A week ago I entered Bodybuilding.com’s 12 week physique transformation contest. While not required by BB.com, I’m going to be doing weekly updates with progress pics, and a recap of all the data I’m keeping. I’ve never attempted a strict 12 week diet plan before (nor gotten much below 10% body fat) so I’m chronicling everything I can to inform any future diets I do.
So, as stated last week, here are my starting stats:
Weight: 195.0 lbs
LBM: 168.8 lbs
Fat mass: 26.2 lbs
Bench: 215 x 5
Deadlift: 325 x 3
Back Squat: 255 x 5
Pull up: 240 x 5 (195 + 45 lbs)
*body fat measurement is not to be trusted; probably closer to 14-15% body fat.
Here are my basic measurements as of this morning, the 8th day since starting the competition:
Weight: 191.2 lbs (-3.8 lbs)
Bodyfat*: 12.0% (-1.4%)
LBM: 167.4 lbs (-.6 lbs)
Fat mass: 24.6 lbs (-3.2 lbs)
Arms: 15.0″ (–)
Chest: 43.0″ (–)
Waist: 34.75″ (-1 inch)
Thigh: 23.25″ (-.25 inch)
Bench: 215 x 4 (-1 rep)
Deadlift: 325 x 4 (+1 rep)
Back Squat: 255 x 5 (–)
Pull up: 240 x 5 (–)
And here’s my spreadsheet:
So far, things looks great. I’m pleased with the visual progress, and if the numbers are anything close to accurate then I’m doing well. The single least accurate variable I’ve collected is the BF measurement since that’s using bioimpedance, as the numbers can swing wildly based on how much water I’m holding, food in my gut, and a number of other factors. Still, 3.2 lbs of fat loss and only .6lbs is fantastic, and that’s a ratio of 1lb muscle lost for every 6.67 lbs of fat, or roughly 15% LBM loss and 85% fat loss.
Some interesting observations:
Actual fat loss vs fat loss on paper
According to my net weekly cals, I was -3560 cals which is almost exactly equal to 1 pound of fat [LINK]. Yet the scale says I lost 3.2 lbs of fat. My guess is the truth lies somewhere in the middle, probably around 2-2.5 lbs of fat lost. It’s just interesting to note the potential difference between fat loss on paper and real life fat loss, especially while following a leangains style program during a body recomposition phase.
I under ate the first 2 days
Admittedly the first 2-3 days I was winging things as I developed my workout & diet plan, and so I didn’t log my foods or track calories until day 3. When I went back and tracked the first 2 days (both workout days) I realized I’d eaten too few calories, particularly carbs. If I lost any LBM in the first week, it was likely during these first few days. Even though I only hit my caloric surplus on 1 workout day: super bowl sunday. I can do better on this next week.
For reference, on strength training days I’m supposed to eat: 3300 calories (+10% surplus), 100g fat, 225g protein, 350g carbs, with all those carbs consumed during or after training.
Feeding window times
I’m more or less following the leangains cutting protocol [LINK], which means I should be eating all my food in an 8 hour window. I’ve set my window to be from about 1:00/2:00 PM until 9:00/10:00 PM. The first 3 days (tues, weds, thurs) I was right on – more or less 8:00 hours on the dot. But then the next 3 days (fri, sat, sun) I was consistently 2+ over. All these feeding windows started on time between 1:00-2:00 PM but I ate later at night since it was the weekend and I was out with friends. Super bowl sunday was my biggest day of eating so far (+34% surplus), and I ate some leftover snacks at 1:00 AM. For shame!!
Actually, I’m not too concerned about it, for a couple of reasons:
- I was 12% under my calories the day before. +34% over for one day averages out to around +15% both days. And I had been spot on the 3 days before that.
- I went right back to low carb, -30% deficit, and a metabolic sprint workout the next day to burn the FFAs before they got stored.
- It’s life. It was the super bowl, I’m from san francisco, no way I’m not enjoying myself a bit. Eating a bit dirty 10% of the time won’t ruin the progress made the other 90% of the time.
I’ve got to confess – I’m a terrible sleeper. Not one night did I get a full 8 hours; in fact I only averaged 6 and a half hours per night. Historically I operate fine on 6-7 hours of sleep, I just want a full 8 hours for physical benefits of enhanced recovery and all the beneficial fat loss hormones released during sleep.
I’m usually awake by around 7-8 AM, which means I’ve been going to bed around 1 AM, sometimes later. For week 2 I’ll make a point to get to bed by midnight and see if I can get those 6-7 hours a night up to 7-8 hours.
Here’s a short list of some of the confounds to this journal to keep in mind when viewing my results:
- Body fat measurement – As stated above, this is the least accurate data point, and it is a rather crucial number for determing how much weight lost is LBM vs. fat mass. In the future weeks I may look more at the average body fat reading over a week so iron out day-to-day inconsistencies. Unfortunately, this won’t help get a more absolute sense of my body fat and I don’t have the means to test any other way.
- Carb cycling – I’m following a natural carb backloading style diet, where I consume <30 grams of carbs on off + sprint days and 300+ grams of carbs on weightlifting days. Since carbs pull water into muscle [LINK] this can drastically affect my weight from day to day (this can be seen in my weigh-ins the day after my high carb days). This will further confound how much weight lost each week is fat, vs LBM, vs. simple water/glycogen.
- Weight loss at start of dieting – in line with the above point, a lot of people experience natural weight fluctuations the first week of any diet due to glycogen & water storage, food in the gut, and general hydration levels.
- Pictures not consistent – As you probably noticed, I used a different location (which has different lighting) than my 1st week pictures. Unfortunately I can’t always find someone to snap a few pics of me when I wake up at 7:00 AM, so everything but my Week 1 & Week 12 pics will be self-shot by me in the mirror. So at least weeks 2-3 and beyond will be consistent.
On to Week 2 of my physique transformation…
Week 2 might as well be my first REAL week… I’m now tracking everything, on a set total physique transformation and body recomposition plan [LINK], and hopefully away from some of the swingy things that can happen to your weight in the first week of dieting.
See you next time!