Journal Entry 304 – Return of the Refeed

Missed my post last week since Sarah and I were in Greensboro for the weekend doing some things for the wedding.

Some big schedule changes also happened at work, which will move me back into a much more normal schedule. Looking forward to that so that Sarah and I will have more time together.

My workout schedule has been even more minimalist style than my last post. I have literally been doing 200 pushups and 50 chin-ups a day at least for the last week. I’m only lifting once a week in the gym on Friday, which has been heavy barbell bench press that I then follow with pushups and chin-ups. Pushups and chin-ups are starting to feel extremely easy. I’m doing 30 pushups a set and 10 chin-ups a set. I plan to increase those to 35-40 for pushups and 15 for chins soon.

I really enjoy these two moves. They work every muscle in the upper body and you can literally do them anywhere at any time. (Although this is truer for pushups rather than chin-ups.)

As for my diet, its time for the “Return of the Refeed.” I experienced somewhat of a plateau where I could not drop under 182lbs for 3 days even with my diet and exercise on point. Very frustrating. I refeeded a couple of days ago pretty hardcore. I went 3000+ plus calories with the vast majority of calories coming from carbs. I went up to 187lbs after this day, but have now dropped below 182lbs just two days later. I have written about refeeds before, but have stopped doing them the past couples years for whatever reason. I really do they think hold tremendous benefit to allow yourself to “go to town” one day of the week just to get it out of your system. It also has many physiological and psychological benefits, which I have wrote about in my article How To Do A Carb Refeed.

Most people would benefit from doing this once a week. It’s just far easier to program. If you were going by science every 5th day would probably be optimal. So 4 days of dieting, 1 day off to refeed up to or beyond maintenance calories and repeat. This presents a pain for most people though, because your refeed day constantly changes. No one wants to refeed on a Monday. So I would recommend just doing it Saturday or Sunday (my personal favorite). Give precedence to carbs. I usually go high protein all other days, so I really look forward to eating all of the things I can’t eat on this day. I actually tried to lower protein as much as I could on my last refeed day. I hit around 80 grams of protein / 70 grams of fat / and over 400 carbs.

Also one more point about refeeds. Some people try to lower dietary fat as low as humanly possible on these days. Don’t do this. It makes the day far less fun and satisfying and really lowers your food choices. I’m not saying to go super high in fat, but just allow yourself to hit a normal of fat of around 50-70 grams instead of going like under 30-40 grams like is commonly recommended. Your body can store some dietary fat as muscle, especially if your diet days tend to be low in fat. Even if you store some fat, it’s going to come off easily when you return to your normal diet the next 6 days.

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Back to Strength Training – Journal Entry 159

Log:

IMG_1566

Week 13:

1/10 – 174lbs – 3300 calories (Eaten) – 6900 steps – 3.5 miles

1/11 – 174.8lbs – 2500 calories – 12700 steps – 6.12 miles

1/12 – 177.4lbs – 1700 calories – 12900 steps – 6 miles

1/13- 176.4lbs – 1727 calories – 8900 steps – 4.33 miles

1/14- 175.6lbs – 1600 calories – 6100 steps – 2.9 miles

1/15- 174.6lbs – 1600 calories – 12200 steps – 5.9 miles

1/16- 174.6lbs – 1700 calories  14000 steps – 6.61 miles

Average Weight 175.3lbs – Average Calories – 2000

Training

Decided this week to go back to strength training. I noticed after returning to certain lifts, my strength has dropped off and this really annoys me. The primary driver or muscle growth is progressive overload, not hammering out reps in the “hypertrophy rep range.” I noticed my lifts in this rep range are plateauing and not really getting any higher. After emailing my plan for 2015 to a friend (who is really into training, but not a personal trainer by profession) to get his thoughts, he recommended that I ditch the full body workout and depletion workouts. He then said to focus each move on the 4-6 rep range. Meaning a weight that you can get no more than 6 reps, but no less than 4 reps. I took his advice, but adjusted it slightly.

This week I did a 5 day split doing one body part per workout. When you lift heavy in all exercises, this is usually all you can handle. I really enjoyed the workouts and felt very good and sore after each workout. This to me means I was getting distracted by worthless crap in the gym that I didn’t need to focus on. However I moved the reps up to the 5-8 range instead of 4-6. This is more comfortable for me and helps keep my form better. By staying in this range, I expect to see constant strength gains throughout the year. Plus research show most myofiblliar growth (the growing of the actual muscle fibers) and not sacroplasmic muscle growth (the growing of fluid retention in the muscle) takes place in the 5-8 rep range or 80-85% of your one rep max. I liked outsourcing my training for once though because it gets me out of my own way when designing a routine. I can design programs for others no problem, but when constructing my own I tend to overthink it.

