THEME OF THE WEEK: #1: Weight Loss Progress & Managing Hunger | #2: Surprising Strength Gains Whilst On My Cut | #3: Some Great Reads This Summer
OK, so I’m six weeks into my cut, and SO looking forward to getting back to my bulk! It’s been an interesting last few weeks on my cutting progress in terms of hunger management, performance in the gym and managing my mood. Oh, and I’ve learnt a ton too. 👍
#1 – Weight Loss Progress & Managing Hunger
My starting weight at the beginning of the cut was 202.4lbs at 5’11”, see below pic. The goal was to get to ~190lbs as quickly as possible, whilst respecting the need to retain as much muscle mass as possible and not be miserable. The family did not want a hangry Steve stomping around the house for a couple weeks. 🤣
I’m at 194lbs +/- ½ lbs as it stands, so need to ideally drop another 4lbs. But, for a number of reasons, I need to get back on to the bulking phase in two weeks time.
My reasons for getting out of the cut sooner rather than later:
- Not Lose Muscle – Sustained cuts will erode my muscle gains through time. Need to get in and out of a cut.
- More Food Joy – To be honest, I’m longing to go back to greater flexibility, more fats and bigger lunch portions. It’s a portion thing for me – I like BIG! 😋
- New Training Programme – I’ll be Deloading in two weeks, and thereafter will be on a New #HyperWorkouts programme. I want to maximally perform and be in a bulk for this.
To be fair, it’s not that bad being in the cut, and I’m now on 2,700 calories a day without much drama, down from 4,000 in my bulk (a 1,300 calorie drop). I’m keeping my protein high at 200-240g per day, which means fats and carbs need to be carefully managed.
I’ve dropped 8-9lbs in six weeks, and it looks to be almost exclusively body fat. I’m also keeping my carbs as high as possible by constraining fats, so there is not a ton of water/glycogen loss. Which is awesome.
I’m less bloated and thick in the trunk area, and the physique is becoming more pronounced. If I wanted to reach my ideal leanness at this stage (which I don’t), I’d be probably be looking to lose another 8lbs.
For now though, I’ve worked too hard on muscle growth to keep too much longer in this cut. I’ll dig deeper over the next two weeks to see where I can end up, which will likely be the 192lbs mark – 2lbs short of the goal, and with just a little extra abdomen body fat than ideal.
I’ll share my Before & After photos in a couple weeks. Watch this space! 📸
How I’ve Managed My Hunger, Calories & Macros
As I said, it’s not been too dramatic emotionally, but it has been a fairly dramatic daily calorie drop. At 1,300 calories down from my bulk, that’s 1-2 meals worth of food to remove from my diet!
I started with a 1100 calorie drop to 2900 kcal for the first three weeks, which was about a 15% deficit from my then TDEE. That got results, but slowed down after a few weeks. So, I’ve been steadily tweaking down to 2700 kcal a day to maintain the loss.
That makes sense when you think about it, as my TDEE has dropped down to 3300 as a result of lower bodyweight and slightly less NEAT due to lack of energy. Plus, your body adapts quickly, so I need to encourage further losses. This has me currently sitting at a 19% deficit.
In terms of HOW I’ve dropped the calories, it’s been this for the most part:
- Reduce my pre/post workout ‘breakfast’ food to 300-400kcal – a piece of fruit and a couple of fortified protein shakes like my Awesome Morning Fuel (without the coconut oil)
- Cut out all day-time snacks – would have previously had nuts etc to hit my bigger kcal goal. I allow for a Almond Milk latte if needed to curb hunger.
- Have a protein rich and lowish carb lunch of around 550-800 kcal.
- Have a normal BIG dinner of 1000-1200 kcal – as per AdapNation Food Diary
- Keep space for my Dark Chock Desert (100kcal) and my before-bed Protein shake (150kcal)
- Keep my Protein to 200-240g per day with Chicken, Eggs, Fish, Meat and Shakes. I’ve had to dial down the healthy fats to accommodate enough carb for performance.
On top of that, I’ve adopted a couple other approaches to manage hunger.
A. Pushing lunch out till as late as possible (about 1:30pm or so) helps me keep busy on work and creates less distance between lunch and dinner.
B. My morning consists of a lot of liquid – a lemon-salt concoction first thing, an Awesome Morning Fuel without the Coconut Oil (about 600ml), lots of water, and another 300ml Protein shake after my workout. I’d have an apple to give just a little bite if needed, but this shear liquid volume works well for me in terms of hydration and feeling satiated.
Increasing My Deficit Through Time
For the most part, it’s been exclusively the AUG-18 #HyperWorkouts weight training programme I’ve been performing in terms of exercise. Up until last week, I limited cardio to 10mins warm down steady state – I got results with this approach.
But for the last three weeks, I’ve increased the intensity of my cardio to 10-15mins of HIIT Bike or HIIT Row most training days, to simply help increase the deficit a little each day.
One struggle has been my NEAT, as I’ve got a heavy workload at the moment that has me chained to my desk. I keep meaning to take an afternoon stroll, or move around as I work, but it’s just not practical considering the hours I have in the day. That said, for the next two weeks, I’ll be making a concerted effort to get moving more, as that can really help with increasing my daily deficit.
Carb Refeeding & Eating Out
The key with creating adaptations in your body, is to not let your body get too used to the status quo. For example, I’m generally not moving as much when on a cut as my body attempts to work within my restricted calorie diet.
