Day 90 of 90: What I Learned (nutrition)

Today was a nutritional disaster, on top of the daily food intake I ended up having 3 jam tarts and kebab, chips and some cola not to mention a protein shake and a few tablespoons of peanut butter (I guess when I started eating I couldn’t stop – on top of that I cut my finger making a fruit salad, what a day). Needless to say I think the cutting phase can come to an end and I will share with you what I learned about nutrition over these 90 days and post my final results tomorrow evening:

1. Forget Cheat Days: Although, there maybe times when you slip or times when a social occasion might mean that you will end up having fried food or a few beers do not make a whole day of it…err like I almost did. Hey if you train hard it is no big deal but what you don’t want to do is go nuts.

2. Keep Protein Levels High: Before I began I did not have a clue about macro-nutrients. Keeping your protein levels high is essential to keeping you full, building muscle and losing weight.

3. Protein Shakes Are Great: Your post-workout nutrition is often considered one of the most, if not the most, important meal/shake of the day. This is because your body is at its most absorbent after intense activity (or first thing in the morning). Shakes then allow you to receive an instant hit of protein (please remember that different varieties are needed for different goals so do a little research i.e. for lean muscle and weight loss go for something low in carbs, low in fat and high in protein).

4. Control the Carbs: Starchy carbs like porridge oats, brown rice and plain popcorn are great and are needed to help provide energy and build muscle but I wouldn’t  eat too much of them and would limit there intake after 6pm. White bread, potatoes and white pasta I would try to eliminate altogether.

5. Have Unlimited Salad/Veg: This will provide you with numerous health benefits, will keep you full and provide you with much needed fibre.

6. Lots of Fruit: Now I know fruit is filled with carbs and natural sugar but again it is filled with fibre. If your wanting to lose weight again restrict your fruit after 6pm but before this have a anywhere between 2 to 4 portions a day.

7. Eating Fat Does Not Make You Fat: The fat found in nuts, oily fish, lean meat and avocado is essential for a healthy lifestyle and should be limited but should not be completely removed from any healthy diet.  I try and have by diet mainly consist of healthy fats, protein, green carbs (fruit and veg) and a little starchy carbs (porridge for breakfast and maybe a small portion of brown rice for lunch and/or dinner).

8. The Water of Life: The water of life is water. It is calorie free, helps you avoid over eating (try a glass next time your hungry) and, in my humble opinion, tastes great. I try always to have a glass/bottle with me,_p particularly at night…I will warn you though, that these water-only crash diets are extremely unhealthy and an over-consumption of water is detrimental not only to your bladder but to your health.

9. Crank Up Your Metabolism: Grapefruits, lemons, chilli, celery, green tea, raspberries etc all help boost your metabolism so try and get some metabolism boosting food/drinks in daily.

10. Preparation Helps Maintain Progress: By having a few boiled eggs, cut salad and fresh fruit in the fridge and some cooked meat in the freezer it will help you stay focused. Often nutritional discipline is lost when you are hungry but have nothing prepared.

So that, in no particular order, is some of the most valuable lessons I learned over the 90 days and something I hope to maintain in the future.

Cutting Day 6 – Total Failure

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Day 85 of 90 Tracking Progress

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Regardless, of what you are trying to achieve the tracking of your progress is essential and that’s why the last week of my training log I have got these bad boys. Now to start not only were they £13 from Lidl but these scales from Sanitas measure body weight, fat percentage, muscle mass and water…and…they can be connected to a laptop to upload and track your progress. Whilst you can do this at some gyms and doctors surgeries it means that I am able to have a more comprehensive picture of the results of my training and nutrition. No doubt there are better scales out there but these will allow me to take my training further

FOOD LOG – CUTTING PHASE (DAY 1) (diet link)

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Progress

Day 1: 11.96 lbs (24.6% body fat)
Day 30: results incorrect (I only found out much later)
Day 60: 10.13 lbs (20.6% body fat)

I began increasing my calories significantly around day 75 (and began to bulk around day 80), as I was losing more weight than I wanted (I was planning on a serious cut for the last 7 days, so as to keep muscle). My reading today was: 10.13 lbs (21.8% body fat)

note I have been hungry most of the day and developed a splitting headache in the afternoon which has persisted. I might need to ease up a little on the gym work.

Day 82 of 90: Oolong Tea – Green Tea on Steroids

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It seems that everywhere you go these days serves green tea: Costa, Sainsburys and even my mum’s house and why wouldn’t they? Green tea has numerous health benefits which include boosting your metabolic rate and, therefore, helping weight loss. Nonetheless, when I heard of people in the online fitness community referring to oolong as green tea on steroids I thought I’d get some – so, here’s the gen on it.

