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Gastric sleeve, heavy lifting, calorie intake and over-training.



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I had gastric sleeve Sept 2018 and I’ve done fantastically well - I’m down 90lbs and my current stats are 40 yo, 6’5” and 255lbs. I’ve been lifting weights seriously for the past 6 years. Prior to surgery I was lifting +325lbs in bench press, squats and deadlifts for reps. As I expected in the 5 months after surgery I’ve lost a lot of strength with the weight loss. My weight stabilized to 255lbs about two months ago and I started back with a 5x5 weight lifting program. I’m back up to bench 225lbs, squats 245lbs, deadlifts 265lbs, Overhead press 150lbs and Barbell rows 190lbs in my 5x5.

For the past 2 months I’ve been eating 2000 calories per day and trying to get a minimum of 200g of Protein per day. Weight is stable, I’ve put on significant lean mass and strength in my 5x5 program. My goal is to try and get back up to +325lbs for my BP, DL and Squats for no other reason than I really like lifting and I tend to be goal oriented. My goal from day one was lean mass preservation and avoidance of becoming skinny fat. All that said, I’m starting to feel “gassed” as I continue to add weight and I’m showing typical signs of over-training - something I never dealt with in my pre-op calorie excess days.

Speaking to various fitness people has not helped. If I speak to a fitness person at the gym who is not familiar with bariatric surgery the answer is I’m in severe calorie restriction and sure a guy my size lifting what I’m lifting could be eating 3500+ calories per day easily and still maintain weight. If I speak to the bariatric program fitness person I’m like the first person they’ve ever met who has come through the program who has maintained any strength and wants to lift 300+ lbs and for everyone else she’s recommending people do pushups...against the wall. I blew the nutritionist’s mind that I was eating 2000 calories per day and still losing weight at my 6 month. She doesn’t know what to do with me other than to say I look good and if I feel good then it’s good.

So I’m looking for answers that appear to have no data in the literature and no one knows what to do with me. Anyone here doing heavy lifting post-op and consuming 1500 to 2000 calories per day successfully? If so....Anyone experiencing overtraining and if so what have you done? My plan is to schedule “deload” week every 4-6 weeks depending how I’m feeling. I’m reluctant to increase my calories over 2000 per day as this seems to be my maintenance intake to maintain 255lbs - I’m very happy at 255.

Thanks in advance.....

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Sounds like you're in an unusual, but happy position for you. Keep up the good work!

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Hi, I had my surgery in September 2018 too, back lifting heavy-ish but can't get enough calories or Protein in so the gains are slow (I'm female, lost 31kg, basically at goal). I lost a lot of strength post op, down a good 20kg or more on squat, bench and deadlift, and I do a bit of Olly lifting for fun but don't have the endurance or explosive power I had. Are you taking supplements at all? I've not been brave enough to go back to anything except magnesium (my gut is dodgy) but am wanting to see how I cope with creatine and amino acids but need to up protein first.

My dietician wasn't able to help me much beyond train less!! She also suggested I make sure I eat low inflammatory foods to help with recovery and over training.

Would love to know what other lifters have found works.

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Posted (edited)

Gradycat, absolutely...thank you for the encouragement!

belikewater, I’ve been super lucky. I’ve never had any pain, vomiting or even nausea post-op. I tried something deep fried about a month ago (just a bite) and while that did not “agree” I have no real food intolerances. On my Protein is Optimum Nutrition and I do a post-workout drink. Other than that it’s a multi, vit D3, B7, B12 and Calcium. My diet is “real” food - meats, fish, veggies, fruit and minimal processed white crap.

Post-op I did a Jim Stoppani Short Cut Size routine which was good to get me back in the gym because it varied weight and reps. I flew through that and felt good. At the time protein was at 120g per day and I was at about 1200 calories per day at the start and 1500 calories by the end. I realized how much strength I lost and decided to do Strong Lifts 5x5 - great for strength and only 3x per week. I’m also putting some HIIT in there too with a sled push and stair climb sprints. With this 5x5 you basically lift every other day and you alternate an A workout (squat, overhead press, deadlift) and a B workout (Squat, bench, barbell rows) - but you squat and add weight every workout - also doing weighted dips and chin-ups. Worried about recovery I moved up to 2000 calories per day and 200g of protein per day when I started this and was doing fine until the last week and half. I have had no problem progressing with weight but just really feeling fatigued afterwards and the next day. Now the fatigue is starting to creep into the next workout day too. Like I said no problem moving the weight during the lifts and no excessive DOMS - matter of fact sometimes none - just feeling worn out and spread thin all the time now.

I’ve never needed “deload weeks” or “rest weeks” but I’m going to take a rest week this week. I’ll do some light cardio to keep active but I’m going to take the next week off and see how I feel. I’ve also got some mild, albeit nagging, joint pains here and there so this week should help. I’m also going to cut to 1500 calories per day since I’m not going to be working as hard.

