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James Brawn's 6 Weeks to Beach Ready

Time to fat shame myself into action.

Age: 45
Weight: 184lbs
Body fat: 17.8% (dexa)
Goal: min 10lbs fat loss

Training: full body GBC x 3 per week, plus 2-3 HIIT (usually jump rope tabata).
Diet: CKD. Aiming for more aggressive fat loss at -2lbs per week, hence 1000 kcal deficit.

Short summary: the training style and diet suit my lifestyle, personality, and circumstances. This includes a long standing shoulder issue and recurrence of my back problem (2 prolapsed discs). I am more aggrieved by my mind than body as I have let myself go through ill discipline. I have been sub-10% body fat previously so I have no excuses. I am going at this with my holiday in mind early July. Post any significant updates, the good and bad.

30 May

Did upper body only workout as lower back tetchy after hours behind the wheel. Also ended up training at 8.30pm, not ideal but good session regardless. Advanced GBC style:

Ai) weighted ring pull up x 6
Aii) tug of war tyre pull x 10
Aiii) med ball slams x 20
10s between exercises, 2m between sets, for 3 rounds.

Bi) flat DB press with fat gripz
Bii) Gironda dips
Biii) med ball wall throw
Sets and rest as above. 18m workout.

31 May

Lower body GBC. Sciatic nerve did bother me afterwards so will need to re-think these sessions going forward.

A1) BB hack squat with heels elevated x 5-6
A2) DB alternating rear lunge x 6 (per leg)
A3) Bodyweight squat x 15-20
For 3 rounds. 10s between exercises, 2m between sets.

B1) Band-assisted glute/ham raise x 3-5
B2) Swiss ball leg curl x 10
B3) seated band leg curl x 20
Rounds and RIs as above. 23m session.

2 June

Weekly weigh in: 181lbs (-3lbs).

Unlikely 3lbs net fat loss but always nice to see on the scales. For example, crashed out at 8.30pm last night and despite waking up a few hours later (where I would have undoubtedly had a snack and drink) I stayed in bed. That could have been the difference of 1 lbs on the scales easily.

Nutrition schedule (assuming early evening workout):

Upon waking (circa 6am): 3-5g ALCAR; 5g glutamine; 5g bicarbonate of soda in 250ml water. Morning supplements are various antioxidants: cinnamon extract; ALA; trans-resveratrol; green tea extract.

Will then have 1-2 cups of organic coffee.

About 2 hours later (circa 8am): greens supplement and 5g psyllium husk in 500ml water.

About 2 hours later (circa 10am): 10g BCAA in water.

Lunch (circa 12pm): about 150g of meat (type varies) which I like to cook in coconut oil with onions, etc, and perhaps a light pasta sauce; with green veg usually broccoli and/or green beans. Dressed with organic olive oil and perhaps some zero kcal dressing. My have a small handful of almonds and/or walnuts depending on fat content of meat.

Peri-workout (circa 5.30pm):
Pre: circa 20g BCAA, with 5-8g citrulline malate, 5g beta alanine, and electrolytes.
Intra: circa 10-20g BCAA with 5-10 EAAs
Post: 40-50g whey isolate; 5g leucine; 5g glycine; circa 30g glutamine; 5g creatine.
I am also using ALA and fenugreek in a bid to enhance nutrient uptake in absence of carbs.

Dinner (circa 7pm):
A bit like lunch.

Snack (circa 9pm):
About 30g of reduced fat cheddar cheese, with about 30g nut butter (almond or peanut)

Macro summary:
I aim for around 160g PRO (which includes peri-workout)
And 120g FAT (which includes 15g fish oil and 4g CLA)
30g CHO

I moved to this ratio after some research as the term ‘keto diet’ is often misused in bodybuilding circles. Actual keto diets are very high in fat and moderate in protein; these ratios are usually skewed for bodybuilding purposes. Protein intake does not need to be so high especially if your moderate intake is of good quality.

Every 5-7 days I will have carbs. I try to keep this to one large meal. I also invert the fat intake. So the meal may consist of a pasta made with chicken breast mince instead of beef, and I enjoy using a brown rice pasta (which tastes almost as good as its wheat equivalent). Total CHO on this day will be circa 200g.

This eating style suits me (I especially loathe frequent feedings) and have followed IF for many years now, with a few breaks here and there. I also function well on low carbs.

I do admit that I got down to circa 10% BF in autumn 2015 on a TKD using Indigo 3G, but even then my carb intake was moderate (around 150-200 CHO). Of course, my ambition is to get back to such an approach once I am closer to that body fat level again. According to my dexa scan, I would need to drop another 14lbs to achieve that. That’s a significant fat loss for my size and, of course, the other challenge is not losing lean mass at the same time. Therefore, my challenge is broken into stages:

Target 1: 14% BF (-6.5lbs). According to the consultant who did the scan, this will yield noticeable abs. He claimed there is an average 4% differential between dexa scan results and other methods, e.g. skinfold calipers or mirror estimates, etc, with the former being 4% higher than the latter.

Target 2: 12% (-11lbs).

Target 3: 10% (-14lbs)

If I can get close to target 2 by 6th July I would be delighted but I am prepared for a tough slog for the remaining weeks.

3 June

GBC strongman circuit

A1) tug of war tyre drag
A2) walking KB lunge
A3) wide dips
A4) backward tyre drag
15-30s between exercises, 2-3m between sets. X4 rounds. Total time 20m.

Increased weight each round. Need to wear weighed vest on dips next time. Also going to tighten rest intervals from now on. Strict 30s between exercises and 2m between sets.

Favourite session as it’s outdoors in sunny conditions about 19C. Did my high carb night previous evening and certainly aided the workout. Despite that, this is the hardest session I do and it’s also the one easiest to over do.

