It’s been a week since my last comp, I took 5 days off training (boy did I need that down time!) and then only did an upper body and lower body shakeout session, followed by taking the last 2 days off. That’s a lot of time off for me, but next week we get stuck into my new procotols – we’re going to blend German volume training and Fascia stretch training to try and add extra size as well as target particular aesthetics – so I need to come into that nice and fresh.
Now its time to officially get stuck into my Reverse Diet.
This year I’m absolutely positive I’m going to get this reverse diet thing sorted.
Am dead set gonna nail it!
just like I was in 2013 and last year…and they, kinda didn’t quite go so well…
2013 I had a perfectly sensible reverse diet plan, all carefully laid out to increase my calories from the low point of comp diet of 1450 cals up to my growth level of 2200 calories over the course of 12 weeks. I had my macros in place, I knew exactly how the increase would happen and exactly what foods I was going to add in at what point.
It was going to be easy.
I lasted 4 days before the rebound kicked in with a vengence and a rampaging sugar beast took control over my body and it became a battle royale against myself to regain control of myself…as I said back then – not something I’d wish on my worst enemy!
However, although the perfectly laid out plan went right out of the window in a very short space of time, I did discover that by eating my growth level of calories and sticking to my usual comp diet during the day and then eating whatever the hell I liked at dinner, I somehow didn’t pile on lots of weight…
so I did some googling, which led me to last years reverse diet style – carb backloading.
The idea behind this was that by taking advantage of your daily cycle of cortisol and insulin you could stay in ‘fat burning’ mode during the day when cortisol was at its highest and insulin at its lowest by eating minimal carbs, then after resistance training at night when cortisol was falling and insulin was higher you ate a carefully calculated amount of crappy carbs and it would all be sucked into your muscles rather than being stored as fat. Sweet…literally as it was sweet stuff that did me in the year before – as long as it had honey on it, anything and everything became dessert!
Again….nice idea, but as soon became clear – post comp really is not the time to try out new diet experiments – your body is in a hyper sensitive state, you don’t know what effect competing has had on your hormones and metabolism so you have no idea how much or how severely you are going to rebound. For me it was the training at night thing – I just hate that, and I also hate eating crappy food merely for the sake of it.
Why fill the Ferrari with chip fat when you don’t have to?
I constantly felt fat, bloated and crap. So again, carb backloading didn’t last long.
Which brings us to this year.
Diet wise last week, I didn’t change much from comp diet – I cut my protein by about 30% which gave me plenty of calories to play with, so I added in avocado at 2 meals, my favorite sweet potato at 2 meals, cherries at 1 meal and with dinner which has always been my bogey time post comp, I added in mixed berries with sorbet and honey. You may remember from 2 years ago that gelati and honey, especially honey, were the two foods that I appeared to have absolutely no defense against! So I’ve deliberately added them in right from the get go.
I’ve had 1 mini binge when stupidly I went food shopping when hungry and I bought a packet of gluten free mini mince pies….
I was only going to have 1…
I’ve got a bucket list of foods that I’m going to eat and I’ve worked my way through most of those already – its not a particularly long list as I don’t crave foods in general, I also don’t deny myself foods. Food is fuel – everything I eat has a specific role to play in whatever my current goals are. These are more just nice to have’s, because I can.
Items that have been ticked off:
- Gelati (from Messina…too much heavenly deliciousness not to be on the list!)
- Nasi Goreng
- Pancakes (savoury – filled with tomato basil pesto, hommus, no cheese as lactose intolerant, chicken)
- French Toast w berries, gelati and honey
- Coles gluten free mini mince pies
- Beef Rendang or massaman
Items still to go:
- Onion Bhaji
- French toast w bacon, cinnamon maple syrup and banana
- Nachos? Not sure if I can be bothered with those…have already tried twice to order them when available and failed
Like I say, its quite a short list, and so far, (touch wood, cross fingers, rub the lucky rabbit foot, long may this continue), all seems to be relatively calm on the hormonal rebound/emotional eating front.
Which leads me to believe that this year I may just be able get it right.
So what am I going to be doing?
This year I’m going to follow evidence based guidelines a la Layne Norton and Alan Aragon to set up my baseline macros – but I’m not going to be a macros nazi on myself, because, whilst I’m totally comfortable with tracking everything (and do every day – just habit), I’m going to make sure it fits my lifestyle, so I’ll keep the emphasis on good solid, real, high nutritional value foods as opposed to junk, but if I happen to feel like eating some crap foods, then so be it. This is exactly what I do year round and is why I don’t blow out post comp – I tend to find that I eat in a very structured way during the week, as it fits in nicely with my standard training/work patterns, then the weekend is a bit more intuitive and I’ll tend to eat according to how I feel at the time and don’t deny myself anything. Hence the bacon chilli scrambled on comp diet and even bacon, eggs, feta and smashed avo on the day of a comp!
