James McQuarrie

A collection of random links and thoughts curated by James McQuarrie

Hitting 10% body fat – the first six weeks

Yesterday was the final day of my first six week stint of diet and exercise experimentation. Six whole weeks of following the slow carb diet and sticking, or not as the case may be, to a weekly exercise plan. All in an effort to have my body fat percentage down to under 10% by the time I hit 30 next May.

The results are in

At the beginning of the six weeks my weight was 99.9kg and my body fat percentage was 19.2%. As of this morning my weight is now 97.5k and my body fat percentage is down to 17.6%. Overall I’m happy with that. The numbers are heading in the right direction. But…

Was it worth it?

After six weeks of avoiding white carbs, fruit and dairy for six out of every seven days was it worth it? I’m not 100% sold. My high protein, high veg diet has left me feeling very alert, awake and energetic. But I really missed being able to have a nice cold glass of orange juice in the morning and having a splash of milk in my tea and I’m not convinced that excluding those is justified by the gains that I made in six weeks. I don’t mind having to workout that little bit harder in order to be able to enjoy those little extras from day to day.

I already had a fairly low carb diet anyway, so I didn’t miss bread or potato, pasta, etc too much. And when I did eat those foods on my cheat days, I noticed a distinct lack of energy, and felt quite bloated until moving back to the no carb days.

The hardest bit about the diet aspect of the six weeks was trying to explain to friends and family what I was doing and why. Not everyone got it. And most people can’t work out what I actually eat if not their usual staples of bread, milk, cereal and potato.

For me it wasn’t too hard. I tend to plan ahead and work out what I’ll be eating breakfast, launch and dinner each week before hitting the supermarket anyway, so planning to eat slow carb friendly meals wasn’t much of a challenge. Even on nights out at restaurants, over the six weeks I didn’t find a single place that didn’t have a slow carb friendly option, and when something came with a potato or rice portion I politely asked for a veg side instead and not a single place refused.

And the exercise?

Well, that I didn’t manage to do so well with. For the first two weeks of the experiment I did manage to do my complete weekly plan. But in the third week I tweaked my calf muscle slightly so couldn’t run for the week (I still did my weights based workout that week though). Mid way through the fourth week I got a cold so only managed half a week’s workout and the fifth week I managed none. Week six (last week) I was back up and working out again though I didn’t run. So in total I managed about half of what I’d set out to do in the six week period. Not so good.

Having said that, I’m feeling a lot stronger than I was at the beginning of the six weeks, the extra protein in my diet has helped with that. I’m also impressed that despite my lack of exercise some weeks my weight and body fat percentage numbers still trended in the right direction, proving to some extend that the diet works.

What next?

Well, I’m still some way off hitting my less that 10% body fat target, but I’ve still got over 10 months to do it. I’m taking this week off, no exercise and eating what I want (fruit juice, milky tea and all!) and I’m planning to start my next six week experiment a week today. Though this time, I’m going to tweak my workout routine to be more circuit focused and tweak the diet plan to allow fruit juice and dairy to see if they really make too much of a difference overall.

Ultimately, I’m not looking to follow one particular, prescribed diet or workout regime, I’m more interested in finding something that works for me personally, and these six week long experiments are my way of finding that. As long as my body fat percentage is going in the right direction, I’ll keep on tweaking and personalising my routine. Here’s to the next six week stint.