My Experience With Lyle McDonald’s Rapid Fat Loss Diet

This post has been a long time coming.  It goes back to July, 2017 when I was feeling frustrated that I couldn’t seem to get back down to 165 pounds.  I was just bouncing around between 172 and 178.  So I decided to do something drastic and try Lyle McDonald’s Rapid Fat Loss Diet. (Note, based on my results I signed up to be an affiliate for the program, so if you click the link and buy the program, I’ll get a small cut.)

The remainder of this article is a log of my progress on the diet over 11 days. I originally posted this in a fitness related Facebook group, but I’ve had enough people ask me about it that I figured I’d put add it here. In another post, I’ll give a few more details about the program

The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook

Background

I’m still stuck at 174-176 lbs after several months,  so I’ve decided to do a 2 week crash diet. In a nutshell, it’s very high protein, low fat, low carb. 200g protein, 6g fish oil, low carb veggies, and Halo Top half an hour before workouts. With this approach, I’m getting about 1200 calories a day. (Why did I do this in the middle of mango and cherry season? #terribletiming.)  For the record this approach is called a Protein Sparing Modified Fast (PSMF) and is meant to be used very short term.  I learned about this diet from Lyle McDonald’s Rapid Fat Loss Book.  I just refer to it as crash, because that’s the term Lyle uses to refer to it.  I’m currently 173 pounds.

Rapid Fat Loss Log

Day 1 Sunday

I’m 174.2 pounds.  33 inch waist.

Day 4 Wednesday

All right, end of Day 4 on the crazy diet (started on Sunday). So far, so good. I’m eating a ton of food, so not too hungry as long as I don’t go too long without eating. Averaging 195-210 grams of protein and 1150-1250 calories. (And that’s tracking even the Skinny Girl 10 calorie dressing and calories from salsa. Only thing I’m not tracking is the arugula and spring mix.)

Monday’s workout

  • Weighted chins 55×4, 45×6, 25×8
  • Squats 205x5x2

Today’s workout

  • Incline 180×4, 170×6
  • OHP 130×5, 120×7
  • Squats 205x5x2

The squats were really hard today, but to get done in time for work I was supersetting the warm ups with incline and the worksets with OHP. I also did the usual Greek God Program accessory lifts and abs both days.

I’m REALLY tired right now, but that’s mainly because I didn’t sleep much sleep last night because of kiddos wanting to sleep in my bed because of a thunderstorm.

Waist hasn’t budged at 33 inches.

All told, so far the main issue I have with this diet is I had to give up free lunch today, tomorrow, and Friday because I can’t get the free food to fit these macros.

I also made the mistake of trying cottage cheese. Pretty nasty stuff, especially when you can’t spare any calories to enhance the flavor. Guess I’ll have to stick with Greek Yogurt (basically the same macros).

Day 5 Thursday

Pretty much the same thing except no workout. I want to save the photos till it’s over, because it’s much more impressive without the intermediate photos ;-). But I can tell you that I now fit into my size 32 pants that I’ve been trying to get back into since October. This morning, I was 169.8 lbs!
Honestly I don’t feel bad. From reading people’s experience with this diet, I was expecting to feel like crap. Other than getting tired if I go too long without eating, I haven’t felt hungry or deprived (other than having to say no to free food at the office). Unless the suck comes on hard in the next few days, I might do a second round after a week or three at maintenance if my body dysmorphia says I need to drop more weight.

Question from the peanut gallery: Are you taking electrolytes?
Answer: I always eat a lot of salt. I’m getting several servings of low fat cheese and/or nonfat Greek yogurt for calcium but am also supplementing with a Calcium/magnesium supplement. I’m not overtly supplementing with potassium, but I probably should.

Even with the Halo Top and tracking carbs from tomatoes and cucumbers, I was only at 59 carbs yesterday.
This morning’s workout was

  • Weighted Chins: 55×5, 45×6, 25×9
  • Squats: 205 2×5 plus warm ups (those are beginning to suck)
  • Plus rest of Greek God Program Workout B

The hard part will be that today I HAVE to go to the cafeteria for new Freshman preview day, so there will be temptations galore. Their real food might not be the best, but they have some awesome desserts.

