Before Photos (215-220lbs):
After Photos (160lbs):
How I Did It – The Basics
I pretty much did everything imaginable, but at the end of the day, I found these elements are key to losing weight in a sustainable way:
- Track Your Food Intake – I keep a food diary (I used loseit.com and myfitnesspal.com) and log everything that I eat. You need to first see how much you are eating and then calculate how much you SHOULD be eating to lose fat. The typical recommendation is 500 calories less than your “maintenance” calories to lose 1 pound per week. Your diet is by far the most important part of losing fat. 80% of your results come from this alone.
- Keep Protein High – When you’re in a caloric deficit, your body pulls energy from everywhere – fat and muscle. The problem is that you only want to lose fat. You can help combat this by eating a protein-heavy diet – 1g of protein per pound of body weight. That is almost certainly a lot more protein than you currently eat.
- Strength Training – By lifting progressively heavier weights, you make sure your body doesn’t burn muscle for energy. It sees that you “need” them.
- Cardio – You really don’t need to do any cardiovascular exercise if you lift weights and control your intake with your diet. If you enjoy it (not me), then you can do it to increase the caloric deficit. Just realize that you burn a lot less than you think. It’s much easier to skip the small french fries and not have to run for an hour to burn it off. That being said, I did do a lot of running and biking at the beginning. But, I started getting diminishing returns after a few months of it and now I just go on long walks for “cardio.”
This section is just a random list of things that I did that people may be interested in.
- Intermittent Fasting – I fast for 16 hours a day and eat in an 8 hour window. I only eat 2 meals a day and a smaller snack at night. Most people think this is crazy but the science backs it up. Read about the top ten fasting myths here.
- Strength Training – I didn’t start lifting until after losing weight for a year. I really wish I had started at the beginning. The first program I did is called Starting Strength. I did that for about 6 months (kind of) and then hired an online coach (Roger Lawson FTW) who put me on a style of training called Reverse Pyramid Training. This type of training is great for maintaining muscle while pursuing fat loss. More details here.
- Food – Meat + vegetables + Greek yogurt are your best friends on a diet. Protein to keep your muscle and green vegetables to fill you up.
- Carb/Calorie Cycling – I ate very low carb on non-training days and moderate-high carb on training days. Read about the benefits of carb cycling.
- Current Lifting Stats (estimated 1 rep max)
- Squat: 290lbs
- Deadlift: 390lbs (my favorite lift)
- Bench Press: 185lbs (weak)
The funny thing about embarking on this type of journey is that you are never satisfied. If you had asked me 2 years ago if I’d be happy where I am now, I would have said yes. But I’m not.
For the time being, I am going to focus on eating at a level to MAINTAIN my weight while trying to increase my strength and improve my appearance by building muscle. I am doing this through a combination of strength training (Wendler 5/3/1) with hypertrophy-style assistance exercises.