Phase 3: Big And Strong

I stated a pretty audacious goal for Phase 3 in my last post: gain 10 pounds in one month. I’m going to stick to that goal. How am I going to get there?

First, I took a break. This past weekend I was in Baltimore (third wedding in three weekends) and decided that I would celebrate the successful end of my first 2 experiment phases. Maybe it was the euphoric high of finally having dairy again after so long, but I went hog wild. I stopped counting all my food. I ate paleoish by avoiding grains and soy entirely still, but eating all the dairy and sugar that I wanted. That meant I ate chocolate. And cheesecake filling. And cheese, lots and lots of cheese. And cake frosting. And milk. And ice cream. And more milk. It was good, good, good.

But now I’m back from traveling, and back on a mission to get Big And Strong.

Now, let’s be clear: I’d be fine with just getting strong without getting big. It’s hard for me to countenance gaining weight after all I’ve done to lose weight in the past. But that said, I want to make big improvements on my strength, and every strength coach from Rippetoe down the line says you gotta drink your milk and eat big to lift heavier. So, I’m going to try that approach and see what happens.

I do not have a personal dream to be lifting a volkswagen at the expense of being back in pants with a 44 inch waist. I do however feel like this experience will leave me more likely to be able to counsel well the client who has a goal of getting “Big And Strong”. This experiment is going to determine how effective a relatively lean, paleo-quality diet is at adding lean muscle mass quickly, when combined with our standard CrossFit Fenway training regimen.

So what is the new protocol, you ask? Let’s do it the scientific way: let’s use math.

My average intake numbers from Phase 2 showed that I consumed 2350 cals, 300g protein, and 40g carbs daily. Now, on that regimen, I lost 4# of fat in a month. At 3500 cals/pound, that’s 14,000 calories deficit; 500 cals per day under budget. That means my “maintenance” energy need, including exercise consumption, was 2850 calories per day.

So how much do I have to eat to gain mass?

My goal is to add 10 pounds in 28 days. A pound of muscle contains a lot of lean meat and not much fat, so it doesn’t hold as many calories. Still, to repair/bulk/build that muscle takes a lot of energy, so we’ll stick with the 3500 cals per pound rule of thumb to account for fat and muscle gained. That means I need to add 35,000 supplemental calories above my maintenance level over the next month in order to put on 10 pounds.

35,000 cals in 28 days = 1250 extra cals per day
2850 maintenance + 1250 extra = 4100 target calories per day

In order to hit my goals, I’ll need to eat 4100 calories per day. Now, I can’t imagine eating enough lean meats and broccoli to get there, so I’m going to add dairy back into my diet. That, and I love dairy. Really, really love it.

In addition, I want to increase the protein available for building muscle mass as I bulk. Since I averaged 300g a day in Phase 2 and exactly preserved my lean body mass, it makes sense that I’ll need more protein for muscle synthesis. Let’s aim for 400g protein daily.

Finally, I’ll be keeping the carbs relatively low. I stayed under 50g per day in Phase 2. I’m nearly doubling calories, so let’s keep it to less than 100g carbs daily, shall we?

A few final variations: I know that some flavorings may sneak in. I’m not going to be a dogmatic prick about this paleo. I’m going to eat very clean and high quality, but I won’t cry if I have some sugar (ice cream) or some incidental soy sneak in through “flavorings”. Likewise, I am aware that GNC’s Wheybolic Extreme 60 protein powder does, in fact, include some artificial sweeteners. At the moment, I’m inclined to let that slide as well.

If I feel terrible in a week, I’ll revisit it. For now, though, that’s my formula for how to gain 10 pounds in a month. I’ll post my food logs here as usual, and keep you updated on my training schedule and strength gains. At least, I sure hope I see strength gains…

Wednesday, 6/30/10

2 eggs (200/1/15/13)
greek yogurt (chobani 0%) (90/6/0/16)
2 scoops wheybolic protein (180/4/0/40)
whole organic milk (150/11/8/8)
2 scoops wheybolic protein (180/4/0/40)
trail mix (140/18/8/3)
2 pound steak, grass fed beef (1600/0/72/240)
ice cream (220/24/13/2)
yogurt+protein powder (135/5/0/28)
milk (150/12/8/8)
sunflower butter (220/3/20/6)
ice cream (250/29/13/4)
Totals: 3515 calories, 117g carbs, 157g fat, 408g protein

– My first day eating big, and I couldn’t quite eat big enough. I guess this is going to take some getting used to. Tomorrow, I’ll start earlier and start making a plan to get there. Being “too busy” is no excuse for not eating enough. I’d also like to keep the carbs lower – so more lean proteins and leafy vegetables would probably help on that front too.

Time to load up on broccoli.

2 thoughts on “Phase 3: Big And Strong”

  1. Hooray for this.

    You seem to already be encountering a problem I’ve heard a lot about (but never experienced myself)- how to eat ENOUGH high quality calories. It’s tough. As Greg Everett says in his O lifting book, “those who think it’s easy to gain useful weight have never had experience with the subject and thus their opinions can be dismissed” LOL.

    Ahh, the joys of being able to eat as much as you want. Love it dude! Stay focused, I think this phase is going to be super-fun (and really productive).

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