1. Whilst there has not been as much extensive research on it it has been used for weight loss for centuries by the Orientals and in a 2009 study of 102 obese participants 66% lost more than 2.2lbs and 22% of them lost more than 6.6lbs by just replacing their hot drinks with oolong.

2. It seems to contain slightly more caffeine than green tea, which is negligible but what some research, I read, shows is that the big difference between the two is that it helps reduce the absorption of unhealthy fats, whilst green tea works better at reducing overall weight.

So what am I suggesting? I’m suggesting that rather than replacing green tea why not add oolong to you selection? The research might be a bit patchy but something seems to be there and although, it is a little harder to get a hold of (I got mines from a Korean supermarket but you can get it online) and a little more expensive it has numerous other health benefits (like reducing cholesterol and preventing diabetes) and makes a nice change.

FOOD LOG – BULKING PHASE
Snack: banana
Breakfast: muesli
Morning shake: whey
Snack: a tablespoon of peanut butter
Mid-day Shake: whey
Lunch: homemade pepperoni pizza, salad and sushi
Smoothie: pineapple and red berry
Snack: homemade bread and peanut butter
Post-Workout: all-in-one shake
Snack: tangerine
Dinner: Korean sea food soup (coconut base)
Snack 1: banana
Snack 2: pepperoni and chorizo omelette with cheese and lime pickle
Snack 3: a banana

Note: although I’m consuming a shed load of calories, drinking shed loads of milk and eating loads of carbs it ”seems ” to be muscle that I’m gaining which is good.

Day 81 of 90: Bulking Up Before Going Lean

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Since I have been training every day for over 80 days I have decided to go for a phase of bulking before doing a drastic cut for my last 7 days (begins on day 84). This means that today and over the next few days I am going into caloric overload – also on known as bulking.

The reason for this is because the body adapts itself quite quickly to food consumption patterns and training demands resulting in the dreaded plateau. The caloric surplus will also enable me to build muscle and will give me a few extra pounds of weight to see me through the cut, in theory this should enable me to shed body fat and not muscle and stop me looking like Karen Carpenter by the time I’m finished. So here’s what I’m planning to do:

1. Up my Food Intake Considerably: I’ve already begun by having 2 breakfasts (pre and post workout) but while I would normally limit my carbs to a Friday (my carb-loading day) I’ll be having them throughout the bulk (nonetheless, I still endeavour to eat clean’ish but it will not be a major concern).

2. Cut Down on the Cardio: Although, I will still use Sunday (tommorow) as a cardio day I will aim to do no cardio on any of the other days.

3. Increase my Protein Shakes: I’ve gone from 2 to 3 a day, during the cut, I will not be having any shake at all.

4. Sleep More: Sleep is one of the most important things needed to build muscle and therefore, is a must for bulking (I normally get about 6/7 hours). Ever wonder why lions are ripped; loads of protein and loads of sleep (most of the time the lioness even does all the hunting, just saying).

FOOD LOG
Snack: banana
Breakfast: a bowl of muesli and some yogurt, honey, cinnamon and mixed nuts
Morning Shake: whey
Snack 1: spinach and sun-dried tomato omelette
Snack 2: tablespoon of peanut butter and an apple
Snack 3: half a chorizo sausage
Lunch: noodles with spicy Korean chicken and Korean wings (top right of picture)
Snack: dried red dates

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Shake: whey
Post-Workout: all-in-one
Dinner: homemade pepperoni pizza with salad
Smoothie: pineapple and red berry

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Snack 1: a banana
Snack 2: peanut butter

Day 75 of 90: Cutting out the Condiments

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If I’m perfectly honest I would have condiments with everything, lime pickle, tomato ketchup and chilli sauce, particularly. The only problem is, however, that since I’ve been logging my food I’ve come to notice how full of sugar, salt and empty calories this stuff is and whilst I’m still working my way through a 1 litre bottle of chilli sauce (3/4 the way through) I wanted to share with you a healthy alternative that I’ve started to use.

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Well, I’ve begun to use a chilli and garlic spice grinder. What is good is that not only does it JUST contain dried chilli, sea salt and dried flakes of garlic but it comes in a variety of different flavours and can even be refilled with other herbs and spices. This then allows me to add some much needed flavour to the blandest of meals whilst still cutting out the normal rubbish that can be found in most condiments. So if you are looking at cutting or just interested in a healthy lifestyle it might be something you want to consider too.

Pre-Workout: a banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter
Post-Workout: all-in-one shake
Breakfast: porridge and mixed nuts followed by a tangerine
Snack: a tablespoon of peanut butter
Lunch: grilled spicy chicken with mushrooms and tomato
Snack: an apple and carrot
Dinner: white lentil and goats cheese tart with salad
Snack: a kiwi
Evening shake: whey
Snack: wholegrain oat and fruit bagel (I wouldn’t normally have carbs after mid-day but I was famished and couldn’t be bothered with protein).

