This is a long post but I feel I need to provide you with as much info as possible in order to get the most effective feedback from you guys.
Two weeks ago I signed up for an 8 week fitness challenge at my local family gym. The challenge is based upon cumulative points for various activities (# of times attend the gym, group classes, ect., with the majority of the points coming from % of mass change, and % in body-fat). Although I would like to do well in the challenge, my fitness goals are much more far reaching than just the next 6 weeks (currently just finished my 2nd of 8 weeks). The majority of the people who signed up have a large amount of weight to lose but I think I still have a shot to do well taken into account the points system.
26 years old male, 5’10", currently 185 lbs, body fat % = 15.5 (using hand held detection device); been lifting for about 8 years, but never been what you would call a serious lifter. I have some decent mass, but I’ve always had a decent layer of fat hiding any hard work I’ve put in at the gym.
I’ve always been over weight, especially while in middle and high school (early and mid 90s). At one point I believe I was 33% body-fat! Toward the end of high school I got into lifting around '98/'99; and with the additional of finally growing taller, I started to thin out some, but it was never much. In college I got into lifting harder and got some pretty good results. Just before I turned 21 I got to 9% body fat and felt great. I had a lot more confidence and made me a much happier person. After turning 21, like most college students I starting drinking on weekends, staying up for late nights, eating bad, and by the time I graduated in '05 I was up to 204lbs. Although I was still lifting regularly, my diet was crap and I wasn’t making any changes to my body.
Fast forward to the last year or so and I’ve finally learned quite a bit about diet and nutrition and have been making a conscious effort to eating better. Now that I’m approaching 27 I’ve noticed that nothing is getting easier as far as trying to life a healthy life style. I’ve decided that I truly want to improve my overall fitness and I felt this challenge would lite a match under my ass and get me seriously focused on my goals.
Lower body-fat % to 6-8%
Lose minimal amount of muscle mass while obtaining this bf %
Commit to living a healthy life style
For once, feel good about taking my shirt off at the lake
Improve Diet, Increase Cardio, Continue lifting, try and increase metabolism for additional fat burning.
Since I’ve started the fitness challenge I have made a strong effort to limit my carbs late at night. Dinner is typically a high protein, lean meat meal that’s either served on a salad or with a side vegetable. My last carb source of the day is typically a protein bar around 4:30pm I’ve been tracking my food intake for the last 2 weeks and my average protein intake per day is in the 100-150grams/day depending on my meals.
Carbs selections have been focused on complex sources, however my other meals have not changed significantly in the past two weeks. I usually consume around a gallon of H2O a day and drink 1-3 diet sodas/day. I was drinking 6-12 beers a week, but I’ve done well so far on having just 3-4/week (good for me - I might be what you call a beer lover.) I had a few over the 4th of July weekend, but I’m focus on limiting beer/alcohol even further - although that might be the hardest thing for me to do.
My sugar intake is very low and usually is only consumed by the protein bars - and even then it’s pretty low. Luckily I don’t get much of a sweet tooth…I can’t even remember the last time I bought candy. Unfortunately I love chips and pizza. However, I’m ready to give up all those things in order to help achieve my goals.
Now let’s move onto my diet, training schedule, and so on…
I tend to work long days at work, which isn’t an excuse, but it can limit my gym availability. Luckily I’m out for summer and I’m not taking a class - however most of the year I’m also loaded down with taking graduate classes on top of working full time.
A typical work day with the time ranges showing when I might eat the following meals:
6am - wake up
7am - arrive at work
7am-8am - Breakfast
9:30-10 - Snack
12:00-1pm - Lunch
4-4:30 - Snack
5:30-6:15 - Leave work
6:15-7:30 - Gym
7:45-8:15 - Dinner
10:30-11:30 - Bed
Around 2-3 days a week I’m able to shoot over to the local gym and lift weights on my lunch break. I’m usually in and out in about 45 minutes so the tempo is pretty good. I feel this provides me a great mental relief from the stresses of work while at the same time allows me to train and retain my muscle mass while giving me a metabolism boast in the mid day. I follow this weight session with a high protein lunch within 20-30 minutes following my last set. Protein is in the 50-60 gram quantity in the form of a grilled chicken sandwich. If I’m able to work out at lunch, in the evening I focus my attention to high tempo cardio sessions.
5-6 days a week. 30-60 minutes per session. A good mix throughout the week of jogging (2-5 miles), interval spin classes, rock climbing, elliptical, and jumping rope. Heart Rate ranges in the 130-170 beats per minute range typically.
4-5 days a week. Each day of weights I focus on two body parts:
Bi’s / Tri’s
Chest / Back
Legs / Shoulders
I rotate those accordingly and typically do 3 different exercises per body part, with 3 sets per exercise. Thus a typical chest/back day would have me do 3 different exercises at 3 sets each = 9 set’s total…same with back. Right now I’m shooting for 8-12 reps per set - with most sets falling in the 9-10 rep range before complete failure. I’m working each body part out around every 5-6 days. Very, very rarely do I train a body part less than once a week. I figured this schedule is allowing me to retain the muscle I have while in my weight loss plan.
