Saturday, March 3, 2012

Recent Fat Loss Experience and Eye Opening Tracking Feedback

Starting around Christmas I decided I was going to give a try to tracking my calories and doing a round of leangains.  The main reason for this was we decided to go on a family cruise April this year and I thought it would be fun to see how ripped I could get by then without losing strength, and maybe gaining some.  My starting point was 187# and around 8-9% body fat as measured on a tanita scale at my trainer's gym and all my workouts are tracked so I know if I lose strength.  I found the leangains website useful, but I was left to my own devices mostly due to a lack of a book or personal training from the master.  I did find a really helpful website at rippedbody for getting started and I pretty much stuck with that.

As of yesterday I an down to 178# and 6.6% on the same tanita scale.  This is a bit ahead of schedule as I expected to be around 180# by this point.  All lifts are up modestly, no faster or slower progress than before the experiment.

Before starting I calculated my total daily energy expenditure(TDEE) using this calculator.  I used the "sedentary" activity setting.  The basics below use that number as the basis for daily intake.

Here were the basics, diet-wise:

  • I had a daily fast no shorter than 16 hours, what some call intermittent fasting(or IF).  I didn't eat a single breakfast the entire time. At least 2 days/wk I went as long as 24 hours, mostly because I was busy at work and with family.
  • On workout days I ate to TDEE plus around 5%.  I wasn't totally consistent, but this was what I shot for and tracked.  On average I suspect I was pretty close to this.  I also, as suggested, prioritized carbs on workout days.  I added sweet and white potatoes and tried to have a piece of fruit, usually an apple.
  • On rest days I ate 25% percent below TDEE, carefully tracked.  I did less priority on carbs, but still ate potatoes some days.  I was around 50-100g/day of carbs.
  • Each day I ate ~1g of protein for each # of body weight.  This was particularly challenging to do and I *never* would have hit this mark without tracking.  The feedback was crucial.
  • All intake was tracked with myfitnesspal.  This made it surprisingly easy to do.  I also looked at fitday, but found myfitnesspal better.  I have an iPhone now and the app for it make it so easy I wonder why I didn't start this sooner.
  • Always done fasted around 16-17 hours minimal.
  • Usually trained around 1pm, sometimes later.
  • 10g of BCAA's most times, but not always.  I have no confidence this does anything for me, but it was part of the leangains prescription so I did it.
  • Main training was once a week or so High Intensity, Body By Science style with a trainer(HIT).  Due to my busy work schedule I wasn't consistent on this.  I probably averaged every 10 days due to missing a couple of weeks on business trips.
  • I filled in the HIT with another workout per week or so.  This was done reverse pyramid style with free weights with usually 3 exercises: a lower body(squat or deadlift), a push(overhead press, chest press, or weighted dip) and a pull(weighted chin up or barbell curls).  I was usually good and only did 1 extra time a week, but occasionally did a third.  I also did this on days that I missed my HIT workouts.
  • I found 1-2 workouts per week total was better for fat loss since it made for 5 rest/2 workout instead of 4 rest/3 workout.  Just meant more calorie deficit over the week and thus more fat loss.  I also think my strength gains were slightly better due to added recovery.
Interesting observations on tracking:
  • Eating only 1-2 meals per day makes tracking really simple.  Just less to track and less often.
  • While potatoes have carbs, it isn't that much.  Eating a white potato, for example, had nowhere near as many carbs as I thought.  To get to standard american diet levels would have taken many more or eaten junk, which I won't do.
  • Increasing the starch didn't result in a return to my old days of grouchiness around meal times.  I was afraid adding tubers would spike blood sugar, have later crashes, and make fasting really hard but it just didn't happen.  Fasting was, as always, a snap and I felt wired later into the fast, not sluggish or upset.
  • Much to the chagrin of the low carb, high fat crowd, I found many foods I ate regularly to be a complete waste on this.  Added fats like butter, bacon drippings, cream, ghee, coconut oil, etc I found I had to avoid, minimize or eliminate.  Foods like chicken wings were also a waste.  They packed on fat calories without enough protein to get to my targets.  When I started I was shocked how much fat I was eating(and how little protein).  I started dropping bacon(!), eggs, and beef in favor of fish and chicken.
  • Tracking made me eat simpler since it was easier to track. Anything complex, while likely to be also high in food reward, almost always tracked with high fat, high calories, and low protein.  Exactly what I didn't want.
  • Ground beef(even grass fed/finished) was way too fatty to eat regularly on this plan.  Just not enough protein and too much fat to get to my goals for the day.  Even eating a steak was usually not a good fit. Fish or chicken were better choices.
  • To get to protein target(did I mention that was challenging?) I had to supplement.  This meant canned tuna and canned chicken most days and a glass of milk with Whole Foods protein powder occasionally(post workout particularly).  I was very rigorous on this and almost always met my daily protein target.
  • Eating less often made it a snap to keep calories down.  I just don't have the capacity to eat big enough to make up for missing breakfast and lunch.  A few 24 hour fasts resulted in a cram fest around 8pm to hit -25% only at protein targets.
  • Nuts were a huge surprise although in hindsight they shouldn't have been.  Nut butters even worse.  Tons of calories.  Tons of fat.  Almost no protein.  A complete waste on this diet.  Made me also think that this could be a trip up for those on unmeasured Paleo who never get as lean as they like or didn't lose at all.  1/4 cup(hardly anything!) of macadamia nuts is 240 calories and only 3g of protein.  I regularly would eat 3 times that at least!  That was a huge wake up call.
  • Wine, which I regularly drank, was also out.  Lots of empty calories.  Another possible "Paleo" trip up.  I left this for special days and workout days when I needed the extra calories to hit targets.  2 glasses of red wine amounts to almost 10% of calories with no protein.  See ya.
  • Dairy was also out.  A small amount of cream, butter, and cheese can take you from -25% to full TDEE.  I basically eliminated it except for a garnish or for post workout drinks when I needed the calories.  Yet another "Paleo" trip up I think many experience.
I think now, looking back, I got very lean in 2008 primarily due to being strict unmeasured Paleo resulting in a large caloric deficit.  It is just hard to get a lot of calories on leaner meats, vegetables and fruit.  Track and you will see.  On a recent business trip I was very strict Paleo and struggled to get to 1200 calories let alone 1800 I needed for -25%.  Any amount over ~178# since then I am convinced now was fat, not muscle as I lost it so fast while continuing to gain in the gym.   