Moreover, retaining muscle mass is a priority for me, and should be for almost everyone who diets, as it maintains a high metabolism and of course will support having your best physique.
So, I’ve implemented a Refeed Day every 3-4 weeks, as well as a long (18h+) Intermitted Fast once a month. The Refeed day is basically having me jump up to maintenance (~3300 kcal) and making up that 800kcal difference almost exclusively with extra carbs.
This has helped for a couple reasons. Firstly, and importantly, it helps my head game. The emotions. Gives me a days break to enjoy volume and carbs at a normal level for me. It’s quite nourishing mentally and psychologically.
Secondly, I’ve timed these Carb Refeed days to be the day before Day 1 of AUG-18 #HyperWorkouts, which is Strength Upper. By doing this, I get a solid workout boost due to the extra muscle glycogen and muscle full effect. That helps with calorie burn and muscle retention.
Lastly, the refeed days have helped break out of inevitable bodyweight plateaus, by undulating to a lower than normal deficit the following day.
Oh, and when it comes to eating out, we still do that! Even in a cut. I just need to create a big calorie sink by eating little during the day, and swerving the calorific non-satiating things such as the table bread. More tips and tricks on how to be on a diet and eat out can be found in the below article.
#2 – Surprising Strength Gains Whilst On My Cut
Just a quick update following 2018 W32 of 52 – Steve’s Body & Mind Progress Journal, where I mentioned my strength and muscle endurance taking an expected turn for the worse whilst being in a cut.
Well, I’ve really surprised myself. Not quite sure how this has happened, but I’ve found a new lease of life in the gym in this cut, and have been making really good strength gains. Gains that I’d be happy with within a bulk, so really really chuffed.
Some of My Improvements:
- Low-Bar Squat – 15kg improvement to 150kg for 6
- Flat Bench -7.5kg improvement to 110kg for 5
- Conventional Deadlift – Corrected my regression. Now back up from 170kg to 180kg for 4
- Hip Thrust – 10kg improvement to 140kg for 12
- Barbell Row – 10kg improvement to 90kg for 8
- Arnold Press – 7kg improvement to 34kg ea for 6-8
- Good Mornings – 25kg improvenebt to 85kg for 12 (TBH, this was a new exercise, hence the jump)
More impressively, is the improvement in overall Weekly Training Volume.
Weekly Training Volume = Weight x Reps x Sets (across all exercises)
At the beginning, my weekly total training volume was 29,500 KG.
Now, including 2x easy going low intensity chest days (as per the optional element of AUG-18 #HyperWorkouts), I am now at 35,500KG + 9,200KG.
Thats a massive increase of 15,200KG of weekly Training volume, whilst on a cut! 💪🏻
Whoa! Progressive Overload at it’s best. 🙌
Keeping Those Gains Baby! – That, combined with a high daily protein commitment, getting adequate rest, and not doing much catabolic activities are the main reasons for not losing any noticeable or measurable difference in muscle mass (yet).
Pretty awesome huh?
#3 – Some Great Reads This Summer
Hopefully you know I’m not a self-obsessed meathead, but instead I love taking purposeful action towards my goals of my best body ever and optimal wellness. I love this journey of physical and body transformation, but it’s not enough to be completely satisfied.
I also love to learn, develop my ideas, produce quality work and make a difference. So, the training is just a sliver of what I do during the course of my average day.
Amongst listening to podcasts, working and connecting with people, I also like to get in a good solid chunk of reading everyday. About 45-60mins split between the morning and before bed.
Over the last six weeks, I’ve read some great books, and well worth checking out:
1️⃣ Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk To Freedom
2️⃣ Mind-Gut Connection by Emeran Mayer
3️⃣ Principles by Ray Dalio
All come highly recommended, and all are very different.
Nelson Mandela’s Autobiography is a long but incredible insight into his courageous and selfless life of continual suffering for the betterment of his nation. A touching and jaw-dropping story of his fight against the apartheid governments within his life. Really worth reading if you want to get a sense of operating within a higher purpose.
The Mind-Gut Connection is a more scientific book, written to help expose the deep and phenomenal connection we have to our gut, via something called the enteric nervous system. This book explains the microbiome and how the bacteria in our gut are calling MANY of the shots in our life, expressed through our emotions, instinct, psychological state, physical health and disease. Really interesting, if you enjoy better understanding how your body works.
Ray Dalio’s book called Principles is a great read. Ray founded, and up until recently, ran Bridgewater Associates, which manages $150bn in global investments. This company and Ray have been likened to Apple & Steve Jobs of the Finance world. He has created one of the best companies in the world, has had sustained massive success, and has a pretty unique approach to managing his output and his company. His life principles relate to everyone, and are having a pretty profound impact on how I see things. I highly recommend.
If you want to see what else I’ve read and recommend, as well as what’s on my Reading List, check out My Book Recommendations.
Coming Up In Next Few Weeks
In terms of Fitness, Nutrition, Wellness and Body Goals, here’s my focus for the next few weeks:
- Developing the #BeYourBest Self-Optimisation Journey Transformation Service- exciting times!
- Naturally, two more weeks of the Cut. Then more food! 😁
- After a Deload Week, on to the OCT-18 #HyperWorkouts Training Programme
- Some exciting guests coming up on the AdapNation Weekly Podcast!
I’ll let you know how I get on with an update every 2-3 weeks… 🙂
Follow Steve’s Body & Mind Progress Journal as it unfolds. Comment if you have questions, ideas or motivation to offer, and please keep me honest to the above.