Adventures in Fat Loss for Athletes

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How I lost 13# and 3.5% Body Fat (8.5# of Fat) in 50 days

I eat with the seasons. Every year I let myself relax and eat what I want during the holidays. From September thru December I eat as I please. I couple this with heavy weightlifting and add some muscle during this time of year.

When the New Year comes it feels like a natural time to tighten things up and shed some of the fat and excess that I’ve added over the previous months. It is an annual cleansing that I pair with a structured goal setting process. This approach helps me to focus on my goals. The mental clarity I receive from the cleaned up diet makes me more efficient and effective across many categories.

When you read this keep in mind most dieting principles work, but individual tweaks are important depending on your specific genetics and lifestyle. What works for me may or may not work for you. There are things that you can learn from studying what others do and in that spirit I present myself as a case study. I don’t recommend that you do exactly what I did. I do recommend you experiment for yourself to see what works best for you.

What did I do?

I followed a very simple three step plan. First, I drank plenty of water, at least 16 cups a day. Second, I put my body into Ketosis. Third, I used the infrared sauna an average of once per week.

What I did not do:

I did not change my workouts, if anything I worked out less than normal. I did not change my sleep, I get on average about 7 hours a night.

Why did I drink a lot of water?

Two reasons. 1) Water suppresses appetite making you eat less. 2) Water is vital when metabolizing fat.

What is Ketosis and how did I enter it?

Your body’s preferred food source is glucose which comes from consuming carbohydrates. When you eat sugar, fruit, starchy vegetables or other carbohydrates your body converts the carbohydrates into glucose to keep you fueled. When you eat very few carbs your body is deprived of glucose and instead creates a new fuel source based on burning fat called ketones. Once your body is adapted to burning ketones it will start to efficiently burn off your fat stores and you will have entered ketosis. It took me 36-48 hours to enter ketosis by limiting my carbs to 25 grams per day. I used ketone strips to test myself which can be bought at any pharmacy. Once I entered Ketosis I allowed myself 50 grams of carbs per day and found that amount of carbs would keep me in Ketosis.

If I wasn’t eating carbs, what was I eating?

Fat. I was eating between 150-200 grams of fat per day from sources like, animal meat, nuts, avocados and oil from olives and coconuts. I also ate butter and cream. My ancestors are pastoral meaning there were a lot of cows around the part of Europe my family came from. Because of this my body is adapted to handling dairy very well. Dairy does not work well for some people with different genetics. I kept my protein to about 100 grams per day and took an amino acid supplement to prevent losing muscle. My overall diet was on average 70% fat, 25% protein and 5% carbohydrate.

Where does the infrared sauna come in?

Relaxing in the infrared sauna for an hour can burn up to 600 calories and give your cardiovascular system the benefits of running 4-6 miles at a slow pace. The infrared sauna heat penetrates deeper into your body than a traditional sauna which means it flushes out more toxins including heavy metals and pesticides.

The heat generated from the infrared clay panels is also drier than traditional sauna which means you don’t feel the effects of the heat as quickly. This means most people can tolerate more time in an infrared sauna than a traditional sauna. At temperatures over 110 degrees F, fat becomes water-soluble and dissolves as it enters the blood stream and can be easily removed by the body.

Notes and Conclusion:

I experienced a healthy amount of weight loss and a significant drop in body fat during my experiment. After the first week I added a cheat day on Saturday where I could eat whatever I wanted. This knocked me out of ketosis every week but gave me something to look forward to and served as a nice mental break. Social events could be scheduled around this cheat day making me less annoying to go to dinner with.

My energy levels remained consistent throughout the experiment and the only noticeable performance decrease was a 5-10% reduction in my maximum lifts. That said, I have never been able to lose weight without losing some strength at the same time.

I also experienced a mental clarity and sharpness that does not seem to be present during a typical carb heavy diet. My hope for anyone who has made it this far into the blog is that they will experiment with their own diet and measure performance accordingly. CrossFit Clintonville can offer consultations and help you measure your results. Anyone interested in learning more should contact patrick@crossfitclintonville.com