Physical, Mental and Social implications, experiences, wins and losses of reducing body fat percentage.
Yep, overview to start so that you can get my final thoughts to begin with and if you wish to read on you get the nitty gritty of my thoughts week to week and then day by day for the final push in the Diary section. I am going to split this overview into two parts, firstly the normal calorie deficit section and secondly, the carb cycle to finish things off.
Normal Calorie Deficit - 9 weeks:
Summary - 500 kcal daily deficit
You can still enjoy the things you like as long as you keep within your calories and hit your protein target and you will lose body fat
You do not become a social hermit
You can still eat a donut if you want to
You can still have enough energy
You can still have a beer or two or six
You can still have a glass of red wine every night
Your body fat percentage goes down (duh)
You understand hunger better
You understand your nutrition better, especially if you track. (by the way if you don’t get on with tracking food it’s not the tracker or the act of doing it at fault…)
You will occasionally be hungry
You strength may plateau
You may have moments of low energy
You may be less productive
You may have to say no to a pint or two or six
You may have to say no to the donut
You may have to say no to that glass of red wine
Not really that bad is it, you just have to manipulate your calorie intake sometimes to allow for the above things.
Track your calorie and protein intake, dont worry too much about the fats and carbohydrates
Having a drink on the weekend, have 2 or 3 and account for them
Don’t panic and blow it. Potentially some days you will go over your calorie deficit, just make sure you stay below your maintenance calories.
If it goes all wrong and you blow your calories, oh well, carry on as normal, it make take you a day or two longer, just don’t abuse that tactic. Like, it might happen once or twice over the 10 weeks
Journal your thoughts and feeling, plan the day ahead of time for things you need to do (keep you occupied) reflect at the end of the day how everything went and see what was good and can be better.
Keep busy, avoid boredom
TV time food is a real thing for me, so account for it. (carbs between 8-9pm)
Fruit and herbal teas or coffee
See hunger as a feeling and understand that that is all it is, you will not die if you do not eat that second portion.
Assess when you like to eat certain things and certain nutrients and allow for it. I like my carbs spread through the day, i like a bigger dinner and i like my pre gym bagel, work to fit it in, it may take a few days and a couple of tweaks but you will get there.
Track your progress and set a time frame
Understand that the time frame is adjustable if you have a crap week.
This stuff takes time and for some it may take years but going through the process, learning and never quitting will get you there, if you don’t do this you will never achieve.
Carb Cycle - 2 weeks:
Summary - Plan found here at https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/2-weeks-to-shredded
You can overcome the sense of hunger
You have moments where you feel ‘this isn’t so bad’
You grow a strong will power
You can feel empowered
You can understand your thoughts, feelings and emotions
You think a lot
You gain control of your feelings and emotions
After 2 days it isn’t so bad
Not Drinking isn’t that bad
Energy can be low
Productivity can be down
Days can seem slow
You can be moody (journaling helps stop this)
You may become an idiot, misplacing things, putting stuff back in stupid places.
Training can be crap
Food for function not for fun (more fun on carb days)
Spell check becomes your best friend, homestly the spelling in this entry…
The struggle is real at a BBQ
The 2 days after having carbohydrates is a struggle
I wasn’t quite lean enough to begin the 2 weeks
Moodiness can affect others around you
Libido is low
Eat frequently, 6 meals, counting protein shakes as a meal
Add lettuce, a lot of lettuce
Get fats from pesto, avocado, peanut butter
Coffee for life!
‘Diet’ or ‘Zero’ soft drinks for that sweet treat (although not at 9pm as you will lay in bed thinking why did I have that caffeine, but on second thoughts the brainstorm session in bed at 1am was worth it.)
Quitting would just be pathetic, it’s two weeks get over yourself
Before and after pictures (maybe even a photoshoot at the end)
Personally, tracking your food with a consistent 500 calorie deficit per day (3500 per week) is the most balanced and enjoyable way for reducing body fat or body weight.
A steady deficit and hitting your protein target is all you need to do and usually all I would suggest to clients
Carb cycling or other ‘bodybuilding’ style prep diets would be suggested if the client was preparing for a bodybuilding show, preparing for a photoshoot, wanting to push the limits of their body for fun, had already committed to a deficit and was in a position to step up to the next level and finally the most important part, they have a very good knowledge and relationship with food.
