Dieting (the smart way) – part 2

So my first mesocycle is done and dusted (see here for the training plan and here for the first part of the diet stuff) and now I’m into my strength block and maintenance calories for four weeks (I’m actually a week an a half in now). I was extremely happy with the results of my diet, so here I’m going to present a) what I did, b) results, and c) how I felt about the whole process. So, on with the show.

What I did

My goal calories were 2500 Cal per day, consisting of 220 grams of protein, and with minimum fat and carb goals (which is basically me saying fill up the rest of the calories with anything.) I gave myself a leeway on calories of +/- 200 because I am a total novice at everything to do with nutrition, and I didn’t want to have it end up ruling my life. I did try to make each week average to 2500 though, so I wasn’t eating 2700 every day.

In accordance with the principals outlined in The Renaissance Diet I tried to make sure my fats were far from my training, my high GI carbs were close to my training, and my protein and lower GI carbs were spread out through the day. Because I tend to train in the evening (but before dinner) this means fatty breakfast, balanced lunch and dinner, and a preworkout meal high in high-GI carbs (“shitty carbs.”)

An example day might be:

Breakfast
Shake (300 ml milk, 1 scoop whey, 2 tablespoons peanut butter)
Lots of coffee

Lunch
250 grams mince on 3/4 cup (rice cup that is) of jasmine rice, 200 grams mixed frozen vegetables

Snack
Banana, oat bar
More coffee

Pre-Workout
1 scoop whey mixed with 1/5 cup of sugar

Dinner
300 grams chicken breast, 3/4 cup of jasmine rice, corn cob

I also took a few supplements. I took a multivitamin each morning, to cover my micro-nutrient bases, Metamucil twice per day (a fibre supplement), 5 grams of Creatine Monohydrate in my morning shake, and 400 mg of magnesium each night (sleep aid.)

To track myself, I took a bunch of measurements once a week or so, and weighed myself each morning.

Results

Capture

But wait, how did you gain lean mass on a caloric deficit?

It’s pretty difficult for non-novice athletes to be able to put on lean mass while on a caloric deficit, which makes some of the numbers in the above table kind of unbelievable. It’s worth considering a couple of things:

  1. As far as hypertrophy goes, I was chronically under-trained, so it is possible that I was responding to a new stimulus like a novice
  2. There’s a fair amount of measurement error

How I Felt

Fine. I felt fine. In the past when I’ve gone on diets (and done so poorly) I’ve ended up light-headed, losing strength, cranky, hungry etc etc but for the most part I felt absolutely fine. By the end of the 5th week I was starting to feel a kind of general craving to eat more (it wasn’t really hunger as such… not exactly sure how to describe this) and I think that if I’d intended for my diet to last 8 weeks or more I would have incorporated refeed days or maybe a week long diet break, but as it stood I didn’t need those things to feel generally satisfied. I even managed to work in the odd bit of ice cream or cookie.

The other thing is I felt balanced here – I wasn’t scrambling to measure and weigh everything, which I think (for me at least) is quite healthy. It meant that the food/diet didn’t become an obsession, and that it’s probably possible for me to maintain this level of tracking indefinitely.

I did slip up on occasion, there were days I didn’t weigh myself or lost track of my macros, but they were few and haven’t hampered my progress in anyway. It’s all a learning experience anyway, and I’m better now than I was when I started. (Even Layne Norton advises the odd “YOLO Macros” day, and I think that’s a good approach.)

I couldn’t be happier with the overall results of the diet and hypertrophy block combined; losing fat, gaining muscle and putting myself in a much better position for my coming competitive year. Hope all of your training is going well!

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