Post-Workout Overfeeding (More Humongous Meals)

I think I’ve finally hit a good stride with the food required to take these last steps and get to my goal of leanness while not sacrificing lean muscle. Moreover, I’m beginning to get pretty strong. At about 175 now, 5’10, I can smell that 300# deadlift (conventional, I’m now at 250# for reps, where I was a while back on sumo). The back squat is progressing nicely too, though not quite as quickly. I’m up to 230# for reps there.

Most everything else, to me, is kind of a means to the end of getting into the 300s, maybe even 400s on those two exercises and not hurting myself doing it.

Of course I’ve been writing about some of this stuff for a while and have talked quite a bit about potatoes. And this isn’t my first post on Big Meals. Click on the photos in series for the hi-resolution versions.

Big Meal
Big Meal

But what I do find interesting is that I’m not the only one in my neck of the paleosphere talking about this. In mid-June, Mark Sisson broached the topic, as did the uber-strong Keith Norris. The general consensus seems to be:

  1. Use starchy tubers primarily.
  2. Do it in conjunction with a post-workout feeding or overfeeding

And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.

Bigger Meal
Bigger Meal

So, essentially, I’ll try to get in 80% or so of my carbs for the day in one meal, post-workout. That’s three big carb meals per week and the rest are pretty conventional low-carb, high-fat & high-protein paleo.

Biggest Meal
Biggest Meal

Once I reach my goal I’ll then decide whether to continue the high carb meals but I’m leaning towards doing that. I also might ratchet down the protein but I’m not entirely sure about that, either.

Potato Pancakes – Leftover mash, two eggs and green onion, in butter

I guess I’m up in the air about that because I feel like I’ve really gotten myself into a good groove that works. I’m getting strong, slowly leaner, and so what’s not to like?

It was hard to wait until they were done

Initially I was sort of repulsed by the Big Meals, having gotten used to eating smaller ones, high in fat. But now I’m finding I really like it. Yesterday we were out running about to join up with family in the woods when my post-fast meal window opened and we found a perfect restaurant: Steve Medlen’s House of Beef in Oakdale, CA. I had a bowl of vegetable beef soup, a big green salad, about 10oz of tri-tip, mixed vegetables and the bowl of chili that came with it. I can just feel the furnace kicking on when eating a meal like that after an 18-hr fast. It just feels really good.

Of course this was only the first helping for the sake of taking a photo

So I guess we’ll see how it all turns out on the dietary front.

There is one more issue and you might think me crazy (others do) but I have been having great success the last three consecutive weeks doing all three workouts back-to-back, in three days, to be followed by a full four days of rest.

My favorite of the lot – a cup of cottage cheese, 4 eggs and a pound of potato fried in bacon drippings

Here’s what I’m seeing as the advantages of this:

  1. Mental boost. It’s like a 3-day work week and I get mentally up and stay up.
  2. Four days of rest in a row is fantastic.
  3. In terms of the diet, this gives me the post-workout overfeeds three days in a row, followed by four days of more pure low-carb paleo.

So, what do you think about all of that?


  1. Aaron Curl on July 3, 2010 at 19:26

    I need to broaden my cooking skills. Your food porn makes me freaking drool! I just keep cooking the same things over and over and over. I just need more time in a day, even though I wake up at 5 in the morning. However, I spend 2 hours every morning before work reading blogs like yours and Marks so I spend my time wisely. I need to get rid of the 8 to 6 job, which is why I’m getting a CPT. Soon I will have the time to cook like a chef, in the mean time I’ll keep eating eggs and bacon….lol.

  2. Michael on July 3, 2010 at 20:40

    Richard, it seems you have adopted a version of Dr. Di Pasquale’s, the Anabolic Diet, where he has you low-carb for 5 days, and then two days of high carb (at least that was the original version. He has since fine-tuned it and created a version for the general public). At the time I was interested, I liked it because I could be really strict during the week, when being strict in the midst of my other responsibilities was easy, but then I could “let loose” on weekends when I was naturally in more social eating environments.

  3. Karen on July 3, 2010 at 22:31

    If you haven’t already done so, you also might be interested in Natural Hormonal Enhancement by Rob Faigin (

  4. Chris W on July 3, 2010 at 22:37

    As far as I know, both Di Pasquale and Rob Faigin (author of “Natural Hormonal Enhancement” – another cyclic low carb approach) recommend against carby post work out meals. The reason being that carbs would ruin post work out insulin sensitivity and fat burning.

    Faigin thinks the major reasons for carbing up cyclically is to increase T3 hormone, replenish glycogen stores for better athletic performance, and stimulate anabolism through insulin and IGF-1. (I think that the last point is a bit contradictory to his rec against post work out carbs – incidentally that chapter was written long after the carb-load chapter.)

