You know what would be fucking awesome? If I looked like this:
And I think I can make it happen. I just need to change the strategies I am using to achieve the results I am looking for (throw in a bit of Tony Robbins…).
A Bit of History
About two years ago I topped out at around 200 pounds. I wasn’t particularly overweight – just not in great shape.
My first Withing measurement a year and a half ago in October 2009 showed me at 187 lbs, Lean Mass 157.7, Fat 29.2.
Then I started eating a BulletProof/Paleo diet in July. I started with Crossfit around January 15th. As of February 11th I was 168.2, Lean Mass 155, Fat 13.2 (7.8%). Around the same time we used calipers to measure fat percentage and came up with 9.9%. Now I am not sure if those are correct – but at that point I was a bit leaner but still nowhere near fucking awesome.
As of today 173.6, Lean Mass 157, Fat 16.6 (9.5%). So I added 2 pounds of muscle and 3.5 pounds of fat. This feels about right. I am not going to measure with calipers again for week or two – but if the corresponding increase was about right it would show around 12%.
Where I Want to Get
Bodybuilding.com has a good article with pictures of different body fat levels for men and women. According to this – my 10-12% puts me in the lean category – which is right where I’d like to be. In reality I am somewhere between the lean and moderately lean categories. I can grab plenty of fat around the waistline – which indicatesto me that achieving the body composition I want is primarily a matter of dropping that fat – rather than ‘this kid is just skinny as hell and needs to add muscle’. Or at the least – I should drop that fat then add more muscle.
So I am a bit uncertain about the exact bodyfat percentages that my various measurement techniques are giving me – but it doesn’t much matter. I’ll know the result when I see it in the mirror. But I feel I need to be specific – at least with myself this will help.
So here goes.
Body Composition Goal
Not Muscular Enough
Not Lean Enough
OK – enough staring at guys torsos – you get the idea.
My goal in terms of the numbers Withings is giving me:
Weight 170, Lean Mass 160, Fat 10 lbs.
So gain 3 pounds of muscle and lose 6 pounds of fat. I’ll use that as a guide – but the visual is going to rule the roost.
Now here is my starting point:
Let’s review what I have been doing for the last few months – then jump into my new strategy.
I’ve been eating meat (grass fed beef, chicken, fish, pork, eggs, bacon), vegetables (onions, broccoli, asparagus, sweet potatoes, carrots, mushrooms) , good fats (grass-fed butter, olive oil, coconut oil), nuts, some dark chocolate, drinking 1-2 a week (2-3 drinks), once a week doing a eat-whatever cheat meal.
I have been eating around 4 times a day – - 7:30am, 1pm, 6pm, 9pm. When I eat – I go for gold and eat tons. I’ve been describing vegetables as ‘butter-delivery mechanisms’ for some time now (for reference – sweet potatoes can soak up an amazing amount of butter). Why eat tons? First off – I generally like to binge eat – and second – I’ve justified this because I have been working out and need to fuel muscles.
Crossfit 2x a week – generally one metabolic beat-down and one powerlifting workout. Once a week strenuous Vinyasa yoga, 3-4 times a week some combination of light skiing, climbing, cycling, jogging, etc.
This is where things get confusing. What do I do to achieve my goals? I’ve heard everything in the world – here are some of the options (some conflicting):
- Intermittent fasting
- Calorie count – eat less
- Calorie count – eat more
- Go low carb – less/no sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, etc.
- Supplement – so many options, fish oil, caffeine, Vit D, MCT oil, etc.
- More crossfit
- Switch to power lifting
- Do lot’s more cardio
- Food combination
- Eat more good fats
- Eat more protein
What to Eat
Stick with Paleo/BulletProof – but with the following modifications:
- Tons of veggies – and focused on the veggies to the left of the Bulletproof Diet chart. So more broccoli, asparagus, spinach, Brussels sprouts, avocados etc. – and fewer onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers.
- Plenty of protein from grass-fed beef, pastured pork and chicken, fish, pastured eggs
- Plenty of fat from the above meat sources, plus grass fed butter, coconut oil, olive oil, fish oil, MCT oil. I am going to lay off massive amounts of bacon and butter – they are still part of the diet but I’ll do much more coconut oil/eggs etc rather than relying on butter for half of my calories…
- Small amounts of dark (75%+ cacao) chocolate are allowed – try to consume post-workout
- One cheat meal per week – anything goes.
- Carbs will come post-workout, and from sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, and berries.
- No other fruits (bananas, apples, pineapple, etc.)
- Limited nuts (on a salad, etc. is fine – but not otherwise)
When to Eat
I really liked the trial I did of intermittent fasting. If implemented correctly I’ll be able to eat bigger meals when I do eat, lower my insulin levels , and be able to better regulate what I eat and how much since I am in control of my hunger and not the other way around. I’d like to eat for two reasons: Fueling my body and for enjoyment. I’d like to cut out eating because my insulin level has dropped and is making me ravenously hungry – this leads to poor food choices and overeating.
So I’ll give IF another try – this time for a full 30 days. I’ll be following the leangains.com guide again. Basically this:
- Eat only between ~12-8pm
- Have 10g of pre-workout BCAA if training fasted
- Eat more on workout days and less on non-workout days
How Much to Eat
This one I am conflicted on. I’ve been eating a TON. Like ‘how much butter can I eat with breakfast!’ a ton. I think I should eat a bit less. Especially on days when I am not lifting. Save the ‘eat as much as I can’ meals for post-workout.
My worry here is as follows. If it’s really the case that food quality is the important variable – then by limiting caloric intake a bunch of bad stuff will happen.
- Body starts thinking it’s starvation time – better store up some fat
- Start breaking down muscle
- Have less energy generally
- Get so hungry that I binge on bad stuff
But if I continue to pig out – will I lose those pounds of fat? I just don’t know.
So here is what I will be trying:
- Track my food intake specifically for a week or so. I will be using http://dailyburn.com/ to do this. For instance, today:
- Don’t try to slam as many calories as I can – EXCEPT after a big workout. Then eat like a king.
- Re-evaluate this in a few weeks.
I experimented with supplementation a few months ago – I tried fish oil, vitamin D, magnesium, ALA, Acetyl L-Carnetine, and a few more. I didn’t notice any major differences – so instead of sticking with it I just stopped. I’d like to really determine what makes sense to supplement with. It will take some time as I try things one by one for the most part – and measure the changes.
In chatting with the Bulletproof Executive – I showed him some recent blood work (from a super-secret startup). We discussed some of the numbers – and while many comments were made – only one caused a gasp. Both Dave and Andrew gasped at my Vitamin D level. My 25-Hydroxy Vitamin D is 27 ng/ml. This was flagged as of ‘Intermediate’ concern – with >30 being Optimal. Their response was ’30 is super low for optimal – aim for 90 – mine is 115 (or something along those lines).’ So what should I do? Either spend a few hours sunbathing every day (unlikely) or supplement with Vitamin D. Dave suggested about 10,000 IU per day for a few months until levels normalize. This feels like a ton – but I’ll roll with it for now. Although an immediate effect will not necessarily be felt – immunity, resilience, and general health will improve. Check out some of the benefits of Vitamin D here.
I’m not going to change my exercise routine much. I think it’s pretty much right-on:
- Crossfit 2-3x per week. At least one metabolic and one strength workout – with the third my choice.
- Yoga 1-3 times per week.
- A bunch of low-level general activity: light cycling, jogging, rock climbing, hiking. Try to do quite a bit of this – but not at high intensity.
What may throw all of this into confusion in a few weeks – I am going to have to start training for my Half-Ironman if I intend to do it. Not thinking about that yet…
Compliance and Advice
I wish I was 100% sure of the strategy – but I’m not. Please help out in the comments if you have suggestions.
In order to maintain compliance I am changing the Franklin Tracker to measure:
- Food – Stuck to What I Said I was Going to Eat
- Intermittent Fasting
- Daily Exercise
- Vitamin D
Last point. I feel a bit vain choosing this as a goal. Part of me doesn’t feel it’s a ‘worthy’ goal. Well – fuck it. Many of my goals are more worthy: strengthening family ties, volunteer, grow spiritually. So I feel completely justified. It shall be fucking awesome – and if want something – I’m not going to give a fuck what other people think. Check that link out – The Complete Guide to Not Giving Fuck – awesome post by Julien Smith.
Good luck to me!