Fuck the first month went FAST.
I’m really happy with my progress overall, despite having this niggling shoulder / neck injury I have dropped far faster than I anticipated, so the only change has been to increase maintenance days, and shifting to an alternating intake on rest / training days. The overall calorie deficit is still the same, and as I’m dropping consistently there’s absolutely no need or purpose in reducing my calorie intake further, unless I’d like to reach a plateau and fuck up my physiology faster.
Keeping in mind it won’t be this easy forever, I’m preparing to either add in some cardio next month or to reduce my calorie intake. Either one is fine as I still have plenty of energy, time and resources without burning out. This is a critical reason why it’s imporant to go at a pace which is neither too fast, nor too slow, and to give yourself plenty of time to adjust your approach just in case you hit a roadblock.
Here’s a breakdown of my overall diet in the past month and the changes made.
REFEED DAYS ADDED
You’ll notice a couple of weight spikes over the past week or so, which is where I began to implement maintenance / refeed days. The first spike occurs after a 2500 calorie and slight surplus day, the second after my next maintenance day of 2300.
The weight spike is not only expected, but part of the process.
In the grand scheme of things, I expect that the trend line will continue to go down. So regardless of transient changes in the days following, I should be dropping down to a lower point after each refeed cycle, which you can see here.
I had my first refeed after dropping to 58.2kg and then spiked back up to 61.8 the next day, and then prior to my second, I dropped to 57.9kg and spiked up to 60.6kg the next day. This is ideal as each spike and subsequent drop should get progressively lower over time, showing responsiveness both to the deficit and also to the increase in glycogen.
All of the extra calories on these higher calorie days comes from carbohydrates and not fat. This is as carbohydrates are essential to the process as they spike glycogen (and allow for higher intensities of training), promote a spike in leptin which helps increase satiety, and generally allows me to offset some of the physiological changes that occur during fat loss. Psychologically also, it gives me a break from dieting and help improve my overall compliance knowing that I have a day or two coming up where I can smash a bunch of food and rest.
Keep in mind, you need to be quite lean in order for a refeed approach to work. Typically below 20% for women and 15% for men. “Free meals” or off plan meals can work for other dieters to relieve a sense of deprivation when on a diet, however the more body fat you have the less you need to refeed, as you do not experience the same challenges as someone with less body fat to lose and therefore will exhibit more adaptations to dieting.
Keeping the quality of my diet high:
Being in a calorie deficit does not mean you should be in a nutrient deficit.
I’m trying my best to keep my diet as full of healthy foods as possible, but I do allow for about 20% of my diet to be lower nutrient dense foods. I’ll often finish my day with sugar free jelly, protein pancakes, Halo top or all of the above at once. I eat cheese, bread and chocolate daily because it’s quick, easy and delicious. Provided the rest of my diet is whole foods, I feel that this keeps thing varied, interesting and exciting enough for me not to feel deprived.
The likelihood of me being able to keep this stuff in on days other than refeeds towards the end of my prep is low, so I’m gonna enjoy it now in a way that doesn’t affect my progress.
Adjustments made to upper and lower body training:
It’s been quite hard for me to hold weights on lower body days, or to do specific upper body exercises with my injury. Although it’s getting far better now, I am still getting some referred pain through my forearm extensors, shoulder and tricep. My strength on overhead pressing has gone down ridiciulously on my left hand side, so I’m trying to increase the volume slightly and keep as much weight in my movements until I can have some relief via rehabilitation and regain some strength.
Regardless, I’m super happy with how my upper & lower body proportions are and I haven’t been held back yet. I’ll be getting a specific rehab tool for my elbow (I suspect it’s Tennis elbow so I’ll be treating it according to current physiotherapy recommendations) so will be using this regularly to maintain my grip strength and to lengthen the forearm extensors.
Here’s my entire program as current:
Each workout takes me less than 45 minutes to do and every week I’ll attempt to increase the reps, weights or both. This has enabled me to continue to get stronger every week.
Upper body I can’t get as close to failure as lower, but I’m aiming to maintain my current strength as closely as possible whilst also ensuring I can rehab my left shoulder by increasing the strength of my rotator cuff and avoiding too much overhead pulling or pressing and internal rotation.