Looking at the results I believe that I wasn’t lean enough for the finishing product, upon reflection I would say I needed to spend a 2-3 more weeks in a 500 kcal deficit before the final push.
I sit here now writing this after 9 weeks of being in a calorie deficit. Why did I decide to go into a calorie deficit?
To reduce my body fat percentage, I had gotten a little but fluffy around the stomach and decided it was time to shift it.
To experience what most of my clients are experiencing. As a coach I know the theory of reducing body fat and i am well learned from a coaches perspective on the battle won and lost during weight loss but wanted to experience them too. I wanted to witness first hand the wins, losses, triumphs and struggles faced when reducing body fat %
This point came in week 9 and I wanted to do 2 more weeks and see what I could achieve in terms of body fat reduction.
So there you have my three reasons, vanity, learning and pushing my body.
How did I create my deficit? Well I figured out my current calorie output which was at 3000 kcals, with an active job and pretty difficult training routine I had a fair amount of calories to play with. I decided to do two things; a 500 kcal deficit and hit my protein target, I wasn’t too bothered about the split of carbs and fats as I preach consistent body fat reduction is down to energy balance, tip the scales and have your protein at 1g per 1lb of bodyweight to maintain muscle mass during the process.
Weight - 89kg
Calories - 2500 kcals
Protein - 195g
Carbs - ?
Fats - ?
So week one went fine, consistently hit in and around the target calorie and protein intake. I didn’t deprive myself of anything, if I wanted cake I would eat it and account for it so that my numbers added up at the end of the day. I had two slices of banana bread that week and considering I enjoy eating ‘healthy’ food the majority of the meals were well balanced and consistent.
Phsycial - Not really feeling any different, maybe more energy but that could be placebo effect, I am sceptical.
Mental - A few tough evenings. 8-9pm is my carb zone (basically when I love to eat carbs) with no calories left! That was challenging. But nothing too bad.
Social - No change, busy with work, nothing on over the weekend.
31 well balanced
2 carb and fat heavy
2 protein heavy and low fat and carb (counteract the 2 above)
Week 2 - 4
Weight - no idea (weigh at week 5)
Calories - 2500 kcals
Protein - 195g
Carbs - ?
Fats - ?
Relatively comfortable 3 weeks, switched up my days food to allow carbs in the carb zone! Carbohydrates after 6pm are you mad. Get out of here, if you think carbs after 6pm is a recipe for weight gain, either read on to learn that is stupid or just stop reading and go find some bull shit about carbs being the devil.
A few pints were drank on a couple of weekends, I would allow for a couple of pints on a Friday or Saturday and reduce carbohydrates during the day to account for it. Never sacrificing the protein. Twice I went over my 2500 kcals but never over maintenance. If you are going to go over your target calories accept it occasionally, just don’t go over maintenance.
Took a progress picture, happy with how things are going.
Physical - feeling less fluffy, performance in the gym still good if not slight progress.
Mental - gaining confidence in the process, feeling good.
Social - enjoyed a few drinks with friends and still kept within the deficit. Happy days.
95 well balanced
5 low carb (allowing for beer and gin)
5 carb and fat heavy (banana bread, flapjacks and other cakey goodness)
Week 5 - 6
Protein - 195g
Carbs - ?
Fats - ?
Not finding this weight loss and body fat reduction too bad. 3 kg down in 4 weeks and plenty of time to go. However here is where it starts to get challenging, I got a little too comfortable, went over the target too often and stayed pretty stagnant for these two weeks, I was letting a few things slide here and there. I went over maintenance once (Casa Brazil All You Can Eat Meat! Hit. smashed the protein target!) and started to realise that confidence in the process was becoming arrogance.
Physical - stagnant in gym performance, starting to feel less productive with work.
Mental - pissed off with myself for a poor two weeks and arrogance in process.
Social - great two weeks socially, looking back now i would take the stagnancy for the enjoyment of those couple of fun weekends.
2 high carb and high fat
2 high protein, low fat and carb
1 who knows but it was amazing! High everything!
