On December 12th, I saw the doctor for the first time since being cleared to train chest, shoulders, and back. In the past month I had not only regained some muscle, but I had also lost an appreciable amount of fat that I gained during the months when I couldn't train my upper body.
After The Injury
For the first 3 months after tearing my pectoral muscle I couldn't do intense cardio. Anything for upper body was obviously out, and even running caused my chest to hurt. My bodyfat had climbed to 13.5% and I was ready to bring it back down to the single digits.
In addition to the training split I described in my last article, I started doing HIIT cardio once again.
Traditional cardio is done at a constant pace and the target heart rate is between 60%-75% of MHR (maximum heart rate). In HIIT or high intensity interval training cardio, you cycle from a high intensity to a low or medium intensity, and the target heart rate is between 75%-90% of MHR. The intervals can be as short as 5 seconds or as long as 5 minutes, but generally you want to raise your heart rate up to 90% of MHR during the high intensity interval, then let your heart rate fall back to 75% of MHR during your lower intensity intervals. Once your heart rate comes down, you go back to a high intensity interval and raise your heart rate back up to 90% of MHR again. HIIT can be done with any kind of exercise that allows you to get your heart rate up to 90% of MHR. During my diet, I used sprinting, both on the treadmill and outside, for my HIIT cardio. I performed about 2-3 20-minute sessions of HIIT cardio each week, preferably first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
With my weight training and cardio back on track it was time to throw in the most important aspect that contributed to my fat loss, the diet. The diet that I followed is referred to as an ascending protein/descending carb diet. That means that each day I increased the amount of protein I consumed and decreased the amount of carbs I consumed. The goal of this diet was to keep the calories relatively constant while slowly lowering my carb intake. I lowered my carb intake so I just barely became depleted then I drastically increased my carbs and possibly my calories by either having a high carb day or a cheat day.
It's similar to a carbohydrate-refeeding day that one might find with a ketogenic diet. The difference is that once I increased my carbs, instead of immediately dropping them back to a low carb state, I slowly lowered them again. When I drastically raised my carbohydrate intake, I would also lower my protein intake. Many diets seem to keep the protein levels constantly high. The body adapts to the high protein intake and doesn't utilize protein as well. By cycling my protein intake, I fooled my body into utilizing protein more efficiently.
This diet wasn't something I just threw together overnight. It was the result of years of trial and error. The ascending protein/ descending carb methodology was gleaned from other diets, but the exact number of days I used and the exact increases and decreases of protein and carbs were designed to get the maximum results for me personally. Some people may not need to take their carbohydrates as low or for as many days and some people may have to carb deplete even longer. However, using the principles of this diet rather than the exact numbers and days I use will allow anyone to develop a highly effective diet for fat loss.
My diet is 9 days long. I keep my fat intake constant at .35g per pound of body weight. My protein starts at .6g per pound of body weight, and my carbohydrates start off at 1.75g per pound of body weight. Each day I reduce my carbohydrates by .25g per pound of body weight and increase my protein by .2g per pound of body weight. I begin by eliminating my complex carbs first so by the 6th day my only sources of carbs are vegetables, flax seeds, and psyllium seed husks. I begin cutting the vegetables out on the 7th day. At this point my protein intake is 1.8g per pound of body weight and my carbohydrate intake is less than .5g per pound of body weight.
The next 2 days I keep my protein intake at 1.8g per pound of body weight while my daily carbohydrate intake is roughly 80g a day. At this point my only sources of carbohydrates are from flax seeds, psyllium seed husks, and the negligible amount of carbs in my protein sources, so I am eating almost no complex carbohydrates as the carbs from the flax seeds and psyllium seed husks are predominantly fiber. By the end of the 9th day my glycogen stores are depleted. The next day I either have a cheat day or a high carb day. If I have a structured high carb day, my protein intake is 1g per pound of body weight and my carbohydrate intake is 2g per pound of body weight. After this day, I will go right back to the 1st day and repeat the 9-day cycle again.
This time around I did two 9-day cycles with a cheat day in between. I also based my caloric intake on a body weight of 200 pounds rather than the 190 pounds I actually weighed. I did this because I wanted my caloric intake to be slightly higher than it would be otherwise so I could gain some muscle at the same time as I lost fat. Another important aspect of the diet is the food choices I made. My protein sources consisted of lean meats and protein powder, my complex carbs were either sweet potatos or maltodextrin, my vegetables were mixture of broccoli and romaine lettuce, and my fat sources were ground-up flax seeds and olive oil.
I also took psyllium seed husks for extra fiber. I started off at 190 pounds and 13.5% bodyfat. Less than 3 weeks later I weighed 188 pounds at 10.4% bodyfat. This is a loss of 6 pounds of fat and a gain of 4 pounds of muscle, in 20 days. I also gained 1/4" on both my arms and quads, and lost 1/2" in my waist. I trained with weights 4 times a week for 60 minutes and did 2-3 HIIT cardio sessions for 20 minutes. A lot of the muscle gain was due to muscle memory, but the fat loss was due predominantly to my diet.
This is the exact diet I used which will now be referred to as the 9-day diet:
- Day 1 - 120g protein, 350g carbs, 70g fat
- Day 2 - 160g protein, 300g carbs, 70g fat
- Day 3 - 200g protein, 250g carbs, 70g fat
- Day 4 - 240g protein, 200g carbs, 70g fat
- Day 5 - 280g protein, 150g carbs, 70g fat
- Day 6 - 320g protein, 100g carbs, 70g fat
- Day 7 - 360g protein, 90g carbs, 70g fat
- Day 8 - 360g protein, 80g carbs, 70g fat
- Day 9 - 360g protein, 80g carbs, 70g fat
The best way to follow this diet is to have all your food prepared for the day and divide it up into 5-8 even meals. You can focus the complex carbs around your pre and post-workout meals, especially on the 4th and 5th days. You can also have a greater percentage of your daily protein intake after your workout, but you want to divide your fat and vegetable intake evenly between your non-pre or post-workout meals. The combination of fat and fiber will keep insulin levels stable for greater fat loss. It will also help your body utilize your protein and complex carbs more efficiently.
Coming Up Next
In the next installment, I will discuss my bulking diet and how I use the 9-day diet in conjunction with some radical theories on protein, carbohydrate, and calorie cycling to gain insane amounts of muscle in a short period of time. After my next article you'll realize that food is more anabolic than any shot, pill, or powder.
Note: This is part two of Ian's Q & A