At 200g of protein I have definitely added size and strength....maybe not as much as if I were in a real calorie excess but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. This is more than 2.5x more than my program recommends post-op but like I said I’m not a typical post-op patient.

Edited by PWMDMD

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Great you can drink Protein, I can't keep it down but am experimenting with different brands to see if I can find something that works. I can't physically get more that about 1000-1100 calories in so is limiting my progress but I'm hoping to at least maintain what I've got until I can eat more. I'm trying to balance getting protein in but also carbs as I trail run as well and find complex carbs like oats the best for this.

I've also started training with a heart rate monitor and I take longer rests between sets if need be for my heart rate to drop to see if this helps with the on-going fatigue.

Do you use pre-workout? I'm keen to go back to using vasodilator but my dietician isn't sure if this will cause problems with the high dose caffeine (I do drink coffee daily with no probs)

Hope your rest week does the trick, is hard to be patient when you're ready to get back into it! 😆

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@PWMDMD

Lifting and fueling can be tricky to figure out. A few memebrs that may help you out. @BigViffer @BlueCrush @Albus

I’m five years out, It’s been trial and error. Bariatric dieticians did not know what to do with my fitness level (I distance run and lift) Trainers advice on diet I had to laugh at. I finally went to a sports medicine dietician and figured out what works for me.

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19 hours ago, PWMDMD said:

At 200g of Protein I have definitely added size and strength....maybe not as much as if I were in a real calorie excess but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. This is more than 2.5x more than my program recommends post-op but like I said I’m not a typical post-op patient.

Not sure if you use myfitnesspal. It’s a great community of fitness minded people. Great place to find people that don’t fit the typical *smile*

Lifters that inspire me-

Check out this guys profile. Staffordshire hes 55 years old, started at 402 and is now 207. not sure if he had bariatrics but he is helpful and a wealth of information. (photos below)

https://www.myfitnesspal.com/profile/staffordshire62

Bigviffer - He has had surgery. His profile. (photos below)

https://www.myfitnesspal.com/profile/BigViffer

Bariatric profile

https://www.bariatricpal.com/profile/252425-bigviffer/

9e40060b3630122bf822f13b33e7aaaff66e_thumb.jpg

9e4084bde4f51cb551ac10b40d5667a66362_thumb.jpg

f299a49f8c8b6d4c4bbc1831e114ef9d8305.jpg

sml_gallery_252425_24323_25228.jpg

small.58cc442bc64b2_DeadliftScreencap01.jpg.5dda43cb26fb0fd6f698fe6474355d93.jpg

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5'3" 152 pound woman here who is down about 150 pounds. I do Olympic lifting to support my fencing (I fence foil and saber). I lift 3-4 times a week for about an hour with a trainer. I deadlift 240, Backsquat 235, and have horrible upper body stregnth. I can clean and jerk about 80 pounds - shooting for that 100 pound mark. I have mental issues with my ****** and I'm only at about 65 pounds. Just started bench pressing and can go 75 pounds for about 40-50 reps.

When I'm not lifting, I'm fencing 2-3 hours a day. I eat about 1500 - 1800 calories a day with 125g Protein and 113g carbs. Adding the carbs back in was essential for me to build muscle - I was cannibalizing muscle with my lifting because I wasn't getting enough carbs in.

I found a sports registered dietitian in my area (she was covered by my insurance - even better) and had experience with bariatric patients. She helped me refine my numbers. I use BCAA when I'm lifting and lots of electrolyte replacement stuff - e.g. nuun or Ucann Hydrate.

I had my resting metabolism checked after surgery to find that my resting metabolic rate is about 967 - so that's 1100 calories if I'm sitting on my butt all day. Best of luck!

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2 hours ago, Healthy_life2 said:

Not sure if you use myfitnesspal. It’s a great community of fitness minded people. Great place to find people that don’t fit the typical *smile*

Lifters that inspire me-

Check out this guys profile. Staffordshire hes 55 years old, started at 402 and is now 207. not sure if he had bariatrics but he is helpful and a wealth of information. (photos below)

https://www.myfitnesspal.com/profile/staffordshire62

Bigviffer - He has had surgery. His profile. (photos below)

https://www.myfitnesspal.com/profile/BigViffer

Bariatric profile

https://www.bariatricpal.com/profile/252425-bigviffer/

9e40060b3630122bf822f13b33e7aaaff66e_thumb.jpg

9e4084bde4f51cb551ac10b40d5667a66362_thumb.jpg

f299a49f8c8b6d4c4bbc1831e114ef9d8305.jpg

sml_gallery_252425_24323_25228.jpg

small.58cc442bc64b2_DeadliftScreencap01.jpg.5dda43cb26fb0fd6f698fe6474355d93.jpg

Thank you! I will checkout these profiles when I get a chance! I use Myfitness Pal everyday but have not spent much time on their forums.

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1 hour ago, Diana_in_Philly said:

5'3" 152 pound woman here who is down about 150 pounds. I do Olympic lifting to support my fencing (I fence foil and saber). I lift 3-4 times a week for about an hour with a trainer. I deadlift 240, Backsquat 235, and have horrible upper body stregnth. I can clean and jerk about 80 pounds - shooting for that 100 pound mark. I have mental issues with my ****** and I'm only at about 65 pounds. Just started bench pressing and can go 75 pounds for about 40-50 reps.

When I'm not lifting, I'm fencing 2-3 hours a day. I eat about 1500 - 1800 calories a day with 125g Protein and 113g carbs. Adding the carbs back in was essential for me to build muscle - I was cannibalizing muscle with my lifting because I wasn't getting enough carbs in.

I found a sports registered dietitian in my area (she was covered by my insurance - even better) and had experience with bariatric patients. She helped me refine my numbers. I use BCAA when I'm lifting and lots of electrolyte replacement stuff - e.g. nuun or Ucann Hydrate.

I had my resting metabolism checked after surgery to find that my resting metabolic rate is about 967 - so that's 1100 calories if I'm sitting on my butt all day. Best of luck!

Thank you! Yeah...just hard trying to figure out what is reasonable as a caloric intake. Most of the people in the hospital program are still eating 600-900 calories per day and so when I say 2000 no one knows what to say. It's nice to see others out there working hard and eating more calories.

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1 hour ago, PWMDMD said:

Thank you! Yeah...just hard trying to figure out what is reasonable as a caloric intake. Most of the people in the hospital program are still eating 600-900 calories per day and so when I say 2000 no one knows what to say. It's nice to see others out there working hard and eating more calories.

Just as an FYI - when I'm fencing at a National Competition (like a did 2 weeks ago) I will burn somewhere around 3000 calories in that day. All bets are off. I just eat whatever my body craves on those days and make sure I have plenty of things to nibble between bouts so I don't pass out. I also probably regularly drink 100 ounces of Water a day - I can easily go well over a gallon when I compete (the gear is hot and heavy.) A normal 2.5 hours of practice for me when I'm fencing is about 1500 calories burned. I should probably eat more than I do but I'm afraid of the damn carbs (because that's what got me in trouble in the first place).

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20 hours ago, belikewater said:

Great you can drink Protein, I can't keep it down but am experimenting with different brands to see if I can find something that works. I can't physically get more that about 1000-1100 calories in so is limiting my progress but I'm hoping to at least maintain what I've got until I can eat more. I'm trying to balance getting Protein in but also carbs as I trail run as well and find complex carbs like oats the best for this.

I've also started training with a heart rate monitor and I take longer rests between sets if need be for my heart rate to drop to see if this helps with the on-going fatigue.

Do you use pre-workout? I'm keen to go back to using vasodilator but my dietician isn't sure if this will cause problems with the high dose caffeine (I do drink coffee daily with no probs)

Hope your rest week does the trick, is hard to be patient when you're ready to get back into it! 😆

Pre-workout is usually just a banana in a Protein Shake :)

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Posted (edited)

Sounds like you’re doing great! I struggle with fueling properly too but I’m not the most organised and pretty lazy with tracking.

The StrongLifts program is pretty brutal when you start to get to higher weights so it might just be that you need a deload to give your system a wee rest! Also make sure you’re getting enough carbs especially on your lifting days as although Protein is important for muscle building they need glycogen to work.

I’ve just started training for a strongman competition and I’ve no earthly idea how I’m going to pack enough carbs and Water in between events in the day 😂

Edited by Albus

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Thanks Albus,

I’ve decided to move onto Madcow 5x5. I initially wasn’t going to switch until I was at much heavier weights for DL and squat but the advantage of the program is it’s designed to allow more recovery and it ramps up weight slower. While my goal weights will take significantly more time to reach I figure with my calorie deficit it’s a slower and safer way to proceed.

After taking the week off I felt much better at the gym this week. My Sunday workout was my first Madcow which automatically deloads in the beginning. It seemed significantly less taxing ramping up weight for the first three sets and only having to lift heavy for two sets vs all five sets. We’ll see how this goes....

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I’ll be following this with interest. I’m only a month out, but starting to build up my cardio again in anticipation of an active summer. I can restart lifting in another week and a half (yay! Maybe my belt will actually fit again). I went in to my last dietician appt. with a list of questions, looking for ideas on how to fuel my adding distance onto my trail runs, hike long hikes, and backpacking trips. She was absolutely no help, she just kept saying “you are so much more active than we generally see”. I’ve got some things figured out, but I know that there will be a lot of trial and error.

Prior to surgery, I did need to deload every 6 weeks or so, once I got into my 2nd year of lifting. I am fully expecting to do that again. For fuel, though, I have ideas but nothing solid. I’m interested to see what you figure out and what works for you.

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