I’ve been reading T-Nation for several months now, but this is my first post here on the forums. I guess a little background might be helpful.
I’m 25 years old, 6 foot 4, and have always been big. Played the line in high school football, but after college things got bad, real bad. At the beginning of this year I had my Phoenix moment when I realized I was buying XXXXLT shirts. I also realized I was a fat, pathetic, lazy piece of shit.
That had to change.
I had to weigh myself on the laundry scale at the back of the hospital. When I did, I discovered I weighed 440 pounds. (Damn.) Now, I’ve lost a hundred pounds and am sitting in the mid 330s. I’ve still got a long, long ways to go and am working hard to change my life and get away from being the token fat guy.
My immediate goal is to be back in the 200s by my sister’s wedding in December. Past that, I will be 240 by next summer, and I’ll see what they lay of the land is then.
To do that, I need to take my nutrition to the next level, and this is where I need your guys’ help.
I start my new job in less than a week, and with that new job comes the first stable, decent income I’ve ever earned (working in the nonprofit world didn’t earn me the big bucks, or really, small bucks, either).
Now that I won’t have to be living hand to mouth, I have the chance to actually buy good, healthy food and even indulge in supplements.
I’ve made some good progress this year in my battle to lose weight and get healthy, but the nutrition side of the health triangle has always been my weak spot. It’s time to correct that.
My nutritional plan for weight loss has been pretty basic: 2500 calories a day broken evenly over five meals. Granted, there have been some general, healthier moves from my former french fries, Chinese buffets, and Dr. Pepper lifestyle. Avoiding fried foods, drinking water, drinking lots of water, switching to diet soda, et cetera.
I’ve even tried to track my food with a nutrition log. But in all reality, I haven’t had any kind of real, substantial plan to attack my nutrition with like the thought out plans I’ve had for my weight training and cardio.
I eat, and record what I eat so my number stays below my goal. I cheat, and then try to wing it the rest of the day. I leave myself open for crappy eating because I don’t have a plan. My analogy? I’m like my rail thin friend who came with me to the gym one lifting day. While I pounded my way through my full body routine, he aimlessly hopped from one machine to the next with no idea of what the hell he should be doing.
Being that guy is unfortunate, but KNOWING that you’re that guy sucks. It’s like I’ve lost my nutritional innocence and can’t go back to my life of caloric ignorance and bliss.
So, it’s time to take my very elementary meal plan, give it some tweaks, and crank it up another notch for the next round of highly focused weight loss, what I’m calling my 14 Weeks of Hell (to get to my sister’s December wedding under 300 pounds).
To take my nutrition (and fat loss) to the next level, I need your help (scroll to the bottom for the questions). I’m going to describe my nutrition goals and plan, and then I’ll ask for your help in developing a meal plan and other answers to other mysteries of life.
The goal of my nutritional plan is to help me loose fat (and not muscle). Lots of fat. I’m a hundred down so far, and have at least another hundred to go. So, I’ll be operating in a caloric deficit of approximately 20% below my daily energy expenditure.
By and large, I plan to adapt the Carb Cycling Codex by Christian Thibaudeau.
However, I plan on doing some modifications and simplifications to Thib’s program in order to make my transition into a full fledged meal plan successful both now and for the long term.
I’ve got enough going on with my life that crunching a lot of numbers and counting days and over-analyzing macronutrients is going to be way too much for me.
My major adjustments are: b Use a two day carb cycle[/b] (higher and lower) rather than the three day split (high, medium, and low carb days) listed in the article. Higher carbohydrates go with days I lift to give me the energy to work hard.
b Simplify the daily meal plan.[/b] Thib gives three examples based on workout times. Each has six meals daily with varying makeups to each meal. With the exceptions of the two midday meals, every meal is different in macronutrient composition.
Here is what he posted as the evening workout example:
Meal 1 (upon waking up): Carbs + protein meal
Meal 2 (10:00) Carbs, protein, and green veggies
Meal 3 (12:30): Protein, fat, and green veggies
Meal 4 (15:30): Protein, fat, and green veggies
Meal 5 (Post-workout, around 18:00): Protein and carb drink
Meal 6 (21:00): Carbs + protein meal
Again, in an effort to make my personal work with a meal plan successful and implementable, I am going to be making some changes in the number of meals and their composition:
Meal 1 (Waking Up) Carbs and protein
Meal 2 (10:30am) Carbs and protein
Meal 3 (2:00pm) Protein, fat, green veggies
Meal 4 (5:00pm) Workout / post-workout nutrition (carbs and protein)
Meal 5 (8:00pm) Protein, fat, green veggies
As you can see, I’ve standardized my meal setups into two categories (discounting the workout nutrition): carbs and no carbs. As has been recommended numerous times, I’ll only be eating carbs in the mornings and during my workout / immediately after it (I’m in the gym every day weight training, HIIT, or just occasionally jogging on the elliptical).
