and get the job done in time. Its not a race. Be patient.

Orban, I agree with the fact that diet is the most important thing. You cannot out train a bad diet (I have tried before and failed miserably).



Thanks to everyone who contributed to these answers. I really appreciate your time and effort.

I am definitely going to be focusing on my diet from what I have been reading.

Thanks again,


IMHO follow the weight training sessions with 30 minutes of medium intensity cardio. Definitely don't drink a gallong of whole milk. Use 1-2% milk and fit it into your daily requirements which if you are cutting I'd imagine would be no more than a quart per day.