Eat before and after you workout. Don’t eat before, you should do intermittent fasting. Don’t eat after because you spike your insulin and insulin blocks fat burning. Carbs are evil. No, just sugar. You need to do progressive loading to build muscle. No, you need to do muscle confusion. Wait, you can do lighter reps slower. Eat 6 times a day. No, eat three. Wait, fast for 1-2 days. Lift heavy. Change it up. Do 6-8 reps. No, do 8-12. You can’t build muscle and lose fat at the same time. Yes you can, in certain circumstances. You need to eat keto. Keto can cause health issues. Cardio kills gains. Wait, only long cardio kills gains. Cardio is fueled by fats. Cardio is fueled by available carbs and muscle. Cholesterol and fats will give you heart disease. No, heart disease is caused by sugar. Coconut oil is good for you. No, it’s bad for you. No, it really isn’t bad for you. You need to severely cut calories. No, you don’t. You need 1 gram of protein for each pound of bodyweight. No, in a cut it’s 1.2 per pound and in bulk it’s .8 per pound. You can have a cheat meal. Or a cheat day. No, you must be rigid. If it fits your macros (IIFYM), do it.
Have you experienced any of the above? Yeah, welcome to the life of someone who has struggled to lose weight most of my life.
What you do is you:
- find one of the above items
- find someone who had success with it
- Indoctrinate yourself into their religion
- Lose weight and have success
- Plateau or fail in some way
- Drop out of program
- Gain all weight back and then some
What I’m finding with more and more research is no one really fucking knows. Studies that show one thing are disputed by studies that say the opposite. People think they do. And I think many of these strategies work for different people – but maybe not for the reasons they think. Many of the experts I’m seeing are people who have never been overweight by more than 20-30 pounds.
One thing that every single expert agrees on is this: refined sugars are terrible for you.
Luckily, I never really had a sweet tooth. I do have fruit sugars, in limited quantities, and I do eat complex carbs, but not the volumes I ate years ago.
Some truths I’ve experienced in my life:
- I’ve lost 77 pounds never eating below 2300 calories per day. I think maybe 10 times I dipped below 2200, but never below 2000.
- Growing up, I would lose 20-40 pounds in 2-3 months with 1400 or less calories, then quickly put it back on the second I stopped being that stringent.
- Cardio has helped me lose weight over 2 months, but then I hit the wall. I stop losing no matter how many miles I run or cut my calories. This is usually followed by getting injured. After 6 weeks of doing cardio 2-3 times a week, my weight loss has stopped. I now feel I have some empirical evidence to adjust.
- I have lost weight on atkins, a few times. It does burn fat. But the reality was atkins removed a lot of hunger and I was probably having 1200 calories a day. The moment I sniffed carbs, I’d put 5 pounds back on, and within 2-4 weeks, by eating normally, I’d put most weight back on.
- Walking my dog over 6 months 3-4 times a week and biking helped me lose a lot of fat. Running over time has halted my progress.
- Most of my life I’ve probably had 60-80% carbs daily. When hitting around 35-45% carbs daily, I’ve been able to do body r-composition with losing fat and gaining muscle.
- A form of muscle confusion has indeed helped me gain strength. I had not lifted in years and 11 months ago, I struggled to hit 7 reps at 135 pounds. This past week, I repped 200 pounds 12 times for 3 sets and had something left in the tank. I did not do progressive loading to get this strength.
- I feel I have done lots of damage over the years with severe calorie restrictions coupled with hours of cardio which targeted my muscle.
Some principles I will now adopt:
- I will continue to hit 30-40% carbs daily. I will also try to hit 30+% protein daily.
- I will need to give up cardio to monitor if fat loss continues again within a few weeks. The only cardio I will have will be lower intensity like walking, biking, swimming – items I don’t “push” my heart rate for much, but activities I enjoy doing which can keep oxygen levels high.
- I have started to lift heavier twice a week. I want to see if I can continue with “new gains” for the next 1-2 years to increase my muscle gain via strength training.
- I will continue with my walking and hiking, as I strongly believe this is targeting fat. I don’t want to overdo this.
- I will continue to supplement my protein with whey isolate protein powder, as it’s a relatively cheap means of hitting my protein goals.
- I will continue to use eggs as part of my diet, whether it be for breakfast or lunch. They introduce fats/proteins and are a good alternative to carb-heavy meals I’ve done. The science on cholesterol seems to lead to the fact that dietary cholesterol doesn’t have much bearing on our poor health.
- I will look into 2 one-hour weight training sessions per week. These will be all-around workouts. One will be progressive loading at home, another will be the muscle confusion at the gym targeting all major muscle groups.
- While I love my soups and overnight oatmeal cups, I will eat them more sparingly so I do not go over with carbs. Days where I have more carbs are days I will work out hard and use those carbs as energy to pick things up and put them down.
- I need to change my coffee game. I think there are a lot of calories in the creams/sugars and I’m looking to reduce my calorie intake here.
- I need to continue my evolution with food. I just bought cauliflower and want to try the “mashed potatoes” you can make with them. Winter is coming, and that also means beef stews and slow cooker meals are coming. I need to continue to harvest protein sources and keep my macros in line.