My goal is to build up to a handful of easy to prepare recopies that I can quickly make and have stocked and ready to go. Having a smaller number of variables makes meals easier to standardize, and thereby making the plan easier to stick with in the long term.
Mike Roussell’s article Preparing for Battle was a really good intro to the practical side of all of this.
I want to implement a base macronutrient ratio of 40% carbs, 40% proteins, and 20% fats. Balanced nutrition - enough said. I like the appeal of low carb diets for their miracle working fat loss powers, but I like the idea of being able to sustain this plan over the long haul even more. And really, that’s what this is all about for me: transforming my life from the 440 pound fatso to someone lean, strong, and healthy.
Daily Caloric Goals & Carb Cycling
I’m using the Harris-Benedict formula to determine my basal metabolic rate:
66 + (13.7 * (weight in kg)) + (5 * (height in cm)) - (6.8 * 25)
Looking at the activity level chart in Thib’s article, I would multiply the BMR rate by 1.4 (Light) or 1.6 (Moderate) for my lifting days. If I was to use my current weight (335), with the BMR formula and then apply the activity level multipliers and then the 20% caloric defect, I get some ludicrously high numbers: 3300 and 3775, respectively.
There’s absolutely no way that can be right, but I’m at an impasse of how to correctly calculate what my daily caloric intake should be from a nutritional / physiological / scientific standpoint. Everything I’ve done up until this point has been simple guesswork.
If I try and calculate my macronutrient ratio based on body weight (instead of caloric ratios), the numbers get wonky again. If I set my protein goal at 1.25g/pound and carbs at 1.25g/pound, that already puts me at almost 3700 calories. I’m already over my daily limit on the light activity day and close to my moderate activity day, and that’s before I’ve added any fats to my diet!
I’m really at a loss of what the best way to sort this out would be. Should I just set a semi-arbitrary pair of caloric goals and/or decide on an ‘ideal’ body weight and then work backwards?
Here’s an area that’s absolutely new and foreign to me: workout nutrition. As I mentioned in the beginning of this, I’ve been in the po’ house the past few years, including the last eight months of my lifestyle change.
There simply hasn’t been money in the budget for shakes and supplements, so I’ve tried to make due by eating protein as quick as I can after my workouts. Now, I’ll be looking into a during and post-workout shake full of carbs and protein to act as my fourth meal of the day.
T-Nation advertises Surge a lot. That may be an option, but I’m wide open.
My Questions For You
Knowing all of this on a theoretical and academic level is just fine and dandy, but I need some help actually implementing my plan in the form of creating meal choices.
1. Number Crunching: Even though I’m a hundred punds lighter than where I was in January, I’m still a big, fat guy with a long way to go. So, I’m at a loss of how to calculate my BMR, calorie goals, and amounts of macronutrients. Simply plugging in my weight of 335 doesn’t seem to make sense to me, as the numbers just end up being ridiculously high! Should I just pick a lower number to crunch numbers with?
2.Daily caloric intake. Thibs doesn’t out and out state it, but from reading his article, what I can gather is that the daily caloric intake varies based on the amount of carbohydrates eaten (75% on low days, 100% on mediums, and 125% on heavies). Protein and fat stays the same. OR, calories remain constant, but the fats and carbs percentages vary. Which is it?
3.Meal plans & recipes: I’m not much of a chef, but I’m learning. So, I can use anything and everything you guys have got about meal plans (and yes, I’m reading all the stuff I can find on T-Nation… likely as you read this). I’m going to be pre-purchasing my food and prepping it a few days in advance according to my plan. ‘Fail to plan, and you plan to fail,’ right? This way, I can just toss it into the microwave and be good to go in a few minutes, as I hate spending 20 minutes to cook unless it’s grilling on a Sunday while watching the NFL! I could just use some help in putting all this theory into use. A big part of that for me is developing a stable set of go-to recipes that I can draw from time and time again.
4.My daily meal plan: I know going to 6 or even 7 meals is best, but for now I’m staying at five. Simplified and pared down from Thib’s example (the early evening workout plan), does what I listed pass the mustard?
5.Pre/post-workout Nutrition: Now with a decently paying job, I can afford to think about supplements and the like. I have yet to do much research, but as long as I’m writing this post, I’d be happy to hear your recommendations.