After posting my first week’s lean out progress, I wanted to take some time to clarify my diet approach. I’m sure many of you were surprised to see that I’m a) leaning out on 2200 calories per day, b) eating a high amount of carbs (180g), including foods like bread, and c) eating out and indulging in non-traditional diet foods every other day.
I know you’re probably thinking that I just have good genetics. Wrong. It takes a lot for my body to let go of fat, particularly in my stomach region. In the past, I’ve had to follow a restrictive diet of 1100-1200 calories per day to lose weight. My metabolism was damaged from years of overexercising while never eating more than 1500 calories a day. I therefore had to ramp it up even more to see any kind of progress, including eliminating ALL carbohydrates. This only damaged my metabolism further.
For the past two years, I have patiently increased my body’s tolerance for calories. I am now confident that I will be able to lose fat while eating a higher amount of calories, particularly from carbohydrates.
I built my diet up to a stage where I could eat 3000 calories per day and maintain my weight. I was eating a lot of food during the week and basically eating whatever I wanted on the weekends, and not gaining weight. I credit this solely to weight training, by the way – there’s no way I could have done this while remaining a long distance runner.
After my accident, I was drinking more alcohol than usual and I was having dessert daily, not to mention the fact that I wasn’t training. When I started this lean out, I could have easily drastically slashed my caloric intake and forced myself to do cardio every day and seen great results immediately, but where would I have gone from there? The only way to continue to lose fat over time is by decreasing your calories further and increasing your activity, so things would have just become more and more painful.
Instead, I did it the smart way, and this is something I like to do with all of my clients. I knew that by simply getting back in the gym, cutting out alcohol and reducing the number of desserts I was consuming, I would lose weight.
As each week progresses, I will make small changes to my diet. That might mean having one less serve of coconut oil per day, or swapping my post-workout banana for an apple. I will slowly cut back on the chocolate and bread. These changes are small, but they will prevent me reaching a fat loss plateau.
I think it’s entirely possible to continue to lose weight by eating foods like pasta and bread. I overhead another trainer tell his client that just touching bread, pasta or rice would make them ‘blow up’ so they are best avoided indefinitely. These foods won’t make you overweight – the problem is they are calorie dense and most people consume multiple servings without realising. Provided they fit into your overall carb targets, you will survive if you eat them.
One final point I would like to highlight is my reason for leaning out. I have said before that I am doing this for me. I want to get as lean as I can to maintain it. I’m not competing or chasing after a temporary beach body – I want to find my body’s set point of leanness. Once I reach it, I will be able to reverse diet and reincorporate some of the treats I cut out. Food will always be there and this is just a temporary phase in my life.
I hope that cleared up any questions! Do you prefer to diet slowly or do you follow an extreme approach?