- I need to continue to supplement. The “bro science” is all over the spectrum with this. I don’t eat oily fish. I can choke down salmon from time to time, but my omega 3s are severely lacking. I do supplement with this. I also use magnesium (which I indeed have noticed the calming effect over time), glucosamine, a multi-vitamin, chromium piccolinate, and protein powder. I feel that I don’t eat 100% clean, but try to eat pretty decent – and these help fill the gaps where I might eat tacos one night within my macros. I only really do this on weekends and days during the week I workout hard.
- I need to continue to harvest vitamin C sources and keep refined sugars to minimum. Much of what I’ve seen leads me to the conclusion that heart disease is indeed caused by refined sugars. It acts like sandpaper in our arteries, and cholesterol is disbursed to repair this damage. cholesterol buildup is essentially scar tissue from us constantly creating tiny tears in our arteries. Apparently, this damage can be reversed by eliminating refined sugars as well as introducing “real” vitamin C (not the abscorbic acid). The food pyramid which has promoted breads/grains forever is pretty damaging to our culture.
- I need to continue to eat whole foods when possible. The less processing foods have, the healthier they usually are. That being said, I can’t eliminate processed foods – I just need to keep them minimal.
- I need to continue to eat “grass fed” animal proteins and eggs where animals have access to eat foods in nature. This helps with getting leaner meats as well as introducing omega 3s. This, in turn, helps with your omega 3/6 ratios. This can also help skin elasticity along with constant hydration and getting all of the vitamins/minerals I need.
- I need to continue my eating of cruciferous veggies and reduction of estrogen-like items. This includes eliminating sources of BPAs and avoiding soy. This helps significantly with body re-composition and giving it a “hard” look as opposed to a “soft” look.
- I need to ensure I am only having pasta once every week or two. I’m pretty good with this. During summer, I was able to successfully use zucchini as a substitute. I am now looking into some other forms of pasta which are lower in the carb category.
- I need to actually use a cheat meal a week or so. I get so dialed in now, I really don’t do cheat meals anymore. I like the idea of “taking a break” once a week or so. I was so dialed into losing the 19 pounds I put on in 4-5 days that I was laser focused on this. Now that I hit that, I’m going to take myself up on this.
- I need to play around with calories. I’ve been at 2300 for 9 months or so. Thinking about adding 100 calories during heavy workout days and maybe taking off 100 on rest days. Rest days are also looking to be on the lower spectrum of carbs (30-40%) where heavy workout days will be my heavier carb days (40-45%). I do feel like higher levels of carbs can easily convert to fat for someone like myself if I’m not out there pushing it. My carb sources will be probably 1-2 servings of fruit per day with grains/veggies as my other sources. I need to continue to get carbs from veggies which are rich in vitamins and minerals.
- I want to continue on the path with looking into natural bodybuilding. No, I don’t give two shits about shows and competing. But I do like the idea of being a lean 175-185 at 5’9″, and these guys seem to have a lot of information. I have found a few that have lost over 100 pounds and competed – so there are precedents and blueprints. Again, the idea is not to even think I can compete, but try and use some best practices and lessens learned to workout in a smart way. Meaning, if I’m spending 3-5 hours a week on activity and another 2-3 hours on meal prep – I want to use my time efficiently on things that have worked for others and that work for me. Like my earlier post – I thought that weight training would lead to 245 pounds of ridiculous bulk. No. They are juicing. I’ve been lifting on and off since 15 years old, and I had zero clue. They need to put this shit on posters.
P.S. The main pic in this was me at 227 pounds (5’9″) when I graduated high school. I started 9th grade at 5’7″ and 255 pounds. I felt I might have had 20-30 pounds of fat. I know now with watching these natural bodybuilders I would have probably been 165-170 lean. The pic above was the last time I was this low. I had broken my foot in my junior year in wrestling and gone up to 295, at the time, the heaviest in my life. I spent about 2 months my senior year and took off about 65 pounds running every day for 2-3 miles. So…errantly, I had this precedent where I could take off quickly by running. My calories were probably 800-1200 per day.
In college…well….college happened. I still tried to stay active, but I ate late night pizza and drank my face off. My college graduation had me clocking in at 342 pounds. To be honest, here was my progression:
Start freshman: 230
Start sophomore: 255
Start junior: 267
Start senior: 283
Christmas senior: 294
Over Christmas my senior year, I shredded my ankle. I was on crutches for 5 months. Zero activity during this time. I didn’t eat that much more than I normally did, and I didn’t drink that much more. But in about 5 months, I gained about 50 pounds. I didn’t own a scale, and my sizes didn’t change much as my belly continued to get big.
Most of my adult life I’ve been between 295 and 340. Last year, I don’t know what the hell happened, but I went from my “normal weight” of 320 to 372. Smoking cigarettes, boozing, eating pizzas all the time. Something had to change.
Today, I am back to my 294/295.
Looking forward to my next goal of 227. This is 68 more pounds. At 4-8 pounds of loss per month, I’m looking at about 10-11 months from now. Honestly, I think in early summer next year I may be getting more biking and walking in and reducing the calories a little. With the expectation of another 7-12 pounds of muscle in that time, I’m hoping it’s just under 10 months.
So…I’m focused. I’m committed. Look out scale…I’m coming for you.