I don’t talk much on diet because well.. it’s the toughest part of fitness things for me. There’s no question it’s where I struggle, it’s where I fail. But I have noticed bringing things to light here, keeping logs, for whatever reason it helps me keep more on track. So, let’s try it with diet. I won’t keep logs like I do for the lifting or the dry fire, but I will try to mention it more and be more up-front about it when and where it’s relevant.
I’m not fat, but I carry more fat than I care for. I’ve got a gut and frankly I hate it. I’m 6’3″, weigh 235-240# depending on the day. Semi-recent picture of me here (scroll to the end). If I got down to 200, I’d be feeling and looking much better. But I also cannot track pure weight because weight is made up of fat, muscle, bone, organs, water, etc.. I am working to build muscle, so my weight is going up from muscle growth. I also refuse to follow BMI because it’s a bullshit measure. Really in the end it’s about body composition and the ratio of tissues, and I just want less fat (and more muscle). So while I might target a weight, while I might track weight changes per week, it’s more about composition. I will need to take pictures every week, but well… I am not sure I’ll share them.
My general goal is to keep myself healthy. I grant that I will die someday. So much of what people strive to do is find ways to recapture youth and avoid death. I acknowledge the futility of that, and just want to ensure I can enjoy the life I have while I have it. I know I’ll never be an elite powerlifter, I’ll never total 2000#, but that’s fine with me. If I can be strong enough, mobile enough, and continue to function as well as I can, that’s all I’m wanting and is the general goal that directs me.
So with that in mind, my initial milestone was to get off my butt. I had to give up martial arts for numerous reasons, but sitting on my butt wasn’t welcome. Returning to lifting started out more along the bodybuilding routines that I did as a teenager, but thankfully I got sick and in that downtime discovered Rippetoe and Wendler and it’s been a great year. My goal then became to build strength. Sure build muscle, but I really wanted to be strong because you can have muscles and not be strong but if you’re strong you’re going to also have muscles. But even if I didn’t have sexy bulging muscles, that’s fine… it’s more important to be strong as that’s far more useful.
But in getting bigger you well… you get bigger. I’ve built strength, I’ve built muscle, but I’ve also put on fat. You just have to eat a lot to get big, and that can lead to eating more than needed and thus you pack on fat with the muscles. Typical bodybuilder routine was to have “bulking” and “cutting” cycles, where you’d lift heavy and eat like crazy for some months to pack on the pounds, then you’d cut back on food and bump up the cardio to shed the fat. A constant cycle of binge and purge, if you will. But it tended to work. However that sort of thing is just… painful. I’m just not cut out for it. It’s simple. I love food way too much.
See… I recall watching a video on Rich Gaspari. Back when I was a teenager, Rich was my bodybuilding idol. In this video I watched Rich having a family dinner, but he was dedicated to his bodybuilding lifestyle and eating something different from everyone else. Then there was something about his breakfast, and I don’t recall the whole concoction, but it was rather bland and well.. functional. It certainly was the right thing for his lifestyle and greater goals, but there was no pleasure nor fun in that food, from my point of view. When I look at the typical bodybuilder diet plans of chicken breasts and rice, that’s fine for a day or two, but 3 months of that shit would drive me mad. I respect those guys for what they do, but I can’t do that (I’ve got different goals in life). I love food. Not that I love eating crappy food, I just know the wonderful things out there in the world and I wish to enjoy them. It’s like that opening scene in the Pixar movie “Ratatouille” where Remy is talking about one flavor, then another, but put them together and it’s sensational… that’s what I like. Compounding things, Wife is an awesome cook.
Backing up a bit, before I went back to the gym I tried shedding some of the fat through simple diet changes. A friend of mine had pretty good success following this “Up Day, Down Day” diet. I tried it and actually lost some good weight and got myself to 212. But you can see in the 1.5 years since falling off that wagon I put 30# on. I know a fair portion of that is muscle, but there’s no question flab came with it. It was tough doing that diet because of the denial, but it worked alright. And when you start to think about the logic behind why it works well… it leads me to think about… carb cycling.
As I’ve been researching stuff on lifting, of course you come across diet issues. These days the two big dietary plans (ignoring “bloat”) seem to be things from John Kiefer, like Carb Nite and Carb Backloading, and then Carb Cycling from guys like Shelby Starnes. It’s all about playing with carb (and other macronutrient) levels, when you take them, and how much you take of them. Given how I was able to deal with Up Day Down Day, plus given all that I’ve learned and much that’s changed in my diet since then (e.g. how we get the weekly veggie box from a local farmer) well.. I wonder if Carb Cycling could work for me.
The trouble is… numbers.
Here’s how it would work out for me, at my present 240# bodyweight
Protein: 240g – 300g
Carbs: 480g – 720g
Fat: as little as possible
Low & Moderate Days
Protein: 300g – 360g
Carbs: 120g – 360g
Fat: 36g – 84g
BMR: 2237 kcals/day, base but I’d cycle between 1.2 (off days) and 1.6 (work days) so 2685 kcals on off days and 3580 kcals on work days. BUT since I want to lose weight, that becomes 2148 off and 2864 work. Using those then, macros calculate out to:
Low & Moderate
Carbs: 225g – 300g (low – mod)
So you can see, there’s a lot of variation here. Some overlap, some general agreement, but gee… what to follow? What to do?
To quote Vinnie Barbarino, “I’m so confused!”
I’m not starting this in earnest yet. I still have at least 2 more Wendler cycles to go through because I want to get my bench press to 225#. But I am going to continue reading and trying to figure things. Plus I can start trying to do a few useful things. First, I’ve been very good about measuring/weighing my protein consumption but not my carbs. Today when getting my dinner I scooped my brown rice into a measuring cup to see what 1 cup of cooked rice actually looked like (more than I thought!). I can work on measuring and seeing what I really am eating, what am I actually consuming and how carbs calculate out so I can get a handle on things. I can also see about carbs before noon, only. That seems to be a constant no matter what flavor I follow, so let’s see what I can do there.
If I could drop 40#, that’d be awesome and a great bit of progress, but that’s merely a guide because again it’s more about composition than numbers. I reckon that could take me up to 6 months, and that’s going to require a metric ton of dedication. I do hope I can do it. I hope Wife can tolerate and support me through it. But I may only try running this for 2-3 months and then reevaluate. We’ll see.
Wish me luck.