Day 8 Sunday # 2

So far so good. I didn’t get enough sleep last night because I stayed up too late, but other than being a bit tired today, I’m not having many issues. Slight calf cramp this morning when getting out of bed (only for half a second), so I upped my potassium intake from 500mg to 1000mg (top of recommended supplement range).  I’ve had these same cramps when not on the

I had three bites of my son’s Piña Colada snowcone this afternoon, but because I’m a flexible dieter, I didn’t call myself a failure and binge afterward. Pretty sure, it only added 5-10 calories. (editorial note: this turned out to be a giant mistake, because he was sick at the time, and I ended up getting his sickness.)

I’m beginning to get used to eating like this. I think I might eat this way 1-2 times a week once the PSMF is over to allow for the extra calories on birthdays and summer cookouts. While I wouldn’t recommend the whole PSMF to the average dieter, it does seem like a good 1 day strategy.”

Question from the peanut gallery:  What are you eating?
Answer: General eating template:
Pre-workout because I’m working out in the morning (also functions as breakfast)
-1 cup (1/2 pint) of Halo Top
Lunch:
-1 pound of chicken breast (crockpot or grilled)
-Large salad with mixed greens, 100g of tomatoes, 2 persian cucumbers, no calorie or low calorie dressing (Walden Farms or Skinny Girl)
-28g no fat cheddar (might go on the chicken or might go on the salad.
Dinner
-Another salad with a different flavor dressing
-1 cup nonfat yogurt (optional)
-Protein to get up to 200g (london broil, turkey breast, chicken breast, 95% lean ground beef)

That gives me somewhere between 1150-1250 calories and 200g of protein.
I don’t feel deprived at all eating this way for one day, and it’s a ton of food. (Note, this is based on a 145 LBM (175lbs at ~15% BF.

Question from the Peanut Gallery: How did you handle work?
Answer: There’s a refrigerator and microwave at work. I keep a bottle of chipotle Tabasco, salsa, and no calorie dressing there.

Day 12, End of Diet Recap

It’s day 12 off the PSMF.  I had planned to stay on the diet through the end of today, but I have a free lunch at work, and a party at home tonight, so sacrifices must be made.

Weight: I started at 174, and today I was 167.4.  At least 3-5 pounds of that is water and glycogen since a PSMF is ketogenic (glycogen depleting).

Waist: My waist went from 33 to 31.5″. I’m now wearing size 32 pants with extra room in the waist. Before the diet, I couldn’t fit into them comfortably.

Strength: I lost one rep on incline (but sometimes I lose a rep when eating normally), none on OHP, Squat, or Chins.

Feeling: For the most part, I felt great on the diet. I never felt hungry or deprived (except in the sense that I couldn’t eat the catered lunches at work). I forgot to take my magnesium supplement last night, and woke up with a leg cramp at 3am (although I’ve had similar cramps just on AFL). Other than that, I’ve had no negative experiences with the diet.

Conclusion:

Like I said in my last update, I’m not sure that I’d do this again, but I can certainly see eating like this one or two days a week to occasionally to maintain a deficit. As promised, here are the before and after photos. They’re kind of subtle, but I definitely have a lot more shoulder definition and slightly more ab definition. My wife says I look like an underwear model again.

And of course if you’d like to learn more about the diet, you can buy the book here:

The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook

24 hours of feasting

24 hours of feasting

Okay, okay.  It’s more like 8 hours of eating, since I intermittent fast (basically just skip breakfast).

One of the things that helped convince me that I could handle this diet thing was 24 hour eating videos.  I didn’t actually video myself eating today, but I ate what seems like an enormous amount and still kept it under 1800 calories.  So I’m going to share all of the food that I ate today.  If you’re new to this whole tracking your calories thing, try logging the food here in MyFitnessPal to check my work.

I woke up at 7 am and then went back to sleep until 8.  Then I took care of the kids while Jen got her hair done.  The kids and I started playing computer games, and it was 1pm before Jen got back home.

Snack/Breakfast

At 1:30, I had a Diet Cherry Dr Pepper and a banana.  It was 121g without the peel.  That was enough to stave off my hunger for another hour while I got the kids fed and made lunch for Jen and me.

