I’m heading to San Diego later this week and two things are for certain. One nutrition is going to be pretty bad. Two I’m not going to be able to train. Not a big deal and I’m really looking forward to the trip, but I had to improvise a little this week in preparation for it.
I moved my normal Friday workout to Saturday this week. That way I can hit the weights Saturday, Monday and Wednesday. I leave on Thursday, so it’ll be four days in a row with no weights. I’ll try to hit some pushups or something, but that is going to be it for resistance training. Walking should be no issue and our house is on the beach, so that should be the best way to go for exercise.
Workouts have been good and consistent. I plan to implement either 1-2 low calorie days a week though most likely on a workout day. Some days my definition is lacking and I know if I continue to push the calories for weeks at a time then I’m not going to look the way I want to look. However, staying on low calories all the time to keep the definition is a good way to make zero gains at all and you have to constantly monitor calories and only really enjoy yourself a couple days a week. Not a good long term plan. It also lowers your metabolic rate leading to plateaus. The solution to making gains and keeping definition is to have 1-2 days out of the week that your eat at most half of your maintenance level. So if I burn 2700 calories a day, then I will eat a max of about 1350 calories. The beauty behind this is that your eating your maintenance or slightly above 5 days out of the week and burning the majority of your fat 1-2 days of the week. This way you make gains in the gym and maintain your metabolic rate, while experiencing very little plateaus. You’ll also lose bodyfat if you do it twice a week. You’ll likely just maintain (which is fine) by doing it once a week. My recommendation on these days is to do it sometime between Monday – Thursday. I like Monday and Wednesday. The rationale is most people are very busy during the week and cutting calories is much easier. Also not much socially happens on Monday and Wednesday. I even remember in college, those were basically the only two nights that no one went out drinking.
If you can I also recommend doing a low calorie day on a weight training day. The reasoning behind this is because of hormonal interactions. Weight training and cardio (AKA exercise) is similar to fasting in many ways. It burns fat, uses your body’s own resources, heightens insulin sensitivity, blunts appetite, increases adrenaline, increases euphoria, reduces stress and anxiety (this is a short term effect if done correctly), increases growth hormone and many other positive interactions. So by combining the effects of a low calorie day and the effects of exercise, you create this massively beneficial state, where when you eat the next day, your muscles soaks up food like a sponge. You also burn more energy on workout days, which again is beneficial from a fat loss perspective. Quick note however – Staying in a state of deprivation leads no where. Notice these days are done a max of two times a week.
My next point is why it’s better to eat more on your rest day. Rest day means recovery day. If you ate a bunch of food on your workout day, when you should of been burning fat, then whats the point of the rest day? Recovery days are meant to reload and rebuild the muscles that were depleted the previous day. Relaxing, eating and not working out leads to bigger muscles. You tend to burn less energy on rest days and if its a true rest day, then you dont workout. The body is primed to absorb food and is in the parasympathetic state. By eating on the rest day your also well stocked for the next workout.
Conventional wisdom says, Load up on Monday after your weight training workout, then eat a massive deficit the next day on your rest day to burn fat. From a common sense standpoint, does that make any sense? By the time Wednesday rolls around, since you didn’t eat enough on your recovery day, you will likely feel flat and have low muscle glycogen. Contrast this to going low on Monday, then loading up on Tuesday (just your normal maintenance or slight surplus diet), then by Wednesday your ready to go from loading up the previous day and not two days ago. I greatly prefer this way and my workouts have been much better by eating on rest days vs workout days.
So basically my plan is 3 full body workouts a week. Two of those are low calorie days and the other 5 days are normal. Monday and Wednesday are currently my low days. Although last week I only did one low day. I also use the low days to create a deficit for the weekend, which is always higher in calories. (especially this coming weekend ;)) The low calorie days are basically protein pudding, vegetables and lean protein only. Very filling foods that make it easy to stay satisfied. The carbs come in high amounts on the other 5 days. My normal days have been around 2600. If I eat like this every day, I notice I smooth out, but after implementing these low calorie days it has dramatically increased the amount of calories I can eat on normal eating days. I usually don’t get hungry on the low days either and still eat a lot of food, however the food I eat is very low in calories. I try to hit at least 90-100 grams of protein on this day and then a little carbs and fat from incidentals. Again I don’t tend to worry too much since these low days are wedged between normal days of eating with plenty of nutrition and calories. If these low days were done for prolonged periods like most diets, then kiss your muscles and sanity goodbye. The high days tend to be different every day, but I do make sure to bump up the carbs big time. Fats also get a boost. Big stirfys with tons of rice, veggies and protein is always one of my favorite meals. I also really like pasta with chicken and broccoli mixed in.
There are two excellent articles on Tnation talking about using this concept. In my opinion, its very effective for the average recreational exerciser. Brad Pilon also has a similar system except he fasts twice a week. I still eat, its just not very many calories. Similar principals and most likely similar results.
Pics from the week:
Steady strength gains. Didn’t go up in everything this week, but everything was either the same or slightly better.