August 17th has arrived and I am now officially over the hill. I’ve also made pretty significant progress toward my goal.
Here’s a bit of a recap of where I started.
June 8, 2016
Weight 196lbs. I never did any sort of body fat measurement, just documented progress with pictures. Here I am on the 8th of June 2016.
I was what I would consider “fairly lean”, but note the lack of definition in the chest and shoulders. You can also see that my love handles were fairly prominent.
The following photo is from 35 days later.
As you can see there is some significant improvement in shoulder definition as well as more definition in my abdominal area and back. At this point I had lost about 5 pounds.
There was a definite increase in overall vascularity during this time. Definition in my arms, chest, shoulders, back, and legs all increased. The stubborn belly fat we all hear referenced so frequently is proving to be exactly that.
My love handles have decreased significantly as all of my pants fit more loosely. Unfortunately they are still quite visible.
Here is a photo from a hike my wife and I were on 1 day before my birthday. It’s not the greatest photo, but life blew up on my actual birthday and this is the only photo I got. I’ll be updating every 15 days or so from here on out though as I still haven’t achieved what I would consider a true six pack.
I’ve documented my diet plan in an earlier post, but here is a quick recap of what I ate, what I avoided, and my fasting regimen.
Training Day Diet
On days when I trained I would wait until after my workout to eat my first meal. This was usually between 11AM and 1PM. My post-workout meal consisted of nearly 100g of protein from lean sources such as chicken breast or turkey. This was supplemented with cottage cheese and yogurt.
For carbohydrates I would typically eat about 120g (pre-cooked) of oatmeal. While I adhere to the Paleo diet most of the time, oatmeal is one area where I give myself a pass. It’s easy to prepare, tastes great, and is relatively cheap. Rice and sweet potatoes are other good options, but I eat these much less frequently.
On training days I try to limit my total fat intake to about 25-30g. This means I can allocate all but 300 calories or so to protein and carbs for restoring muscle glycogen. This works out to about 2500 calories in total.
Rest Day Diet
On rest days my diet is much more restrictive. With a total of 1650 calories to work with I still try to get upwards of 200g of protein. I also significantly increase fat calories.
As a result, rest days end up being very low carb. Somewhere along the lines of 30-40g. The fat increase is necessary as the body needs fat for hormone production as well as vitamin and mineral absorption.
Another benefit of this low-carb rest day is that it reduces glycogen stores to a certain extent. By the time my fast is broken after my workout the following day, my muscles are ready to absorb a significant amount of carbs without triggering any fat storage.
Determining Your Macro Levels
I used a Google Doc posted on Reddit to get my approximate macronutrient breakdown for training days and rest days. You can find a copy of this spreadsheet here. If you’re interested in seeing my specific spreadsheet you can click here.
I didn’t updated as religiously as I had hoped, but honestly after a couple weeks you should have a pretty good handle on how close you are to hitting your macros each day.
It is definitely easier to maintain strict adherence to your calorie totals if you try to eat meals that are very similar to each other. This reduces the amount of weighing you’ll need to do each day. That said, with a good digital scale you can calculate your macros for an entire meal in a matter of seconds. It might look strange to friends or family, but oh well.
The next couple of weeks will be very telling. We have friends and family visiting us for the next 18 days or so. Undoubtedly this will mean a good deal of food that is off my regular list. I plan to combat overeating of any macro group by focusing mostly on proteins.
We’ll see how it goes.
After that my wife and I are going on a 3 month road trip across the U.S. This will obviously be challenging as well since road trips inevitably involve eating out. I’ve attempted to alleviate the pressure to do so by packing tons of canned protein in the form of chicken, pulled pork (actually quite lean), and tuna. Since we’re camping most of this trip, I have high expectations of sticking to my macros each day.
Can IF Work For You?
Anyone can do what I have done. It doesn’t require significant calorie restriction, like the military diet. It simply requires creating a consistent calorie deficit.
However, tracking your calorie intake is a MUST. Most people consistently under-estimate the amount of calories they eat in a given day. If you track each meal and snack, this isn’t a possibility. When combined with intermittent fasting, a calorie restrictive diet becomes much more manageable.