I have read the blogs, watched the youtube videos and read the magazines where I am cautioned about the last 20 lbs. or so in achieving my fitness goal. My goal right now is getting into single digit body fat while adding to my lean body mass (at minimum, 4-5 lbs over 3 months). My target weight is going to be 168 lbs. Much of the information I have read told me that this is going to be a miserable experience. I will need to do cardio while depriving myself of carbs. I will need to eat large amounts of protein and be so anal about everything I put in my body that I will not be able to have a sociable meal with anyone. A few months ago, I would have believed this. Now, I have stumbled upon some theories that may debunk many of the myths we believe are required to meet our fitness goals (thank you Brad Pilon and Martin Berkhan). At this point, I am taking another person's word and research at face value, and applying it to my fitness routine. The research has been so straightforward and honest (and makes complete sense), that I feel I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn't give this approach an honest evaluation. Will I be successful? Time will tell, but my body is at a point where I can really document my progress with some concrete goals over the next 3 months. The last 20 lbs. to your fitness goal is usually the most difficult, so why not implement this new school of thought at the most critical point in my fitness journey? Here is my new approach:
- Two to three meals a day, with a 16 hour fast in between my meals. Typically, I will shoot for meals at 12 pm, 4pm, and 7 pm. Also, I could choose another schedule where I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, and choose 2 days a week to do a 24 hour fast. That would mean if I ate at 7pm on Friday, I would not eat again until 7 pm on Saturday. When I eat after the fast, I would just eat a normal meal (not loading up on calories with a gorge meal) and continue regular eating until the next break. This is called intermittent fasting, and I have been fascinated by the actual benefits that may be achieved by giving your body an extended break from eating. I have been doing this the past few weeks and have felt less stress in my choices of food, knowing I have a nice caloric buffer in my next few meals, but not having the desire to go into an absolute binge because I am starving. I eat like I normally would, being conscious about my food choices (shooting for 4-5 servings fruits and vegetables, lean meats, etc.), but have automatically built in a caloric buffer through the fasting process. I don't have to be anal about eating 5-6 meals a day because I honestly believe my metabolism won't slow down and I will go into starvation mode by taking a break from eating. Also, I was getting absolutely sick and tired of having to obsess over when I was eating my next meal, and making sure it was within the 2-3 hour window. Fasting allows me flexibility and freedom throughout the day.
- I am going to ignore my macros. That's right, you read it, I was Mr. IIFYM (if it fits your macros). Honestly, much of my readings lately have been centered around common sense. If you burn more calories than you put in, you will lose weight. I'm starting to believe that protein is not the super nutrient it is promoted to be, so I am not going to worry about getting 1.5 X my body weight in grams of protein to build my muscle. I will be eliminating my pre and post workout drinks as well. Again, only time will tell how this works, but my goal is to prove that you can shed fat and build muscle without making it difficult, and cutting through much of the BS that the food and supplement industry want you to believe about staying fit and remaining healthy. Hell, I may go 75% carbs on my my meal plan while I'm cutting, so I will still be keeping track of my meals in www.fatsecret.com just to prove my point. In fact, I'm kicking all supplements to the curb....I will be sticking to foods you can get at the grocery store. No more shakes, recovery drinks (I still have some to finish, but I am not re-ordering), anything that these companies promote as essential for fitness and weight loss. Grocery store foods will be my supplementation.
- Here is another shocker, I will be exercising on an empty stomach. Holy God! AM I CRAZY??? My muscles need protein, recovery foods, drinks, etc...right? Really, companies promoting that philosophy right now, including Beachbody, can shove it. I'm on a mission to find out for myself what really works, and no marketing noise is going to interfere with my process. Also, I will be working out during my fast, so really the only thing I can have post workout is black coffee and water. But wait, doesn't coffee stunt muscle growth? I don't know, and I don't care....we'll see my results in a few months, so stunt this bro.
- I will be doing resistance training 3X a week...that's it....no cardio.....WTF???? You see, I am learning more about my body, and it seems more sensible to me to eat less calories as opposed to eating more and trying to run or jump around to burn off the fat. In fact, I am learning that my body may be more efficient at burning fat through an extended break from eating than an extra hour moving and jumping around. I don't know, but it may be as simple as less calories = efficient fat burning as opposed to more calories and intense cardio workouts. I mean, let's be honest, how many times have we tried to run miles upon miles only to see little to no progress in successfully losing fat? I am not saying cardio is bad, I am just trying to find the best, most efficient way to burn fat in the least amount of time. Resistance training 3X a week seems to be enough time to get the job done in building muscle. Also, I will not be doing several exercises for each muscle group. It will be short and sweet. Maybe 3-4 exercises for a max of 45 mins in the gym. I will be going early, 5:30 am, so I can get in and get my work done. I will be focused and intense, with little interruption from the resident, skull cap wearing, bro-science promoting, in your face "gym guy". They like to show up (and off) at peak times in the gym.
The bottom line, there is a lot of misinformation out there about health and fitness. I started this blog to show others just how far I had let myself go, and what I was doing to remedy the situation. This blog is now evolving into my journey against many of the myths out there that can make health and fitness so miserable. I am trying to accomplish my fitness goals by keeping it simple. Please do not mistake my approach as trying to find a shortcut. My meals will continue to be sensible and and I will put everything I have into my workouts. I am just trying to cut through much of the noise to get to a solution that can work for me and be sustainable into the future. I also believe the easier I can make this for myself, the more others will want to follow in my footsteps.