Fat Loss and Strength Gain: Is it Possible?
*DISCLAIMER: I'm not a nutritionist, doctor, dietician, etc. I'm just sharing my own personal experience*
Losing body fat and gaining strength - isn’t that the holy grail that most people are looking for? I started off my long weekend by adding nearly 10# to my deadlift PR. And finding out I’ve lost around 6lbs and 2% bodyfat since June (if I count the starting weight as my last contest weigh in, it’d be closer to 10lbs but I usually eat all the things and weigh in heavy the day before a contest). I ain’t mad about it.
I’ve been working on cutting weight as I head into my off season. Truth be told, I fully expected my gym performance to take a hit and feel less than great for the first month or so while I was “dieting” but, happily, that hasn’t been the case. Operating in a small caloric deficit can be very difficult as a strength athlete but I’ve avoided pretty much all of the negative impacts I thought I would encounter. I was expecting to have most of my lifts track backwards a bit but so far, the only thing that hasn’t felt great has been heavy 5 rep max back squats - but I think that has more to do with needing to change my program rather than dieting down. In fact, I think I’ve PRed just about everything in the past month and felt better in the gym than I have in months. Bottom line: since June, I’ve lost nearly 10 pounds off my frame and added it to my deadlift. Once this entire weight cut is done, I’ll do a post or series of post detailing what I did and how I did it but for now, here are the basics of how I’ve been able to cut weight while getting stronger, so far:
1. Carb cycling: Cycling my carbs has been the reason why I’ve been able to lose body fat and gain strength. I’ve done carb cycling before but I would fall into this trend of keeping my “high carb” days too low and not truly cycling my carbs. I usually do 2 “high carb” days, 2 “medium cabr” days, and 3 “low carb” days a week right now.
2. Doing the math: For this weight cut, my coach and I got very, very nerdy. We crunched numbers and did the math and I’ve been sticking to those numbers. For me, tracking things doesn’t produce any mental issues and I work best with having lots of data, so it’s been extremely helpful.
4. Having realistic expectations: I know that I’m not going to make any HUGE strength gains at this point but I am working to make small, steady gains over the course of this off season. I’ve also been realistic about the fact that training is going to feel harder some days and that’s okay. I also know that this weight cut is going to take a while and I’m fine with that. I’m all about slow and steady.
5. Moderation: My plan isn’t “super strict” and my attitude towards my plan isn’t one of all-or-nothing compliance. Life happens. I’m not going to feel guilty about having gelato for lunch one day while my husband and I are out because 1.) it actually DID fit my plan (macro-wise) and 2.) it’s not a regular occurrence. Trying to white knuckle my way through anything is going to end poorly, so I just don’t do that.
And that's been my experience thus far. I'm sure things will change, and adjustments will definitely be made as time goes on, but so far, so good!
P.S. to all of my Virginia and especially my Richmond folks! My coach and I are hosting a Strongman training camp! This 5-week training camp (5 Saturday sessions, 75min each) is focused on teaching individuals all about Strongman and how to prepare for a specific contest. You DO NOT need to compete to participate - we will be giving detailed technique and instruction on several implements and will have a program in place to help you get improve over the 5-week time period.
Read more and sign up here: http://www.crossfitfullcircle.com/workshops/summerstrongmantrainingcamp/