Finding a sustainable diet plan?

Discussion in 'Diet and Nutrition' started by freeflowme, Sep 29, 2019.

  1. freeflowme

    freeflowme Triple-Digit Post Count

    Hey all,

    I started doing PTTP in February of this year in hopes of strengthening my way out of chronic back pain, having fun with getting a bit stronger, and improving my body composition. At the time, I was ~190lbs at 6'0, and carried a lot more fat on the front of my torso than I would've preferred. For the first few months of training, my weight stayed about the same, occasionally spiking up to ~194, but I didn't worry too much about it. But by June I was more like 200lbs, and in September I've been up to 208.

    I know that it's difficult to gain strength (particularly with barbell training) without gaining some weight, and I suppose if I were looking lean and mean at this weight, I wouldn't care. But the reason that this is really disconcerting is that in the pictures that I've been taking every 2 months or so, my musculature looks about the same (with the exception of my upper back, especially after I added pullups to PTTP over the summer), but I very clearly have a bigger belly, more love handles, and more fat on my chest and perhaps even arms. Basically, I feel like I'm headed completely in the wrong direction.

    This is particularly frustrating because my diet before starting training was pretty poor. I would often eat little to nothing besides RXBARs or something of the like during the day, and then go to the store and get a quart of ice cream when I finished work at ~9pm and eat the whole thing. If ever I deserved to look fat, it was then. Since starting training, I've really cut out everything that you'd call "junk" food, and eat very little that's processed. I think the problem since I've started training is that I got obsessed with the idea of making sure that I was getting enough protein, which probably led to just ingesting more total calories. This really reached it's worst point with my idea of having whey protein shakes 2-3x/day. My thought was that I could get the protein in with less total calories, but in actuality I think the liquid calories don't make me full at all so I may have kept my solid food caloric intake the same while just adding 500-700 calories of protein shakes on top of that, which is where a lot of this weight gain may have come from.

    One day or another, I got really uncomfortable with my situation, and having read The Warrior Diet about a decade ago, decided to give that a go. Embarrassingly, I made it until about 2pm drinking all the water I could stand and having more nuts and apples and bananas than I feel like would be approved, before breaking down and eating an entire package of Oreos (we wouldn't normally have something like that around the house, but it was leftover from a student event the week before). My wife was going about her day, eating normally, and I was just feeling miserable, and all it took was 6-8 hours for me to question whether feeling hungry is worth it or whether I'd rather be a sad sack and give in, and I just gave in.

    Searching for another solution, I decided to track my calories one day this past week, which I found to be an incredibly tedious task (see attached, if you're interested). I found that my 3 meals were each ~500-700 calories, at the end of which I felt incredibly full, but 2 hours after each, like clockwork, I was so hungry again that I felt I had to have a snack, which I tried to make healthy and filling. My total caloric intake for the day was ~2,700, but that was while trying to be really good about things and feeling hungry a lot more often than I would normally like to.

    I don't know. I'm sort of at a loss. I'd like to feel more comfortable in my own skin, not have weird protuberances of fat under my clothes, etc. But we were at a neighborhood get-together last night, and everyone was our age with 2-3 kids (we have 2), and I just looked around and realized that everyone there was pretty anesthetic. I feel like I'm fighting against the reality of being super busy with work, having 2 young kids, not always thinking far enough ahead to have a good food option ready, etc. Sometimes I wonder why bother. Most people don't. No one in my wife or my wife's family exercises or watches what they eat, and they've all lived into their 90s for the most part.

    Anyways. I guess at the end of the day I'd like to figure out what I can do that doesn't feel like a completely miserable or unsustainable way to live and still shed some pounds. One idea I had was just looking at the foods that are the most satiating and trying to mostly eat those along with high quality protein sources. But I'm open to whatever thoughts / suggestions you might have.

