THEME OF THE WEEK: #1: My Nutritional Journey & #2: Body & Gym Progress
It’s been a while since my last journal. Quite a lot to update you on, which I’ll bring you up to speed with over the next couple of journals. It has been an interesting last six weeks or so…
#1: My Nutritional Journey
In my ongoing commitment / obsession to live my best life possible, anything that can improve my energy, concentration, gym performance and generally give me a greater sense of wellbeing always get my attention.
What can I say, it’s my job to sweat over the details, give new concepts a test run, and report back to you all! In all fairness, it’s my job because I made sure it was. 😉
So, over the last couple of years, my diet has morphed a fair bit. At any given time since starting AdapNation, my focus has always been on doing the very best I could from a nutrition perspective. However, as I learn and experiment more, I naturally tweak things in order to get better and more consistent results.
I’m all about performance and optimal health, whilst still loving the food I eat. And whilst my diet over the last 18 months has been healthy and amazing (just check out the Food Diary!), I’ve always been open-minded enough to try things out and observe my results.
Here’s what my 3 Year Nutrition Journey has looked like
- Standard Diet – tons of carbs, big meals, confectionary, seed oils, bread, pasta, processed food
- ADDED more Veg – The first step was added in lots more veg at every meal
- SWITCHED Dairy for Nut-Milk – Was concerned about dairy and mucus-y throat after consuming
- INCREASED Protein with Shakes & Bars – When the gym first became a real focus
- REDUCED processed meals & foods – Took a strong stance on the need for more home-cooked food with minimal pre-prepared and processed meals
- INCREASED Fibre – To be ‘healthy’ the goal was to dial up the fibre lots, which also fed my huge appetite. All about ‘feeding’ microbiome.
- REMOVED Gluten & Beans – After a week of trying a Vegan diet, plus learning about the issues with gluten. This was a huge shift – pasta and bread was my life
- INCREASED diversity of real protein – i.e. started to increase amount and variety of red meat, chicken and fish
- INCREASED Fats – Went from an aversion of fats, to fully embracing fats. Especially saturated fats from butter, cheese and meat
- GRADUAL REDUCTION of Carbs – After my blitz cut, it dawned upon me that I didn’t need many carbs to perform and function. Went from 30% down to 10-13% without drama
- INTERMITTENT fasting & Fat-adapted – Started to experiment and see the benefits of longer periods without food, and how energy and mindset could be more balanced on a fat-adapted metabolism
- ELIMINATING many plant foods – once educated on plant collateral damage and nutritional superiority to animal-based nutrition, I dropped a number of regular veggies.
- INCREASED Nose-To-Tail animal nutrition – Much more beef, embracing fatty cuts, oily and fatty fish, and adding in liver. Dialled down chicken and pork significantly
- RE-INTRODUCED Milk & Cheese – But this time, sticking mostly to Goat and Sheep dairy. Eliminated the nut-milks.
- ELIMINATED plant-based supplementation – Dropped the turmeric, cacao, resveratrol, vegan protein and other nut-based condiments.
- BIG REDUCTION in daily fibre and carbs – Getting carbs and fibre in the evening only, from potatoes and rice mostly. Keeping in mushrooms, salad and the odd bit of cabbage and onions.
It’s quite the transition huh?
I still stand by and support the IIFYM+ Thrive Eating Approach, which is absolutely a healthy diet that you can thrive on.
However, the departure for me was more about how can I SIMPLIFY my diet to the fewest most valuable foods that give me everything (and more) that I need, whilst limiting any potential downsides that can come from having so many diverse plan-based foods in my diet.
My typical day looks a little like this these days
- MORNING – pre-workout liquid breakfast of Goat Whey, Goat Milk, Goat Butter, Coconut Oil and a Caffeine/Decaf Espresso shot. Blended up. Delicious. About 600-700 kcal. Plus lemon-salt water and a couple supplements (see next journal)
- LUNCH – 3x home-made burgers of just 20% 500g ground beef, salt, 3x eggs and some home-made Lamb Liver Pate or Anchovies
- DINNER – This is varied. Say, Rump steak, home-made chips, mushrooms, eggs. maybe some salad. Or, the below, which is a Lamb Shank slow-roasted
- OTHER – Might have a Casein Protein shake in Goats Milk and a teaspoon of concentrated bone broth in the evening. Might have 10g of dark chocolate.
Basically, the way I describe my diet is a low-carb animal-based / meat-dominant way of eating. The carbs are mostly limited to starches at dinner. This keeps me mostly fat-adapted, but giving me the hedonistic, sleep, and morning gym performance benefits.
How I feel on my current diet
The transition has been great. Food is amazing, I’ve got zero gas and bloat, my sh!ts literally don’t smell at all, my energy is super stable, mental clarity is consistently high, gym performance is strong and my body is developing muscle whilst hardly moving the weighing scales.
It’s actually quite odd. I’m eating 4300-3600kcals a day and barely shifting the trend line up. After 2+ months of this way of eating, the needle is now only just starting to shift. Which is fascinating. I spoke about this in the podcast discussion with Sam Feltham.
I had a couple weeks of flu, cold, food-poisoning like symptoms and bunch of really wacky issues all hit me at once. I spoke about this with Sal Di Stefano. I’m over that and now bright as a button, albeit some funky stuff is happening with my hands. My old Carpal Tunnel symptoms have returned and my palms started peeling.
After a ton of research and critical thinking, I’m of the opinion my body is going through something called Oxalate Dumping. This is where stored and accumulated Oxalate from things like spinach, beets, cocao, sweet potato etc finally get a chance to release now the oxalate-rich foods are out of my diet.
