Women on the Starting Strength Programme - Nutrition
There's a wealth of information on this board about nutrition, but I thought it might be nice to have a thread where us ladies could share what worked and what didn't, because much of the more detailed information is geared towards males. The basics are clear: eat enough protein (meat, eggs, dairy), fruit, vegetables to grow strong.
What sort of recipes / approaches helped you?
How did you deal with eating for strength in an environment where there is massive pressure to conform to certain body ideals, even if your genetics just aren't cut out for it?
I'll start - I found John Berardi's idea of having a serving of veg and a serving of protein at every meal very helpful, and am (struggling) working hard to implement it. I also like the recipes at http://www.askgeorgie.com - her protein muffins have tided me over many a day at the office. I discovered a really good burger place near work that serves a tasty patty with plenty of salad, and I've been getting into peanut butter and jam bagels.
What doesn't work? Not taking enough time to prepare my food at home, not having my fridge well-stocked with eggs and veg, not eating the healthy stuff in the evenings, but reverting to my old stand-by of cereal.
I found T-Bone's web presence and Gillian's essay here on Starting Strength really helpful when coming to terms with the idea that, you know, it might be acceptable to just eat enough and see where your genetics takes you. Finally, I learned quite a bit from Krista Scott-Dixon at http://stumptuous.com.
Over to you!
Really looking forward to the replies to this thread! I'm very new to SS and these are the thoughts running through my mind lately... how do I eat enough, eat well, and not eat TOO much at the same time. I just increased my calories on my workout days to 2100 or so, 1600 or so on rest days. Going to see what happens in a month's time and then reassess and tweak if I need to. I'm eating in a slight caloric deficit so I'll see if I have enough calories for strength gains, if not then I'll just have to increase it.
I try to concentrate on getting 129g of protein minimum for my body weight, which is 129lbs. And around 45g fat minimum, slightly more on rest days. Fill the rest in with carbs. I just started Intermittent Fasting 16/8 Leangains style, so that's also a bit of an experiment... and it's going well because I tended to naturally fast anyway. I pretty much eat from 12-2pm until 8-10pm.
My only supplements so far are: Fish oil, Liquid multivitamin, Vitamin D and whey protein on occasion.
It's really hard for me right now to wrap my head around the idea of eating for strength yet wanting to whittle away some of the fat on my body (I'm 5'7", 129lbs, yet I am 27% body fat!!) But honestly, I'm having so much fun seeing my strength increase that it's almost making me want to say "to hell" with the beach body ideal in favor of just getting stronger. It would be awesome at this point in my life to let go of the "get skinny" mindset and constant nagging thoughts of fat loss and all that... and just let my body do what it wants as I keep lifting...
I try to stick with whole foods and minimize take-out and fast foods. I don't drink my calories. I am an ice-cream fiend however, so I eat a little bit of ice-cream every single day. I'm also a coffee drinker (usually drink it black) and drink about 2 cups a day.
Looking forward to other replies!
ETA: I track my calories and exercise on MyFitnessPal and wanted to add that I'm JennieAL there, in case anyone else uses MFP and wanted to connect! I've got a lot of great supportive friends on there and have learned a lot since I joined last summer. Also, I plan to start a log here on this forum soon. I'm finishing up the book right now, actually both books... SS 2nd E and PP. I don't want to start my log until I finish! Got my ass chewed a bit on my first post/thread here
Last edited by JennieK; 02-23-2012 at 05:18 PM.
I eat mostly paleo. Fruit, potatoes, and white rice for carbs. After I workout I'll eat a sandwich with gluten free bread. Some junk food occasionally, more than I should. No clue what my calories are right now. I take whey, fish oil, magnesium, and creatine. Oh and a bigass cup of coffee when I wake up.
I have always considered myself strange in terms of the nutrition and body composition department. I was always the girl trying to gain weight and muscle, versus losing it. Right now I am doing SS and drinking a 1/2 gallon of milk in addition to my normal diet to try and get bigger and stronger for rugby and just for the hell of it, really.
My normal diet usually consists of about three meals a day of either dining hall food (I am in college and the food there is actually very healthy) or home-cooked meals (with the occasional pizza thrown in). I stay away from soda, candy, desserts, etc. which is incredibly easy when you're always full from milk.
So far I have put on about 10 pounds doing SS, not sure how much of it is fat. Before I started the program I had already put on 8-10 pounds, and the new weight is definitely noticeable. I actually have a bit of a gut for once. I'm not worried about it though because my lifts are still going up without a problem. I also noticed that national rugby players at my height carry a good 15-20 pounds more than me and just look strong, not fat.
But I will see how this whole 1/2 GOMAD thing plays out. It may just be psychological, but I think its really working for me so far.
I have maintained at 125-130 range for the last year or so. 5'4" with bodyfat in the high teens. I used Fitday to track my eating at first, measured some portions to train my eye, and now usually get by with estimating. I never could bring myself to see what a tablespoon of peanut butter looks like; it is probably depressingly small, lol. That is how i found that my maintenance is around 200-2100 calories. If my weight is changing up or down more than I want, or if I want to add/lose a bit, I will go back to Fitday for a reality check.
The most important thing for me is eating enough protein. At least 1g/lb a day, up to 1.5 especially if I am eating a bit less. The fats and carbs settle out depending on what I eat, what the family eats for dinner, etc.
