Glenn's 12 Week Weight Loss Challenge Update

This blog post marks 5 weeks completed in my weight loss challenge. Plus it's the day after Christmas and I'm in a cookie and ham coma right now. I decided to allow myself 8 hours of cheating on my diet yesterday. As many of you know I am now following intermittent fasting as a diet strategy. This calls for 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating. The way I prepared for my epic cookie and ham cheat was as follows:

-Early morning steady state cardio (45 minutes burned around 400 calories)
-Fasted until Noon with no calories at all until then. Drank water and green tea. Also took supplements.
-A lot of Caffeine!!!

My first meal consisted of all protein and some fat (beef jerky). I also had some green beans to add in some vegetables. Then a couple hours later came the fun part. I consumed ham, green beans, Italian sausage, cookies, cake balls (pieces of cake shaped into a ball dipped in chocolate) and more cookies. I kept all of this within the 8 hours and also made sure to get protein in beforehand. All in all I do feel guilty but I know that I needed a day to just relax the diet. More of an emotional need than physiological. I also had a few beers which further served the emotional need.

Now on to the intermittent fasting strategy. I decided to give this a run after reading a lot about the benefits and also at the request of some of my Facebook followers. The diet calls for a 16 hour fast and then an 8 hour feeding window. In my case the fast was from 7pm to 11am and the feeding window is 11am to 7pm. This seems to work best for me because I tend to consume the most calories after work and around lunch. I am following Martin Berkhan's Leangains plan for early morning fasted training also. I consume 1 serving of Empyrean Nutrition Beta-Peptide pre-workout, 1 serving of Scivation Xtend post-workout (6:30am) and another serving of Xtend at around 9am. During this time I also make sure to drink a lot of water, consume some caffeine, and also chew some sugar free xylitol gum to satisfy the cravings. This diet totally goes against all conventional dieting wisdom. Most people fear going long hours without meals fearing catabolism and muscle breakdown. Actually studies show that not until after 72 hours does muscle breakdown happen. Also the notion of eating every 3-4 hours is being challenged and the evidence is showing that this is just not superior to eating only 2-3 meals per day. The truth is that the body will regulate protein synthesis as long as amino acids are present and high protein meals take multiple hours to digest and will elevate amino acid levels for hours on end. Also during the fast your body has a higher likelihood of utilizing fats as an energy source than carbs. Another contention is that your body can only absorb a certain amount of protein per sitting. This is just simply not true. The body will adjust the length of digestion to allow for a larger meal (higher protein) to breakdown and absorb. In my case I'm getting around 3 meals within the 8 hours of feeding.

Now my initial impression has been good. The hunger pains went away after a few days and my training hasn't been effected at all. I do enjoy eating potatoes, meat and vegetables and getting to consume a large amount is a plus. My only gripe is that after my first meal I feel really full. Almost bloated like I just ate something very bad for me. The truth is that the "break the fast" meal is usually a combination of meats and veggies on off days or meats and sweet potatoes on workout days. I guess the high amount of calories I consume in that meal is just something I'm not used to yet since I have 1 month of conventional dieting in the books. I'll ride this out for another week to see if the effect diminishes. Otherwise I am liking this approach and it works out really well with my lifestyle. Very easy on the weekends too.

My training has also been going good. I am maintaining and even gaining some strength in areas. I understand that in a calorie deficit I'm not going to increase muscle mass or make enormous strength gains so I'm happy with this. My goal is to get to a bodyweight of around 225 and then move into a mass building phase. I may increase my calories to maintenance or slightly above when I get to that point but by no means do I want to put any fat mass back on. Slow and steady is my new philosophy. Of course I wake up each day searching for improvements but I am realistic in that I know my goals will be met with hard work and patience. I've made it through 2 holidays and some cold weather so far and I've got a ways to go but I'm ready for it. Until next time, Happy Holidays!