Thursday, June 28, 2012

Burning Fat/Building Muscle Update

So, 7 weeks ago, I put away the P90x DVD's and never looked back.  I wanted to confirm a few suspicions.  My goal is to shred fat and gain muscle.  Other people have different goals, so what I post may not coincide with what you are trying to accomplish.  Anyway, I felt I didn't have to kill myself 6 days a week with intense workouts to shred fat.  I also felt I was spending way too much time with several different resistance exercises that targeted the same muscle group (i.e.  P90x had me holding the dumbells at several different angles to work my biceps).  Again, I wanted to cut through the BS and get to the bottom can I shred fat and build muscle in a way that is sustainable, understandable and plain simple.  I have been shedding about a pound of fat a week and continue to get stronger.  Here's how I am doing it:

  • Eating under my caloric maintenance level (the level at which I can maintain without gaining or losing a pound of fat) which I calculated to be 2,400 calories a day.  This assumes that I am doing very light exercise and I am at my target weight of 168.  I am currently around 180, so I will reassess again at 168.
  • The caloric deficit at the start of the 7 weeks was significant.  I would max at 1,800 calories for 5 days and around 1,400 the other two.  I was able to successfully do this by incorporating intermittent fasting into my plan.
  • About 5 weeks in, I started to crash as my body fat was continually decreasing (my energy "reserve" was melting away).  I decided to up my calories on workout days (2100-2300), try and shoot for 1,400 calories on two non workout days, and stick to 1,800-2,000 calories on the weekend.  At first, I was shooting for my BMR (which is the amount of calories my body would burn if I was in a coma) and slightly under that.  This was great in shedding more fat, BUT, it is not sustainable.  I recommend only a few weeks of this if you can handle it.  GET TO KNOW YOUR BODY HERE!  I found there is a difference between feeling hungry out of habit and actually having your body crash on you.  
  •  I'm really not giving a darn about my macros.  What I am giving a darn about is my fruit and veggie intake.  When I don't eat my daily 4-5 servings of fruits and veggies, I notice it in my performance at the gym.  That actually goes for any nutrient dense food I put in my body.  If I have a burger with fries, I don't freak out because I ate "bad" food, I enjoy it because I know I am still in a caloric deficit.  But, I also know performance at the gym may suffer because I am not getting the most out of my food.
  • Again, no pre or post workout supplements, or any supplements for that matter.  I will mix in some Whey Protein Isolate into a fruit or chocolate smoothie that I make, but that usually happens 12-13 hours after my workout.  In fact, my pre and post workout drinks have been coffee and water.
  • I only workout at the gym three days a week.  I also only do three different exercises, 5 sets, reverse pyramid style to build strength.  It's working fine for me, but I also believe there is not end all way to train with weights.  Just try and do one more rep than the last time, or add an extra 5 lbs. to the next set, and I don't see why you can't build muscle.  
  • No cardio (except 5 minutes on the stationary bike to warm up) and no ab work (I workout my abs with my push ups and squats).
So far, it's been more simple than I could ever imagine.  The only "rules" I am following right now is less calories weekly than my maintenance target, fruits and veggies daily, and lifting more than I did the previous week.  This is not to say that there is not some discipline involved, but for crying out loud, once I stopped worrying about this food and that food, or optimal times to feed my body, or optimal conditions to burn fat, or optimal heart rate zone, or cold vs. hot, etc., this fitness thing became much easier, more enjoyable, and I believe, more sustainable.

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