Why Eat Lots
Part 3 – Special Pops Recap
Edit: I do not know why the comments were turned off, but you can comment now.
The material I have been covering in the “Why Eat Lots” posts has been covered multiple times on this website as well as by Rip in his Q&A on the Starting Strength website. Nevertheless, let’s go through it again.
Note: Advice on strength training typically assumes a regular, healthy individual. However, individuals are individuals. There may be disorders, diseases, allergies, quirks, etc. that make you unique. Just use some common sense.
Typically girls won’t be eating the same type of food as Skinny Guy. This should be intuitive. A girl probably won’t be drinking a gallon of milk a day and eating four hearty meals (although I have heard of girls drinking that much milk, but we’ll call that an outlier). In general, a woman who is new to training will need to eat much more protein than she was when she was not training. The breakdown of muscle requires protein to repair it, and an excess is needed in order for the existing muscle to grow.
How much excess calories a female will eat will usually depend on her body frame, how skinny she is, how she is training, etc. Skinny girls are free to eat whatever, but will usually have to be encouraged to eat more in order to recover properly. If the weight can’t be lifted in the next workout, then she more than likely didn’t eat enough. A girl in this situation might need to record a day or two of her food intake to get an idea of what she is actually eating. She may also need someone else — a coach, friend, but not a spouse — to remind her what the goal is so that she commits to eating for recovery. A skinny girl is free to drink any amount of milk.
If a girl is of a medium frame, or in other words is not in a position where she needs to gain weight, but needs her composition to change over to muscle, then she should probably keep her carbohydrate intake low while increasing her protein intake. If lifting is a new method of training, her metabolism and body composition will change as a result — ASSUMING a proper program is adhered to and adequate protein is eaten. A medium girl may need to limit milk intake.
If a girl is of a large frame and/or is in a position where she needs to lose body fat, then she will keep the carbohydrate intake low, plenty of protein to recover and aid the increasing metabolism, and she should eliminate milk from her diet. Milk is something that makes baby mammals grow, and if she is trying to drop body fat, then she does not need any help growing. She will probably benefit from some conditioning sessions throughout the week. Short, intense, sprint-like endeavors can be done after she lifts, especially if she is untrained. An untrained woman will not have any trouble recovering from an additional conditioning work load until 6 weeks in at the earliest. Assuming she is untrained, rowing sprints will be one of the best things to use until her strength has increased to a point where she can use some other methods like running, prowling, barbell complexes, etc.
The biggest problem most females will have is with trusting a barbell training program. Skinny girls have been told their whole lives that being skinny is not only okay, but it is preferable. They also think they are going to get “bulky” — a ridiculous assumption since a female has one tenth the testosterone as a guy. The percentage of females that can actually build muscle easily have already done so to some extent, so the skinny girl doesn’t have anything to worry about.
A woman’s body obviously functions different hormonally, so it makes sense that their dietary requirements are going to differ from a male doing the same program. However, the same rules still apply: stronger is better, and muscle is harder to gain than fat is to lose.
I really shouldn’t have to address this again, but a fat guy needs to stop eating a whole bunch of carbs. He probably should eliminate milk from his diet until it becomes necessary for recovery. In other words, a paleo-type approach with plenty of protein is on the agenda. If the guy is pretty damn fat, the barbell training alone will change his body composition over time. In such a case, some conditioning may be done, but ONLY if it does NOT interfere with the strength recovery.
Old guys usually know that their body doesn’t function as well as it did when they were 20 years old. They can still go through a linear progression, but some tweaks may need to be made. They obviously will not eat like a 20 year old skinny kid though. Plenty of meat and fat, and they would watch the carbs. If they started gaining too much fat, they could pull the carbs back down. Standard deal.
It has been my experience that you are lucky if old gals are willing to make a change in their life in general. They have been under pressure from the media and society about body image and what a “proper diet” is longer than younger girls. Get them training consistently first, then worry about food. Typically they will need more protein, but at this point training is about staving off the nursing home as opposed to attracting the opposite sex or competing in sport.
If there are any relevant populations that you think I need to highlight, slap it in the comments.