    Attached Files:

  2. Oscar

    Oscar Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    @freeflowme many of us are in the same fight to some degree or another. I have been all my life at about 25% body fat, and the last 2 years I've managed to remain steadily at 15% -18% with zero effort, which is something I'm satisfied with. I'd like to get to the 10-12% zone but I'm ok with where I'm now.

    A few comments that might help you:
    • I dont know if PTTP is the best option for body recomposition. A program that is as practical and gives better results is S&S, in my opinion. It involves more cardio, energy expenditure and energy systems.
    • I've been trying the warrior diet as well and struggle to make it to dinner most days. A diet that gave me great results is intermittent fasting 8-16. That means 8 hour eating window and 16 hour fasting window. That basically means skipping breakfast. It's easy to get used to, takes maybe 1 or 2 weeks. If you made it to 2 pm, maybe it'll work for you.
    • If you are having protein shakes, maybe have them before the meal. This is a recommendation in Wendler 531 book that makes sense to me. That way you are fuller and prevent overfeeding, so it's not like you are adding the shake calories to your day.
    Hope it helps!

    Edit: just checked your food log and you ate 1200 calories before lunch. If you apply intermittent fasting everything else equal, you'll lose a ton of weight. Give it a try, maybe allowing yourself a heavier and earlier lunch.
    By the way, if you are doing PTTP, no need to eat before it nor after it. Just do it fasted. Leave the recovery shakes to people Starting Strength or some other more demanding program.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2019
    Billy59, ShawnM and Hasbro like this.
  3. Hasbro

    Hasbro Triple-Digit Post Count

    I would agree with Oscar that S&S would be more beneficial for losing and keeping off the weight. PTTP is great but that alone isn’t really burning a lot of calories. You might consider combining it with long slow jogs, brisk walking, rucking, or even S&S if you wanted.

    As far as the diet goes “sustainable” is the key word. There’s plenty of ways to lose weight that work but a lot of them aren’t sustainable. I’ve tried several including the Warrior Diet and a keto diet. I lost 15lbs quickly on keto but there was just no way I could ever sustain that way of eating long term. I made it 4 weeks and was miserable. For me Warrior was more sustainable but I just didn’t lose much weight at all on it.

    The diet I’ve had the best results on is an anti-inflammatory style diet. In a nutshell you basically eat clean and cut out certain foods like bread, pasta, rice, milk, and white sugar. I lost 35 lbs on it a few years ago and kept it off for 3 years. I later gained a lot of it back but it wasn’t any fault of the diet. I was going through some depression and just didn’t care anymore and made bad eating choices which mostly amounted to eating fast food every meal. But the diet itself is very sustainable and offers enough variety to still make eating enjoyable.

    There’s several anti-inflammatory diets out there but the one I use is from a book by Asa Andrew called Empowering Your Health. The main things I like about it is it’s really not calorie restrictive. Just stop eating when you’re full and don’t gorge. The macros come out to 33% fat/33% protein/33% carbs but to be honest I didn’t keep up with it that much. For the most part I ate all the lean meat, chicken, and fish I wanted along with good fats (olive oil, avocados, nuts), and good carbs from fruits and vegetables. It also incorporates a cheat day too so you still get to indulge in your favorite foods once a week. I’ve gone back to eating this way again but also doing like Oscar and use an 8 hour feeding window. Life is good again.
    Billy59, musicsherlock and ShawnM like this.
  4. LukeV

    LukeV More than 300 posts

    Jim Wendler and Dan John both recommend weight loss by ingesting a large protein shake 30 minutes before each meal. I tried it with 50g whey and for the first week managed to fit in both the shake and normal meals but couldn't keep that up (just started to feel too full) then the food intake declined significantly.