The 5 day split was good, but I think I can it make it slightly better by moving to a 4 day split and adhering to the same principles. My friend agreed this plan may be superior due to the extra rest. Here it is below:

  • Day 1 – Saturday
    • Chest and Triceps
      • BB Bench – Warm up – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
      • INC DB Bench – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
      • Dips – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
      • Skull Crushers 3 sets of 5-8 reps
      • * Optional – Chest Flys 3 sets of 8-10 reps
      • Abs – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
    • Day 2 Back and Biceps – Sunday
      • Trap bar Deadlift – Warmup – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
      • Shrugs – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
      • DB Row – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
      • Pullups – 3 sets of AMAP
      • DB Curl – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
      • Abs – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
    • Day 3 – Off
    • Day 4- Shoulders/Triceps – Tuesday
      • Db Shoulder press – warmup – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
      • Lateral Raise – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
      • Rear Delt Raise – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
      • Shrugs 3 sets of 5-8 reps
      • Dips – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
      • Rope Pushdown – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
      • *optional – Cuban press 3 sets of 8-10 reps
      • Abs – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
    • Day 5 – Off
    • Day 6 – Thursday Legs and Biceps
      • BB Squats warmup – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
      • DB Lunges – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
      • Leg Press – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
      • Chinups – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
      • EZ bar curl – 3 set of 5-8 reps
      • * Optional – Hammer curl 2 sets of 8-10 reps
      • Abs – 3 sets of 5-8 reps
    • Day 7 – Off – Friday

Should be good times. I’m slightly sore from arms day going into chest day today, which is why I modified the routine to be only 4 days for some more rest. This style of lifting is very intense. It may look simple on paper, but its not. Especially when you do heavy sets for ALL of the exercises and not just the first. Arms are done twice a week (smaller muscles recover faster) and Abs maybe done after each workout. I may skip them on shoulders day as this is a longer workout. Added a few optional exercises to the workouts, which is basically just 1-2 isolation movements in the 8-10 range to satisfy my ego. Also the off days are all walking days on the treadmill.

Workout Logs:

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Nutrition

Had a really easy time with the diet this week. Kept carbs down to right around 100-120 grams a day only going below that on a few days. Basically just incidentals, vegetables, some berries and Firehook crackers made up the carb intake. The rest of the diet was some added fat from peanut butter, whole eggs and some low fat cheese. Meat and protein powder made up the protein intake. Hunger was very minimal all week until Friday. I was pretty hungry, especially at night and started to crave some pizza hut haha (large stuffed crust, chicken supreme with extra cheese ;)). There wasn’t going on much socially so I figured I would just use it to my advantage to get in an extra fat burning day. Today however will see an increase in the calories to refill my muscles, taste buds and enhance workouts. Using the weekends to bump calories and take a break from your normal diet, makes it much easier to come back during the week. If I had to stay on that diet 7 days a week forever, there would be no way I could do it, even though I really do enjoy eating those meals.

My plan is built so its 4-5 days of low calories during the week and 2 high days on the weekend. I keep carbs pretty low during the week as this helps with hunger and calorie control. The weekends will see a bump of carbs up to about 180-270 grams. Dietary fat will also make a good portion of calories on the weekends, because its not like dietary fat is that high during the week anyway (usually 40-50 grams). Carb refeeds can be necessary, but I feel like past a certain point they lose their importance. As long as you give a nice bump to carbs, I dont think you need to eat an insanely high amount. Usually when I do this it takes days to clear the bloat. I find my its much easier for me to just add calories from food I enjoy, which ends up being a mix of the macros. Since calories and protein intake is the most important factor in muscle growth it seems to make sense. I also enjoy the weekends more, because I can eat more foods I enjoy without worrying about keeping fat low and carbs sky high. My goal is to eat enough to carbs to fill out glycogen stores and enough calories to build muscle and strength.

I also plan to try some coconut water during my workout. Its right around 100 calories and 20 grams of sugar, but interested to see if gives the workout a boost. I much prefer drinking this over something cheap like Gatorade, which is cheap sugar in water. Also been eating a ton of spinach here recently. Not cooking it but more on the side, but very potent for decreasing appetite. If i get hungry I ll just grab some spinach.

As for my measurments, bodyfat is getting lower and lower each week. Weight around 174 almost every day and skin caliper pinch looks like its down a few more millimeters. Not sure of the exact body fat, but its trending in the right direction.

Pics:

Chicken, Beans, Onions, pico de gallo
Chicken, Beans, Onions, pico de gallo
Lean meat, whole egg, firehook crackers
Lean meat, whole egg, firehook crackers
Bean and Meat stirfry
Bean and Meat stirfry
Lean meat, veggies and Crackers
Lean meat, veggies and Crackers
1 whole egg, 6 egg whites, 2 ounces of chicken and ton of veggies with crackers
1 whole egg, 6 egg whites, 2 ounces of chicken and ton of veggies with crackers

How To Do A Carb Refeed

In my previous article, I stated that carbs have a very profound effect on the metabolism and brain, both in the short term and long term.  But many people that still need to lose fat, still have to cut calories at some point.

