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Weight Loss Experiment 2 Week 2/10: Protein Shakes, Fiber and Kettlebells

November 10, 2012

Actually this week saw even more features added back into my diet and training regimen. Since this will be a longer post, I’ll start with a short report on my progress in the Weight Loss Experiment 2:

Progress Report for Week 2

Weight loss is now happening – last week there was none, but as I explained back in WLE 1, when you start a diet (doesn’t matter whether it’s intended as a short term intervention or lifetime change) the effects will be delayed by several weeks. So whenever you start a diet (or start strength training), hang in there for a couple of weeks even though it appears like nothing is changing. I am now at 96kg and change, putting my BMI officially below 30 – so technically this week I transitioned from obese to overweight.

Strength is increasing as well. I moved down another notch on my power rack with the one armed push-ups, and regular push-ups are now beginning to feel really easy with the arms at waist height. I have also been doing pull-ups throughout the week, and today (Saturday) I noticed that it’s now easy for me to get my chin above the bar – last week I was struggling with that. I’m not yet doing the pull-ups from a dead hang, but I’ll now try to increase the time spent “chin above bar”. Skipping the eccentric part of the pull-up (letting go of the bar in the end position) has really helped with recovery – I didn’t experience any soreness in the lats or biceps from the pull-ups. I noticed though that in week 1 I overtrained the forearms by doing many 30 second hangs. I’ll go easy on those for now and make them 20 seconds, but increase the volume/frequency instead.

Protein Shakes and Fiber

Through Dan John’s articles I read about the Velocity Diet – which I hadn’t known before, but has been around for a while (since 2009, I think). You can checkout the page – which looks like the typical muscle magazine sales pitch, with gross before/after pics of muscle freaks. What I found interesting about the diet is that it resonates with many concepts that I had run across before. In essence on the velocity diet you first calculate your caloric requirement based on some formula, and then for a fixed period of time (for example 28 days) you eat nothing but protein shakes and an assortment of (pricy) supplements, mainly fiber tablets and fishoil capsules, with one cheat meal per week (where you eat mostly meat and vegetables).

I mentioned Lyle McDonald’s Rapid Fat-Loss Handbook in many posts, and there are some similarities to the Velocity Diet. The common denominator is that you reduce calories while trying to keep protein intake up, hoping that the body will take the calories that it needs mainly from the fat stores while leaving muscle intact. Lyle McDonald recommends reducing the calories much more severely than the Velocity Diet does, and he doesn’t recommend protein shakes and fiber tables, but natural sources of lean protein and fiber instead (chicken breast, tuna, vegetables). As an example, for my body parameters the Velocity Diet recommends eating 1,500-1,800 calories a day, while on the Rapid Fat-Loss protocol I would eat only 600 calories a day.

Another aspect of dieting/overeating that I already posted about previously is food reward. Stephan Guyenet has published many interesting articles on how modern food may be engineered to be so rewarding (as a psychological term, meaning essentially “reinforcing”) that it makes some people who are susceptible to that effect overeat those foods. Guyenet’s recommendation for healthy weight loss is to make your diet less rewarding in that sense. The interesting thing is that both the Velocity Diet and the Rapid Fat-Loss handbook achieve that. There are other, less related diets which also have that reward reducing quality – for example Tim Ferriss’ trademarked “Slow Carb Diet”, which according to Tim works mainly because Insulin release is moderated/normalized, but could also work because Tim recommends to reduce the variety of food choices (ideally you eat the same every day on that diet, except for the cheat day), which, as Stephan points out, greatly reduces food reward.

Long story short: I’m going to incorporate elements of all those approaches into my diet. Instead of severely reducing the caloric intake (like Lyle McDonald recommends in the Fat-Loss Handbook) I’ll stick with alternating the caloric intake on weekdays, possibly widening the scheme by making Monday, Wednesday and Friday low days, but keeping caloric intake normal on Tuesday and Thursday and the weekend. Instead of eating only protein shakes on “low days” like the Velocity Diet suggests, I’ll substitute some meals for protein shakes. Instead of getting fiber from fiber supplements I’ll stick with vegetables and sometimes use fiber supplements like Inulin and Oat Bran when I’m taking protein shakes. I’m even experimenting with eating gluten-free Müsli, which is essentially a source of fiber and micro-nutrients for me (it contains lots of dried berries and nuts).

We’ll see how this plays out during week 3 – so stay tuned for next week’s update. But before I end this post, there’s something else I have to write about:

The Return of the Kettlebells

I read Dan John’s collection of articles (“Never Let Go” – available as an ebook) and as some of you know from the previous post, I had also read some of Pavel Tsatsouline’s stuff on kettlebells. Since I already own a few kettlebells (lightweight ones in 6kg, 8kg and 16kg) I decided to add them to my training regimen again. Since I don’t want to risk overtraining, I chose three exercises which are not too hard (especially with lighter bells) to re-learn the movements.

The Kettlebell Swing

Fortunately I found this nice video of Dan John teaching the Swing – check it out, it’s not too long and quite entertaining. If you want to try this it’s really important to get it right from the start – if you get it wrong, you can injure your back.

The Goblet Squat

Not too much to say about this one – check out this guy demonstrating the movement.

The Turkish Get-Up

I really like this one because it’s so easy to learn and do with light weights, but so damn hard with heavy weights. I spent the week learning with the 6 and 8 kg kettlebells, and am now doing it with the 16kg kettlebell, which is quite hard for me (and a really poor level of strength). Check out this awesome demonstration of the movement, done by an impressive (and dare I say, hot) athlete …

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From → WL Experiment 2

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