    For what it's worth I've tried every diet known to Google and got my best results from (1) Ultra low carbs - Keto (2) Ultra low fat (3) Weight Watchers points. They all worked about the same, which was fantastically well. Exercise not so important.
    ShawnM and william bad butt like this.
  5. ShawnM

    ShawnM More than 2500 posts

    I agree with @Hasbro . An anti inflammatory diet would probably do you well. The best thing is that it’s real food. All the fruit, veggies and meats of your choosing. You can’t go to wrong there and it’s simple.
    Hasbro likes this.
  6. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Elite Certified Instructor

    I know what you mean about the protein driving an increase! Once you get the hang of getting enough protein, it's actually pretty easy to overshoot. If you get enough from meat/eggs/etc, you don't need to supplement with whey powder. But it's a good option if you aren't getting enough through food. My guess for your needs would be 200g/day for you, but there are many factors (and I am not a dietitian). Do you have a target for protein?

    I don't spot any obvious problems in your diet capture, except I would cut the peanut butter. Ton of calories... not much protein.

    I agree, PTTP not the best program for body comp, and for that matter, not for putting on muscle either. It's for getting stronger at your current weight... maybe putting on a little muscle. So right now, what are your training goals, independent of body comp?
    Billy59 likes this.
  7. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Forum Administrator Senior Certified Instructor

    The biggest mistake I hear about with the WD is people changing too much too quickly. Just ease into it. I'll give you my own example:

    When I started, I'd do a WD twice a week, then 3 times a week, and for a long time, that was it, 3-4 times a week and more or less "normal" eating the other days. It was good and useful to get into it this way. Eventually, it was WD on Mon/Tue, lunch on Wednesdays, WD on Thu/Fri, and whatever on the weekends.

    Another approach, if you're a breakfast eater, is just make breakfast a few minutes later each day.

    More suggestions - find things to eat that don't fee like a real meal, and substitute those into your day. My favorite, simple example - have half a sandwich for lunch instead of a full one or maybe more than one. Don't make a meal out of it but still have "a little something".

    One last suggestion, since you mention your wife. My wife came along for the ride. I guess you could say we're of roughly similar body composition in that neither of us was ever obese but both of us tended, all other things being equal, to carry more bodyfat than in middle age, and we also both noticed the situation kept getting worse - slowly, bu undeniably - as the years went by. So she was motivated to try the WD approach along with me. If you can get your wife to do the WD with you, so much the better. And if you can't, perhaps you can at least tell her it's important to you and you'd like to figure out a way where she can be supportive of your efforts.

    And, alright, one more suggestion - the idea of cueing is important in strength training. We pay attention about what we think about before and during our lifts, and those thoughts help us execute the lifts better. I think the same can be true of any approach to eating - think about, when you're hungry, what that means - it means your body is ready to burn some fat for fuel, it means you're using strength of character to resist the urge to eat, and it means you can expect a certain "lean and hungry" state of mind for yourself. These kinds of thought can be a big help in achieving the goal of learning to eat differently. You don't have to imagine yourself carrying a spear in ancient Sparta, but you can remind yourself that you've embarked on a journey not many are willing to take, one that offers rewards that not many will achieve.

    Hope some of this is helpful to you.

    Billy59 and Oscar like this.
  8. Steve A

    Steve A Double-Digit Post Count

    freeflowme, a couple of thoughts. When younger I did the protein shake thing. High quality as far as that stuff goes. It never did anything, never gave any advantage. The guys I've known who have lifted for a long time have said the same thing. Every one of us wish we could have our money back and not have done it. Then I look at your pdf of meals, and to me, they really don't look good. Pancakes and syrup, but almost nothing for vegetables. Not sure you need to be snacking between meals either. I don't think you need a "diet" or to to be restricting time of eating or changing your lifting, I think you need to be eating regular meals with meat/eggs and vegetables on the plate. Let that be a habit for a while before you try to figure out if adjustments are needed.
    Coyote, LukeV, Billy59 and 1 other person like this.
  9. freeflowme

    freeflowme Triple-Digit Post Count

    Thank you all for the replies. Lots of food for thought. I'll try to reply to them individually below, but as I've reflected on things for the past few days, the main conclusion that I've come to is that I just wasn't eating for the type of training program that I was using. PTTP is super low volume training, mostly focused on the neural component of strength, and I was eating like I was doing a 6 day split, training each body part for 20-25 sets, and needing tons of protein for hypertrophic recovery. What I needed when I was hitting a wall was more rest days during the heavy parts of cycles, not more protein and certainly not just more calories. I think this is a correct assessment, and hopefully one I can apply to future training cycles to positive effect.

