From the monthly archives:

March 2012

Has it really been a month since my last  update?

Apologies for that, the weeks have just flown by and we now find ourselves in March.

So how have I been getting on? Pretty good actually. Here’s my latest stats:

As you can see, I’ve lost all the weight I put on over Christmas, plus another Kilo. More importantly, my Lean Mass and Fat Mass are pretty near the centre of the chart.

What this means is… I’m at a healthy weight, with a healthy amount of muscle compared to fat. I reckon I need to get the fat mass down to 14% for it to be dead centre.

All I’ve been doing to get to this stage is exactly the same thing I’ve done for the last year… eat five or six small, well balanced meals a day, and about 30-60 minutes exercise. Of course, I didn’t start off doing 30-60 minutes exercise! That’s what I do  now because I’m stronger and fitter than I was when I started. If you’ve been following from the beginning you’ll know in the first months I was doing about 5 minutes exercise a day, and I’ve built on that over a year so that I’m giving my body a chance to adapt. More importantly, I’m allowing my habits to change gradually rather than trying to change them overnight.

I’ve also been making sure the calories I consume are very slightly less than what I’m burning up each day, and sure enough, over time you HAVE to lose weight.

The challenge I face now is losing the remaining fat without losing muscle. I’ve promised myself six pack abs and the only way to get them is to lose what remains of the fat on my gut. The trouble with fat is that it comes off last where it went on first. For a guy, the stomach gets fat first, then it spreads across the rest of the body. When you lose weight, it comes off in reverse, coming off your face and butt and chest and finally your gut. So I’m in danger of looking ‘skinny’ by the time it’s gone from my gut unless I make sure my muscles get bigger to compensate for this.

I’ve done a lot of study on this subject over the last year and  discovered that the best way to lose fat is by doing regular cardio (20 minutes a day) combined with resistance exercises (weight lifting) to build muscle, combined with restricting your calorie intake by around 10% a day. Of course, if you are restricting your calories, you run the risk of not giving your body the required nutrients it needs to build muscle, so you have to make sure the calories you do consume are useful ones.

At this stage my eating has become very healthy indeed. But I’m also making sure I eat enough protein throughout the day to allow my muscles to grow despite eating reduced calories. According to my research, if you want to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time you should consume 1g of protein per 1lb of bodyweight you are. So in my case I need to eat between 140-150 grams of protein a day, throughout the day. This is probably around double what is considered ‘average’ but then the average person eats predominantly carbohydrates as the majority part of their diet. For me at the moment it is more like 35% protein, 35% carbs, 30% fat (good fats!).

Now before you start thinking there must be a lot of work involved tracking not only my calories, but also the protein content in my meals… think again. I discovered a free app on the iPhone that does it all for me. It even scans the bar codes on products you get at the store and logs all the information for you, giving you a daily, weekly and monthly tally of how you’re doing.

They have a free website that does it to:

http://www.myfitnesspal.com

It seems like a bit of a hassle at first but you quickly save your regular meals into the planner and it’s then just a matter of pressing one button and your whole meal is entered with all the nutritional breakdown logged. So I can see at a glance how many calories I’ve consumed and exactly how much protein I’ve had in any given day.

So that’s it for now. I hope you find this useful. Give it a go and you’ll find it gets quite addictive. Just make sure you put everything in. I even include cups of tea because being a Brit I drink it with a drop of milk and those calories add up!

 

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