Weight loss update: May 2018

May was another month that was filled with struggling when it came to keeping my planned deficit. I did hit my goal weight of 77 kg (169 lbs) halfway into the month, and I had another disappointment. Despite my total weight loss being up to 75 kg (165 lbs), from my all time highest weight, I’m still holding on to some stubborn fat. Once I hit my 77 kg (169 lbs) goal, I took 2 weeks off dieting at maintenance calories while trying to determine what I wanted to do next.

I’m at a point in my weight loss now, that according to the Navy Body Fat Calculator I’m at 16% body fat, which could be up to 19% due to the margin of error in the calculator. That puts my lean mass between 64 kg (141 lb) and 67 kg (147 lbs), something that isn’t far off  the Boer and James equations for lean mass in untrained people, considering I have been training with weights for over a year.

This means that I’m at that awkward “skinny fat” area, where I had to decide whether I wanted to bulk (add muscle mass) or cut (lose fat). At this point in my journey, I would actually improve my body composition more by adding 1 kg (2.4 lbs) of muscle, than I would by losing the same amount of fat. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t tempting to throw caution to the wind, stop eating at a deficit and start gaining muscle, but I decided to follow the advice to cut to 10 – 12% body fat, before starting my first lean bulk.

May Weight Loss Statistics

One of the funnier things that happened once I started eating maintenance calories after hitting my goal weight was the rapid regain of about 3 kg (6.6 lbs), that I think was a mixture of water, glycogen and stomach contents. I was using a pretty low carb approach for most of my weight loss, and with low carb diets you lose a lot of weight up-front in water and glycogen, that you regain once you start eating carbs again.

Another interesting thing that happened was that my lean mass increased throughout may from 65.5 kg (144.4 lbs) to 67 kg (147.7 lbs), I’m not sure if this is glycogen related or some strange hyper-compensation from training with weights and adding a lot to my lifts over a year, while being in a calorie deficit. You can see this in the difference between the “Start body fat %” and “End Body fat %”, I started May with 65.5 kg lean mass according to the calculator and started on the first of June with 67 kg.

I actually gained 400 grams (0.8 lbs) from the 1st of May to the 31st of May, but my body composition improved from 17,7% body fat at the beginning of the month to 16.1% at the start of June. As I’m writing this on June 12th, my body fat is still at about the same, but I’m on track (deficit wise) to reach 14.6% body fat by the end of June.

Future Planning

I did make some changes to my planning until my vacation from the 28th of July until the 13th of August. I’ve noticed that the straight deficits I’ve been running over the past couple of months have become more and more difficult to stick with, so I adopted a form of calorie cycling where my goal deficit is 500 a day, but vary it every day. Leg day is usually my hardest workout, so I have an off-day before and after it, on leg day I eat maintenance calories, on the off days, I aim for a 1000 calorie deficit. On my push day (chest, shoulder, triceps) I vary between a 250 and 500 calorie deficit, and on my pull day I vary between a 500 and 750 calorie deficit. This lands me at a theoretical deficit of 578 calories per day on average, but also makes sure that I never have to do more than 4 days of deficits before I get a day at maintenance.

This has been easier to stick with than doing the same deficit every single day. I also cycle carb intake somewhat, keeping it higher on training days and post-workout (200 – 350g of carbs) and lower on off days (under 100g). I decided to do this because I noticed how much my gym performance improved during the two weeks at maintenance during May where I had a higher carb intake. Carbs also have a muscle sparing effect, so hopefully the calorie cycling and increased carb intake will contribute to maintaining lean mass.

I’ve planned for the next 3 months, with a full 2 week diet break during my vacation. This means starting from the 28th of May, I will run the calorie cycling for 10 weeks, then take 2 weeks off, then finish off with another 3 weeks of dieting. Normally, I would have broken this up into 7 weeks of dieting, 2 weeks off, then 6 weeks to finish off, but I didn’t know that I would still be dieting when I planned my vacation.

I’m going to extend my current Push/Pull/Legs program using the 3×12 set/rep scheme with 90 second rest pauses to match the diet plan, I was supposed to start a strength cycle using lower reps at higher intensity (5×5, 2 minute rests) on the first of July, but instead I’m going to keep the 3×12 push/pull/legs until the 1st of August. Then I’ll switch to 6 x 6, at higher intensity until the 1st of September, when I’ll be ready to lean bulk.

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