It has been two weeks since I started the journey towards a fitter and healthier me. I began on the Slow Carb Diet from Tim Ferriss' book The 4-Hour Body in order to lose some fat but also included the workouts from Geek to Freak in order to gain some muscle and size. The results have been pretty good so far.
Losing Fat - The Slow Carb Diet
This has been my greatest success so far. To get a full idea of my starting point you should read Starting Measurements which includes pictures of my starting point. Weighing in at 84.3kg, and at 6"2, I was not really fat but I lacked definition - I used to have visible abs dammit! I estimated my body fat percentage to be 17.5% which is way to high. Bring on the Slow Carb Diet.
For two weeks I have followed the diet pretty strictly, including the cheat day, and I have lost 2.7kg (6 pounds). If I assume all that loss was fat then my new estimate body fat percentage is in the 14.5%. In other words I lost roughly 16% of my entire body fat in two weeks! Nice.
The next pleasant outcome was how this fat loss translated across my body in terms of measurements. There was no effect on my biceps or thighs (good news) and my chest dropped 1cm early but has since started to increase (expected muscle gain from weights) but the real difference has been around my waist and hips. I dropped 4.5cm around my waist and 2cm from my hips. Sounds good but these measurements peaked early at 5.5cm and 4cm respectively so there is still potential for future losses.
My thoughts: The Slow Carb Diet works. Having lived it pretty strictly for two weeks I cannot see how you could not lose weight if you adhere to the rules. I felt like I was eating lots of food and eating often but because of the types and quality of foods eaten my caloric intake for the day was always small. For example my biggest day was 2236 calories which was derived from 280 grams of protein, 60 grams of fat, and 140 grams of carbohydrate.
Gaining Muscle - Geek To Freak
My results here have not been great - my biceps and thighs have not changed, and my chest has gained 1.5cm after losing 1cm early on - but I have identified two likely causes for this lack of muscle gain:
Not Enough Food
Following the Slow Carb Diet, I barely got over 2000 calories for the day even when eating lots and supplementing with protein powder. To gain muscle I need to be eating in the vicinity of 3000-3200 calories per day. Big difference.
Exercise Induced Headaches (EIH)
I wrote about Exercise Induced Headaches recently after I suffered a chronic headache when pushing on the leg press. EIH is very debilitating, especially when trying to push a workout to failure. I have since rested and made it back to the gym twice but each time I did not quite get to full muscle failure before I had to stop. Obviously this will impact muscle growth.
The Slow Carb Diet works for losing fat, but is difficult for trying to gain muscle at the same time. I will be modifying the diet now to increase my caloric intake (mainly through extra carbs) to assist with muscle gain. Fingers crossed I can keep it from turning into fat. The main modifications I will make is my breakfast meal will now be 4 Weetbix and 250ml of Lite Milk (16g protein, 4.3g fat, 52.7g carbs) and try to supplement the diet with "good carbs" through the rest of the day until I reach 3200 calories.
I will reserve my judgment on Geek To Freak until I have had a better run with pushing myself to failure and have worked with my modified diet to reach the desired level of intake.
Update (2/2/11): You can now read the 6 week wrap-up of my 4-Hour Body journey in this article.