It’s been 6 weeks since I began the Maximuscle Challenge, in an attempt to alter my physique from everyday male to cover model body. We are now at the half way point of the projected 12 week project, and I have learnt A LOT since I first set out on the journey.
Today, I am going to bring you the low down of exactly how and why I have had to alter my diet, training program and general approach during these first few weeks; the obstacles I have had to overcome; as well as providing new pictures and measurements to chart the progress I have made from my starting point.
Later on, I will also bring you my complete weekly training routine breakdown, as previously requested by one of our readers.
Adjust And Repeat
The first 3 weeks of the project I was coasting; the days were flying by and adapting my diet to a new carb cycling plan wasn’t quite as hard as I was expecting. I was jotting down a nice little food diary of everything I was eating on a daily basis, so that I could keep an eye on my macro nutrient intake and adjust it to how my body was responding.
At least, that was the plan. In actuality, I was only writing down what I was eating – not taking the time to sit down and work out exactly what I was feeding my body with on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, the weight was starting to fall off and I was becoming leaner by the day, but I was losing size too quickly.
At the 3 week mark, the personal change my body had undergone was noticeable to me and I decided to get in contact with Gareth, my Maximuscle nutritionist, in order to see whether this was normal or something I should be concerned about.
This marked the first time I actually sat down and worked out EXACTLY what I had been eating on a daily basis. I sent over an average days total calories, protein, carbs and fats intake for my no, low and high carb days. The results were surprising.
Too Little Carbs
I wasn’t getting enough calories each day, and although I was going well over my protein target daily, I was getting nowhere near enough carbohydrates on either my high or low carb days. Based on my own previous research, I had set my carb totals as:
- Carbohydrates (High Day): 1.5g x per lb body weight = Keep total under 280 grams
- Carbohydrates (Low Day): 0.5g x per lb body weight = Keep total under 95 grams
- Carbohydrates (No Day): Keep total under 10-15 grams
I soon learned that these were set too low, and so Gareth advised me to alter my intake to the following:
- Carbohydrates (High Day): Total between 300 – 350 grams
- Carbohydrates (Low Day): Total between 200 – 250 grams
- Carbohydrates (No Day): Keep total under 30 grams
Now, for me seeing this, my first though was: How the hell am I going to eat that many carbs in one day and still lose weight/cut up? I am not used to eating that much food in one day, so I automatically thought I was going to be putting on body fat going forward.
However, the key to carb cycling is to trust in the system. Your body needs these calories daily in order to just maintain your current weight – I was losing size because I had cleaned my diet up, but I was also not getting enough calories daily to maintain my muscle mass. By force feeding your body carbs on high days (high intensity training days) you are creating an environment in your body where it is actually possible to build lean muscle mass.
Likewise, by foregoing the carbs on your rest days, you then start to utilise these breaks in training to help burn the excess fat you have stored and really show off your definition.
Taking It Seriously
The next 3 weeks I spent taking the challenge more seriously. I created a spreadsheet of my typical everyday food sources and broke them down into portion sizes and their macro nutrient make-up. A little geeky, definitely, but it made it so much easier on any given day to see exactly where I was in relation to my target daily intake.
In the end, spending the initial time doing this made it so much easier for me to stick to my optimal levels, and also enabled me put some of my size back on whilst still keeping the definition that I had achieved during the first three weeks.
Although this seems like a particularly anal way of approaching a diet, it really is worthwhile. At first you will be checking your spreadsheet at every meal, trying to work out exactly the right portion size and how many carbs etc you are getting. However, after a couple of weeks it all becomes second nature and you know exactly how much rice you need to measure out, how much protein that chicken breast has in it or whether you need an extra scoop of peanut butter to get your fat totals up for the day.
In my original article on carbohydrate cycling, I listed the supplements that Maximuscle had kindly provided in order for me to achieve my goals. Not much has changed since then, with my supplementation including Promax, Maxiraw Casein Sustain and Thermobol each day.
However, now I am required to eat more carbs on both high and low days, I have also started taking the Maximuscle Progain range. These products are for hard gainers and those who are looking to pack on size rapidly. Each and every product within the range is packed with huge amounts of protein, quality carbohydrates, fats and healthy calories to help guys hit their calorific and macro nutrient intake each day.
Personally, for me, they have been a lifesaver. I am not sure how many of you have tried to eat 300+ grams of ‘quality’ carbs (not: pizzas, chips etc.) a day, but it is not as easy as it sounds! Having a shake that supplies nearly 70 grams per serving is a great way of keeping yourself from feeling bloated or sick from eating too much pasta, rice, couscous, oats and the like.
Not only that, both the Progain Flapjacks and Shake taste superb, and honestly feel like a treat when compared to some of the other stuff I have been eating!
If you want to see my starting measurements for all the below, check out my introduction to the challenge here.
* All measurements/photos below are correct as of Monday 5th November 2012.
Height, Weight & Girth Measurements
Height: 6″ 0
Weight: 80.5kg (Down 3.5 kg)
Girth Measurements (In Inches)
Neck: 14.5 (Same)
Chest – Across Sternum: 44.5 (Same)
Waist – Narrowest circumference: 31.75 (Down 0.75)
Hip – Around The Buttocks: 34 (Down 0.5)
Upper Arm – Mid point, Untensed: 13.5 (Down 0.5 – Could be due to measurements below)
Thigh – Mid Point, Untensed: 22 (Same)
Calf – Largest Point: 15 (Same)
This particular measurement technique was detailed in my introduction to the challenge.
1) Biceps: 4mm
2) Triceps: 5mm
3) Subscapular: 7mm
4) Supra Iliac 5mm
Approx Body Fat: 8.65% (Down from 10.7%)
Again, this is very approximate and has been done personally by myself and a volunteer. However, although the accuracy is probably off, it as least shows that my body fat percentage has come down, because we used exactly the same sites and measurement tools.
Photo Progress: Week 6
Of course, they say a picture is worth a thousand words; below are my before and after photos, allowing you to compare the progress made so far during the first 6 weeks:
I am really pleased with the results so far, and although we have changed the quality of the camera since the first photo, they were taken in exactly the same place at the same time, so hopefully it is a fair comparison. I can still see room for improvement, and over the last 6 weeks I will hopefully begin to see my bottom set of abs and lose some of the excess weight around my hips/waist section.
Note: When we first ran this story on FitnessBeans, a reader commented that I looked maybe a bit pale and gaunt in the week 6 photos. This was mainly to do with the fact that the starting photos had been taken a week after coming home from a late ‘sun’ holiday. The irony was, I was actually feeling fresher and with more energy than ever before during the second set of photos.
I hope you have all enjoyed this update as to where I am with the project currently. Make sure you check back later today, where I will bring you my training routine, new adjusted carb cycle and the Maximuscle supplements I am taking to help achieve my goals.
Remember that you can ask any questions you have about the project, carb cycling or my personal journey in the comments section below. I will do my best to answer all questions to the best of my ability – or find someone that can!