I got sucked into the "fat is good" meme in 2009 and it slowly pulled by body comp up to ~10% and made my blood lipids suck(still not sure if that matters).  I don't think fat is necessarily bad, but it is super easy to over consume on fat than it is on protein and have the resulting worse body comp.  Calories matter.  If you are in the camp that adds fat to your foods or regularly eats fattier foods then I think tracking is the only way to know for sure that you aren't over consuming. 

I am now getting sucked into the "tubers are good" meme, mostly thanks to Stephan and Richard.  This seems to be working very well so far.  These are extremely hard to over consume on and really make me happy.  I no longer have to explain how Paleo is not Low Carb!  If I can dig it from the ground I am good with it.  It is real food.  I eat them primarily low "food reward" style with no butter, sour cream, etc.  I feel better eating more safe starches and I am sleeping better(I slept like a rock through a thunderstorm last night) and have better recovery from workouts.  Sure, you can get your carbs from protein, but is sure isn't efficient.

It has been a fun ride so far.  Now that I am at my cruise target I am going to set a new one.  Over the next month I will see if I can get to my August 2008 weight of 174# while continuing to gain in the gym.  I will just stick to the same plan and see where it takes me.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Last Year in Super Slow Training & WoW

I don't bother posting workouts regularly anymore.  I usually post them on and now track using instead.  This week I wanted to post and debunk(at least for me) the concept that workouts need to vary every 4-6 weeks or so in order to continue gains.  This was in part inspired by Diana Hsieh's post of her progress using SuperSlow.

The workout below and compared to a year ago were done, unless otherwise noted, in SuperSlow fashion with 10 second ups and 10 seconds down.  This keeps the comparison apples to apples.  The complete workout chart for the last 13 months is attached.  There are some slight variation in the workout(negatives thrown in here and there) that affect the results from week to week sometimes, but overall you can get a good feeling of the progress I have made over the course of 1 year.

Workout of the Week("B" workout ~30 minutes):
  1. MedX Pullover:  Up 4# and 2 reps
  2. Cable PullDown: Full Stack.  Up a rep
  3. Push Ups: Up 1 rep
  4. MedX Row:  Up 2 reps
  5. MedX Chest Press: no change
  6. Chin Up:  3 then 8 20 second negatives
  7. Push Up:  Did non slow concentric then 10 second negatives then negatives only.
  8. MedX Leg Extension: Up 2# and 1 rep
  9. MedX Leg Curl: Up 2# and 4 reps
  10. MedX Leg Press:  Up 1 rep.  Did 3 negatives
Good improvement over the previous workout that was done ~ 2 weeks earlier.  

