Friday, July 8th, 2005. 83 days to go (that’s 11.8 weeks!). For the past three weeks, I’ve been on what you could call a “clean” diet, but it was far from strict, low calorie or low carb - it was more like a “pre-diet diet”. You can see my 13-15 weeks out menu in last week’s blog dated July 2nd. After an “official” weigh-in today and an un-official body fat test, it’s definitely time to tighten things up. Here’s what’s changed…
My previous baseline diet is now going to be my high carb / “re-feed” day at 3800 calories and 380 grams of carbs. I will now begin carb cycling with medium carb days of 240 grams a day, with the majority of those carbs taken in the morning and early afternoon. The carbs will probably go even lower (150-200 grams) in the weeks to come. Note: 150 grams is a very low carb diet for me. You wouldn’t like me when I eat less carbs than that :)
My early day meals will contain the starchy carbs (mainly oatmeal and yams, sometimes white potatoes or rice, especially after workouts), and my late day meals will contain the fibrous carbs (green veggies & salad veggies), with the essential fats. Protein stays constant in every meal. I’ve bumped up my essential oil supplement to two tablespoons a day in conjunction with the drop in carbs. If I feel like it, I’ll substitute 1 of the tablespoons of oil for natural peanut butter instead (why? Because it keeps the dietary fat up where I need it and tastes damn good when you’re on a diet!)
I know some bodybuilders who use cream for their pre-contest fat instead. That can make a nice protein shake if you mix it with protein powder, but I use whole foods over shakes most of the time (go figure… I’m not on the payroll of any supplement company!), and I prefer my EFA oil blend and/or peanut butter. I also get some fat from red meat and egg yolk. I eat red meat once every day. The rest of the fat is incidental in my chicken breasts, oatmeal, etc. Whatever works for you. In any case, you want to keep *some* fat in the diet, and the lower your carbs go, the more fat you can eat, within reason.
I do NOT like ketogenic diets (close to zero carb, or very low carb/high fat). In fact, I think they suck. I’m not saying they won’t or can’t get you ripped, I’m just saying in my opinion, I think they suck for hard training bodybuilders. Adaptation to low carbs and high fat can certainly take place for many people after a short period of absolute hell (no energy, grouchy, irritable, etc. - just ask anyone who has lived with a no carb dieter), but I have never seemed to get over the lack of energy when the carbs are so low. I also go totally flat and can’t get a pump. You can sometimes remedy the energy problems by taking the fats way up, but I find that a diet over 20-25% dietary fat is not nearly as thermogenic as a high protein, lower fat diet.
I prefer a cyclical low carb diet with very high protein (for healthy bodybuilders!!! I would not advise copying my precontest diet for general weight loss purposes… better to stay on a mildly calorie restricted balanced diet for that). When you’re training hard and doing cardio, believe me 240 grams of carbs a day is low, and 150-200 grams (where I’ll undoubtedly be headed soon), is very low. I just can’t understand why anyone would want to drop to 100, 70, 50, or god forbid, 20 grams of carbs a day when a moderate reduction in carbs with a periodic reefed works so well, while keeping you energetic and sane.
Right now my carb cycle is 3 days medium carbs (240 grams, 3400 calories) and then 1 day high carbs (380 grams, 3800 calories). This is still not that strict, it’s only the first adjustment… calories and carbs will go lower soon. Here’s the “medium carb days” where I will be 6 out of every 8 days. (the macronutrient split here is approximately 45% protein, 30% carbs and 25% fat)
I did my official weigh in this morning, being Friday: 198 lbs. That’s down another pound since last week. This was wearing only a t-shirt and sweatpants, no shoes. I unfortunately haven’t had anyone around to take my body fat with the Skyndex (4-site digital body fat skinfold caliper), although there are some trainers at our club that will volunteer for me. I would normally have Richie measure me, as it’s important to have a skilled tester for consistent measurements, but I haven’t been able to connect with him as often as I’d like. So what I did instead this week was to break out my Accu measure caliper.
I often recommend the Accu-measure for other people, but for me it doesn’t offer as much precision as I need. Only measuring one skinfold site (iliac crest) doesn’t work well for a bodybuilder who is shooting for low single digit body fat, because some of the charts don’t even go down that low, and I find that once my iliac crest is down to 2mm or so in thickness, I still have fat in other areas that could be measured with a multi site test, but at this point, the Accu-measure has “bottomed out.” You might see a 1.5 mm reading, but that’s about as low as a skinfold goes.
Anyway, just for kicks, I measured my iliac crest with the Accu measure and it was 6.0 mm. Not so good actually. If I use the age categories on the accu measure skinfold interpretation chart (I’m 36, and the age brackets go 26-30, 31-35, 36-40, and so on) that puts me at 9.9% body fat. Which would be quite high (for a bodybuilder at this point).
I would put myself closer to 8% if I had to guess… no, seriously… I’m not making excuses for being a “fat” 9.9% body fat! (sez the accu measure, LOL!) The age categories on the skinfold interpretation charts tend to overestimate body fat in athletic populations, which is the reason why there are skinfold regression equation formulas specifically for athletes and there is an “athlete” mode on impedance analysis scales like the Tanita. For example, if I were to use the age 26-30 chart, that would put my body fat at 7.8%. Body composition testing is obviously not an exact science. Usually the best bet is to pick one method, use the same tester every time and stick with them for consistency.
Next week, hopefully, I’ll get measured accurately with a 4-site test and I’ll log in the results consistently every week after that. But for whatever it’s worth, I know my self-tested iliac crest skinfold is 6 mm, so I do have lots of work to do to get that sucker down to 2 mm or less!
Honestly, I don’t really need to test body fat anymore. After 26 competitions, I know exactly when I’m ready by looking in the mirror. I can even tell if I’m getting leaner just by pinching the skin on my abs and waistline with my fingers. The goal is to have what I call “Saran wrap” skin. That is, the skin is so thin that it almost appears translucent and literally “clings” to the muscles underneath. If you pull it away from the abdominal muscles, it literally snaps right back… TIGHT AS A DRUM!
I’m still keeping my cardio at one session a day, usually 30 minutes, although today I went 35 minutes on the stairmaster 4400 PT, level 7 and level 8 at the end, and that was good for burning 535 calories. Was drenched in sweat after that one! That was steady, by the way, not interval…and it was pretty intense the entire time…
If you think about it, it’s really kind of dumb, this whole high intensity versus low intensity cardio debate. Which is better? Which burns more fat??? A low intensity “walk in the park” or a sweat-pouring, heart pounding, metabolism stimulating high intensity cardio workout??? DUH!!!!!! Doesn’t take a PhD. to figure out that one. Did I mention, DUH!!!????).
Until next time, train hard, eat right and forget about those silly zero carb diets. If you want to know more about my carbohydrate cycling method, go get a copy of my ebook, Burn The Fat, Feed the Muscle at www.burnthefat.com! If you don’t have it yet, what the heck are you waiting for? It’s the best selling diet and fitness ebook in Internet history for a reason! AND… it’s the only intelligent way to do low carb. (check out chapter 12 in particular. After reading that, you will be an expert at carb manipulation for getting as ripped as you want to be!)
Published on 08 July, 2005