There is nothing wrong with dieting in general.  Some people really do need to lose fat and doing so would greatly enhance their mood, physique, and health.  But there is a right way to diet and a wrong way to diet.  The people that keep their weight off and look amazing, do things the right way because they showed patience, kept all their muscle mass and lost exclusively pounds of fat and not just “scale weight.”

Picture your metabolism as a fire.  A fire will keep on burning as long as it has logs fueling it.  What happens when you stop feeding logs to the fire? – It burns out.  Basically dieting without temporarily “stoking the fire” with more logs, will stop working.  Carb refeeds serve as the logs for the fire (metabolism) to keep it going strong.

These will keep fat loss diets working real nice.  I recommend eating all of them on refeed day.
These will keep fat loss diets working real nice. I recommend eating all of them on refeed day.

There have been many variations of carb refeeds, but I want to keep it as simple as possible.  Many people overcomplicate things for no good reason.  If they would stick to the basics you would still get the majority of the results. Let’s use an example of someone who weighs 200 lbs who wants to lose fat:

  1. Keep protein and fat constant on this day.  These should be the same every day anyway.  For this person, protein would be 200 grams and fat would be 67 grams for a total of 1400 calories.  (Note – you could definitely get away with lowering protein and fat on this day if you wanted to maybe 150 grams of protein and 50 grams of fat for this person, but its not needed.  Keeping them constant makes things much easier.)
  2. Double the amount of carbs you normally eat.  For this person, a normal day of carbs = 150 g since his calories = 10 x bodyweight (about 2000 calories) on his normal fat loss day.  So on the carb refeed day, their carbs would raise to 300g and bring their calorie total to 2600 calories.  On this day their carbs and calories are much higher than usual, but the metabolism greatly benefits.
  3. Recall de novo lipogenesis (the process of carbs converting to fat) is very inefficient, unless you eat a lot of dietary fat on this day.  So don’t expect any fat spillover on this day.  More than likely you metabolism will just burn off the extra carbs as heat. If you muscle definition is blurred the next day then its most likely just excess subcutaneous water that will easily be flushed out on your diet days.
  4. The general rule is to do this once a week for most people.  For very obese individuals, they could probably get away with 1 refeed every 2 weeks.  For very lean individuals, once every 2-3 days seems optimal.  Please don’t think “you don’t need a refeed” and skip this day.  Trust me it will backfire and you will plateau. Refeed days are not cheat days. There an integral part of the program that is crucial for sucess. Consider them just as important as the low days for burning fat.
  5. Remember carbs are not fattening at all by themselves, but they do prevent the burning of fat, so obviously to lose fat you need to reduce them.
  6. The main benefits behind this is to stoke the metabolism, refill muscle glycogen, restore hormones, prevent an overly catabolic environment, reduced cortisol and enhance leptin (which tells your body to release fat for energy). Leptin gets suppressed big time on diets, so when you eat a lot carbs on this day, leptin gets back to normal, which allows the person to keep losing fat effectively.
  7. Carb sources – Need to be primarily glucose based starches. Oatmeal, potatoes, rice, bread, pasta.  Note – technically any low sugar carb source will work even if it’s not as healthy.  For example, low fat crackers, pizza, cereal, low fat chips, waffles, pancakes and other junk food will break down to glucose the same as any other starch.  The key is to keep sugar and fruit low and focus mainly on glucose as this has all the benefits you are looking for. 80% glucose and 20% sucrose is recommended.
  8. If you have dieted a very long time (usually 2 months or more) and are pretty lean, to begin with then one refeed day may not be enough. At this point, it is usually recommended that 2-3 days in a row of carb refeeding is necessary. Some recommend 2 weeks, but usually, there is a point of diminishing returns after 3 days. 2 weeks of refeeding would lead to serious fat gain. Once 3 days is up then you can resume burning fat again. A good sign to look for after refeeding is a general disinterest in food. This is a sure sign your body has had enough and doesn’t crave anymore food or carbs.
  9. Cheat meals usually don’t benefit leptin all that much, especially if its high in fat and not that high in carbs. This is because research shows you need at least 5 hours of overfeeding.

Bottom Line – Carb refeeds keep fat loss diets working to their full potential.  Many dieters that skip this day will hit a wall somewhere down the road in the diet and wonder why they can’t lose weight anymore.  By eating slightly over maintenance with lots of glucose based starches once a week, you can avoid these plateaus, keep the metabolism revved, your hormones healthy and lose fat quicker than people that “dont need to do them.”