Lunch

By the time lunch was done, and I sat down to eat, it was 2:30.  I had

  • 400g of chicken breast (weighed raw).  Slice it lengthwise so you get two thinner pieces.  Salt both sides and sprinkle with Ranch powder.  Sautee said chicken in 2g of Kerry Gold butter.
  • 369g of Russet potato wedges. (I estimate 1 tsp of olive oil)
  • 54g of Ketchup
  • 100g steamed broccoli
  • One Choceur (Aldi’s brand) Milk Chocolate Caramel

Macros for lunch

  • 1051 calories (including the banana)
  • 107g protein
  • 123g carb
  • 13g fat

Dinner

I actually planned out dinner before lunch.  Corban had asked for Taco Friday a couple days ago, so I already had a pretty good idea of what I was going to eat. Instead of a taco, I made mine into taco salad.  Started cooking around 6:45 and finished eating around 7:30.

  • 4 oz organic grass fed ground beef (from Aldis) with taco seasoning and 25g of onion
  • Finlandia reduced fat cheddar (2 slices)
  • Tomatoes 100g
  • 5 black olives (sliced)
  • Friendly Farms Brand Nonfat Greek Yogurt 80g (different brands of Greek yogurt vary wildly in their protein/sugar content; this brand has the most protein and least sugar of all I’ve tried)
  • Little bit of taco sauce
  • Kirkland Organic Tortilla Chips 28g

I didn’t track the taco seasoning or the lettuce.  This is a great flavorful (albeit relatively small meal).  You could use sour cream or low fat sour cream, but I use the Greek Yogurt mostly for its protein content to hit my macros.

Macros for Dinner

  • Calories 594
  • Protein 45g
  • Carbs 29g
  • Fat 34g

Dessert

After dinner, I went for a walk.  After walking, I had dessert (about 8:30).  I’m still 10g of protein short, so it’s time to Release the Secret Weapon!!

Halo Top Ice Cream!

This stuff is some kind of magic.  One cup of ranges from 120-180 calories (about half the calories of normal ice cream) AND it has relatively high protein (10-14g per cup).  AND it tastes really good.  Here in South Florida, you can buy it at Target, Walmart, and Publix.  Someone I know in Tarpon Springs says his Costco carries it (sadly, mine does not).  People also report buying it at Krogers (we don’t have any down here).

I’ve been working my way through the flavors.  Tonight was S’mores.  I rank it third of the three flavors I’ve tried so far.  It has small chocolate chips in it, and they get stuck in my teeth (same reason I don’t like mint chip).  So far, my favorite flavor is cookie dough followed by peanut butter cup.  Once I’ve tried all the flavors I can get locally, I’ll post my full ranking.

Macros for Dessert

  • Calories 160
  • Protein 10g
  • Carbs 32g
  • Fat 5g

Halo Top Alternatives

Okay, you don’t actually have to buy specialty ice cream.  You could have gotten the same effect from eating 50 more grams of chicken breast and 2 Oreo cookies.  Regular ice cream can also be an option, but you only get to have half a cup (usually about 100g) for 130 -160 calories.  The nice thing about the specialty ice creams is that you can eat more of it than traditional ice cream, so you feel less deprived.  And the extra protein does mean that you can be a bit more flexible with the rest of your day.

So here are a couple other low calorie Ice Creams/Yogurts

  • Yasso makes several different products.  The one I’ve had is a cookie dough frozen yogurt bar.  It’s 100 calories and has 5g of protein.  Tastes very good.  They have them at Walmart and BJs near me.
  • Englightened produces a low calorie, high protein ice cream and ice cream bar.  I haven’t personally eaten them yet, but a friend says he likes them better than Halo Top.

Final notes

My total calorie count for the day is 1771 calories with 159g protein, but I’m probably over estimating my fat intake since I drained the taco meat and overestimate my oil spray.  On the other hand, I didn’t log the Ranch powder, taco seasoning, or lettuce.