As for the year, here is a summary of the attached charts as good as I could estimate:
  • MedX Pullover: Up 26%(64#)
  • Push Ups:  Up 7 reps
  • MedX Row: Up 5%(10#) and 3 reps
  • MedX Chest Press:  Up 20%(44#) and 1 rep
  • Chin Up:  Have gone from assistance to being weighted 25#
  • TruSquat:  Up 65# and 4 reps
  • MedX Leg Curl: Up 10%(18#) and 4 reps
  • MedX Leg Extension: Up 11%(18#) and 4 reps
  • MedX Leg Press: Up 30%(120#) and 1 rep
To me this is awesome improvement.  I was not starting as a novice, but had been doing first some Devany style pyramid training(#$%^arounditis?) ~4 years ago and had been doing SuperSlow training on my own and at Ultimate Exercise for about 2 years after that.  This is the complete opposite of what we are typically told about muscle confusion, etc.  At least for me, I am able to make continued gains week over week doing nearly the same exact 2 routines alternating.  I strongly suspect that the stall people see when their 4-6 weeks are up is the easy neural adaptations maxing out and the real improvement can begin.  I have no idea.

My trainer, who also trains people in non SuperSlow as well, says that many clients are pushing the same weight for same reps as last year.  My wife and I are the exception.  There are 2 reasons for this, I think.  1) We work really hard.  2) We don't do it too much.  Even with a trainer I don't think everyone works hard.  I think it has to pretty much suck and you dread going a little bit to get the adaptations you desire.  Seeing a little "white buffalo in the sky" post workout, so to speak.  People just aren't willing to do that even if they pay someone.  The second point would be more important if the first were true.  Working really hard and not taking the time to recover could short circuit results, but I doubt that is the case for the majority of trainees, at least where I lift.  

I am also starting to use myfitnesspal to track what I eat.  If I get the bug I might post about that some.  Quite enlightening.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Workout of the Week 6/18

Worked out this time with Sherry at Ultimate Exercise.

Workout(~20 minutes):

  • MedX Leg Press
  • MedX Overhead Press:  Hadn't done this in a while.  Felt light at first even though weight was increased over last time.  Pop pin set extender
  • SuperSlow Pull Down:  Pop pin.  Muscles pretty much fried by this point
  • Abs on SuperSlow Pull Over
  • MedX Seated Row:  Felt like a ton of weight.
  • MedX Chest Press:
Increased weight on all exercises due to the longer time between workign out at McGuff's facility.

Sherry also put my Dad through a workout.  It was his first HIT style lifting and he was game for it, going to failure and really pushing for the intensity.  Go Dad!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Workout of the Week 6/10

7 days recovery since last workout.  Worked out at 7:30am so the fast was less than usual.

Workout(25 mins):
-TruSquat: Up 3 reps
-MedX Leg Abductor
-MedX Leg Press: Up 3 reps 
-MedX Leg Curl
-MedX Leg Extention
-Ball/Wall Sit: Up 12 seconds
-Pull Ups
-MedX Chest Press: Up 6#
-MedX Seated Row: Up A rep and 2#
-SuperSlow Push Up:  Did these with hands slightly elevated so could go really deep.
-Negative Pull Ups:  Mixture of 20 second, 15 second and 10 second negatives

Looked at progress chart over the last 6 months.  When I started I could do 8 chest press reps at 240#.  Today I did 6 reps at 280#.  Nice increase for someone who was already well trained by the time I started.  Happy about progress on that since it is usually my weakest.  The program is working!

Had some ground chuck with eggs and half a sweet potato a little while after.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Workout of the week plus food log

Worked out 18 hours fasted at Doug's one on one fitness in Greenville.  Back to the upper body first scenario with some twists.  9 days recover from previous HIT workout.  Worked out lightly one other fashion in between.

-MedX Pullover: Up 2 reps
-Super Slow Hindu Push Ups: Got 5, barely
-Nautilus Pull Up: Up 2 rep with 10# less assist.
-MedX Chest Press: Up 4#
-MedX Compound Row: Up 1 rep
-Hindu Pushups round 2
-Negative pull ups: 10 second negatives with 25# weight added. Some static holds on last 3.
-Wall/ball squats: body weight only, 25 reps. Good burn.
-MedX Leg Abductor:  Up in weight
-MedX Leg Adductor
-MedX Leg Press: Up 2 reps

Good progress, as usual.  184# and 6.6% body fat according to the tanita scale, which I still think is optimistic.  Probably a touch over 8 art this point.

For anyone interested, here is a log of food consumption over the last week or so:

Wednesday 5/25
-breakfast:  nothing
-HIT workout:11am
-lunch:  noon.  12oz steak with vegetables.  2 onion rings
-dinner:  10oz salmon.  6oz grass feed ground Chuck burger.  large cooked spinach.  handful of potatoes.  some macadamia nuts

Thursday 5/26
-breakfast: nothing
-lunch:  noon.  Thai massamun beef curry with extra meat.  Half serving white rice.   Chicken lettuce wraps.  spicy salad with beef.
-dinner:  2 big servings salad with chicken salad and crab salad, pecans, and apple.