Day 66/67 of 90: Damage Control

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Yesterday I was up in Yorkshire (hence the unusually short Sat session) at a meeting in which lunch and dinner were provided. With all of the driving (6 hours in total) and the fact that lunch and dinner were provided my will-power was at an all time low and therefore my nutrition was not the best. Again, today, even though I had a day of clean food, I came home and had a couple chocolate biscuit bars.

Nonetheless, it is important at times like this to dust yourself off and keep going. Setbacks are inevitable but the key is to keep going in spite of the setbacks. I’m coming towards the end now and am seriously going to up my training from Monday on and therefore, I am not going to let this bug me and neither should you if there are times when you falter – it’s all about finishing well.

YESTERDAY’S FOOD
Late Night Snack: porridge, banana and mixed nuts (couldn’t sleep)
Post-Workout: all-in-one shake
Breakfast: half a cup of museli (it’s not as healthy as you think but I didn’t want porridge again).
Snack 1: a tablespoon of peanut butter
Snack 2: a couple of dried apricot
Lunch: beef casserole, boiled potatoes and peas followed by an some crumple and custard
Dinner: a buffet with sandwiches, cakes, chocolate biscuits and more cakes
Snack: a chicken breast and salad Subway sandwich and a tangerine
Note: no evening shake because of the amount of food I consumed

TODAY’S FOOD
Morning shake: all-in-one
Breakfast: porridge, dates and mixed nuts
Snack: a fig
Lunch: soy and vegetable chilli
Snack 1: a tablespoon of peanut butter
Snack 2: half a mango
Dinner: lean beef chilli
Post-Workout: whey shake
Snack: egg and tuna salad followed by 2 chocolate biscuit bars

Day 65 of 90: Compound Interest – More Muscle in Less Time

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Although, I normally double my training time on Saturdays, this Saturday I have to go away and therefore, I can only spend 45-60 mins in the gym. In times like this, and in light of the fact that I’ve worked all of my major muscle groups this week, I will aim at a full body workout, focusing on big weights and big moves. You see, the benefit of doing compound movements is that although the primary focus is on a muscle group other muscles are at play too (unlike isolation movements) and the benefit of lifting big weight means increased strength. So, in no particular order, here are a list of the moves I will be hitting tommorow (since I did back today I will leave dead lifts to the end, that way I can ditch them if I run out of time – if I do hit them I’ll stick to my normal weight) (all this information plus exercise tutorials with pictures comes from jefit.com).

Main Muscle Group : Shoulders [barbell push press]
Detailed Muscle Group : Traps
Other Muscle Groups : Triceps , Upper Legs
Type : Olympic Weight Lifting
Mechanics : Compound
Equipment : Barbell
Difficulty : Intermediate

Main Muscle Group : Chest [chest press]
Detailed Muscle Group : Full
Other Muscle Groups : Triceps , Shoulders
Type : Strength
Mechanics : Compound
Equipment : Barbell , Bench
Difficulty : Beginner

Main Muscle Group : Back [barbell deadlift]
Detailed Muscle Group : Upper Back
Other Muscle Groups : Lower Legs , Upper Legs
Type : Strength
Mechanics : Compound
Equipment : Barbell
Difficulty : Intermediate

Main Muscle Group : Upper Legs [squat]
Other Muscle Groups : Glutes , Lower Legs
Type : Strength
Mechanics : Compound
Equipment : Barbell
Difficulty : Intermediate

Main Muscle Group : Triceps [tricep press]
Detailed Muscle Group : Lower Chest
Other Muscle Groups : Chest
Type : Strength
Mechanics : Compound
Equipment : Barbell , Bench
Difficulty : Beginner

Main Muscle Group : Biceps [barbell concentration curl]
Other Muscle Groups : Forearm
Type : Strength
Mechanics : Isolation
Equipment : Barbell , Bench
Difficulty : Beginner


TODAY’S FOOD LOG (carb-loading day)

Post-Workout: all-in-one
Breakfast: porridge and mixed nuts
Snack 1: a tablespoon of peanut butter
Snack 2: plain popcorn
Lunch: lean beef and vegetable chilli with brown rice
Snack 1: a grapefruit
Snack 2: half a cup of berries
Dinner: as lunch + spinach
Smoothie: nectarine and red berry
Snack: plain popcorn
Evening shake: whey
Snack: some dates and dried apricots

Note: the only reason there are so many carbs is because this is to replenish my body for a week of low carb eating and heavy training. This amount of carbs, without the former, is likely to lead to weight gain.