In general it works out at about an 80/10/10 clean/less clean/complete crap kind of split.
So what does this mean in terms of macros, calories all that good stuff?
Well, I decided on Thursday to set up my plan and when I weighed myself in the morning, I was sitting at 54kg, which, ironically enough now that the stress of competing is done, was my best weight of the season!
Yet, on Friday morning – just 1 day after my 1st training session in 5 days and going out for big greek meat feast Thursday night – I weighed in at 57.3kg!!!
I put on 3.7 kg in a single day???!!!
Good old fluid retention – gotta love how it screws with your head. However, this time it didn’t – and that is another reason why I am quite confident I’ll be able to stick to my plan – I’m not getting upset or emotional about things like the number on a scale! In fact I laughed at the ridiculousness of it.
Very good sign.
Ok here goes.
LN (Layne Norton) recommends 1.1 – 1.4 g/lb LBM for his PH3 program, and Alan Aragon (AA) recommends 1.0 – 1.5 g/lb LBM
Now in addition to those standard recommendations there are 2 other factors I’m going to take into account:
a) I’m an elite athlete carrying a significantly higher proportion of muscle mass than an average person. Therefore my proteins needs are higher than an average person.
b) I’m older (29..again?). Older people have a lower sensitivity to muscle building amino acids, specifically leucine, than younger people i.e older people need more protein and hence more leucine to obtain the same effect as younger people.
Interestingly LN uses Bodyweight rather than LBM for his macro recommendations for setting age related macros…
Anyway, I like my meat, I’m aiming to add muscle, so I’m going to go for 1.4g/lb LBM.
LN recommends 0.45 – 0.6g/lb Bodyweight in general and for my age group, so I’ll plump for the middle ground here and go for 0.55g/lb.
Again, I do like my avocado and nuts and see no reason to set a level where I can’t fit them in.
I’m always up at around 25-30g/day whatever I eat, so that fits perfectly into most recommendations.
That’s everything else. I don’t tolerate carbs particularly well, so I may end up increasing my fat macro down the track depending on how the weight gain goes.
Next up, how am I going to set my calorie targets?
Well, I want to gain muscle, but minimise fat – my current body fat % is around 10%, and I do need to get it up a little – but not too much as it’s only 15 weeks from the Arnies, and I’ll probably need to do an 8 (10?) week cut. That doesn’t leave much wriggle room.
Having just had a dexa scan, I know my LBM is 49.3kg and I’d like to get that up to 50kg, so I’ll base all my calcs on 50kg LBM and 15% BF which gives me a target bodyweight of 57.5kg.
yikes…already hit that just in fluid!
When setting calories targets, there are a number of additional multipliers to take into account –
- You set your maintenance level – usually LBM (lbs) * 14-16 (females on the lower end of the scale, guys on the higher)
- You multiply maintenance level by an activity factor based on your daily activity levels (they generally range from 1.1 – 1.6)
- You add a muscle gain/fat loss goal multiplier: +/- 2-5% increments depending on how quickly you want to see results.
In my case, I want to have a baseline calorie level which is the level I will start my reverse diet on, and I want a target calorie level that I can work up to for muscle building.
So here is how it works out for a lean bulk:
Next I need to work out my protein and fat macros given all of the above considerations.
N.B: I’ve actually used 0.55 g/lb LBM for my fat calc instead of bodyweight so I could increase that up to 69g (0.55 g/lb BW)
As you can see, there’s not going to be much increase there between current and target at all – in fact the calories difference between current and target is so tiny, it could be all used up just by adding 5 almonds or a single macadamia nut!
The biggest change here from what I usually do is how many carbs I’ll be eating – 233 – 235g!
That is significantly higher than I’m comfortable with, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.
Looks like I’ll be eating a lot of gelati, honey and bananas!
Ok, what next?
Structure – how am I going to split my meals up over the course of a day?
Well, as I mentioned before, my meals during the week tend to be very regular and fit in around my working/training day, and I tend to eat the very similar things, at the same meal most days as well – just because it makes food prep incredibly quick and easy and once I’ve worked out what size my new food ‘blocks’ are, I can just throw them onto a plate and a meal is created in less than 5 minutes – convenience all the way! I don’t have the time or inclination come up with creative new dishes every day.
So this is what I’ll do:
Meal 1: Protein + Fat
PWO: Veggie Carbs (I don’t have a PWO shake now, its an intra-WO shake of BCAA’s + 25g vegan protein blend)
Meal 2 & 3: Protein + Veggies + Veggie Carbs + Fat
Snack: Protein + Fruit Carbs
Meal 4: Protein + Veggies + gelati/honey/homemade chocolate – whatever is required to fill up my carbs for the day.
Ok, we’re done!
Reverse diet is go!
Let’s see how we do this year! 🙂