I’m really happy with things at the moment. I’ve seen some encouraging signs with some other long term joint, skin and gut niggles that seem to peaking and now subsiding. I could have had issues all along, and this diet seems to be giving my body a break from personally antagonistic plant compounds.
I just had a full blood panel completed too, which I’ll update you guys on next journal. Needless to say, I was really happy with it. Body is responding positively to the diet by the looks of things.
So, I’m going to ride this out for the foreseeable. I’ll be monitoring my symptoms, health, strength, body and energy. For as long as things are trending up or staying high, I think I may well be on to a winner… for me.
But I won’t be a diet zealot. If it stops working, or there is a better way, I’ll be exploring my options.
#2: Gym & Body Progress
In the Gym
The transition away from carbs meant I had to adapt my metabolism from one fuelled by carbs, to one mostly fuelled by fat. I’m not Keto, so it wasn’t super extreme, but nonetheless performance did drop for 2-3 weeks.
Strength dropped a little little but not much. The bigger issue was sufficient muscle endurance to finish sets to completion on weights I was used to. I felt my muscles fatiguing quicker than usual, which was a little annoying. Plus, my mental willingness to push was flagging too. As a result, workout volume dipped, which messed up my progressive week-to-week overload plans.
But that was the first 3 weeks. For the last few weeks, I’m back to full capacity, and a have returned to ever increasing volume, rep and strength gains flow from session to session. I feel exactly the same now, and perhaps even a little more ability to really contract, illicit full body strength, and dig deep.
Squat, Deadlift, Bench volume is up. Basically all my lifts in the JUN-19 #HyperWorkouts are at recent highs and volume is escalating. Muscle endurance is back to normal, and that is allowing for more discretionary sets to build in more volume.
Some New Gym Toys…
In pursuit of the 2 year Dec 2019 Body Goal, one of the major lagging body parts are my quads. They are developed, but I just felt I was not getting enough focussed hypertrophy from all my free weight squatting and lunging.
Don’t get me wrong, Squats, Lunges and all the variations are bloody hard. But they are an ‘all body’ kinda hard. Taxing, exhausting and great for overall body development, but just don’t seem to be moving the needle enough on the quads. Apparently it’s something to do with having relatively long femurs.
So, I couldn’t help myself. I’m a dedicated (and obsessive) kinda guy. I headed up to Fitness Superstore and bought these beauties…
The Leg Press is immense. Doubles up as a Leg Press, Hack Squat and Calf Raise machine. Been hitting pretty much daily volume on top of JUN-19 #HyperWorkouts to bring those legs up over the last couple weeks, and already starting to see a little change in the quads as well as carryover strength benefits.
The Olympic Lifting Platform was a long-term contemplation. I desperately wanted a more stable and strong platform to Squat and Deadlift of of. The slightly slippery rubber mats I had just were leaving me a little lacking. So I bit the bullet…
And I hay to say, Squatting on a solid purpose built wooden platform makes a big difference to feel, and as a result to performance. Extra stability, more friction to apply shear force. All in, a great move to help develop better lifting potential.
So, I’ve been on a bulk since mid March 2019, where I weighed in at 192lbs after a 5-week Blitz Cut.
As of this morning I’m 198.8lbs – only 6.5lbs gained. The goal was to slowly creep to 205lbs on a lean bulk, so I can fuel hypertrophy and support the increasing volume workouts. I would have expected to have gotten there already on a +15% surplus within 3 months.
Well, going low carb and mostly animal-based through a spanner in the works. As mentioned above, putting on the extra weight has required a lot more calories! Prior to the shift, my weight was going up with 3300-3500kcals. Now, I need to eat 4500kcals to reverse the weight loss and start gaining! See below.
It’s definitely thrown my off my game a little in terms of predictable weight gain maths. I’ve needed to go with the flow and experiment. Whilst a little frustrating that my formulas don’t work, it’s actually pretty awesome.
My body isn’t holding onto fat as easily as in previous bulks. Instead, most of my calories are going to my bodies needs and muscle growth. The spillover seems to be dumped. Now, I am definitely holding some extra fat, but only after a forcing function.
Here’s how I’m looking right now.
Visually, my legs, arms, shoulders and back have developed nicely. No officials measurements yet – I’ll do that at the end of this bulk.
Fat accumulation has been slow, which is great. Muscle are reasonable full, but now I’ve decided to increase my salt intake I should pump up a little more.
All in, not too shabby for 3.5 months of bulking. Usually I’m a squidgy mess by about this time.
Just as a reminder. this is what I am shooting for by the end of the year. At this rate, I may well be bulking for another couple months, which will make the last few months of the year complicated. I had planned to be cutting now, then to go on one final bulk before shredding down.
Let’s see what happens. I’m sticking to the diet approach, and will probably try a fasting strategy for weight loss when the time comes…
Coming Up In Next Few Weeks
In terms of Training, Wellness, Mindset and Body Goals, here’s my focus for the next few weeks:
- Blood Work – will share the details in the next journal
- Results From Supplement Additions – In an upcoming podcast with Christian Thibaudeau, we discuss some new supplementation strategies I am trialling
- More ‘Meat’ Gains – Loving the meat and animal-nutrition. Let’s see what it can produce…
- Thinking about AUG-19 – After a deload, I’ll be crafting up yet another #HyperWorkouts edition
P.S. I’ll let you know how I get on with an update every few 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.