“Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” – Jim Rohn
If you follow me on Fitocracy (you better), you know that I have recently switched gears and am now in a fat loss phase, looking to lean down while maintaining muscle mass (something I have struggled with in the past).
In doing so, I will be following the Leangains setup; something I covered in this post (read if you are unfamiliar with intermittent fasting).
Without getting into too much detail, Leangains is essentially an 8 hour feeding window followed by a 16 hour fast, rinse and repeat (read this if you’re interested in all the deets).
There is also a bit more to it: on days that I weight train, I will be eating around 10% over my maintenance calories. This will ensure that I am reaping the recovery benefits of overfeeding on days that I train hard, as well as helping me possibly gain some strength while losing fat.
My Genetic Makeup and a Realization
This is going to be a bit tangential, but stick with me as you may be able to relate to some of my experiences as far as the traditional “bulking” and “cutting” cycles.
Early on in my “fitness journey”, I realized something: I put on fat very easily. Now I’m not one to make excuses and blame all of my hardships on genetics, but I feel that genetics played a huge role in my early failures.
No matter how small the surplus of calories, the fat gain always seems to outmatch the muscle gain. This is evident in the post I wrote about my fat loss progress, where I was a very chubby 210 pounds, yet at the time I was closely monitoring my food intake and training program (read more about that process here)
So what gives? Why do I put on fat so easily?
Well, first off, I naturally have a skinny-fat build. Essentially, this means that while I would look skinny with clothes on, I carried a little bit of extra fat around my waist.
Although I have made some progress in fixing this (to the best of my ability), it still comes creeping back every time I try to pack on some muscle.
Now I have realized that I cannot follow conventional methodologies to achieve my goals; the bulking and cutting cycles leave me a fat mess. So, instead, I’m going to get as lean as possible.
This is something I should have done in the beginning of my efforts, but hey, we all make mistakes.
It’s crucial to start from a solid base (lean) for a variety of reasons, such as optimal nutrient partitioning (ensuring that excess calories will go more towards muscle than fat stores) as well as making sure you’re not piling fat on top of fat.
For more information on why it’s important to start from a lean base, I recommend you check out Anthony Mychal’s series of articles on the topic.
Benefits of Calorie/Carb Cycling
So, why do I feel that Leangains is a perfect fit for me? Let me get into detail a bit.
Aside from it being conducive to my eating habits (I don’t like to eat in the morning because I like to savor my coffee, and I like to eat large meals rather than tiny, bird-sized meals throughout the day), Martin Berkhan also recommends some sort of calorie and macronutrient cycling.
Simply put, this means that I will eat more carbs and overall calories on days that I lift weights, and eat less calories and less carbs on rest days.
Theoretically this will allow for better nutrient partitioning, meaning the excess calories and carbohydrates that I consume on training days will go towards repairing muscle tissue and refilling glycogen stores rather than spilling over into fat stores.
It’s also extremely beneficial from a psychological standpoint.
For me, it’s much easier to go through a grueling training session knowing that I will be able to eat heartily afterwards. On the flip side, my appetite is usually a bit smaller on rest days, which fits well with the calorie cycling scheme.
Along with the mental benefits, calorie cycling will also allow you to sidestep some of the negative effects that dieting can have on metabolism, leptin levels, testosterone, etc. (concepts which are quite beyond the scope of this post).
So, overall, I feel that the Leangains setup is the best way for me to go at this point. I will be posting overviews of my progress every few weeks just to give you guys a general idea of how things are going, and hopefully it will help those who are on a similar path.
I apologize for rambling, and I hope that you got something out of this post. I just wanted to get some of what I’m doing “on paper” so that I can stay organized and keep myself accountable throughout the process (cutting sucks!).
Anyways, thanks for reading, and check back soon for updates. Better yet, sign up for my newsletter to receive fresh updates as well as free weekly tips on how to live a stronger life.
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Have an awesome rest of the week!