So it’s currently about 10 days from my goal date of having six-pack abs by my 40th birthday. The 17th of August is rapidly approaching. Overall I’m extremely happy with the results I’ve achieved.
I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’ve reached my goal at this point, but I’ve seen a pretty big improvement in muscle tone and vascularity. And there’s still 10 days left.
Results After 2 Months of IF
As of this morning I weighed in at 186 pounds. This is about 10 pounds below my starting weight and only a pound or so lower than my last update.
My weight fluctuates pretty significantly from day to day depending on whether it’s a training or rest day. Generally speaking my lowest weights are recorded right before working out as I haven’t eaten for 16 hours and the previous days meals included little in the way of carbohydrates.
The biggest improvement I’ve seen overall has been a significant increase in vascularity. The veins in my arms, calves, thighs, and shoulders have become MUCH more prominent. Previous to this fasting regimen this was only noticeable during and shortly after workouts. Now they are visible all of the time.
All around muscle tone and definition has significantly increased. This is most noticeable in the chest, shoulders, and legs. Muscle tone around the shoulders has resulted in a much more rounded look to the deltoids, and a much more noticeable separation between the muscles of the shoulders and the triceps/biceps.
I’ve also noticed a significant reduction in the love handle area and waistline. This is pretty encouraging as every attempt at getting lean before resulted in little change in the love handles. Based on how my shorts and pants fit now I would estimate I’ve lost at least an inch around the waist.
Should you try this regimen, make sure to take waist measurements before your workouts, or at least before your post workout meal. Trying to get all the necessary calories into 2-3 meals in an eight hour window means your stomach is going to be FULL after each feeding session.
Muscle and Strength Loss
It’s hard to gauge whether or not I have experienced any muscle loss because of calorie restriction. Overall my strength has increased, but not dramatically.
For deadlifts I was doing 345×5 reps when I started back in June. My most recent deadlift workout I was able to do 365×6.
Squats and bench press have both remained pretty much static over the last two months. Overhead shoulder press, dips, and curls all saw a reasonable amount of improvement.
My energy levels are generally very good. I haven’t experienced any difficulties with training fasted, even when my schedule forces me to workout as late as 3PM.
The lower number of sets and reps required for this protocol makes it very easy to stay motivated during workouts. Generally I have somewhere between 6 and 8 working sets with 2-3 minutes between each. Plenty of warmups, but no burnout sets.
In fact most of the time I feel as though I’m not doing enough since my workouts are generally done in well under an hour.
About the only time I’ve felt lethargic during this experiment is when I overdo it on the exercise outside the gym.
Exercising on the Side
While it isn’t necessary to do any aerobic activity while following this protocol, I really enjoy road biking. I’ve tried to limit riding to once or twice per week on rest days so as to avoid forcing my body into an energy conservation mode. These rides aren’t terribly intense and I try as much as possible to stay in an aerobic state (as apposed to anaerobic where you’re burning muscle glycogen) during the entirety of the ride.
As it’s summer here in Central Oregon I also do some regular hiking. In fact my wife and I will be going out on a five day hike around the Three Sisters mountains on 8/12.
As I mentioned before, I’ve experienced some low energy levels after particularly long rides or hikes, but I would attribute this to pushing myself a bit too hard while on a calorie deficit. A good night’s sleep and a bit of bullion mixed with water was typically enough to get me back on track.
Sleep and Nutrition
I generally get between 7-8 hours of sleep each night. I pound water (and some coffee) all morning long in an effort to stay hydrated.
In terms of calorie intake there have been lots of good days with a sprinkling of bad. The abundance of local fruit and the sweets made with them are always on display. Most of the time I’ve been good at avoiding them. Other times not so much. I DO try to limit them to workout days where I’ve got a higher calorie window to work with.
Since I’ve lost about 10 pounds I’ve adjusted my calorie intake downwards a bit. Rough numbers are 2600 on training days and 1650 on rest days. Protein is well over 200g per day with carbs and fats fluctuating based on the day.
While some protocols such as LeanGains recommend taking an amino acid supplement before working out fasted to assist with protein synthesis and reduce muscle tissue cannibalization, I haven’t bothered. I just make sure to eat lots of protein.
Another supplement that would probably be helpful with strength gains would be creatine. I’ve taken it in the past with good results, but in this case I was more interested in seeing what the results would be without it.
An Interesting Side Effect
While 10 pounds doesn’t sound like a lot of weight, that’s nearly 5% of my previous mass. This makes a significant difference in performance when running, jumping, bodyweight pull-ups, and even bike riding. In fact everyday movements feel slightly different and more fluid.
Part of this, no doubt, is psychological as getting lean feels REALLY good. But little things like going up stairs feels somehow less strenuous. It’s not a big difference, but does somehow seem to contribute to an overall sense of wellness.
Overall I’m pretty satisfied with my results to this point. I’m not 100% certain that I’ll get to claim washboard ab status by the 17th of this month, but I think certainly within the next 30-40 days I will be there.
The 5 day hiking trip I’ve got scheduled will be interesting as it’s nearly impossible to carry enough protein to hit 200g + per day without hauling a ton of weight. I’ll be bumping up fat on those days and dropping carbs in an effort to keep my pack as light as possible.
That trip will be over on the 17th so I’ll be posting pictures soon after we get back.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.