    I've thought about S&S, but I worry about losing limit strength, which is really the thing I enjoy about training at present. Deadlifts and barbell overhead presses both translated to me swinging and pressing a heavier kettlebell, but I haven't had the same results the other way around. I'm hoping I can deal with the strength with PTTP and the body recomposition with the diet alone. We shall see!

    Thanks for looking at the log. I sold my copy of The Warrior Diet years ago when we moved, and I wish I hadn't so I could read through it again. I think I just have so much mainstream, bodybuiding-type nutrition "information" in my head, like, "IF YOU DON'T EAT EVERY 2 HOURS YOUR BODY WILL EAT YOUR GAINZ BRO!" and such. What this tells me is I just don't currently understand the science behind how to eat for the body type that I want, which is more like a fighter than a powerlifter, or certainly a bodybuilder.

    You may be onto something with the anti-inflammatory stuff. I was at the chiro recently, and they told me I needed to cut out they whey with whole milk because my body was super inflamed. I made really good strength gains while doing The Whole 30, which by it's nature is largely anti-inflammatory. There's actually a great deal of freedom in being able to eat as much as you want of foods as long as they meet certain prerequisites, and I think that would be quite sustainable for me.

    I think that's part of my problem (that I've always hoped that I could out-exercise a lazy diet). I need to start thinking of my strength program as just that, and my diet as what's going to deal with my body comp.
    Oscar likes this.
  10. freeflowme

    freeflowme Triple-Digit Post Count

    I think this may be where I'm headed. Keeps you full. You probably hit your "macros" fairly intuitively. Not so restrictive as to be unsustainable.

    I think that's one thing that tracking my food for a day surprised me with - that I was about to hit 200g of protein without even really trying. I think by supplementing I was very likely overdoing protein, wasting money and making myself fat in the process.

    Peanut butter's a no go, eh? If so, that's a shame - it's one of the easiest ways I can think of to make some fruit a more filling snack and add some protein to it.

    Thanks, Steve. I do have a tendency to try to just jump into the deep end on things. I guess that's just impatience, with a touch of lack of wisdom.

    My wife supports me doing whatever diet makes me happy, but has said she wouldn't do an intermittent fasting diet. She often says there's 2 types of people, those who eat to live and those who live to eat and she falls in the latter camp (wanting to really enjoy eating vs. viewing it as "fuel" or whatever some might say). Between that and having kids to cook breakfast for, etc. it's really hard to be preparing food for others and avoid it myself.

    Yeah. Maybe my eating isn't as clean as I think it is, because to me that was a pretty clean day. The pancakes were an obvious slip-up, but it's what the kids were having for a special breakfast, so I just ate what we were having as a family vs. making something different for myself. I probably should try to fill up and fill things out with more vegetables. We roasted a ton of beets the other day, for example, and I've been finding them incredibly filling, plus I actually enjoy them.

    The tl;dr of all of this seems like just eating whole foods, with plenty of lean protein and vegetables, and light on grains and dairy, might be a good way to go. All the rest might sort itself out.
  11. Steve A

    Steve A Double-Digit Post Count

    I don't think having a special treat is a mistake, and you shouldn't need to be so uptight you don't enjoy your those times with family. But your tl;dr captures it perfectly. I wouldn't get overly concerned with "the best"meats or vegetables either. Just get a good variety, enjoy your food, and and don't get stuck on any named plan or diet if you don't have to for some medical reason.
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2019
  12. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Elite Certified Instructor

    Yeah anything in excess of what you can use (likely about 200g) is just extra calories. It will get converted to fat just like other excess macros.

    I think so, too.

Share This Page