Livin la Vida Extreme Sports addition

Although I’m known at work as a mild-mannered pharmacology nerd with mad computer skillz, my first love is “extreme” sports and physical challenges.  Recently, Jen treated me to two fun physical challenges, flying trapeze and flyboarding.  Here are the videos:

Flyboarding

This was my first time flyboarding. It’s really fun, but has a bit of a learning curve.  This video is the result of a 25 minute session cut down to two and a half minutes.  The key is to somehow lock your ankles and knees but keep your body relaxed.  You can see on my better attempts that my ankles/feet stay in the same position.  On my less stable attempts, you can see how unstable my ankle angle is.  I hear that the second and third time sessions are dramatically easier than the first attempt.  It’ll be fun to do this again.  This was at SoFlo Flyboarding. Kids have to be 80 lbs minimum.  Can’t wait till the kids are little heavier…Jen! Can we feed Logan more?

Flying Trapeze

This was actually my second time doing the trapeze, but the first time was more than two years ago.  This was an Aerial Trapeze Academy Groupon.  With the Groupon, you only get to do the beginner session, which is three practice swings, where you try to get into the knee hang/transfer position.  If you can successfully get into that position, then on the fourth swing, you get to to try for a mid air catch.  They also do birthday parties and private groups.  Kids can do it as young as 4 years old, and they work with autistic kids.  Once you’ve done the beginner session, you can do more advanced stuff.  This is really easy and fun if you have any amount of athleticism/body control.  Highly recommended. PSA: Hanging from the bar with your knees can give you friction burns.  If you have leggings or tights, you should wear them.

 

A Fat Loss Year in Review (with before-after photos)

A Fat Loss Year in Review (with before-after photos)

It’s been almost a year exactly since my weight loss journey began (if you start the year from my bout of the flu).  Just a warning.  At the end of this post there will be before and after photos.  If half-naked, middle aged men offend you, don’t scroll down.

The Beginning

I started out the year at 212 pounds give or give a few pounds.

The Flu

I lost 6 pounds on the Flu (no appetite plus fever plus diarrhea will do that to you).  No telling how much of the weight was just water.  But hey it was a start.  I’d better capitalize on it.

Going Keto

I lost 8 more pounds on three weeks of Atkins/Ketogenic diet.  Ketogienic diets cause a fair amount of water loss, so not all of it was fat, but it was fairly effortless.  Ketogenic dieting is pretty brainless.  “How many carbs are in this food.  Okay, I can’t eat it…or I can only eat this much.”

But after I started tracking my calories, I realized the real reason I was probably losing so much weight is that when you have a hefty soda, junk food, and dessert habit, when you cut out those carbs, you also cut out all that fat too, leading to a massive calorie restriction.  You just don’t realize how few calories you’re eating…or at least I didn’t  I guesstimated that on average I was only eating 1200-1600 calories per day even though I thought I was eating way more.

Flexible Dieting/IIFYM

On February 21, I switched to a flexible dieting/”If it fits your macros” approach along with strength training.  I can eat whatever I want (within reason) as long as I hit my calorie and protein targets.  This leads to the concept of tradeoffs.  For example, almonds are often touted in the Paleo/Keto world, but chocolate has fewer calories and is more satisfying. SOLD!

I immediately gained 2.5 pounds, which I attribute mainly to increased water retention as I was no longer in ketosis.  I stayed on Aggressive Fat Loss until September 1, when I weighed 166 pounds.  I hadn’t weighed  166 pounds since I worked as a Lifeguard and Beach Attendant in 1995.  Only this time I had better abs.

Bulking up

On September 2, I officially started bulking.  I kicked off the bulk with a two day cruise where I just ate whatever I wanted which happened to include two entrees for dinner every night.  This was the first time I had eaten breakfast since starting Aggressive Fat Loss.  I later estimated that I ate 2000 calories just for breakfast on the cruise.  I gained an impressive 10 pounds on the cruise although a large part of it was water that I lost over the next few days.

I bulked through Christmas ending up at 184 pounds (18 pounds heavier than my lightest on September 1).  I absolutely LOVED the eating, but I didn’t like the look.  Yes, I gained muscle as was the plan, but I also gained fat, and I much preferred having more defined abs.  I could have gained a bit more muscle, but I tweaked my shoulder (while playing, not while lifting) and was unable to push the weight on bench press and overhead press.

