After a recent injury setback which prevented me from taking part in any form of training, and even left me struggling to walk, I rapidly increased in body fat.
I always find exercise to be a massive stress reliever and feel it also helps to elevate my mood. Without this ability to work out, or even train clients I soon slipped into a dark and depressed mind set. Over thinking everything and always fearing the worst. Fearing I would never train again, or never be able to train other people again and see the joy that getting results brings them. This state of depression and being totally sedentary led me to making extremely poor nutrition choices and comfort eating. By the end of the injury lay off, I couldn’t tell whether I was happier about returning to work, or more annoyed about the poor state I had let my own body slip into.
However, I often feel that we are all our own worst enemies, while also being our own biggest inspiration and driving force. I took pictures of my starting point and looked at them every day, and compared them to the shape and condition I was in prior to the injury. I knew I had to do, and would do, whatever it took to get back to that condition and to push on to further improvements again.
I eventually began working again on the 27th of March (the day I took the pictures) and was then allowed and able to return to training myself on the 6th of April. Between these two dates I was plotting and planning my strategy. How can I drop body fat? How can I regain my strength? How can I rehabilitate my injury? How much protein, carbohydrates (carbs) and fats can I eat? When is the best times to eat them?
I eventually fell back to a nutrient timing principle called “Carb Backloading”. It originally was created as a nutrition plan called “Carb Night” and as with all aspects of health and fitness, different people have put different aspects and ideas and influences onto existing protocols and procedures.
My take on carb back loading was that I was going to only consume carbs after weight training. Whether my workouts be at 12:00, 16:00 or 20:00 did not matter. Prior to a workout, ZERO carbs. Then post workout I would have a high intake of carbs (the actual amount varied per week/day/workout). My next blog will discuss how I trained in more detail, but for now I will just say that my training was extremely intense, and extremely frequent. Therefore not for the feint hearted or the inexperienced or novice trainer.
On average my day would pan out described in the following table:
|Time:||Macronutrients Eaten/Activity:||Drink Consumed:|
|06:30||N/A||500ml water with BCAA’s and L-Glutamine|
|06:45||Fasted Cardio||750ml water with green tea|
|07:30||N/A||500ml water with BCAA’s and L-Glutamine and greens|
|08:00||Protein & Fats||Chicken, whole eggs and greens|
|11:00||Protein & Fats||Chicken, salmon and greens|
|12:00||Weight Training||750ml water with BCAA’s, L-Glutamine and Creatine|
|13:00||Protein & Carbs||Whey, Casein, Dextrose, BCAA’s and L-Glutamine|
|14:00||Protein & Carbs||Whey, Oats, Egg Whites and Chicken|
|17:00||Protein & Fats||Cod, coconut oil, almonds and greens|
|20:00||Protein & Fats||Cod, coconut oil, almonds and greens|
|21:00||Weight Training||750ml water with BCAA’s, L-Glutamine and Creatine|
|22:00||Protein & Carbs||Whey, Casein, Dextrose, BCAA’s and L-Glutamine|
|23:00||Protein & Carbs||Whey, Oats, Egg Whites and Chicken|
The food consumed could often change, however the macro nutrient breakdown and training regime remained a constant apart from Sundays. Each Sunday I would take a day of complete rest and try to eat little or no carbohydrates at all. On top of the water which is included in the above table in and around training times I would aim to consume at least 6 more litres of water bringing my total daily average to around about 10 litres of water per day (including all pre, intra and post workout shakes).
There was no stupid inclusion of jellies or cereals post workout. No fancy tricks. No super supplements, or magic pills. Just extremely hard work while training and sensible, sustainable healthy eating. The tried and tested methods are always the ones which will get the best results. Consistency and dedication to an eating plan can lead to some phenomenal achievements. Although dated slightly longer apart, the change in my pictures above are the result of just 5 weeks of intense training, coupled with healthy eating.
I have a very bad “sweet tooth” and always crave desserts, chocolates and anything else that is laden with sugar. However just 5 weeks without these treats in my diet led to exceptional changes in my physique. In the end it really does boil down to being that simple. Eat you dinner, but don’t reach for a dessert. Enjoy a cup of tea on the couch, but don’t dunk a biscuit into it. Work you butt off in the gym, and ensure you use supplements and food afterwards to enhance recover, fat loss and muscle development.
In the build up to my photo-shoot I followed the plan as described above with 8 meals per day, all containing protein, 4 containing carbohydrates and 4 containing healthy fats. However as the photo-shoot date drew closer, I began to alter my nutrition. As well as manipulating my hydration levels by changing my intake of sodium (salt) and also water. I began to reduce my carbs even further. Dropping to 3 carbs meals a day, and then 2 carb meals per day, and eventually for just 1 day I had just 1 carb meal after my final depletion workout. The reason for this reduction of carbs and my last depletion work out, was to completely use up (deplete) my glycogen stores. The body stores carbohydrates in the muscle as glycogen as a source of energy. When we consume carbs post workout, these carbs are usually transported by the body to the muscle and stored as glycogen.
Once I had completed depleted my glycogen stores, it was now time to carb up or carb load. This process allowed me to consume massive amounts of carbs for a number of days prior to my photo-shoot, safe in the knowledge that all of these carbs were being stored in my muscle, and not being stored as body-fat (this would happen had I not depleted myself sufficiently). Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, salt free rice cakes, you name it, I ate it. And in abundance too. The final few hours before my photo-shoot even saw me include the likes of honey, dates and even some dark chocolate in my diet to enhance my energy and pump during the photo-shoot.
All in all the cut was a very enjoyable experience and allowed me to learn more and more about my body. How it adapted to different calorie levels and different percentage breakdowns on macronutrients in my diet. It could be seen as being very boring, or bland, but the main thing for me was that it was sustainable. It was a plan I could easily follow year round. So many people are engaging in crash cuts and massive calorie restricted diets and these are simply not healthy, not enjoyable and not sustainable. Too many trainers and nutritionists are getting involved in the industry for the wrong reasons. This is, after all, the HEALTH & fitness industry. Health, happiness and longevity should be a massive part of any training and nutrition plan.
Keep an eye open for next month’s blog which will go into much more detail about my training during this recent cut.