Weight - no idea
Calories - 2350
Protein - 195
Carbs - ?
Fats - ?
Re-calculated my calories and kept my protein target the same, two reasons, Our bodies are smart and subconsciously I am doing less during the days (sitting on my arse more). Secondly, pissed off with last week and this was me trying to redeem myself (which I usually tell my clients not to do).
Although the goal changed on MyFitnessPal, i knew it was false hope in my head, I knew the real target for me was 2500. I am however glad I changed it because it made me hit between 2350 and 2500 more consistently, in fact that week I didn’t go over 2500 so a success in my eyes. Upon reflection a clever idea, I just didn’t know it at the time, may use this technique with clients.
Physcial - Strength in the gym finally dropping, energy levels getting quite low.
Mental - Upbeat and soldiering on through the lower energy and accepting the reduction in strength.
Social - nothing going on so no alcohol etc.
35 spot on
Weeks 8 - 9
Weight 84.5kg (Week 9)
Protein - 195
Carbs - ?
Fats - ?
Average couple of weeks, really starting to notice the reduction in strength and energy levels. Impacting my work as I feel that my productivity is down. Starting to become challenging during the week and finding that I am reducing my concentration and effort on the weekends and evenings, Staying around 2500 calories but definitely going over on some days due to bbq, beer, ice cream. Twice I went over my maintenance calories.
The hardest aspect for me was that I was feeling drained, this impacted my work, therefore impacted my work and then my mood. This lead me to reduce concentration and consistency in my efforts.
Physical - Feeling weaker and lower in energy, body is coming along well and body fat is considerable lower. Took a progress picture which boosts confidence as you can see the progress.
Mental - Felt down in terms of progress and energy levels but found myself looking to enjoy myself more. Looking back i believe a week at maintenance would have been beneficial for me mentally and for my energy levels.
Social - Enjoyed a few BBQ’s beers and cakes had fun.
5 high fat and carbs
5 high protein low fat and carbs
2 weeks left with one last push. 2 weeks of very low calorie and higher protein. Going to break this one down day by day.
So Monday was a struggle to start with, for a carbohydrate lover to be restricted to 50g per day was tough. Instantly finishing a meal and thinking I am still hungry, craving something sweet at random times or the dreaded 8-9pm carb slot! It was never dreaded before, it had become a welcomed slot of carby goodness.
However, mind over matter just get on with it, drink your coffee and crack on. Upon reflection, it wasn’t so bad. Having strong will and confidence in the process enables you to go yes I am hungry but that is just what I feel and not what I am. (deep)
Training session; push day was quite sluggish. Obviously strength is down and a lack of energy.
Tuesday, I am settling into this, a little bit of hunger but I told a few close friends what I was doing (accountability) to keep me going. Again the perception of hunger is a real winner for me. I have found the best thing to do is keep yourself busy and occupied. So actually being slightly more productive to distract myself.
Training session; I could have fallen asleep as I rested between sets of stability ball ham curls. I think that sums it up enough.
England vs Columbia tonight… what to drink, with pints everywhere I went for cans of diet coke, zero calories and a friend who wasn’t drink alongside made it an easy compromise. We won on Penalties for the first time over… It’s coming home!
Weight - 84kg
The skill of occupying your brain, drinking black coffee which I love anyway, and the knowledge of hunger is only my perception of how I feel will keep me going, I have no question that I will succeed over the next two weeks. I think having that shorter time frame left to go along with a carbohydrate reload day on the horizon motivation isn’t an issue.
It’s not like I will never eat above 1800 kcals ever again, it’s not like I will never get to delve into ‘the carb cupboard’ ever again. (the best cupboard in the world)
Training; Rest day, typical as I am feeling more energized.
Noticing a difference after the last 3 days. One thing I have said quite a few times over the last two days, I will do this this one time and for now I can’t see myself doing it ever again… maybe.
Getting a little bit bored of the no carbohydrates and lack of creativity with food. I have found a pattern and pretty much sticking with it. But Carbohydrates tomorrow so all is well. In terms of motivation and mindset, feeling pretty good, not struggling with the deficit, hunger is ok to deal with. Mind over matter. If you think you are hungry just take a moment to appreciate that there are children starving, men and wmen at war without food. All in all im not really hungry compared to that.
