Are You Eating Enough?

Frank asks…

Mehdi, I’ve read your StrongLifts 5×5 guide twice now. I like your rhetoric and the no BS content of the guide.

I’m 30 years old, 178cm and 97 kg. Until now I’ve worked out twice a week. Upperbody-only which took 1.5 hours to complete and was exhausting. No squats, no deadlifts… In addition to strength training I run a couple of times per week and cycle to work.

So upon reading your guide/a> I had several revelations. I used to train to failure and was sore after most of my workouts. The progress was minimal and I stalled alot. The threshold to go and train was also high since the program was so rigorous. On a lazy day I skipped training and I had no fixed days I trained.

I just started SL5x5 and it’s fun to train again. One session is about 40 minutes so that makes it so easy to just go and train. I also love that I now have a schedule, training mon, wed and friday.

I’m in the process of losing body fat. My starting weight was 102.5, and the goal is 85kg. I’ve lost 0.5 to 1.0kg weekly and I’m now at 97kg. My target caloric intake is 1950kcal which equals basal metabolic rate for 85kg. I weigh every gram + I eat extra to cover the deficit from workouts for restitution purposes.

You mention in your StrongLifts 5×5 guide that one should target 3000kcal for proper restitution and gains. I think that if I eat for my goal weight + cover the deficit from my workouts the body will use energy from fat reserves? Surely there must be a difference in daily caloric intake for person A with 10% body fat, and person B with 30%?

Does the my extra kilos of fat allow me to target a caloric intake for 85kg (1950kcal) and still train SL 5×5 with progress and gains?

What if person A and B weigh exactly the same? What if person A only Squats 135lb but person B Squats 400lb? What if person A eats 3x more protein per day than person B? Get it? It’s not the difference in body-fat that matters, it’s the difference in body-weight, muscle mass, activity levels and food choice.

Also, you always reduce calories from the amount you need to maintain your current body-weight – NOT your goal weight. Resting metabolic rate is 11kcal/lb for guys or 2347kcal at 97kg BW. Add at least 1000kcal as fuel for StrongLifts 5×5 + cycling + running + moving around, and you understand that you may need up to 4000kcal/day depending on how hard/long you exercise.

Most guys doing StrongLifts 5×5 are not severely under-weight or over-weight, but just want to lose fat. Usually, they don’t do much sports besides SL5x5 either, and have a sedentary job like me. In these cases, 3000kcal/day works fine to gain strength and muscle while losing body-fat. Obviously, the more active, stronger and bigger you are, the more calories you’ll need.