Not picky about eating clean, and eat stuff like pizza, chikfila, chipotle, etc. But i dont eat much sugar at all or drink sweet drinks or diet sodas even. lots of water and coffee with real half and half, usually drink less than once a week. Try for good fats, olive oil, peanut butter, etc. Probably half my protein is from whey supplements. Lazy way to get macros right basically.
I'm 47, and besides a multi, I take calcium for bones, fish oil, glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM for joints, magnesium (to balance calcium and help sleep), and creatine. Whew! But no prescription meds, and only very sporadic ibuprofen for little tweaks.
I've found crockpot and slow cooking recipes to be the most useful. Most don't need a lot of intervention, so you can start it and walk away. It also yields several days worth of food, so you don't have to worry about what you are going to eat tomorrow very often.
Grocery stores usually have pretty decent stuff for lunch if you forget to bring yours. I just paid $12 for 1.5 lbs of tasty quiche and .5 lb of mexican coleslaw (think spicy coleslaw with some corn). That plus the fruit I brought is lunch for two days.
"How did you deal with eating for strength in an environment where there is massive pressure to conform to certain body ideals, even if your genetics just aren't cut out for it?"
This is tricky. It's easier for guys since big (muscular) is still acceptable even though skinny jeans are in. You could try things like "DOn't you hate it when you buy a bunch of groceries and you have to take several trips because they are so heavy? Yeah, I don't have that issue". You could try the more positive approach of health, longevity, physical capability and the mental health of living your life without much regard to arbitrary societal norms.
One thing that always got me was the "How hard to do you to train to be able to eat like that" as mounds of food was my "reward" for training. It's the other way around "how hard can you train after eating like that?".
But yeah, it sucks. If you come up with a good answer, let me know.
My biggest challenge is enough protein, I weigh abt 152 (@ 5'5") so I shoot for 130-150g/day. I eat paleo, no protein supplements, so that is alotta food. I eat barely any carbs, a LOT of fat. I'm leaner than I've been in a while, though not as much when I was a marathon junkie a few years ago.
I had an eating disorder for many years and that kind of trashed my sensations of both hunger and fullness, so I used to tend to undereat, always thinking that its better to eat too little than too much. Then I'd get *really* hungry and overeat, and it usually involved dark chocolate. Lots of it. Followed by feelings of "why did I just do that to myself?' Stupid, really.
I hate to use nutrition calculators, but whenever I do, I am low on protein and total calories. I started adding coconut milk to my coffee, this is a good way for me to get calories in easily. I haven't put on any weight from it, and its been almost 2 months.
I like to eat clean, it definitely affects my auto-immune health when I don't.
Supplements: VitD, VitK, cod liver oil, magnesium
Br: 6oz ground beef + 4 eggs + 1/2 can coconut milk
L: leftovers from dinner, 4-6 oz(?) meat + veg
D: some form of animal protein + veg
I eat a very boring diet I suppose, but I like it and it seems to be supporting my workouts. I definitely do not have the emotional connection to food that I once had. Good.
Ooops! That is me above. Derp. Logged on from Goat's PC.
"How did you deal with eating for strength in an environment where there is massive pressure to conform to certain body ideals, even if your genetics just aren't cut out for it?" I suffered for years, needlessly, trying to be thin, not just thin, but SKINNY. Fuck being strong, I didn't want my thighs to touch. And I *was* thin, looking back now! But never quite thin enough.
Even after I started serious strength training, there was still the allure of thin arms and legs.... Finally, I realized that I had come to terms with my hair, why couldn't I do that with my body shape? (My hair: thin, mostly straight with a crazy cowlicks at the temples, and I have a widow's peak. I wanted long Cindy Crawford hair, for YEARS. Thick, wavy and luscious. YEAH RIGHT. my hair is thin and my face is heart shaped. I look TERRIBLE with long hair, but I would keep trying. Miserably. When I finally stopped fighting it and got a razored bob, it was like OH. My hair *can* look good.... duh. ) So i made the connection with my body: I have big arms and legs. Yep. That's not changing. Even when I was exercising 20 hrs/week, weighing 20 lbs less than I do now, I had big arms and legs. Thighs touched.
What I *did* change was -
dress in ways that flatter my body shape
surrounded myself with people who cared about strength
got a new attitude: fuck being skinny, I want STRONG
"the mental health of living your life without much regard to arbitrary societal norms"
Jamie, I hear females everywhere talk about the same issues over and over again. I feel like an alien, because I am the only woman I know who is NOT on a diet. I don't weigh myself everyday. I have no clue what my body fat is. And it totally doesn't matter. I know exactly what it is like to be in their shoes, and I wouldn't ever want to be there again.
"Fuck it!" seems to be the key for many of us, doesn't it. I'm another who will never be skinny, and never get normal jeans to fit right. It's much easier not to care when I feel strong.
On the other hand, I like to log food, and check weight regularly. I don't always do anything with the information, but it's nice to have. Since I log anyway, I quite like calorie cycling, with high days and low days. I find it easier to eat to lose weight when I know I can have some treat later in the week if I really want it.
On the third hand though, the general principles are no different for (smaller) guys, so all that detailed info can be used, properly scaled.