One of the reasons why I love getting regular BodPods is that it gives me direct feedback on the various experiments I try. I needed a 30 day Paleo Challenge like I needed a hole in my head but I did think it was a great opportunity to put on some muscle (it was a challenge through my gym, I did it mostly in support of my friends). Let me throw out a caveat for context though, when I BodPod’ed in December the goal was to make a grand statement and I did that. The following weekend was Date weekend and I was back at 155 (up from the 149.5 at 9.1%). Clearly much of that was just excessive water from Carbs and most of the Holiday’s I ate pretty unrestricted. I knew at that time I wanted to slow bulk after the 17th so none of this bothered me. Even when I weighed 162 weighing in for the Challenge. After 2 days I had flushed my system and I was at 156. Which incidentally is one pound lower than I weighed in at yesterday, since I gained one pound of muscle this all makes sense. It would be too easy and too simplistic to say that I gained 6 pounds of fat over the holiday’s, the body doesn’t work like that. When I saw that my weight went down so dramatically so quickly I wanted to make sure I was staying mostly anabolic so I ate slightly more. I didn’t weigh myself often, especially early but towards the end I noticed I was staying in a range between 157 and 162.
This is what I did not know and this is why the BodPod info is so helpful and I highly recommend it. I did not know the rate at which I could gain muscle and since that varies greatly I still do not. I can not for instance say that every 45 days I will gain 1 pound of muscle because there are a lot of factors that come into play (diminishing returns, lack of rest, sickness et al). What does seem crystal clear FOR ME (notice the emphasis) is that I can not push the pedal on muscle gain, the difference between this time where I was fairly aggressive eating a bit more calories and eating normal was only nominal if at all.
So where do I go from here
One of the things I hate about boxed systems or specific calorie plans is that they are too limiting, I like to adjust my plans as I adjust my goals. The one thing I have not had in the past that I want to have now is patience. So it would be insincere of me to suddenly start one of those plans when I have said over and over that it does not need to happen. The final weigh in for the Paleo Challenge is on Friday, so basically my plan is to extend the challenge until Friday morning. Since I have already BodPod’ed and know the results for lean mass there is no point in worrying about that any longer. For myself and my goals it’s pretty clear muscle gain is just going to be a patience thing, I am just going to be better off remaining sub 10% and slowly gaining without wild fluctuations. So my plan is to do what I recommend for everyone else, the last 2 days going up until the end of the challenge I will lean out, no nuts, no dessert maybe a banana before bed for some pre-bedtime carbs. NOTICE THE “FOR 2 DAYS”. I will evaluate at that point and I doubt I will mobilize a ton of fat but it will be noticeable. What I will not do is compromise my eating habits for workout days but I will likely not have dessert for those two days and possibly no nuts but I will still have my sweet potatoes to address glycogen depletion.
My meals are going to be pretty simple those last two days, lots of chicken and tuna and lot’s of veggies while limiting fruit. So basically I will have 2 gigantic nutrient dense salads both days.
My plan after that is to simply eat normally and add in 3-5 day periods where I don’t eat nuts or dessert until I am around 8%. Basically I will follow the rules of the Lean You 10 day challenge during those times.
Something I will add
As most people know I am not a fan of supplements for various reasons, I take BCAA’s as a measure of insurance when I train fasted but other than that not much at all. That changes tomorrow. I am going to add Unflavored Whey coming out of my fast and I will eat/drink it 30 minutes before I eat my first meal. Technically the Whey will break my fast because of the calories, that does not matter to me near us much as the uptake. Because it will be my first meal the nutrient uptake should be pretty good. While the insulin spike from whey is relatively substantial this is the best time of day for my body to handle that.
Old Dog with new tricks
I would be kidding myself to think age was not a factor in this process. At 43 your body just responds differently than say 23, a 23 year old that ate like I did would have exploded with muscle. Add to the fact that I do not just strength train and you have another part of the answer. I am absolutely certain that if I just lifted weights RPT style that would help a bit, maybe even get me one more pound of muscle in say 45 days, who knows. For me I do not care. I do Crossfit because I like going to the gym when I do it, is it the absolute best protocol for muscle building? I do not think it is. But gaining lean mass is only part of the equation for my goals. I am planning on adding in long runs on Sunday’s and continue on my 3 on 1 off schedule at Crossfit. Mostly because that is what I enjoy doing, the runs are prepping for ToughMudder but I wouldn’t rule out a half marathon or a marathon somewhere down the line.
Getting lean and staying lean
The other thing this time taught me was that getting lean and subsequently staying lean is just a whole lot easier than gaining muscle. So rather than be burdened by some expectations of that I should weigh this or that I am going to get to the level I would like, no matter what that weight is and try to stick with a real steady pace.