    As to benefits from post work out carbs, I think I’ve heard Robb Wolf mentioning faster recovery after intense exercise.

    It would be interesting to hear more about what the rationale is for post work out carb meals. Body builders seem to have thought them to be beneficial for a long time, and maybe there is something to it. Perhaps there is a tradeoff between building muscle quickly and health.

  5. Michael on July 3, 2010 at 22:42

    As far as I know, both Di Pasquale and Rob Faigin (author of “Natural Hormonal Enhancement” – another cyclic low carb approach) recommend against carby post work out meals. The reason being that carbs would ruin post work out insulin sensitivity and fat burning.

    Oh yeah definitely Di Pasquale, as the 5×2 approach suggests, where the workouts occur during the 5 day cycle. That is why I said a version of the diet, speaking more in terms of the carb cycling rather than post workout nutrition. Martin Berkhan has some interesting stuff on why he thinks post workout carbing is advantageous.

  6. Chris on July 3, 2010 at 23:03

    I’ve always been a big believer of long rest periods. Remember Mike Mentzer and the HIT crowd? They’d often work out only once a week (but seriously intensely) and state they needed a minimum of four days rest for the new muscle to grow

  7. Chaohinon on July 4, 2010 at 00:31

    Homefries, fuck yeah.

    I recommend next time you make them, when they’re almost ready, dump some balsamic vinegar and raw honey into the pan (not directly onto the potatoes, they’ll get soggy), let it reduce and get syrupy, then coat the potatoes with it. Delish.

  8. Scott W on July 4, 2010 at 08:18

    One difference I see w/ the approach outlined by Sisson and others is that you are not limiting your fat intake post-workout as much as they would suggest (frying stuff in butter, etc.). I think the point is that fat slows down the carb absorption in the immediate post-workout window, doesn’t contribute to resetting leptin in the short term and keeps your body from burning its own fat to a certain degree. Lyle McDonald (for whatever you think if him), has noted that the body will keep burning fat post-workout because incoming carbs are prioritized to replenish liver and muscle glycogen; if you consume fat during this period, you are feeding the body the substrate that ideally it should be stripping from your subcutaneous fat if your goal is getting lean.

    But I’m no expert here…if it’s working, it’s working.

    Scott W

    • Richard Nikoley on July 4, 2010 at 08:58

      I am aware of that and while I wouldn’t say I’m low fat on the workout days it is certainly moderate. The cottage cheese is low fat variety. I usually take it easy on the eggs and when I do fry up, I measure out a tbsp and then let me food drain off any excess. And, I try to prefer leaner meats when I can. No bacon, no 80/20 ground beef, no grass fed franks.

  9. Ned Kock on July 4, 2010 at 09:23

    Richard, since the main goal is to replenish glycogen stores, I would recommend some fruits as well. The fructose in fruits actually contributes to accelerate glycogen replenishment, together with glucose.

    Fructose seems to moderate the effect of glucose on glycogen replenishment. So a combination of starches and fruits may be optimal.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 4, 2010 at 09:36

      Actually, Ned, I read that post and have since been adding in some fruit, so thanks for that tidbit.

      By the way, your blogging is excellent — Shephanesque, actually — and I don’t think you’re getting the attention you deserve. There are a few others in that category so Monday I will have a post up highlighting some of the newer excellent blogs on the scene and yours is one of those chosen few.

      • Ned Kock on July 5, 2010 at 00:49

        Thanks Richard. I wish I had more time for this blog-writing hobby. There are a lot of fascinating health-related topics out there that need to be looked at from an evolutionary perspective.

  10. mallory on July 4, 2010 at 09:38

    fructose goes to the liver not the replenishment of luscles, to my knowledge… anyway, this is sweet, ive been eating my fill in carbs lately and loving them. scary at first but guess what it is all a lotta hoopla because mentall i feel amazing. jealous of your cottage cheese though as it makes my face break out so i go with 2%FAGE with a similar looking meal as yours. i do prefer roots/tuber to potatoes as i just dont like potatoes. i do LOVE rutabagas, jicamas and turnips though slow roasted in olive oil….yum YUM

    what are your other meals? i cant tell cuz theres no descriptions besides the homefries and atter cakes…you think i could make tater cakes outta mashed turnips??

  11. Dr.BG on July 4, 2010 at 21:13

    I think post-WOD carbs are great for cycling and re-feeding… STRONG WORK Richard!

    My trainers at xfit strongly supports ‘do not fear undertraining…’ The rest days are actually MORE important than the strength/HIIT days. After days at Napa, everyone comes back with PRs, gains and more MUSCLE! *haa!* I bet the massages and red wine don’t hurt!


  12. Ned Kock on July 5, 2010 at 01:03

    Hi G!

