Note: Before/after pics were taken in the evening, fully hydrated and fed.
As discussed on Episode 8 of the Wise Eats Podcast:
Six weeks went fast! The fat loss challenge is by no means over, but I did say six weeks in my original post, so here’s an update. I didn’t get quite the results I wanted but did make some progress and lost a decent amount of weight in that time. I also made consistent strength gains in all of my major lifts (bench, squat, dead lift, overhead press), which was pretty surprising. I also learned some valuable lessons that are going to help me do even better in the next six weeks, and hopefully help you do the same. Read on.
Start Date: 4-2-18
End Date: 5-14-18
Starting Weight: 198.6lbs
Ending Weight: 193.2lbs
Total Weight Loss: 5.4lbs
Average Calories/Day Prior to Cut: 3,500-4,000
Average Calories/Day During Cut: 2,500-2,700
1) I Expected to Do Better
Total weight loss of 5.4lbs is not as much as I hoped for in six weeks, but it’s still nearly a full pound per week. My biggest downfalls were lack of cardio and inclusion of cheat meals (more on that later). Ultimately, slow and steady weight loss is the goal to keep a sustainable, healthy weight. A crash diet resulting in drastic weight loss will burn valuable muscle and contribute to metabolic deficiencies. That said, I lacked some dietary discipline during this cut and could’ve achieved results much faster.
2) Eating Clean Does Not Guarantee Weight Loss
Although I have tracked my meals every day since 2009, I’ve gotten away from strict calorie/macronutrient counting over the past couple years and focused mainly on quality of nutrients. Eventually, this led to excessive caloric intake (3,500-4,000 per day) and accumulation of excess body fat, which is why I decided to start this six week cut. Sure, I’ve been lifting weights like a madman and gaining muscle but didn’t need nearly that many calories in order to acquire the muscle I desired. Had my calories been around 2,500-3,000 per day, I could have still gained muscle without adding so much body fat in the process. It’s valuable to count calories so you know where you’re at. Calculate your baseline needs and adjust from there based on your goals to gain or lose weight.
3) Dietary Fat is Healthy, But Too Much Leads to Weight Gain.
Grass fed butter. Avocado oil. Almonds. Coconut oil. Cashew butter. Dietary fat has tremendous health benefits, and it’s delicious. But when it comes to losing weight and eating fat, tread lightly. Fat has the highest calorie content out of all the macronutrients at 9 calories per gram. It is also the nutrient most easily converted into body fat. Leading up to this challenge, I was consuming 100-200g or more of dietary fat per day under the assumption that it was clean eating and good for me. During this challenge, I limited my intake to 40-60 grams per day on most days, and this had a major impact on my ability to restrict calories and shed body fat.
4) Intermittent Fasting Helped.
By putting off breakfast for a few hours in the morning, you can get a cognitive boost and utilize the many benefits of low intensity fasted cardio (walking, other light activity). This will also assist you in keeping total calorie intake down. I love the way I felt in the morning during that fasted period, so intermittent fasting is a strategy I will continue to use going forward.
5) I Was Never Starving
I used to think that eating needed to be restricted to the point where I was physically uncomfortable in order to lose weight, but that’s just not the case. During this cut, I averaged 6-8 meals per day at about 2,500 total calories. There were definitely times when I wanted to eat more, but I never felt truly deprived of anything during the cut.
6) I Did Almost No Cardio
I focused strictly on heavy, compound weight lifting 5 days per week. What little cardio I did do involved low intensity bike riding, walking, core workouts, and stretching. To accelerate results in the future, I will incorporate 2-3 high intensity cardio sessions per week. This should help get results much faster.
7) “Workout” Less, Lose More
Calorie restriction alone is enough to ensure weight loss, but exercise is still a critical component. 1-2-hour training sessions are unnecessary to build muscle and lose body fat, which is what I was doing previously. 30-60 mins of focused weight training with proper form and challenging weight are all you need to get strong and lose body fat. Short, intense cardio sessions lasting 20-30 mins are all you need to complement that schedule. Rest, recovery, sleep, walking, stretching, foam rolling, yoga, etc. are just as important as strenuous physical exertion.
8) I Had Epic Cheat Days and Still Lost Weight
I usually try to limit myself to one cheat meal per week, if at all. Most of the time, I just eat like I normally do because I love real food. During this cut, I wanted to exclude all cheat meals, but failed. Enjoyed three significant cheat meals during the six weeks. Back-to-back date nights with the wife involving beer and NY style pizza, then most recently a Mother’s Day feast with the family where I pretty much ate what I wanted but still had the cut in the back of my mind. Most other times, I adhered to my allotted calories and macros every single day.
9) Carbs Are NOT Your Enemy
Sweet potato, fruits, vegetables, jasmine rice, steel cut oats. Carbohydrates fuel your workouts and provide valuable energy but have been bastardized by profit-seeking firms that are usually selling poisons and ineffective diet fads. Make sure you’re eating enough carbohydrates based on your activity levels. I had around 278 grams of carbs per day throughout this cut and felt great doing it. Keto…eat your heart out.
10) Can’t Expect Results Overnight.
Fitness is a lifelong journey. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. One rep higher than your last workout. 10 seconds faster or 1 mile longer than before. Stay consistent, and you will see results. Small deposits in your physical bank account now add up to huge dividends later. Stay committed, keep making progress, and you will see results in time.
These results have only motivated me to keep going and do even better. I will report my progress at the end of the next six weeks and continue to share the biggest lessons learned. I hope you can take some of these fat loss insights and apply them to your own life. Health is wealth, so start making some wise choices! Please contact me with any questions, comments, or suggestions. I want to produce the best possible content to help people get healthy and feel great because that’s how we should all be living. Thanks for reading.