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Need serious nutrition help


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I've been primal for over two years on a weight loss and maintenance plan. My weight dropped to 125 from 180 and I've been happily maintaining that for a while. I was eating nearly 1800 (at least 50% or more of that was fat) calories and exercising regularly for a lot of that time. I got skinnier, but never felty body tone up at all.

Recently I've been dealing with some very stressful life situations and my calorie intake has dropped to under 800 most days. I've stopped exercising and I feel like crap. I want to get back into sprinting once a week and heavy lifting 2 days a week, but I know in order to do that I need to get my nutrition back in order. My divorce will be final at the end of the month and I need something like this to pull me through the depression that has ahold of me.

I need someone that can walk me through nutrition (with a primal/paleo focus) not necessarily for maintenance, but for toning up my body. Macro suggestions and/calorie amounts would be great. Any help would be appreciated.

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Firstly, congrats on the weight loss. Amazing achievement. Also, I'm sorry to hear that you've been going through so much.

I'm no expert when it comes to nutrition and there are loads of people on here who will be able to give more advice but what exercise were you doing as you lost weight? To tone up, you're going to need some strength training in your plan. It might also be worth working out your body fat %. If you start a proper strength training program you might find the number on the scale goes up but if your BF% doesn't, it'll show you're going in the right direction. (As the extra weight will be muscle.)

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I was doing mostly hiit style stuff like bodyrock. I'm not 100% sure on my bf % but is say it's close to 24% or 25% right now. I would love to be closer to 20%

 

In that case, maybe start incorporating some heavy weights into your workouts. Are you familiar with Staci's story? It may give you some inspiration as it tells you how she got toned (and super strong!).

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You said there you were eating 50% fat... If you want to "tone" then you'll want to build some muscle, so the main thing is to make sure you're getting enough protein in your diet. Protein is king.

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The strategy will always be the same, whether you're paleo or otherwise.  To build muscle you need protein, a stimulus, and a surplus.  1g of protein per lb of body weight is a nice round goal - it may even be more than necessary, as more recent research is suggesting.  For the stimulus, you need intensities that are challenging.  There are tons of strength building programs out there; any that include a pulling motion, a pushing motion, something for your legs, and something for your core will do.  The key is the exercises have to be tough and get tougher as you get stronger, otherwise your body won't devote the resources.  Finally, you need to consume more calories than you burn (a caloric surplus) to build muscle.

 

Now, as a beginner you'll get stronger and start to firm up even without a surplus.  This is because early strength adaptions (first couple/few months) are mostly neurological in nature.  It's not until you've topped off your "beginner gains" that muscle size becomes the limiter of strength, at which point a surplus becomes useful.  Eating a surplus before you've gone through the beginner months will probably just add more fat than necessary.

 

So, I'd say to start lifting heavy things and ramp up your calories to maintenance level.  Could wind up being around 2000 calories by the time you get into the swing of serious strength training.  After a couple months see where you're at, and if you want more muscle, up your calories.  Muscle building is a slow process - men can struggle to put on more than half a pound of pure muscle a week, and women go even slower - so have patience!

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Also, I'm not sure if you're restricting carbs or not (probably are, with 50% fat and probably the rest meat of some sort, per paleo), but carbs are great for the muscle building process and getting through workouts.  Although they're not strictly necessary, you'll probably get the best results if you don't restrict your carbs.

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Also, I'm not sure if you're restricting carbs or not (probably are, with 50% fat and probably the rest meat of some sort, per paleo), but carbs are great for the muscle building process and getting through workouts. Although they're not strictly necessary, you'll probably get the best results if you don't restrict your carbs.

I stick with 20% carbs on a gaining schedule and 15 on maintenance/cutting.

50-60% fat always, and the rest in protein.

The gain is slower this way, but for my body, I see the best gains strength wise and body composition wise with those macros.

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Thanks everyone, I need to get to a place where I'm actually eating more than 800 calories a day. I'm starting at it slowly because lately everything I eat makes me feel so sick. I think the stress of divorce, bartending, and being a mom has just pulled me into a place where bad habits are easier to maintain than doing what I know I should. I know I should be able to figure this stuff out on my own, but my brain is just not working as it should lately and I'm finding my patience for anything is very short.

What do you think about vitamins? I've read the perfect health diet and they favor getting vitamins from the food you eat so I'm a little wary of taking supplements, besides multi-vitamins give me pretty intense headaches. I know I'm lacking a lot of vitamins and such, but I have no idea how to find out what =| I think my fatigue has something to do with my body not getting the vitamins it needs.

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Definitely just do one thing at a time, and don't be hard on yourself.  You have a lot that's taking priority right now and it's not realistic to fire on all cylinders all the time for all things.  I'd focus on getting some more food in you first, then do the training, then think about the macros.  One thing at a time, nice and slow.

 

The consensus on vitamins has always been that it's best to get them from your food.  If you have a real deficiency or are at risk for developing one - you'd determine this by visiting a doctor/nutritionist and having tests done - then supplementing with pills might be recommended.  However, if you have no deficiencies and eat a balanced diet, there currently doesn't seem to be any reason to take vitamin pills.  In the case of multivitamins, the National Institute of Health's Director of the Office of Dietary Supplements (*breath*) has said, "If you are taking a multivitamin supplement there is no reason to stop, but if you are not taking one there is no reason to start."

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Thanks everyone, I need to get to a place where I'm actually eating more than 800 calories a day. I'm starting at it slowly because lately everything I eat makes me feel so sick. I think the stress of divorce, bartending, and being a mom has just pulled me into a place where bad habits are easier to maintain than doing what I know I should. I know I should be able to figure this stuff out on my own, but my brain is just not working as it should lately and I'm finding my patience for anything is very short..

 

Perhaps you could create a challenge thread or battle log on NF. This is a great community, and could support you and help keep you motivated to stick with your plan.

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The trouble is in stressful situations, the less you eat, the less you can cope with them. So it's a catch 22 situation. 

 

I always say, eat well and try to sleep, then at least the head will have a better place to cope with things. Try juicing with lots of greens or making a smoothies

just to get some vitamins and minerals back, you'll start feeling better. I agree with JPrev, take things slowly, overthinking on very little food will just make

your head spin.

 

Good luck, I know how difficult it is to deal with divorce, kids and work! Eat well, sleep well!

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