I have been doing Wendler's 5/3/1 for about 6 weeks now (2 cycles) and am really enjoying it. I am lifting 4 days a week. For assistance, I've been following the boring but big template.

Foodwise, I've been taking my own homemade mass gainer (on lifting days) which consists of the following ingredients:

  1. 2 scoops protein powder (240kcals)
  2. 2 cups milk (300 kcals)
  3. 1 cup oats (300 kcals)
  4. 2 scoops almond butter (200 cals)

Everyday, I am consuming approximately 2500-3000kcals.

My question is: My weight has shot up by about 4 pounds since the start of 5/3/1, and I've noticed that I've gained a bit of fat. Should I decrease my calorie intake? I ask this because I am worried that my decreasing my calorie intake, I might lose strength gains. Anyone been on 5/3/1 with a similar dilemma?

2 Answers 2


If you are eating more calories than you're spending during a day, then you will be gaining mass. This comes in both muscle and fat form. If you do not want to gain fat, then yes, reduce your caloric intake. You likely won't lose strength gains, but you will also not gain them at a rate as quickly as you would if you remain at similar caloric intake levels.

It basically comes down to whether you want to 1. bulk up quicker (4lbs/month for 5 months would be 10 lbs muscle, 10 lbs fat) then cut off those 10 lbs of fat after 5 months while continuing to work out and keep your muscle size the same, or 2. continue weight training while lowering calories below your required TDEE in order to avoid fat gain, but also cut energy and muscle gain to a minimal amount.

Myself, and most others, would advise step 1. It's nearly impossible to avoid gaining fat, though you can try and keep it minimal. You can double check your diet and track your food through my fitness pal or something similar after knowing what your TDEE is, but I would continue to eat large if gaining muscle and strength is your top goal and tone down to less calories if thats a secondary goal, and your main goal is to keep a lean physique. Going a bulk then cut route will get you a large physique initially, then leaner with larger muscles once you cut off the rest of the fat.

Hope that helps!


I've run 5/3/1 while losing weight. I've also run more demanding programs under the watchful eye of a coach while losing weight. During both of those times I did remarkably well, losing fat and getting stronger.

I'll echo the dietary recommendations on eating for performance:

  • Keep fat lower and carbs higher
  • Adjust your total calories so that you are losing the equivalent of 1 lb a week
  • Supplement creatine, even with the water gain, it can help give you the edge to keep pushing hard in the gym.
  • Work just as hard in the gym as you do now

While cutting does present a head wind, most of us are not pushing so close to the edge of our potential (me included) that you can still continue to progressively get stronger while eating fewer calories.

If you have a scale that estimates body fat, you may see your estimated lean mass shrinking. Do not be alarmed! Not all lean mass is muscle, some of it is water retention, some of it is misreported. In either case, your fat weight should be shrinking faster than the lean mass. As long as you are improving month to month in the gym, you are getting stronger.

From the Performance Nutrition Encyclopedia

One of the things that the Josh Thigpen suggests is a pre/intra/post workout nutrition were you have a combination of quick carbs and protein for each of these.

  • Pre-workout: 10-15 g protein, 20-40g carbs, creatine
  • Intra-workout: 10-15 g protein, 20-40g carbs, creatine
  • Post-workout: 10-15 g protein, 20-50g carbs

Basically, this describes Skim Chocolate Milk very well. Mix a batch with the creatine powder for your pre/intra workout and have some plane after training.

Also, make sure you account for that in your total calorie intake. You can set your daily intake a little lower, and use the pre/intra/post workout to boost the calories where you need them. The goal here is to provide the protein and energy when your body is most prepared to do something with it.

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