5 June

General fat loss hacks:

I often find myself trawling around looking for little hacks which will assist my body comp journey. And it’s amazing to discover how much I am already doing, as the reality is there is little new knowledge out there. For someone who is a former fat boy (FFB), long term blood sugar management is always going to be a concern and some of these ‘hacks’ are part of the daily routine rather than a quick fat-loss phase fix. In no particular order:

  1. organic apple cider vinegar - I have a bottle at work and one at home, from which I take a slug before each meal. I’m not anal enough to carry a small bottle for the times I am on the road.

  2. Psyllium Husk - I take 5g once daily mid-morning (along with my greens powder) and aim to introduce another dose mid-afternoon (again with greens). Easily prepared in advance in those handy ‘protein towers’ when on the move.

  3. fish oil - similar to (1), bottle at work and one at home which I try to take prior to eating rather than after food. I aim for 10-15g over two doses.

  4. infrequent feedings - I’ve tried all sorts of formulas and always come back to some form of IF. I know this is fiercely contested, and I certainly admit it can negatively impact on cortisol production. However, in my experience it works for me and there is enough science around to suggest it benefits blood sugar management. Also, if you are committed to taking various supplements with food (see below) then this is at more manageable as it’s down to 2-3 times a day max and you don’t feel the need to cart around bottles of pills everywhere.

  5. IF - following (4), if there are any benefits to taking supplements on an empty stomach then IF followers are best placed to take advantage. While there is the usual debate on supplement efficacy, so much of these can be picked up at rock bottom prices these days that it is worth the experiment. For me this equates to a ‘morning cocktail’ of: 3-5g ALCAR; green tea extract; cinnamon extract; trans-resveratrol; Q10. I also have a few cups of organic coffee before switching to green tea and/or yerba mate. I have also picked up in clearance sales stuff like green coffee bean extract; raspberry ketones; African mango extract, and the like. Stuff I wouldn’t normally but at rock bottom prices there is little to lose.

  6. partitioning/nutrient uptake agents - a bit like (5), stuff like cinnamon, ALA, fenugreek, etc, can be sourced cheaply these days.

  7. digestive enzymes - I have taken these consistently for the last 9 months when I took an interest in Vince Gironda’s teachings, where he recommended them on his low carb diets. I am certain they have improved by overall digestive/bowel function. Again, a low budget addition to the supplement programme.

5 June

Macro readjustment:

Following more research, which includes a recent post by CT, I am convinced my protein intake is still a bit high on a CKD. Currently, 160 PRO; 120 FAT.

Therefore, as of yesterday I have moved to: 120 PRO; 135 FAT (with as little CHO as possible this will equate to a total of circa 1,800 kcals).

Most of the macros are fulfilled over two meals (lunch and dinner). Around 20 FAT comes from supplemented fish oil and CLA. I am also aiming to use 15 FAT from MCT about 45m before training (although I have been inconsistent with this). The remaining 105 FAT will come from foods as well as coconut oil, which I frequently use for cooking. I also need to move away from an over-reliance on nuts and nut butters, which are high in phytic acid, and get more into organic olive oil/avocado oil and grass-fed organic butters. This will be a bit more of a challenge for me given my long-standing love for the former.

Around half of the PRO intake is from supplements, which is probably less conventional. This is mainly per-workout (BCAAs, whey, etc) with one BCAA pulse mid-morning.

6 June


Ai) narrow grip chin up (feet in front) x 6
Aii) band assist parallel grip pull up x 10
Aiii) DB pullover x 15-20
3 rounds. 20s between exercises, 2m between sets.

Bi) flat DB press (using fat gripz) x 6
Bii) incline DB press x 10
biii) slam ball chest throw x 15-20
Rounds, etc as above. 19m session.

10 June

Weekly weigh in: 12st 13lbs (no change)

A bit disappointed and in disbelief as I physically felt thinner and the mirror and waistband suggested likewise. Calories have been consistent at the 1800 limit.

While I believe it is possible to recomp, I have always reasoned that over a certain body fat threshold, eg, 15%, the scales should always travel in a linear direction.

That said, for some unknown reason, historically I have always lost weight fortnightly rather than weekly so if next week would be crucial. I am also going to weigh in daily now just to see what happens and how much, if any, weight fluctuates.

Finally, since embarking on this diet I have been using ursolic acid in its topical form after reading some positive reviews. This is by the infamous Patrick Arnold. If I am indeed recomping then it would suggest UR has been a factor.

17 June

No weekly weigh in, given a few set backs including elbow strain from close-grip presses two days earlier.

However, on weekend of 18/19th I did consecutive strongman GBC training (avoiding pressing movements due to said elbow issue). This was outside in early afternoon heat (circa 26C, although could have been hotter). This was through a mixture of boredom (unusually had spare time on my hands) and the fact I had more carbs/kcals than anticipated). It showed me there are no reason why you can’t train the same body part daily for short periods, and do so in challenging conditions.

20 June

Back/Chest: 6 - 12 - 25 method

Love this rep scheme. After some research, I decided to utilise drop sets from 3rd set because previously I was finding my total reps were really tailing off by this point. Further, I also wanted to increase volume from 3 to 4 rounds. Few further tweaks required but outstanding session and feeling some DOMs next morning.

Ai) Chin up (trying to lean away) x 6
Aii) Lying on elevated bench DB rows x 12
Aiii) DB pullover x 25

Bi) DB flat press (with fat gripz) x 6
Bii) DB slight incline press x 12
Biii) Slam ball chest throws x 25

10s between exercises; 2m between sets for a total of 4 rounds each. Total workout time 29m.