Last week I shifted my eating/exercise schedule into 'Sarah Connor Pullup Startup' mode!
This morning my calculations say my lean mass is up by 2.88lbs! Not that I would be able to tell by my scale. It says that I'm up 4lbs. My bodyfat % has stayed relatively the same.
Last week (lean mass):
128 x .72 = 92.16
132 x .72 = 95.04
There's probably going to be skepticism on how I put on lean mass (muscle, bone, blood, water) so fast. It could be water weight retention, but that usually results in bulging. My waist, thighs and arms are all down on the tape measure. I also have another visual cue that always tells me when my body is reconfiguring - stretch marks. The nastiest ones are on my thighs and underarms.
So if my bodyfat % is relatively the same, then how can I be losing inches? I believe it's the glycogen. I've upped my resistance based activities last week, so my body shed some adipose subcutaneous fat (the bulky type beneath the skin) and traded it for glycogen (stored muscle glucose for exercise).
Before I learned to track my bodyfat measurements, the weight 'gain' threw me into a tailspin. But even without the calculations, there are other cues like the extra hip room in the capris, and the stretch marks.
Stretch marks. Bleh. I guess it's more accurate to call them 'shrink marks' that are loosened from when they were stretched. This is why I wear surfing shorts and not cute bikini bottoms. Ahh well. They are my war scars that I'm winning the battle!
As many of you know, a year ago I changed my diet. The standard American low-fat diet wasn't working for me, so I researched paleo on the suggestion of some Spark friends. Atkins wasn't for me because I think it is too restrictive. I ended up settling on a "Protein Power" plan from Drs. Mike and Mary Eades.
These days I follow more of a "Primal Blueprint" method from Mark Sisson, better known from MarksDailyApple.com. The focus is on clean eating - protein, veg and fruit, very low grains and starches. The objective is to eat 80% clean, and everything will fall into place.
Since I switched my fitness goal to improve my upper body strength (with a pull up being a long term objective), I went back and reread "Primal Blueprint". The part about the carbohydrate curve stuck out at me.
The carbohydrate curve is the approximate grams that cause insulin levels to spike, or drop. After more than a year of my own n=1 case study, I was surprised that my observations fit almost exactly within the curve he describes.
In summary, the number of carbohydrates per gram and its effect on fat gain/loss:
300g+: The Standard American Diet (SAD) of cereals, breads, sodas, sugary sweets, potatoes, pasta and rice. Extremely rapid weight gain. This is how I became obese 12 years ago.
150-300g: SAD dietary recommendations for a 'healthy diet'. Slow and steady weight gain without exercise. Prevents fat burn, despite moderate exercise. This is why I was 'fit-fat'. I exercised 1 hour 5x per week plus 8 hours on the weekend, and yet had the awesome physique of a couch potato.
100-150g: Optimal level for muscle development and/or weight maintenance. My levels are slightly lower than this. I can maintain pretty well on 100g, but 120g+ is teetering on the weight gain slide for me. I'm not sure if this is because I have minor insulin resistance, or because I am a smaller person than average, and therefore my needs are slightly lower.
50-100g: "Sweet Spot" for weight loss. Insulin levels are lowered, allowing to body to dip into stored body fat. Again, my totals are slightly lower here. 60-80g is my optimal rate for fat loss.
0-50g: Ketosis and Accelerated Fat Burning. Insulin levels are drastically lowered, and the body burns 80-100% ketones (fat) for fuel. This is considered 'Atkins' levels. I drop a day to a week here to stabilize my insulin at lower levels, but I don't stay at these levels for a prolonged period of time. For some people with severe insulin resistance, this may be their only choice.
Here's the link to the carbohydrate curve on his blog:
I maintain about 60-80g protein. The rest of my calories come from fat. I eat full-fat cheeses, milk, animal protein/fat, real butter, coconut oil, and olive oil. The only fat I avoid are hydrogenated vegetable oils, which means no processed foods, fast food, or chain restaurants.
I also don't get hungry. If I'm hungry, I eat. So even though I don't count calories, I find my calorie totals naturally falls into the 1,400-2,200 range, depending on my activity level. My carb totals as described above determines whether I gain, maintain or lose.
Last week I stayed within the 100g zone while increasing my resistance training demands. Yesterday I went to 30g carbs to drop my insulin load, and now I'm going to average about 60g carbs for the rest of the week. Hopefully this will drop my subcutaneous fat 1-2%.
It's going to be challenging because we are going away for the 4th weekend. We plan to eat the majority of our breakfast/lunch at Whole Foods buffets on our way down the Florida coast. It should be pretty easy to prepare protein/veg plates. We'll be plenty active walking on beaches, body boarding, swimming and snorkeling, so I've got exercise covered. I'll continue to do my wall pushups, squats, calf raises, and planking in the rooms.
We'll see if I can manage to trim down while on the road!
Edit (1): Correcting muscle mass versus lean mass estimate.
Edit (2): Added lean mass calculation.
Quick 101 on muscle building: www.marksdailyapple.com/
This was basically what I was doing last week. Compound exercises to stimulate hormones. This week I'm cycling into fat loss.