9 weeks ago me and a few others including clients and trainers embarked on an 8 week fat loss project, which ended up working out as 9 weeks for myself because I’m off on holiday in a few days to so I extended it until then. It went really well, so here are the results:
Weight: 78.85kg (12st 5.8lb)
Sub Scapular (under shoulder blade) 14.4mm
Abdominal (belly button) 16.8mm
Suprailliac (side of hips) 18.0mm
Weight: 69.0kg (10st 12.1lb) – down 9.85kg (21 pounds)
Bicep 3.0mm – down 0.8mm
Tricep 3.5mm – down 1.0mm
Sub Scapular 11.0mm – down 3.4mm
Abdominal 7.0mm – down 9.8mm
Suprailliac 8.8mm – down 9.2mm
Over the last 9 weeks I never trained more than 3 times per week, and often only twice per week depending on how much sleep I’d had, how busy I was that week or how busy I was on the weekends. I trained my whole body every session and the primary method of training I used was strength training, some days performing low rep strength training (3-5 reps) and some days higher reps (10-12 reps). While strength and muscle mass will inevitably be lost on a low calorie diet, the low rep strength training can help to attenuate some of these loses, while the higher rep strength training can help deplete muscle glycogen. Both high and low rep strength training have a place in a fat loss diet for many reasons, some of which have been discussed already in previous articles. I didn’t use many different exercises for strength training, the exercises I performed in almost every session include one Squating variation (zercher squats or safety bar squats), one Hip Hinging variation (Hex bar deadlifts, KB swings, Hip Thrusting variations) and Loaded Carries (farmers walks & KB carries). Because of on going shoulder problems upper body work was pretty much a no go, although I did occasionally (once or twice per fortnight) perform press ups, single arm rowing variations and sled arm over arm drags with the ropes. Most of my upper body training came from the carry over you get from exercises like zercher squats, deadlifts and loaded carries. I did include some conditioning in the form of high intensity interval training on the end of sessions never lasting longer than 15 minutes. Depending on how much time I had I would include this, I probably did something along the lines of 1 bout on intervals for every 3 strength training sessions I performed.
Strength training is, in my opinion, the best way to help you lose weight (men and women), especially when trying to go from moderately lean 14-17% BF down to 10% or below, where fat loss becomes much more difficult. When performing strength training consistently alongside a calorie deficit diet (i.e. eating less energy than you expend) you are VERY unlikely to gain muscle mass. I would estimate that of the weight I lost 3/5’s was fat and 2/5’s was water and muscle. To gain muscle mass on the kind of diet I used you would have to be a man (women would have no chance of gaining any muscle mass on this diet in my opinion) and you would have to have never performed any weights before (i.e. be a complete beginner).
The diet followed the same guidelines as the diet we give to all of our fat loss clients at The Better Body Shop with only one change. Monday to Friday I ate 3 meals a day, consisting of 1 portion protein, unlimited vegetables, 1 portion healthy fats, therefore unlike the BBS diet I didn’t have any post workout carbohydrate. Every Saturday I had a proper cheat day where I ate what I wanted and pigged out a bit, I also went out and enjoyed my self once a weekend (read into this what you will…. Doing the Joe Hart dance is exercise isn’t it? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGu14vZ6nqY). The theory behind having a cheat day is for another article, but if you eat little carbs in the week then you need to have some at some point otherwise yourenergy levels and training intensity will drop off dramatically… incidentally my sessions early in the week were much better than those later in the week, probably because muscle glycogen just became so depleted during the week before restocking on the cheat day.
I’m a creature of habit so pretty much used the same meals from mon-fri which looked like this for the first 5 weeks:
Meal 1: 4-5egg omelette with onions and mushrooms in, cooked in olive oil
Meal 2: 250-300g Chicken (either from a roast chicken or chicken thighs) with veggies (usually roasted peppers, inions and broccoli) cooked in herbs & spices with olive oil OR as part of a salad with olive oil and avocado.
Meal 3: Chilli, 250g lean mince, onions peppers, carrots, mushrooms (as much veg as poss) with chopped tomatoes and flavouring (I love ol del paso chilli spices for this).
Supplements: 2-3 fish oils with every meal.
In the last 4 weeks James and I both tweaked this slightly because fat intake was probably getting far too high… for instance I might have a protein source already containing a bit of fat (e.g. eggs or roast chicken with the skin etc), cooked in olive oil, with a whole avocado and 3 fish oils, which is more like 4 or 5 portions of healthy fat rather than the recommended one. To help counter this I started cooking without olive oil at all and used these 3 meals EVERY day mon-fri:
Meal 1: 2 x turkey burgers from BBS, 150g low fat cottage cheese and salad (lettuce& spinach)
Meal 2: 250-300g chicken breast with roasted veggies
Meal 3: Chilli (as above, but without olive oil)
Supplements: 2-3 fish oils
I pretty much cut out all fats and got my essential fatty acids from those contained in meat and fish oil capsules. (Going without fat at all would be incredibly unhealthy!!!). I would still recommend omelettes I just got bored of trying to make them either the night before or before work. I would probably go half and half with my omelettes now though if fat loss was the goal (half with yolk, half without).
The last 4 weeks were slightly more successful than the first 5 and I attribute this to the diet changes, and also 2 weekends where I didn’t go out and drink at all (more by chance rather than design though to be honest). I didn’t eat those 3 meals in any particular order, but usually had the one that was the quickest to prepare for breakfast for time reasons, which was usually the burgers cooked in the microwave (mmmmm, delicious). If I had 1 or 2 early clients followed by a break I would usually have breakfast after those clients, just so I could spend more time in bed. This is by no means the tastiest or best way to follow the BBS diet but I was able to stick to it and I suppose that’s all that really mattered. On Sundays I usually had different meals (following the same principles) just because I had the luxury of the time to cook anything I ever wanted.
I’m really happy with the results and I hope it shows that the diet required for successful fat loss is nothing magical, the hardest part of the process is your own will power and commitment.