Abs I fit in about twice a week - depending on time availability…I don’t do them on a certain night of the week.
If I work out at lunch - it’s always weights; cardio would make me to sweaty to return to work in a reasonable amount of time. If I can’t work out at lunch, after work I either do weights and cardio, or just cardio. Typically after 3 straight days of lifting I will take a day off and only focus on cardio - however this isn’t always the case due to outside life schedule.
Breakfast - I’m always in a hurry in the morning and I always eat the same breakfast every workday morning…2 breakfast lean pockets = 260 calories, 8g fat, 36 g carbs, 10g of protein. It would be a struggle to work in time to cook a quick breakfast, but I could try. I typically eat this after I get to work and while I check my email.
1st snack - Protein bar. Brand typically is ‘south beach diet’, ‘pure protein’, EAS, ect and average is 190-210 calories; 5-7g fat, 22-26g carbs, 15-21g protein.
Lunch - almost always eat at one of these two locations for lunch: Chic-fil-a or Subway
Chic-fil-a: 2 grilled chicken sandwiches (total: 6g fat, 72g carbs, 56g protein) with honey bbq sauce (60 calories ï¿½?? 6g fat, 2g carbs)
Subway: 12" club or over roasted chicken breast loaded with veggies. I typically eat 7-8" of the sandwich for lunch and then eat the remainder for my afternoon snack around 4:30
Afternoon snack: If I’m not eating the remainder of my subway sandwich, I’m eating a protein bar similar to snack #1 listed above.
Dinner: Focuses on low carbs…Grilled chicken, chili (made w/ 96% lean ground beef), sirloin, or other lean meat and either served on a salad or with a side veggie (spinach, carrots, green beans, corn, ect).
If I stay up too late, I’m often hungry before going to bed so I might allow myself a stick of string cheese, a few slices of deli meat, or a teaspoon of peanut butter to hold me over until the morning.
I’m truly ready to drop my fat % before making an attempt to bulk up and consume additional calories in an attempt to put on additional muscle mass. I’m tired of always being self conscience of my body fat (especially around chest, abdomen, and lower back/love handles) and Iï¿½??m truly ready to make a change.
Since pictures are worth a 1000 words, here is where I am currently at. It was taken June 25th - the night the contest started. Although before and after pics are not necessary for the challenge, I felt they would motivate me and keep me focused on my goals. I didn’t work out that night and I wasn’t trying to really flex (not for he before pics) but you can get an idea from these…
See Attached if pics don’t auto load
Weight in the pic is 187.8lbs w/ bf % = 15.5% According to the girl at the gym who did the weigh in.
I feel I have provided you with enough info for some decent feedback. With that said, I do have some questions in order to try and maximize my results. Perhaps you guys can chime in!
A.) I’m worried my diet still needs some work…especially my breakfast. Any recommendations for a quick, healthy breakfast that I could whip up on my way out the door?
B.) Am I eating too much processed food? (lean pockets, chic-fil-a, subway)
C.) I’m also worried my veggie/fruit intake is too low…any thoughts?
D.) I’m torn on trying to decide on if I need to intake additional protein - in particular in the form of shakes. My thinking is that additional protein may help me keep my current muscle content - however I’m worried that since my ultimate goal is to lose weight - the additional calories from the proteins will only take additional work in order to burn off the additional calories.
I know muscles burn more calories throughout the day, however in this particular case do I really want to focus my protein intake levels at muscle building quantities or just maintenance quantities - and if so, what should that quantity limit be? My thinking was that if I time my current protein intake at specific times, in particular after weight training, taking in additional protein throughout the day will only slow my rate or fat loss.
E.) Should I make an effort to consume protein after a strenuous cardio workout? I know it’s important to do so after weight training in order to promote muscle growth and synthesis; however is the same train of thought also beneficial after cardio? If not, what do you recommend? Typically I eat dinner about 40 minutes after I’m done wit cardio.
F.) How does my weight training (schedule, strategy, frequency) look?
G.) Is my reps/weight look OK even though my goal is to loss weight? A lot of ppl mention that one should focus on lighter weight but higher reps. However I’ve also read that I should still lift heavier weights than that and do so to failure.
H.) Anything in particular I should focus on when heading into the final week of the contest?
I.) From what I have read, my breakfast is too small and doesn’t contain enough protein…however is it really necessary for me to consume 500-600 calories at breakfast if my overall goal is to reduce body fat?
J.) Any supplements you feel I should take along the way that might assist me?
K.) Anything else you might be beneficial to me?
Hopefully you can tell that from the amount of time I have put into this post, I’m quite motivated about reaching my goals. I’m ready to feel good about myself and life a long, happy, and fitness lifestyle. Once I reach my bf% goals, I’ll focus on lifting heavier, eating more, and gaining more mass - however in the mean time I think it’s best if I focus on reducing an on going issue - body-fat loss.
Thanks in advance for any input you might have; I truly appreciate it!!!