After writing the post on which is the best creatine supplement to take to gain muscle and strength I decided I needed to put my money where my mouth is. So I went ahead and ordered some micronized creatine from Amazon.com.
A Bit of Background
I’m writing this post to offer a bit of background. I’ve been working out consistently for about the last 20 years. I’m currently 36 years old. For most of that time I prescribed to the typical diet advice to gain muscle and lose fat.
You’re probably familiar with the routine. Eat lots of carbs like oatmeal, pasta, and cereals and load up on all sorts of lean proteins. Fats were to be avoided at all costs. Replace butter and other fats with man-made things like smart balance or whatever other options are out there.
My workouts consisted of an hour of weightlifting and probably 30 or so minutes on an elliptical or stair machine. Because cardio is key to burning fat, right? I would typically do this about 4 days/week.
After all of this time and effort I can proudly say that at no point did my body fat percentage ever dip below 15%. It seemed as though six pack abs just weren’t in the cards. Hell, even a four pack seemed like a stretch.
There Has to Be a Better Way
About 2 years ago I started researching alternative diets. That’s when I stumbled upon a couple of amazing resources. The first was Mark’s Daily Apple. Mark Sisson has created a truly remarkable resource for those fed up with the SAD (standard American Diet).
His site is devoted to the Paleo Diet or Primal Diet as he calls. it. His site thoroughly and quickly explains why eating a diet high in carbohydrates and low in fat is not the way to become or stay healthy.
He then explains what our bodies are designed to eat, and the transformation you can effect by feeding your body what it needs.
The second great resource that I found was Lean Gains. Martin Berkhan is a personal trainer that has helped hundreds of people get into the leanest and strongest shape of their lives. He does so using a program of intermittent fasting.
For the most part the two strategies overlap, in fact they both reference each other on their respective sites.
My Personal Program
I’ve always enjoyed tinkering around with my diet. My wife thinks I’m a bit crazy, but I find it fascinating to see what my body responds to and what it doesn’t. For the past 2 years I’ve been strictly on the Paleo Diet. And in the last year I have started incorporating intermittent fasting (IF).
I have occasional cheat days where I eat some bread, usually in the form of some sort of baked good, but 95% of the time I stick pretty closely to the diet.
To give you an idea of what I eat on a daily basis, I’ll run through a typical days meals. It usually starts 16 hours after my previous meal. But first, I typically hit the gym before my first meal. This may sound difficult (it did to me), but once you’ve done it a few times, you start to get a very accurate feel for your body’s energy levels and stamina. It also gives me a very intense focus that I don’t recall having otherwise.
The only thing I’ll have beforehand is a branched chain amino acid supplement. This is so that my body is well supplied with BCAA’s and therefore won’t cannibalize the from my existing muscle. (More on this under the best pre workout supplements)
My post workout meal is the biggest meal of the day. I’ll have a good bit of protein and a lot of carbohydrates. Since I’m on the Paleo Diet this is usually a sweet potato or some other tuber. Generally the starchier the better. I’m also a big fan of paleo waffles as a post workout meal. I’ll post the recipe as soon as I get the chance.
The second meal is a few hours later and is composed of lean protein and a small amount of carbs. And my final meal is similar, but smaller than the second. All of my meals are consumed within 8 hours start to finish.
The only difference on days when I don’t go to the gym is that I eat fewer calories overall, and I replace carbs with fats. Bacon, whole eggs, nut butters, coconut milk or oil, and dark chocolate are all things I will eat on rest days. I’ll also consume fattier cuts of meat on theses days.
So far things have gone pretty well. Last I had my body fat percentage checked I was in the 7% range and I would guess I’ve dropped another 1/2% since then.
But more than anything I enjoy the feeling of not having to eat every three hours or so to regulate my blood sugar. And because my blood sugar is more normalized, I don’t get crazy hungry all of the time.
Where to From Here?
It wasn’t my original intent with this blog to track my progress. But the more I’ve thought about it, the more interesting it sounds. There is a ton of information online regarding working out, diets, supplements etc. But there’s generally not enough people offering up proof of their success.
Even more importantly it seems like offering a maintenance program for people to follow might inspire them to not only lose fat and get healthier overall, but to believe that they can then continue with that success indefinitely.