The Final Countdown

The Monday after Christmas, I started cutting again.  As of this writing, I am 176 pounds.  I plan on continuing to cut until I have a true six pack.  I guesstimate that if I was able to put on 5 pounds of muscle during the bulk and keep it through my cut, that I will end up around 165 pounds.  If I was able to gain and keep more muscle, it will be little heavier.  From there, I plan to do a series of very lean bulk cycles, gaining no more than 10 pounds over six months and pretty much stay between 165 and 175 for as long as I can.

Some final thoughts

I am incredibly thankful that I found flexible dieting.  It works and is very sustainable.  When I started the journey I would have been happy with just losing 10-15 pounds.  I never dreamed that I would end up looking better at 42 than when I did at 22.  And I have flexible dieting to thank for giving me the hope to not only make it a goal but see it through to fruition.

Before and After fat loss

At 42, I had better abs than when I was 22!

But this isn’t just about looks.  I’m much stronger, have better blood pressure, resting heart rate, fasting glucose, and cholesterol levels than before.  I have more energy now and generally feel better.  And most importantly I know I can keep this up for years.  (Note that I mean the lifestyle, not the calorie deficit.  You only need a deficit to lose weight.  After that you can eat more.)

My brother had a lot of success with a ketogenic diet.  I had always had a not-so-secret love affair with low-carb diets, so based on his experience, I did it too.  Despite the initial weight loss, it just wasn’t much fun after a while.  So I left it for flexible dieting, which I was able to stick with until my goal.  My brother on the other hand eventually stopped from not being able to sleep well and leg cramps.  According to him, if you google “Atkins le” or “ketogenic le”, Google will suggest leg cramps.

Most people who diet fail to keep the weight off, and I can understand why.  You can’t just go back to whatever you were doing before and expect to keep the weight off.  You have to maintain your lifestyle changes for the weight change to become permanent.  And the beauty of my current diet is that I can truly eat whatever I want within reason.  I can have a large cheat meal or cheat cruise…as long as I adjust my calories before or after.  I can eat dessert every day (much to the chagrin of my wife who thinks treats aren’t treats if you get to eat them every day).

There’s nothing magical about any particular program.  All you need are the following components:

  • A solid caloric deficit
  • Adequate protein to maintain muscle mass
  • An eating plan that you enjoy so you can make the process sustainable.
  • Strength workouts to convince your body to hold on to muscle (otherwise you’ll lose quite a bit of muscle along with that fat)

I should also give a shout out to Radu Antoniu, whose videos are some of the most informative, entertaining, and well edited out there in the fitness world.  His program Shred Smart is also worth looking at even though you can learn everything you need to know from this free videos.

Heck you if you want to pay me to hold your hand through the process, I’d be happy to do it.  Just e-mail me at holdmyhand@patheyman.com.

Fear of Bulking and other Diet Superstitions

Fear of Bulking and other Diet Superstitions

Facebook just showed me this photo.  It was from five years ago.  I remember thinking at the time, “Getting a bit tubby there.  You really need to lose weight.”  Apparently I didn’t take that advice for a long time.  Now, as I come to the end of the first phase of my body changing journey, I’d like to reflect back on some lessons that I’ve learned along the way and let you know my plans for the future.  Hopefully you can learn something from my experiences that will make your own journey even easier.

Progress so far

I started this journey around 212 pounds and am, as of this morning, 167.4 pounds (45 pounds for those of you bad at math).  It has taken exactly 7 months and 4 days to get to this point.  Most of my progress was made on the a fairly aggressive caloric deficit.  I have very strictly monitored my caloric intake and tracked my protein, fat, and carbohydrate intake.  I’ve worked out three times a week (45 minute weight workouts) and walked on the off days.  I haven’t done any running or high intensity cardio workout except for recreational (riding a bike with the kids) or situational (sprinting to get out of the rain).

As for the 45 pounds, I’ve actually lost more than 45 pounds of fat, because I’ve added some muscle along the way.  For example, today I did 6 chin ups with 50 pounds attached.  When I started I could barely do four bodyweight chin ups.  For the purposes of this post, I’ll guesstimate five pounds of muscle for a total of 50 pounds of fat gone.