Training; Pull Day
Noticing it is good to have the right kind of like minded people around you. There’s no ‘what are you doing that for?’ or ‘come on what will one…. Do?’ it is more a case of cool i will help you with that, or a simple ‘fair play’.
Amazing, however spoilt for choice i went heavy for breakfast and as i was out for dinner that night didn’t leave myself with much choice. Didn’t really feel any different from this other than excited. Felt a little bloated at the end of the day though. The real struggle was sticking to the calories as I felt I just wanted to indulge, forgetting that it was still quite a strict nutrition plan.
Training: Didn’t happen.
A test of resolve today, Big England game on going to be down the Football Club with my friends who will most likely be drinking themselves through the nerves. This actually made life easier, I went with the mindset that I wouldn’t want to drink regardless, plus the saviours of diet coke and diet fanta fruit twist.
Training: No Training
I was expecting today to be quite comfortable but it seems that similarly to Tuesday the second day post carbohydrates is quite hard and tests the resolve. Plus I decided to host a BBQ, It went well everyone enjoyed chip and dip, a burger bun etc. I didn’t but that’s ok because i saved myself up to have a meat feast. However the meats i chose were high in fat and sent that number over its mark and my calories. It actually eneded up more like;
My initial thoughts were you idiot, but i can find some solace in the fact that carbs stayed low, i was close to my protein target and i was still in a calorie deficit. It just wasn’t as strict as it should have been. It could have been a lot worse an i could have gone completely off script, i didn’t, it is ok. 8pm - 10pm moody as sin and I am very rarely moody.
Training: I did train today, a solid leg session. 4 session for the week although not happy with it, i should have done 2 full upper body days rather than a split, frequency of once a week for a muscle group is too low.
With a normal routine comes an ease with sticking to the desired kcals and split of nutrients. A productive day getting the week set up and ready to go. Trained today and I am used to the energy levels but i am looking forward to going back into a surplus to push my strength levels.
Just get it done.
A nice surprise carbohydrate filled day that I wasn’t expecting, I lost track of the days to be honest. To be honest nothing different other than filling the morning with most of the carbohydrates.
My thoughts are that I am unsure if the results from this would be any different if I didn’t carb cycle and just ate a more balanced amount of nutrients at the same amount of calories? One thing to be certain though is that it is working.
I will be honest, i am getting a little sick of chicken breast with mixed leaves and avocado, but it works and it is not as if I will never eat another lunch again. One thing I want to say is that I am noticeably more grumpy, no short fuse, just a bit grumpy and productivity levels are very low. My body is clever it wants me to do less to reduce calorie output.
Thursday 82.4 kg!
Still quite grumpy, i am pretty sure England losing didn’t affect my mood, of course it was annoying but I am not going to let what is merely entertainment dictate my mood. I feel sorry for my girlfriend putting up with me the last couple of weeks, we haven’t eaten together because i am eating at strange times and not having the same meal as her. Eating our dinner together is a big part of our relationship and it is strange to not cook and eat together. So here is my apology to her. Sorry Keily.
The last day of this nutritional tactic. The last 3 meals are to have 50g of carbohydrates in to replenish the glycogen stores and plump up the muscles from their depleted state, however I don’t think I quite got lean enough for it to make a noticeable difference. No fluid ost 8pm thought that was going to be really hard, it wasn’t too bad.
I think that is one of the keys to this... sticking with something and having a finish date will help you stick with it. It allows you to say this isnt forever, i may not be able to have this now but i will in the fututre, I may not be able to have this today, but tomorrow i will make it fit etc.
I can see the end, I can see a weekend not of outrageous indulgence but one of uncalculated eating. It makes no sense to me to go ‘I did it! Now I am going to eat everything!’ I mean I can see myself indulging in a couple of beers, a bit of chocolate and probably overconsumption of food in general but I won't go all out crazy.
My last meal before photo’s was lovely bacon and eggs on toast for a last hit of sodium in a dehydrated state.
Check out the results of the last 11 weeks: