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Maximising the protein to carb ratio

I have done extensive research – theoretical and practical – to determine the most bang-for-your-buck sources of protein.

  • Canned tuna in water
  • Canned pilchards
  • Ostrich
  • Venison
  • Chicken breast
  • Soybeans Chickpeas
  • Eggs
  • Cottage cheese
  • What the SO and I do every two weeks or so is prepare a batch of these protein sources and freeze it in portions for easy extraction during the week. Examples include

    • Tuna fish cakes with pilchards
    • Ostrich mince
    • Meatballs (ostrich/venison/beef/pork mince)
    • Homemade chicken bites

    All of the above are combined with ground chickpeas (to make it go further and to add some carbs), ground biltong powder and various spices/chillies/fresh herbs so we don’t feel like running to Mcds for a disgusting, filthy, addictive cheeseburger.

    I still have to order some bulk whey protein isolate, which will be added to the afternoon smoothie. Currently we are finishing up some flavoured protein we bought on daily deal.

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Viewing fitness in a different light

This post on Lifehacker basically confirmed what I have been doing all year during My Epic Revamp. At the start, I would beat myself up if I hit a plateau, and then try to change everything at the same time so that the number on the scale would move.

Fortunately, I got over that pretty quickly. Any form of progress I make, I chalk up as a win. Chest doesn’t pull tight during workouts anymore? Win. Visual improvement in the appearance of biceps? Win. Waist feeling firmer and tighter to the touch despite no cm loss? Win. Finding the perfect balance of proteins and carbs for breakfast to feel sated? Win.

The same goes for the mistakes I made. Carb cycled too long and developed a keto rash? Win, because now I know how long I can do high protein before it has adverse affects on my skin. Carb cycled in order to reduce my body fat% when it barely made a dent in it? Win, because carb cycling seems to help more when one is already at a fairly normal body fat %, and mine is still too high.

I’ve also realised that a longer workout != a better workout. Initially, when I could only do light jabbing for about 15 minutes before giving up, being able to get through a longer workout was all that mattered. Now that I can easily do an intense workout for over an hour, I know that adding more time to the workout would just be a waste of my time. Rather, I try to increase the intensity by incorporating a few Tabatas, or simply by “going deep into the move” with Shaun T.

Wanting to be fit was never a thing for me – I figured it was something for sporty people, something I definitely was not. Now that I am so far along on this journey, I see the benefits being fit has on everyday life. I can walk around the mall for much longer, and I’m much more aware of my muscles (and in control of my body).

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I’ve hit a plateau again

Right on schedule, it seems. I’m amending my previous plan of action and will now switch up my regime once every two weeks.

I’m currently in Week 2 of restricted calories and 40/40/20 C/P/F. Next week I’ll go back to carb cycling for another 2 weeks with restricted calories and spikes on HCDs.

What I’ve found interesting after returning to a more normalised level of carbs (still only from unprocessed sources though) is that my hunger has returned. The amount of protein I was eating during my carb cycling experiment ensured that I was always satisfied after a meal, never full.

Now that I’ve scaled the protein down, I’m definitely feeling the effects, particularly after supper. I’ve increased the amount of veggies with the evening meal to compensate, but I’m thinking I should increase it even more for this week.

I also started taking a second cup of coffee as a morning snack again. I had become used to the protein powder/Futurelife breakfast which would keep me going until lunchtime. My oats/Futurelife combo is nowhere near as satisfying.

I’ve also decided to add another cardio session on what used to be my rest day. I’m now counting the two days I do Pilates/resistance training as “rest” days. There’s only 3 and a half months left to complete My Epic Revamp.

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Another (not so quick) update on the current workout regime

Last week I gave a quickish update on my current workout regime. Things kind of escalated last week, and I had to stop working out for a few days.

This is because I developed the keto rash. While I may never have gone into full ketosis, I was probably hovering pretty close to the edge for a while. In my delight that the carb cycling was working, I kind of forgot that one should only do an 8 week cut.

So it was around Week 9 that I developed an itchy rash under my jawline. It looked like heat rash, which after a few days took on the appearance of eczema, which runs in my family. I stopped working out and applied some allergy cream, which helped. I then resumed exercising and carb cycling last week, at which point the rash moved into my neck and under my left arm.

While I’ve been going through a number of life changing events over the last few months, my extreme diet change seems to be the most likely culprit. I’d hit a plateau anyway last week (with my current weight as my new baseline, so that’s nice at least), so from this week I will be changing things up.

Over the last few months of tracking, I have realised that the “21 days to form a habit” seems true for me. I always plateau in the 4th week. From today, I will be switching up my regime every 3 weeks. For the next 3 weeks, I will be doing 40/40/20 C/P/F, with an increased focus on cardio workouts. For the following 3 weeks, I will be doing 30/60/10 CPF, with an increased focus on weights.

I’m going to be doing this for the rest of the year, rotating the 3 week regimes. My first goal is in sight, and I refuse to let stupid things like rashes get in the way.

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A quick update on the current carb cycling and exercise regime.

After my last update, I carried on with carb cycling using my adjusted formulas. I’ve now reached the point where, because my food is basically the same each day, I don’t rely on the formulas any more but more of a general “feel” for what I should eat.

In the long run, this will be the way I will need to operate. Tracking all these data points in such obsessive detail is not a viable long-term strategy. It’s just helped me to learn that this is the kind of commitment it takes to pull off an epic revamp within a single year.

I’ve managed to maintain a steady ~1kg/week loss over the last month. Unfortunately, last week I had another (3rd time this year!) allergic reaction to…something, and my jawline/neck broke out in a rash again. I got something over the counter, and decided to skip exercise for 3 days as the sweat was exacerbating it.

The scale was not too happy with me at yesterday’s weigh-in, but fortunately the result was within the fluctuation margin (+ 0.5kg). Since the rash has now almost dissipated, I will return to my regular schedule.

For this week, I’ve decreased my minimum carb intake by another 5g/day and will be adding an extra 10 minutes to my Tuesday cardio session. I hadn’t realised that the Tuesday session was only 50 minutes while the Friday session is 60 minutes. The length of the combination of Rockin’ Body videos caused me to calculate wrong (whoops).

Right now, it’s all about incremental changes to the routine. I’ve now shortened my regime to 2 weeks i.e. the food/exercise routine needs to be changed in some way every 2 weeks. This way, the body does not even have a chance to think of plateauing, because the regime doesn’t stay the same for long enough for it to realise that a routine has developed.

I would love to engage in some progressive overload, but I’m really concerned about my knee, so I tend to “go harder” with my upper body to compensate. I’m happy that with 18 kg loss (and counting) so far, the pressure on my knee has obviously decreased dramatically.

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My month-long carb cycling experiment is over: Pitfalls, and the way forward

The experiment wasn’t all upsides only. Out of my 8 weight-ins, at 3 of them I registered a higher weight than the previous one. This, I believe, was due to normal fluctuations in body weight (and then there’s the whole “I’m a woman” thing as well).

I am also aware that I am undergoing body recomposition, so the measurements I see every week won’t always make sense based on my activities and diet throughout that week.

Also, I’ve hit a plateau (again) over the last week and a half. This could be because my muscles have developed visibly over that same time period.

However, I think it’s because I’ve realised that using the bodybuilder’s formula doesn’t really work for me (no kidding). It was enough to get me started on this process and to get me into this mindset, but it’s time to leave that.

I’m now using a formula more geared at weight loss. I’ve scrapped the MCDs, so now I’m doing LCD/LCD/HCD, then LCD/LCD/LCD/HCD. I’ve also greatly increased my daily protein intake and dropped my minimum carb intake, with the intention of pushing it lower every two weeks or so.

I am hoping to drop another 10kg by the end of the year (or lose 10% body fat….), although I believe I could achieve 15kg in that timeframe. I do realise that shifting those last few kgs will not be the easiest task, but I’d also settle for increased muscle definition.

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My month-long carb cycling experiment is over: The results

When I started this experiment, my main goal was to get out of the weight loss plateau I was experiencing, and to lose body fat (as opposed to lean mass). So did I lose any weight?

Yes. I lost 4 kg at a roughly constant rate of 1kg a week, bringing my total lost this year to 16kg. Annoyingly, I only lost 4% body fat, but considering it had taken me 5 months previously to drop 2% body fat on the low carb/calorie deficit kick I was on, this was a big improvement.

Also, not that BMI is a good indicator of anything besides a very, very generalised score, but I’ve now shifted down into the category called “Overweight”. Of course, the BMI will become more useless to me over the next few months because of my fitness results.

I have biceps now! Well, I always had biceps, but now they’re more defined and toned, and when I flex my arm, they bulge out to the side. Overall, I’ve experienced a dramatic increase in muscle definition – I am genuinely worried I am on my way to getting Madonna thighs.

I can also push harder (for longer) in all my workouts. When I do my ab exercises, I no longer feel a crushing pain but instead feel some resistance coming from the inside.

My heart rate no longer goes wildly out of control during intense exercise, as it used to before. My general fitness has improved, and I can feel the difference in everyday activities. Even getting up from the couch feels easier now that my core is strengthening.

Based on these results, I can say that my experiment has been successful. Tomorrow, I will discuss the pitfalls of this method, and the way forward.