Superstitions

It’s Wednesday night as I type this, and on Friday, my relationship with cutting will end.  I am officially going to lean bulk.  This means that I am going to eat in a controlled caloric surplus for the express purpose of gaining muscle.  And that’s where the topic of superstitions comes in.  I don’t mean fear of black cats or bad luck for breaking a mirror.  I’m referring to the psychological term superstition.  It refers to the belief that if success is accompanied by a random event, the person (or animal) will associate the event with success.  (Also works for bad things too.)

This is the product of our own brains working against us.  Our brains are designed to recognize patterns.  We are hard wired to learn from our experiences and continue what has worked in the past.  This is known as heuristics.  Unfortunately, our brains can also recognize patterns even where none exists, and this is especially true when it comes to losing weight.  Losing weight is a very long, intentional process.  Even though it all comes down to a caloric deficit, there are a large number of variables to account for, and the research is often controversial with multiple credible researchers lining up on opposite sides of a given issue.

So when a person successfully loses a lot of weight, they become highly attached to any behavior or action that occurred during the process, even if the action had no or minimal effect on their weight loss.  When I first started flexible dieting, the recommendation in the program is walk 45 – 60 minutes on the days you don’t lift weights.  It just so happens that 3 laps around my neighborhood takes about 55 minutes, so that’s what I did four times a week for several months.  Then, midsummer, I participated in a steps competition at work (team with the most steps after eight weeks wins a Fitbit…most inefficient way in the world to win something if you ask me).  Toward the end of the competition, I was doing 5 laps around the neighborhood.  Even though it was miserable, took too long, and my feet hurt and got blisters, once the competition had ended I was actually afraid to go back to only 3 laps.  “What if my weightloss stalls?  What if the only reason I was losing weight was the extra calories of the extra two laps?”  You get the idea.

What about this bulking thing?

Most people who begin this fitness journey by cutting a lot of weight don’t plan to simply get thin.  Once they’ve lost weight, the goal is usually then to gain muscle mass.  The problem is that after months of working hard to lose weight, they become afraid to eat more.  When you’ve deprived yourself for seven, eight, even 24 months to get thin, the last thing in the world you want to do is get fat again.

The problem of, course, is that it’s impossible to build a significant amount of muscle while maintaining a deficit.  Heck, it’s practically impossible to build muscle while eating maintenance calories.  To grow muscle, you really need a surplus.  So the one thing that a person needs to do in order to build muscle is the one thing that person is afraid of—even when they know better.  I’ve seen it dozens of times on Facebook fitness groups.  I’ve even experienced it myself even though my plan was always to bulk after losing the weight, and even though I’ve been far more successful losing weight than I ever thought I could be.  After all, my weight trend has been up for the last 15 years.

Casting out fear

So let’s run some numbers and see just how silly it is to be afraid of bulking.  The general recommendation for a lean bulk is about 1900 extra calories per week.  There is a current controversy over whether beginners and intermediates should follow that recommendation or do a slightly larger bulk of 3500 calorie weekly surplus (500 extra calories per day).  Now if you remember your fat math, one pound of fat is 3500 calories.  So if every single calorie of surplus went into fat, I’d gain one pound of fat per week.  It would take me 50 weeks (an entire year) to gain all that fat back.

Let’s say, just half of the surplus calories get funneled into fat, then in one year, I’d gain 25 pounds of fat.  And if just a quarter of the calories go into fat, then I’d only gain 12.5 pounds of fat in a year’s time.  Now I’m only planning on bulking through March (7 months), so in that time, assuming 25% of the surplus going into fat, I could expect approximately 7.5 pounds of fat.  From my experience with AFL, It should only take about 2 months to lose those 7.5 pounds of extra fat.

So don’t fear the bulk.  Embrace the bulk.  Seven months of eating 3000 calories instead of 1925 calories.  You get to eat that way all through Thanksgiving, Halloween, and New Year!  You even get to eat that way for Valentine’s Day.  If you really want to go to town, save 200 calories each day, and have an extra 1200 calories for an epic 4200 calorie day (a solid Thanksgiving plan).