    Your unmistakable *haa!* assures that this is not someone posting under your name.

    Btw, I was a bit surprised by the Gwyneth Paltrow news. First I saw it on Peter’s blog, then yours.

    They say that her diet has fish in it, plus vegetables. That is not so bad, especially if you eat fish whole. Small fish, like smelts and sardines, provide plenty of calcium through their bones when eaten whole. (My wild guess is that she doesn’t eat fish whole.)

    But then there are the grains. She may well have a GI tract condition, caused by the grains, that is preventing the absorption of nutrients. If this is the case, the advice she is getting from her doctors is not going to be of much help.

    • animal pharm on July 5, 2010 at 10:04


      You are funny. Yes gut dysbiosis… the bane of modern neolithic society. Gwen also appears hypothyroid to me. Anyone semi-vegan also probably has some degree of calcified adrenal glands due to insufficient dietary cholesterol and high grain/soy intakes. Again multifactorial — see Chris Kresser’s latest series. Even if Gwen consumes fish, it is probably not like the Europeans, Japanese, Okinawan or trad’l Taiwanese who consume the whole small fish where the thyroid gland is consumed.


  13. How carbs and insulin make you fat and/or ill! - Page 99 - Myprotein Forum on July 5, 2010 at 01:16

    […] ARE paleo! Post-Workout Overfeeding (More Humongous Meals) | Free The Animal __________________ Everyone knows that in order for a carb to be kleen, it must be pure in […]

  14. Matthew Perry on July 5, 2010 at 20:03

    Re: three workouts back-to-back followed by four days of rest.

    This is similar to the training approach of some cycling coaches (notably Dave Morris) called ‘Block Training’. The idea is that, for a relatively fit individual, a single workout does not provide enough stress on the body to really produce optimal results. Instead, stack the workouts in 2 or 3 day blocks, work it hard and *nearly* overstress your body. Then rest for a few days, fully recover and the body will bounce back stronger (As opposed to the 1 day on/ 1 day off cycle where you are never fully worked but never fully recovered)

  15. Primitive on July 6, 2010 at 07:51

    Hello Richard,
    I’m trying to overcome a plateau of 14-15% BF for a year. Now here and on MDA, I see that carb loading might be quite helpful; however, I have 2 questions:
    1- what if one is not hungry after a big workout, can you postpone eating till you’re hungry, or you loose the benefits doing so?
    2- how much carb one should include, roughly? What MDA states is 200-300 grams for the day, which is like 1.5kg of sweet potatoes (just an example of amount not the variety); honestly, it’s quite difficult eating that much carb.
    BTW, I truly enjoy your approach to health, nutrition and fitness, and particularly your open, non-orthodox take on paleo/primal lifestyle, which, as far as I understand it, is based on observing the principals and tailoring them toward realities of one’s life and environment, as opposed to a black & white approach.
    Thank you.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 6, 2010 at 08:42

      Someone else, either on this post or a recent one about big meals commented that they looked it up and glycogen replenishment peaks at about 45 min after the workout. I’m usually eating 45-90 minutes after. I’ve found that with some practice and determination I can now do the big meals even if I don’t initially feel hungry. My workouts are typically around 10am, fasted.

      One way to go for at least part of the protein is to use a shake. I did that at first but more and more try to eat food. The other thing is that I’ve come to realize that the humongous meal is three per week, not like I have to do it all the time.

      Mark’s recommendation of upwards of 200-300g is stepp for my tastes. I think a range of perhaps half that would get you the same benefit.

      • Primitive on July 6, 2010 at 12:43

        Thanks Richard. It seems when it comes to optimizing muscle gain and leanness, one has to break away from some paleo nutrition principals (e.g. eat if hungry, till satiety…).
        Well, as someone pointed out in another post, by looking at photos of existing hunter gatherers, one could see that being ripped, unsurprisingly, has not been an evolutionary, but a modern aesthetic pursuit.

  16. Joe Matasic on July 7, 2010 at 06:27

    Are these meals only big in volume only? I know that you got used to smaller meals as I have since I’ve been concentrating on fat and less protein. Especially since they took my free weights away. Got to find me a decent gym. Anyways, my point is aren’t the carb mainly volume and maybe two hundred kcals. Sure it would feel bigger but somehow I can always eat more carbs. It’s not like you’re eating the equivalent mass of fat or protein.

    Just wondering if the size of these bigger meals is more volume than kcal. How many extra calories are you getting on post workout days and are you eating more during rest days? If its all potatoes and especially if you’re dumping extra fat, I would guess not too much.

    • Richard Nikoley on July 7, 2010 at 08:47

      The cals vary, of course, I’d say 800-1200 average, depending whether I throw on a shake, another cup of cottage cheese or both.

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