Friday 5/27
-breakfast: nothing.  coffee with very small amount of heavy cream
-lunch: nothing
-dinner: 2 low carb 6 dollar burgers with half medium sweet potato fries.  8pm

Saturday 5/28
-breakfast:  everything omelet.  potatoes.  pineapple. Bacon. Sausage. Corned beef hash
-rest of the day:  had mixed nuts, new ribs,  broccoli salad,  pulled pork and lots of light beer

Sunday:  went to water country USA with kids
-breakfast:  nothing but a small decaf coffee.
-lunch: nothing
-dinner:  grouper with broccoli and small potato au gratin.  salad with chicken, mango & avocado.  popcorn

-workout: squat up to 275# singles.  incline bench up to165#.  bent row up to 145#.  barbell curls up to 70#.  tricep extensions up to 85#.  super slow over head press on hammer strength, 2x45#.
-breakfast:  1.25 hours after workout.  bison chili with 2 eggs and sweet potato and fage yogurt.  smoothy from berries and kefir.
-lunch:  nothing
-dinner:  seared tuna with greens, avocado, some peach and pablano peppers.  ribeye and shrimp with tossed salad

-breakfast: Venti decaf coffee, black
-lunch: nothing
-dinner: 12oz liver and onions, small chicken thigh, 6oz swordfish.  salad..

-breakfast: decaf black coffee
-lunch: fajitas with small amount of rice and refried beans. No chips or tortillas.  water
-dinner: 2.25 grass feed beef burgers.  brutal sprouts with onion.  half a sweet potato.  half an apple

-breakfast: decaf black coffee
-lunch:  beef curry with vegetables and a small amount of white rice.  lettuce wraps with chicken.
-dinner: 10 ounces grilled salmon with salad.  few pieces of watermelon.  7 macadamia nuts.

-breakfast: decaf black coffee
-workout: Hit workout.  Upper body emphasis.
-lunch: 2pm, post workout.  Small green apple.  2 pieces grilled chicken thighs.  Milk with 2 raw eggs and protein powder.
-dinner:  1.5 thick pork chops.  Salad.  Mashed sweet potato.  Popcorn later.  Glass of white wine.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

WoW 5/25

5 days recovery since last workout.  A little short of the usual week of rest since I have a work training this week at the usual time.  Worked out fasted for 18 hours.

Workout(25 mins):
-TruSquat: Up 10#.  Still got 9 reps
-MedX Leg Abductor
-Goblet squats: super slow. 
-MedX Leg Curl
-MedX Leg Extention
-MedX Leg Press:  Level in reps despite doing after gob squats, curls and extension first
-Pull Ups: Body weight only. Up almost 2 reps
-MedX Chest Press: Up 4# and 1 rep
-MedX Seated Row
-Push Up Negatives
-Negative Pull Ups:  mostly 15 second negatives with holds at various spots

Noted the improvements I remembered.  Great workout.  Good to know I can gain after short recovery, but I won't be making a habit of it.  Next workout in 9 days at the usual Friday time slot.

Weight 184#, down 2# in past week and 4# in the last 2 weeks.  Not trying hard to lose, just stopped the forced feeding.  Didn't work anyway as shown by fairly rapid loss.  If it was lean I doubt it would have dropped so quickly, especially while gaining on workout.  Over eating to gain is over for me.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Daughter's Birthday & WoW

My daughter turned 8 today at 2:15pm eastern time.  Hard to believe I know have a beautiful 8 year old girl.  I still remember when she was little bigger than my forearm.  Amazing.

1 weeks since the previous HIT workout and 3 weeks since doing this "B" workout with an upper body emphasis.  Trying to be good, only doing a single, light training almost 4 days ago.  Based on my previous results I cannot stand 3x/wk of working out in a high intensity.  1-2 times is my max to keep the progress rolling.

Worked out fasted around 18 hours and no plan to eat until after work when we all go out for a birthday dinner, Lauren's choice.  Improvements I remember him stating are noted.

-MedX Pullover:  Up a rep.
-Super Slow Push Ups: 7, but honestly the 7th wasn't all that slow. 
-Nautilus Pull Up:  Up 1 rep with 10# less assist.
-MedX Chest Press:  Up 2 reps
-MedX Compound Row:  Up 1 rep
-Nautilus Dip: Up a rep.
-Negative pull ups:  10 second negatives with 25# weight added.
-Wall/ball squats:  body weight only, 25 reps.  Good burn.
-MedX Leg Abductor 
-MedX Leg Adductor
-MedX Leg Press: Up 2 0r3 reps over previous "B" workout.  Got 10 so I am "rewarded" by a weight increase next time.  Lovely.

Excellent, continued progress.  On the road to recovery after my latest over training lesson.   186# on the scale.  Tanita body fat estimator says ~8% body fat.  I think it is slightly higher than that, but all good.