Don’t cut too long

The decision to stop cutting and start bulking is complicated.  The general recommendation is cut until you’re about 10% body fat, and then bulk until you’re about 15% bodyfat, and then lean down again.  I’m only about 13-14% body fat, and I haven’t quite hit my leanness goals (as defined by waist measurement and having a six pack).  So why am I bulking?  Three reasons.

  • The longer you cut, the harder it becomes.  I’ve been cutting for 7 months now.  At first my daily calories were 2000, and I lost almost 2 pounds a week.  Now my daily calories are 1815, and I lose less than half a pound a week.  As you lose weight, your body doesn’t need as many calories.  That makes it progressively harder to keep losing weight.
  • Cutting is stressful—quite literally.  Your body thinks you’re going to starve to death and tries to mitigate things by losing excess muscle.  So you have to do heavy strength training to convince your body to hold on to muscle and lose fat instead.  This causes your body to be stressed.  Eventually, your body will adjust hormonally to reduce your metabolic rate.  This was the subject of the Biggest Loser Study that I discuss here.
  • Cutting is also stressful mentally.

Bulking gives you a mental break and resets your hormones.  Most importantly it allows you to gain muscle.  At my current weight, I probably would have to lose 7-8 pounds of fat to achieve a 10% bodyfat.  I would look ridiculously skinny at 160 pounds, and it would probably take 3-4 more months.   By lean bulking I’ll add hopefully 10-15 pounds of muscle in the next seven months with only a small amount of fat.  Then when it comes time to lose the fat, I can do so at a higher (more enjoyable) daily calorie intake, and it won’t take as long to lose, so it won’t be as stressful.  So that’s the plan.

Why do you keep emphasizing lean bulk?

A lean bulk is a controlled bulk.  In my case, 500 calories over maintenance, or about 3000 calories per day, while maintaining an appropriate macronutrient balance.  The traditional way of bulking is just eat a lot, which is of course how I got into this problem in the first place.  So don’t just bulk.  Lean bulk!

Six Months and 38 pounds lighter

212 lbs in November 2015 vs 178 lbs in June 2016

212 lbs in November 2015 vs 178 lbs in June 2016

A little less than six months ago, my journey into fatness ended, and I started losing weight.  I’ve chronicled the beginning of my fat loss journey here and how I lost the weight here.  For all but the first three weeks I used the flexible dieting approach coupled with a weight training program.  Today it’s time to show my progress.  Update: To see how I ended up at the end of the program, see A Fat Loss Year in Review.

For your protection, the photos are blurred.  If you really want to see them, you’ll have to click on them.  I must warn you that the photos below show middle aged man torso and abdomen.  Now it’s quite possible that those photos aren’t me at all, and are just some guy I found on a Facebook Fitness Group.  But before we get to the photos, let’s have some stats.

Starting 6 months later
Weight 212 174
Waist 38 33
Pull ups bodyweight x 4 40 lbs x 6
Dips 10 lbs x 8 70 lbs x 7
Overhead Press 100 lbs x 5 135 lbs x 5
Inclined Bench 155 lbs x 5 175 lbs x 5
Bulgarian Split Squats 80 lbs x 6 150 lbs x 5

6 month Progress Photos

Okay, and without further ado, here are the photos.  The “before” photos are at 197 pounds after losing 15 pounds, so they’re not as dramatic as they might be otherwise.

weight-comparison-01-scanned

Click on the image to view it unblurred. You have been WARNED!!!

weight-comparison-02-blurred

Click on the image to view it unblurred. You have been WARNED!!!

weight-comparison-03-blurred

Click on the image to view it unblurred. You have been WARNED!!!

Okay, so there you have it.  Half naked, middle aged man flesh.  I’m currently lighter than I’ve been since 1997, and my waist hasn’t been 33 inches since before then.  So you you might be asking, “what’s next?”  The answer is, I’m going to try and lose another 5 pounds or so until I have a bona fide 6 pack.  Then I’ll transition to a lean bulk program to gain 10-15 pounds of muscle over the next two years.

If you want to learn more: