Vazor’s Fat Loss Journey

Introduction

Welcome to my article about my fat loss journey and my quest for six-pack abs.

I am a programmer, working in front of a computer all day. Before I began this journey, I didn’t really pay attention to food- mostly considering it a burden to get out of the way. I knew some foods were tastier than others, and I could tell vaguely when my body needed certain kinds of foods (like if I haven’t had greens for a while), but I didn’t understand anything about calories, or additives, or blood sugar.

As part of a bucket-list item to get six-pack abs, I began researching how to lose fat. This article details the various diets I tried over a two-year period, and the results. I hope you will find the information interesting and useful, but please be aware it might not have the same effects for you, and of course I am not a dietitian and you should not start any major changes to your diet without consulting a medical doctor or dietitian.

Summary Results

Here are all the diets I tried, ordered by effectiveness, which I measured by fat loss in percentage during that month. For full explanations of each diet, more information can be found in the details of the article below.

  1. Calorie Counting only — 2%
  2. Vegan/Raw Food/Natural — 2%
  3. Soylent — 2%
  4. Very Low Calorie — 1.5%
  5. Traditional/Low Calorie/Fasting/High Cardio — 1.5%
  6. All Vitamins & Nutrients/Shake Diets/processed food — 1.5%
  7. Atkins/Low Carb — 1%
  8. 4 hour body diet/Thermogenics/Refuel Days — 1%
  9. Fiber, Calcium, Truth About Abs Diet, Less Structure — .5%
  10. Low Calorie/Low Sugar, Whole Food 100% Nutrients — .5%
  11. No fast carbs, Protein, Liver Cleanse, 30-Day Ab Challenge (Abs Goal Achieved) — .5%
  12. Glycemic Load (one week) — .5%
  13. Cheap Healthy, Fullness Factor, Less Structure — 0%
  14. Low Calorie, Supplements (but also Christmas cheat days) — 0%
  15. Low Calorie, Hormone Diet — 0%
  16. “No” Days (one week) — 0%
  17. Intermittent Fasting, Body Fat Set Point (but also Vacation Week) — GAINED .5%
  18. Fasting (but also Anniversary cheat day) — GAINED .5%
  19. Carb Cycling (casual) — GAINED .5%
  20. Protein Focus, Overtraining — GAINED 1%
  21. Veggie Days, Water — GAINED 1%
  22. 50 crunches a day, Protein, Intermittent Fasting (but also birthday cheat days) — GAINED 1%
  23. Whole Food 100% Nutrients (one week) — GAINED 1.5%
  24. Avoid Sugary Treats (casual, plenty of cheat days) GAINED 2%

Summary — Tips To Lose Fat:

1) Calorie Deficit — Lower your calorie intake to 20% below your maintenance level (e.g. stay under 2000 calories a day).

2) Calorie Deficit — It’s that important — and a much larger factor than any of the others. One thing that can help you feel fuller while not eating as much calories is to have fiber and protein and to fill your stomach with calorie-sparse foods like vegetables.

3) Avoid Fast Carbs — sweets, chips, white breads and pasta, fries, etc. If you eat fat (not protein) with the fast carbs it will offset their blood sugar impact a bit (but careful, fat is high calorie, again see Tips 1 and 2). You can use glycemic load or glycemic index to guide you on this if you want. If you have to cheat, try to offset it by drinking lemon water with it, or doing squats before or after to help direct the food to your muscles instead of fat.

4) Strength Training and HIIT — Do a basic weight or resistance training routine 2–3 times a week to keep up your muscle mass and do High Intensity Interval Training or swimming or other cardio to keep up your testosterone. Ensure you have enough protein to support this too (30–50g a day is enough on average, more than 130g is usually a waste).

5) Supplement — Lemon, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Garlic, Policosanol, Caffeine, Green Tea — These may increase fat loss. Have the lemon juice before any major meals, and take the ALA after a major meal. The others, take once a day (early in the day after your first big meal). You may want to take a break from them every 4 weeks to let your body reset and prevent plateauing their effectiveness.

6) Cold Showers — Take cold showers and/or drink ice water or hold an ice pack to your upper back and back of your neck while watching TV.

7) Lower Stress — Ensure you’re getting enough vitamin C and meditation/relaxation time during the week to keep your cortisol levels low.

8) Don’t Eat Before Bed — Unless it’s something mostly protein based, any food you have in the hour or two before bed will be converted to fat while you sleep — better to sleep through your hunger if you can and get a burst of growth hormones to help your metabolism.

Most Effective Workout

The workout I was doing when I lost the most fat.

Cardio:

Swimming laps 2–3 times a week, in the morning before eating. At least 30 minutes, but some relaxed laps and freestyle swimming is fine. Relaxing in a spa afterwards seems to help too.

Strength Training:

Do these 2–3 times a week, and try to vary the angle and form and weight every few weeks to keep your body from hitting a plateau. Don’t forget to properly warm up before, and stretch after.

  1. dead lift military presses aka “clean and press” 2 sets, 8 reps
  2. curl squats (squat + dumbell curl) 2 sets, 8 reps
  3. renegade row (plank + dumbell lift) 2 sets, 8 reps
  4. repeat 1–3 until you’ve reached 20 minutes or you have about 10 minutes left in your workout (mix in chin-ups, bench presses, lunges, or other moves if you like)
  5. vacuum breathing 1 set, 10 reps
  6. myotatic crunches 1 set, 10 reps + 1 hold to exhaustion

Takeaways / The Vazor Diet

Here are the things I will do from now on and the advice I would give to the fat loss seeker.

DISCLAIMER: None of this is based on any actual research, just personal observation, and you should consult a doctor or nutritionist before undergoing any radical diet changes.

Start at Tier 1 and go up from there based on your level of dedication and desire to lose fat.

This diet will not necessarily help you lose weight- it is focused on losing fat only.

Tier 1a — “No” Days

This lowest tier is a good starting place for someone who wants a very simple “one rule” to follow to stay fit. This is also the best approach if you are also trying to stay healthy.

Readers that have some experience dieting already can skim the Tier 1 options and then jump to Tier 2 directly.

Here is the one simple rule- make days of your week “no” days.

To start off you can have one or two days a week, then build up to three or four. The more of them you have each week, the more fat you will lose.

On these days, your goal is to say “no” to any sugary treat or fattening high calorie snack or meal you might be tempted by, and instead stick to a planned healthy balanced diet. Try to plan your “no” days around your workload and when you can stand to be more hungry. Before and during work, eat healthy, energizing, foods like fruits and whole grains and proteins. Add in low calorie, yet still filling, and healthy, vegetables. Drink plenty of water. Then after work have only low calorie but filling snacks and meals, and avoid fruits and carbohydrates and big meals before bed.

Start paying attention to how your food makes you feel, and avoid any processed foods that make you feel ill (perhaps because your body is filtering out the toxins from the additives). Learn to recognize your “carb craving” reaction (which we’ll talk about in Tier 2) and avoid foods that trigger it.

Maybe you think you can’t do this, because healthy food just doesn’t taste good. But don’t worry! If you just fast part of the day, vegetables suddenly turn delicious! Hunger really is the best seasoning. Other things that can help is to hurry and eat it while it is fresh, and also try getting a variety in your plans.

Tier 1a is just one starting option- read on to find out about the other two options, and then decide on which one you think you’ll be able to follow. The most effective diet is the one you can follow the best!

Tier 1b — Calorie Counting

This was the route I first took when I started on my fat loss adventure. There was a contest going on at work, to get a prize for losing the most fat during a three month period. Being the competitive type and willing to do some effort, but not a crazy amount, I asked my wife, who has had much more experience in diet and weight management than me, “what is the single most effective simple thing I can do to lose fat?”

“Count your calories.”

That turns out to still be the most effective and easiest one “simple” thing I have found that will help me maintain my fat percent. You don’t even have to be super accurate with it. Any online tool such as cronometer or myfitnesspal or eatthismuch is helpful, and a scale and a caliper also helps so you can track your estimated weight and fat percent.

Under this plan, you eat whatever you want, but you stay under a certain amount of calories each day. It’s that simple. And it’s very effective if you can stick to it. Do things like save that slice of cake for the next morning, and your weight loss goals will soon be realized.

You will also start to gain other benefits, like starting to be aware that 100 calories of sugar or butter is around a tablespoon, 100 calories of meat or cheese is about a sandwich slice, and 100 calories of most vegetables is a bowl or plate full.

Tier 1c — Low Glycemic Load Days

Another first approach I think would work well is to have days where you only eat things below a certain glycemic load. I felt like 10 or below was a good rule for me.

Again, to start off you can have one or two days a week, then build up to three or four. The more of them you have each week, the more fat you will lose.

On these days, your goal is to only eat foods with a Glycemic Load of 10 or less. You can do a web search to find the value of most foods, but here are some lists:

http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000993000000000000000.html

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/76/1/5/T1.expansion.html

http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Glycemic_index_and_glycemic_load_for_100_foods.htm

http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/101/nutrition-basics/the-glycemic-load.aspx

Try to plan ahead so you have plenty of this low-glycemic food around your home and workplace. Try to still limit your intake in general, since higher calories will still defeat this plan (or likely any other plan for that matter). And again, before and during work, eat healthy, energizing, foods like fruits and whole grains and proteins, and water and vegetables. Then after work, eat lighter before bed.

Try one of these tiers out for a month, and start checking your fat % every week. Once you’ve learned what it takes to make that number go down, you’re ready for Tier 2.

Tier 2

Now that you have your diet generally under control, we can start looking at advance topics such as macronutrients, blood sugar, and exercise.

A quick first point- if you don’t have a scale that measures body fat, you can buy a caliper online to do pinch measurements. I recommend getting a slightly more expensive one, so that you don’t have a cheap one break on you like I did. Neither the scale nor the caliper is very accurate, but if you just track the relative change and measure consistently at the same spots and at the same time of day and week, your measurements will be more accurate.

Macronutrients are the types of food you eat. They are: fat, carbohydrates, and protein. They are classified like this because they are all processed in different ways by the body.

http://www.innerbody.com/nutrition/macronutrients

http://www.nrv.gov.au/disease/macronutrient.htm

Fats

Most recommendations say 20–35% of your calories should be healthy fats. Fat is amazing in many ways. The biggest thing to note is that it has lots of calories. A tablespoon of butter is all it takes to get 100 calories. It makes food tastier, because our brain recognizes that it has lots of calories and so it wants us to eat a lot of it.

While some say cutting out fat is a good diet plan, from my research I’ve gained a different opinion. There are some nutrients from fat that are essential for your body. It can slow the rise of blood sugar when eaten with carbohydrates. And it’s just too tasty. I generally include fats in my diet, and I’ve noticed that when I have fish and other healthy fat sources, my omega results look good. However, since they are so calorie dense, it is a good idea to limit your fat, and try to supplement it with water or calorie-sparse foods to help your stomach feel full without getting too many calories.

There are lots of things to research about fats: soy, omegas, saturation, trans fat, etc. Most of those things don’t impact fat loss heavily, but there was a study done that showed that trans fat increased belly fat, so I avoid that. Trans fat is something made with oil in a factory, but in general is hard to recreate at home. All I do for this is watch for trans fat or partially hydrogenated oil in the nutrition labels or ingredient lists of my food.

Some general examples of fats: butter, cream, oil (including mayonnaise and most dressings), avocado, nuts, olives, egg yolks, fatty meat.

Carbohydrates

Next up is carbs. Most recommendations say 45–65% of your diet should be carbohydrates. If you pay attention, you’ll start to notice that most of the food the average American eats is carbohydrates. Bread, tortillas, crackers, chips, vegetables, sugar, soda pop, noodles, and candy are all examples of carbohydrates.

Carbs are the new evil if you listen to the Atkins and Low Carb devotees. I mostly tend to agree. Carbohydrates spike your blood sugar, which makes your body more receptive to storing energy as fat. Dense sweets with sugar, corn syrup, etc. are especially powerful at doing this. White bread and starches like potatoes don’t taste sweet, but they are converted to sugar in the body and have a similar effect. Whole grains (stone ground, not wheat) include the fat in the wheat seed and so have less of this glycemic effect. The glycemic index and/or glycemic load of a food will tell you how badly it spikes your blood sugar levels.

The easiest way to get fat is to down a bunch of sugar, wait 10 minutes, and then eat a bunch of high calorie food so it can all be turned into fat. For a bonus, go to sleep and also take some cinnamon or something with it to slow the digestion so your body can focus all its attention on turning the fuel into fat.

So you can see why carbs get such a bad rap. Unfortunately, it is also our brain’s primary fuel source, so we need it when we have to build up a reserve and do an intense mental activity (like most jobs) for extended periods. It also has the ability to trigger a Carb Craving.

Carb Craving — This powerful and intense reaction is one of those times I find myself failing to meet my goals. It is almost like a subconscious reaction or an addiction response- your body wants to behave this way and it takes tremendous effort to fight it even for a moment.

To illustrate this reaction for yourself, you can try this experiment: get a cookie or a bag of chips or slice of cake or some other sweet or carb-rich food that you have around, and set it down next to you as you read something or watch something. Take one bite at the beginning of the test session and then try NOT to eat another bite for 10 minutes. Unless you are sick or very full, or it is somehow not a trigger food for you, you will find that it is VERY hard. Your body will move on reflex before you can react. It’s as if the food calls to your body and your body is focused intensely on acquiring this treasure trove of energy that it knows is there.

In my opinion, it is easiest to avoid triggering the reaction by completely cutting out any trigger foods during a set amount of time. That is why “no” days are such a strong tool- if you simply repeat to yourself over and over that today is a “no” day and remind yourself this whenever you see something sweet or full of simple carbs, you will avoid falling into this trap.

Some advanced research topics with carbohydrates include studying insulin, ghrelin, blood sugar levels, diabetes, glycemic index, fructose, glucose, starch, gluten, and the difference between whole grain vs white vs wheat.

Protein

Protein is debated in many circles and there are even some claims that it is not even needed at all. Most recommendations say 10%-35% of your calories should be protein depending on how active you are (more active bodies need more) and how young you are (older bodies need more). I am personally a big fan of protein for its satiety and help in building muscle which is a fat-burning part of your body.

Protein is absorbed slowly by your body, but it does not slow the absorption of sugar like fat does. Your body can only handle so much protein a day- the rest is lost out the urinary system. You can research online how to calculate how much your body can handle based on your weight and body fat percentage. Some other research you can do about protein include powdered forms (whey isolate vs whey concentrate), branched-chain amino acid (BCAA), and leucine.

It is generally hard to find protein without any fat. The most common place to get your protein is from eggs, meats, or to a lesser extent nuts and dairy products, which all come with fat. One source of protein that does not come with fat is beans. Beans are pretty unique with the rare combination of carbs and protein in one food. I generally get as much protein as I can (without measuring, just with regular eating choices), and it rarely goes over my capacity.

Exercise

We’ve covered the macronutrient basics. Now one more thing before moving on to exercise. One common mistake I made when following diet plans was thinking when it said “have a cheat meal” that it meant have a cheat day where I ate anything I wanted the whole day. If you really want to avoid sabotaging your own efforts, pay attention to this and plan around just one meal being more relaxed. The rest of that day can be pretty light and this can help minimize the impact.

Now let’s cover some of the questions that might be on your mind about exercise. There are a few different types of exercise. In the end for me it came down to two categories: Cardio and Strength Training.

Cardio is good for people looking to burn fat slowly and also get their blood pumping. Some people are of the opinion that you need 30 minutes of cardio a day just to survive, or else you are slowly killing yourself with sedentary behavior. I don’t have anything against cardio, but I found that it wore down my body and did not give me the results I hoped for. That said, one pattern I noticed was that every time I was doing lots of cardio, or I was swimming in the mornings, I would lose fat that week.

Strength training (including Weight Lifting and Resistance Training) on the other hand, felt a lot more worthwhile. Not only is it encouraging to see more definition in your body, but more muscle means your resting fat burning rate goes up, so your body is spending more time burning more fat every second of every day, which is a huge win. You must be careful not to push yourself too hard or else you could injure yourself, and unless you are taking drugs it usually takes a good amount of time to get a really good workout. But you do want to push yourself further and harder whenever you exercise, as this increases your strength the most, and it increases testosterone which helps maintain your muscle mass.

Another type of exercise I learned about (which normally I fit under cardio but deserves a special mention), is High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This form of exercise consists of bursts of high intensity exercise (such as sprinting), alternated with low intensity recovery periods. One study showed that this form of exercise raises your resting state to a fat burning level for several hours after you have finished it, which means it could be a huge time saver for busy people.

Some people prefer not to eat before working out. I think if you are going to do cardio, it’s best to do it on an empty stomach, so that your body has a better chance of taking the energy from your fat stores. If you are going to do strength training, you may want to have a treat or some carbs beforehand (up to 15 minutes beforehand) so that the energy will go to your muscles instead of fat, and so that you’ll be able to push yourself further and harder. After the workout, you will want to have some proteins or BCAAs to ensure your body has everything it needs to rebuild your muscles bigger and stronger. What about other supplements such as creatine or carnitine? From what I experienced, they did not seem to make much of a difference.

Exercise is a smaller factor than diet or even getting enough sleep when it comes to fat loss. I personally just do brief bursts of calisthenics and/or weight training for 30 minutes on exercise days, and just try to be active or do some HIIT when I feel up to it.

Here are some of the workouts I tried and my thoughts:

  • 300 — I think variety in workouts is a good thing- your body can adapt and get lazy.
  • p90x — A good basic workout.
  • insanity — The most intense workout- effective but easy to overtrain.
  • marine workout: sprint from light pole to light pole, drop and do pushups until it hurts, and then roll over and do situps until it hurts, and then repeat — seems effective for building strength.
  • webmd abs workout — a bit light, but good for finding variety

Tier 3

Now we are starting to get into really hardcore territory. Many of the topics in Tier 3 are experimental or not well understood, so proceed with caution. This tier is only recommended for hardcore fat loss seekers who want to maximize fat loss as much as possible.

Swimming

The theory here is that your body expends energy faster in water than in air as it tries to generate heat for itself. Spending time swimming seemed to be very effective for me, regardless of temperature or whether I was swimming laps or not.

Cold Showers — Brown Adipose Tissue — Cold Activation

Some research suggests putting an ice pack on your lower neck in the back for 15 minutes will trick your body into thinking it is winter and so it won’t have any food coming for a while, so it should start using that fat it has stored up. This seemed to be somewhat effective.

Garlic

Many claims are made about garlic, and fat loss is yet another one of those. I never had it on its own but I believe it is somewhat effective.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

This was an interesting experience. I found that I had stomach pains the first few times I took this. This supplement reacts strongly with your digestive system, and for me I could only take one at a time, with a meal. The idea here is that ALA increases metabolism and also pushes food through your system faster, giving your body less of a chance to get fat off of it. I recommend taking a pill whenever you’ve just had a junk-food binge or cheat meal.

Cinnamon

This spice apparently has the strange effect of slowing the movement of food through your digestive system. The reason you might want that is so that you feel fuller longer. I would recommend having some cinnamon when you have just had a nutrient-rich meal and want to get the most out of it that you can. When having cheat meals, if you do have something with cinnamon, plan to eat less overall than you might expect, because it will help you feel fuller sooner. I think this was effective for me.

Green Tea, Caffeine, Policosanol

These are reported to increase the speed of your metabolism, making it so your body burns more energy, and thus potentially more fat. They seemed to be moderately effective.

Thermogenics — Cayenne, Garlic, Pepper

The idea here is that spicy food heats up your metabolism, making you burn more energy and thus more fat. This did not seem to be effective for me.

Amino Acids, Carnitine, etc.

These provide your body with more muscle support, which means you’ll have more fat burning capability. I did not seem to get effective results from these.

Astringents — Lemon, Tomato, Sour foods

Hearsay is that they help fat loss by tightening your digestive organs, making you feel fuller faster and changing how you metabolize carbs. A smaller digestive system can’t make you fat from the food as much. This seemed to be somewhat effective.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Here are some scattered thoughts and resources I noted while I made my journey- they may be of some value for your personal research and fat loss efforts.

  • Calorie Counting is the single most effective simple thing you can do to lose weight. Even if you just estimate. Try cronometer.com or similar food tracking programs.
  • Eating lots of carbs goes straight to fat unless eaten right after a workout (goes to refueling muscles). We have a built-in “carb craving” mechanism that makes us want to eat all the berries because they were rare in nature. Eating all the sweets makes us fat and ready for winter. Therefore, listen to your body about everything except eating sweets.
  • Low Carb works but is a little slow. Fasting (skipping dinner, doing cardio in the morning before eating) works better.
  • High cardio means you can usually maintain your weight & fat % and still eat whatever you want (within reason).
  • Sleep is a much bigger factor than diet when it comes to how much energy you have in the day.
  • Diet is a much bigger factor than exercise when it comes to overall body weight.
  • Don’t buy bulk protein powders until you’ve tasted a sample.
  • Don’t use oil in a dehydrator mix for crusts.
  • If you pay attention you’ll notice that having too much sugar makes you feel sick (weakens immune system?) for a few days.
  • Sticking a frozen vegan burger patty in a dehydrator for a couple hours makes a nice warm meaty raw vegan meal.
  • Going raw vegan will make you lose weight, but maybe only because it’s hard to overeat. It was about as effective as low calorie/high cardio month.
  • Getting variety is important. Even too much spinach will make you sick.
  • Articles online say: Avoid Trans Fats (vegetable shortening, certain margarines, and cookies, crackers, and snack foods) and Fast Foods.
  • Articles online say: Good for reducing belly fat: Eat blueberries, whole grains, avocados, bananas, citrus fruits, skim milk post weight training workout. Do lots of cardio. However it seems like avoiding fast (simple) carbohydrates is also a viable option.
  • If you’re going to have a supplement, just add ONE at a time until you can see whether it has the positive effect you wanted or not.
  • It’s okay to have treats, but just take ONE and enjoy it. This is very hard to do. Maybe better to just plan to do damage control- have 1/2 lemon beforehand to flatline sugar spike, then do some squats/pushups (30 of each) right before or during or right after to help the sugar store as muscle instead of fat.
  • Good Fat Loss Supplements: carnitine, safflower oil, arginine+HMB+glutamine, BCAA/amino acids, green tea extract, garlic extract, alpha lipoic acid, policosanol
  • Okay (no data on effectiveness for fat loss): selenium, lipase, protease
  • Bad Fat Loss Supplements: HGH, Testosterone, NAC, Chromium, Tyrosine
  • Creatine seems to be okay too but must be used very carefully.
  • If you’re not following a meal plan, make sure your breakfast is really filling to help prevent overeating later in the day. Cinnamon helps a breakfast feel more filling by slowing how fast food leaves your stomach. Fiber may also help you, but it wasn’t effective for me.
  • For me, cheat days are a bad idea. If done correctly they probably would help most people though. Just keep them tame.
  • Thermogenics appears to be somewhat effective, but since you can get the same result by reducing calorie intake, it only seems worth it if you believe in the Brown Adipose Tissue effect.
  • Apparently (according to one book), bleeding is good detox. Give blood to extend your life.
  • Standing outside, looking far/out a window, being electrically grounded, and standing on one foot all also may be healthy for you and extend your life.
  • If you drink olive oil straight, you will get a peppery sensation at the back of the throat that will likely make you cough. This is due to certain chemicals that are also found in drugs like ibuprofen. These chemicals are healthy for you (anti-inflammatories that combat certain forms of heart disease).
  • Articles online say: Low-glycemic foods include meats, dairy products, whole grains, nuts and seeds, most vegetables and some fruits. High-glycemic foods are refined carbohydrates and sugars.
  • Articles online say: Thermogenic Foods to boost the metabolism and help to reduce body fat include many spicy foods, green tea, vinegar, broccoli, cabbage, berries and grapefruit. Eating spicy foods such as cayenne peppers, chilis, hot peppers and salsa have shown to increase the body’s metabolic rate.
  • Fullness Factor foods (from most filling per calorie to least): Bean sprouts 4.6, Watermelon 4.5, Grapefruit 4.0, Carrots 3.8, Oranges 3.5, Fish, broiled 3.4, Chicken breast, roasted 3.3, Apples 3.3, Sirloin steak, broiled 3.2, Oatmeal 3.0 (see more: http://nutritiondata.self.com/topics/fullness-factor)
  • Cheap fullness (from cheapest to more expensive in $/4oz): lettuce .25, squash .32, other veggies .35, oatmeal .40, bananas .60, plain yogurt .85, frozen chicken 1.00, canned fish 1.04, other fruit (e.g. apples) 1.30, eggs 1.50, canned chicken 2.40, frozen salmon 3.88
  • Find relatively low calorie but filling foods you can enjoy repeatedly without adding butter or oil (e.g. carrots or celery) and eat more of those to help you feel full while still keeping calories low.
  • Fiber and protein are the hunger-killing combo.
  • I was stuck at 13% for a long time. The thing that finally broke me through that point was very low calorie consumption- either Intermittent Fasting or just a simple low calorie goal each day should be effective.
  • I think the best approach to healthy eating is the most fresh and natural you can get while still convenient and tasty enough for you to eat it. For example blend in some chia seeds or kale with a smoothie to get your natural vitamins without having to suffer through bitter salads or bland vegetables.
  • Of course I have always believed that if you listen carefully to your body, you will find that you naturally want a salad once in a while- and when you do those leaves taste good.
  • Pretty good article: http://stronglifts.com/how-to-lose-belly-fat-fast-naturally/
  • Interesting site: http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/adding-muscle-while-losing-fat-qa.html
  • Interesting quote from above site: “Diets high in carbohydrates (especially highly refined carbohydrates), saturated fats and low in fiber tend to impair insulin sensitivity. Diets with lowered carbohydrates (or less refined sources), healthier fats (fish oils, monounsaturated fats like olive oil) and higher fiber intakes invariably improve insulin sensitivity.”
  • On overtraining: At the beginning of the month I was starting to believe there is no such thing as overtraining. I just got stronger and stronger for the first two weeks. Then, I guess the stress got to me in week three and I started breaking down and having sugar and aching all the time. I got weaker in the last two weeks. So yes, I think overtraining is real and I’ll be including recovery days in my workout plan.
  • Hormone Diet — http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/reset-your-hormones-beat-belly-fat
  • “Hard strength-training 2 or 3 times a week, getting adequate protein, and eating small but frequent balanced meals (5 or 6 each day) are some of the more important techniques.”
  • “…keeping all your LBM while eating a deficit is impossible. Lifting heavy in a good weight resistance training program + adequate protein helps MINIMIZE LBM loss.“
  • http://forums.lylemcdonald.com/showthread.php?t=9214
  • http://stronglifts.com/how-to-lose-belly-fat-fast-naturally/
  • http://www.metaboliceffect.com/the-best-ab-exercise-ever-that-no-one-does/
  • http://www.metaboliceffect.com/diet-to-lose-belly-fat/
  • http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/fat-loss/adding-muscle-while-losing-fat-qa.html
  • http://scoobysworkshop.com/gain-muscle-lose-fat/
  • http://www.leangains.com/2010/03/intermittent-fasting-set-point-and.html
  • “…muscle catabolism doesn’t occur in short-term fasting for up to 24 hours.”
  • “try to be resting at all times during long term fasting- any exercise increases muscle catabolism”
  • “Swiss ball crunches and cable crunches are best. Greater weight and shorter reps. Vacuum breathing exercises can’t hurt (flat stomach behind abs). Mostly about low body fat %.”
  • If decide to bulk, it is recommended to bulk to 15% then cut to 7%.
  • http://www.muscleforlife.com/build-muscle-lose-fat/
  • Jeremy (friend who successfully got a six pack): i take a pre and post workout that have pretty much everything you would ever need. a full stack of bcaa’s, glutamine, creatine, caffeine, protein, beta alanine, carnitine (a few other amino acids that are supposedly good). i think supplements are really icing on the cake. the most effects come from good diet and hard exercise. a preworkout is good because it gives you extra energy so you can workout harder/longer
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19083431?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum Cooking Kale gives about a 13% increase in healthy nutrition content.
  • http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/raw-veggies-are-healthier/ However other research indicates that it may be best to have a mix.
  • Meg (co-worker who successfully got a six pack): Meg Griggs: yeah in February I did it and did a liver cleanse and it completely worked
    Meg: It works on giving you definition
    Meg: so I did them both:
  • 30-day Abs Challenge: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/234187249347223301/
  • Liver Cleanse: http://www.hands2health.com/livercleanse.pdf#page=1&zoom=auto,0,800
  • Maintenance thoughts:
  • Calorie counting has proved effective.
  • Another rule that seems like it works, is to say NO every other day or a few days a week. On these “NO” days, you have to avoid eating anything high calorie, fatty, sugary, unhealthy, or highly processed.
  • Glycemic Load diet was effective for me as well, but according to what I’ve read YMMV. Don’t have anything over GL value of 10. This means you can have things like natural vanilla ice cream and agave and most fruit, but you still can’t have things like bananas, grapes, candy, oatmeal, most breads and tortillas and noodles, etc.
  • http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/76/1/5/T1.expansion.html
  • http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000993000000000000000.html

History

Here you can read the sordid week-to-week details of everything I tried. These are unedited rough notes and may be confusing, so please ask if you’d like any clarifications.

May 2012 — Aug 2012 Calorie Counting

Lost 24 lbs. during this time and some unknown amount of fat %.

(NOTE: The format for these entries is: Date Weight Fat % Notes)

5–1 194

8–1 170

Sept 2012 — Mar 2013 Avoid Sugary Treats

Overall gained weight and fat % due to cheating on holidays. However lost weight and fat % during stretches of non-holidays.

9–1 172 19

10–1 175 20

10–15 182 22 eggnog

10–22 178 23

10–29 174 20 probably dehydrated that day- made scale measure % differently

11–5 172 22

11–12 173 20 not having sugary+fatty treats- or maybe just dehydrated again

11–19 172 20

11–26 175 22 Thanksgiving

12–3 175 21

12–10 174 21

12–17 171 21

12–24 173 20

12–31 174 22 Christmas/New Year’s Eve

1–7 174 22

1–14 173 22

1–21 173 21

1–28 171 21

2–4 174 21

2–11 174 22

2–18 175 22 Valentine’s Day

2–25 176 22

3–4 178 22

3–11 176 22

3–19 177 23 pie to celebrate pi day

3–25 174 23

Apr 2013 Atkins/Low Carb

Slowly lost weight (wasn’t very strict with induction). Not as much fat loss as I hoped. This diet seems to only work if you are very strict, but it worked very well for me once before.

4–1 175 22

4–8 172 22

4–15 171 22

4–22 170 22

4–29 169 21

May 2013 Low Calorie/Fasting/High Cardio

Impressive fat % loss. Tired, sore, and hungry all the time. Started doing caliper fat % measurements (second number in the fat % column).

5–6 170 21/18

5–13 169 19/17

5–20 167 19/17

5–27 168 18/18 This week I did higher calories in an attempt to feel less tired. Turns out sleep is a much bigger factor in how tired you feel.

June 2013 Vegan/Raw Food/Natural

6–3 169 19/16 This week I determined that skipping meals is not bad (as long as you don’t overeat at the end of the fast). The possible fat increase is likely due to finishing off the milk/cheese I had so it wouldn’t go to waste, but midweek I felt like my fat % was maybe even as low as 15%. Being hungry all day sucks, but it sure feels good to wake up the next day pumped full of HGH and looking thin.

6–10 164 19/17 Soaked and sprouted almonds are super filling. Started the week still feeling sore and sick. Lentils are gross. Hemp is gross. Going to have to take them in shake form only. Got some hardcore cold sores midweek. So glad I love vinegar- makes eating these spinach/kale salads so much easier. Woke up with charlie horse in my leg midweek. Workouts are really hard right now. Lost weight (but not fat %) due to low calories (hungry all the time).

6–16* 159 18/15 (*day early due to trip) Started the week feeling a little sick. Have slight diarrhea. Might be overdosing on certain nutrients. Made it through the first workout, but feeling so hungry I feel sick the next day. Feeling very sick today- too much spinach? Headaches and overall aches. Felt better after some oats/agave and some sleep. Got weird rash- possibly from cacao nut mix- but probably just stress like my cold sores. Still feel sick. I don’t seem to get that same HGH boost in the morning unless I got enough calories (carbs?) the day before. Skipped karate and Friday workout this week due to Ars Magica and feeling sick and not having money for shake ingredients.

6–24 158 18/15 Anniversary weekend- had one 3000 calorie cheat day. Felt sugar sick after. Fruit week this week. Felt better emotionally, but much more sick physically. Headaches returned when I went back to my usual routine. Milk withdrawals? Protein/iron deficiency? Detox? Allergy to new food (hemp)? It has been a couple days since I had the hemp protein and the rashes have gone away- it’s probably that. Sick with a cold/flu still, and so stuffy I can’t breathe. No karate again, and workouts were trimmed back.

7–1 154 17/14 Still sick- stuffy and coughing. Workouts still trimmed back. Not getting enough sleep due to the breathing problems. Headaches finally lessened.

July 2013 All Vitamins & Nutrients/Shake Diets/processed food

7–8 157 17/14? Caliper broke before I could get accurate reading, but 14 is probably close. Still sick and very tired from breathing problems. Felt mild stomach ache after eating natural but sugary granola + coconut milk (slightly processed food). Added back wheat, cheese, and meat. Felt stomach ache and bad gas and slight constipation. There might be something to this whole “eat natural” thing. Workouts still trimmed back. Mild headaches again- maybe due to having dairy again- or maybe not- eating ice cream at Adrienne’s didn’t make them go away. Made cheesecake for the 4th and had real bad pains in my lower gut the whole night. Besides the gut pains and mild headaches, I haven’t felt much different since taking supplements. I know I felt better before when I just ate whatever my body told me.

7–15 156 16/10* Caliper broke so bought a new one online. It is spring loaded so the measurements will be much lower. Did high protein this week, and otherwise ate whatever I wanted except tried to avoid trans fat. This week was Clear Pass week so I did a lot more walking/running to train stations and to catch buses. Lost body fat % probably due to that.

7–22 153 16/9 Tried low calories with supplements this week. Muscle Milk makes my gut hurt- may be getting too much protein or my body is overtaxed processing all the toxins or overabundance of supplements (overdose on vitamins A and B)? Nutrition drinks seem to give me gas too, but it is not so bad if I get more fiber. Xan birthday celebrations.

7–29 152 15/10 Kind of just tried to stay within calories this week. More celebrations (steak and birthday cake and pizza). Also had a massive 2.5 hour walking session and big ribs meal Saturday. Tried hemp protein one last time before tossing it- still made me feel ill and caused runny nose. I enjoyed the Boost drinks I tried.

Aug 2013 4 hour body diet/Thermogenics/Refuel Days

8–5 153 16/10 Started taking Alpha-Lipoic Acid and green tea and garlic before workouts and meals this week. Added cat breathing exercise and did ice packs and cold showers and cold water in the morning. Still mostly eating whatever I want. Overate one day when breakfast was not filling enough. Feeling upset stomach- probably from the ALA. I felt much more hungry than normal this week too. Started four hour body bland uber fat loss meal plan Thursday. Almost threw up my ALA/nuts/tuna that morning. Massive 3000 calorie cheat day Saturday. Had a lot of fruit in the first half of the week to finish it off- that might be the reason for the overall fat gain.

8–12 153 15/11 Ice bath M/W/F night. Successfully made myself shiver for at least a few minutes! Also tried Jarrow’s Whey Protein- much better tasting. Had some mild bowel pain, from ice bath and cheat day. Tuesday headaches- maybe from missing sleep, caffeine withdrawal, or the ice bath or whey protein. Probably missing sleep- had them again Saturday after staying up late Friday.

8–19 155 16/10 It feels weird- like I’m losing fat everywhere else but gaining fat slightly in my tummy. I think either from the increased testosterone from brazil nuts + cold baths or because I lost so much fat off my back, I’m starting to see some hair there. I don’t think all this ice bath and thermogenic pill stuff is worth it for me. I’d rather just starve myself. Simpler and less expensive. Will probably try Intermittent Fasting or the Body Fat Set Point ideas for one of the weeks next month. The exercises seem to be effective, though- going to stick with those for at least another week.

8–26 151 15/11 Added side twist leg lifts this week after listening to a friend’s advice on working the “Christmas Tree” back and side muscles which help pull the ab muscles. He says to get abs you need definition, not mass, which to him means doing lots of reps, which he says elongates the muscle, which gives it more definition. He agrees that low reps and high weight increases mass but says definition matters more with abs. I figured the side crunch/leg lift twists couldn’t hurt so I added them. Had some green powder on a couple of the days this week.

9–2* 149 14/10 (day late due to trip) Stopped doing ice baths this week- didn’t seem worth the trouble. Still did a few cold showers and morning cold water. Also ate fewer meals as a lead up to Intermittent Fasting. Also started taking an adult multivitamin. Got really light-headed and weak towards the end of the week. Did a 24 hour fast. Did some swimming.

Sept 2013 Intermittent Fasting, Body Fat Set Point, moderate exercises, 2 weeks to VACATION

9–9 149 15/9 Tried Intermittent Fasting this week. Seemed to slightly fail at maintaining current fat percentage. However it was decent success considering I added back carbohydrates and even a few sugars in moderation this week. Being that hungry sucks- luckily I had video games and being super busy with Salt Lake Comic Con to get me through it.

9–16 150 15/9 Tried Body Fat Set Point/Shangri-La Diet this week. Doing a diet where it’s all about taste makes you really pay attention to all the odd tastes that go through your mouth throughout the day. As I started out, it seemed like having different flavors and taking the oil in the morning definitely made me less hungry. Felt ill on the second day- either from Blue Lemon or the fish oil.

9–23 154 16/10 VACATION WEEK Gained weight eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. Lemon water, eating out, and key lime pie mostly. Probably would have been worse without the swimming and walking on the beach.

9–30 148 15/10 Eating on the cheap — ramen and whatever is available (eggs, bananas), just trying to limit calories and sugar. Started Sports Mall workouts this week. Continued cold showers still.

Oct 2013 Fiber, Calcium, Truth About Abs Diet, Less Structure

10–7 149 15/10 Trying out adding fiber this week, and will be following the Truth About Abs book, and trying out eating and following diet less strictly and with less structure/planning. Black beans, artichokes, raspberries, fiber one cereal, etc. Still eating mostly whatever though. Continued Sports Mall swimming and workouts in the mornings and trying to be active. Avoiding sugar and limiting calories. Got a flu mist vaccine midweek. Fiber does seem to help with digestion but not much with fat loss.

10–14 149 15/9 Dropped breads, refined carbs, and sugary treats (still having fruits and raw honey) this week. Continuing garlic supplement. Had a lot of calcium early in the week. Estimating everything and just doing things as I feel like it. Missed workouts once or twice, but tried to be active still (did a breast cancer walk and did zumba). Had large cheat day with 3000+ calories as described in the book.

10–21 149 14/9 Last week seemed to be good so continued with that. Started new weight lifting routine, abs were sore the next day. Missed one workout. Had high calcium. Went to Anime Banzai convention.

10–28 148 14/9 Continuing no sugar or refined carbs. Also continuing high calcium. Canned salmon seems to make me sick, maybe because of pollutants or mercury. Had blueberries in shakes all week. Large cheat day again with milk and sugary treats.

11–4 149 15/9 Tried to continue no refined carbs and limited calories, but failed. Continued cold showers. Continued calcium plan and garlic supplement. Missed two swimming days this week. Large cheat day (Halloween). Multiple sugar days due to parties and events.

Nov 2013 Cheap Healthy, +Calcium, +Garlic, Fullness Factor, Less Structure

11–11 149 14/9 Need to save money so no canned fish this month, and less protein powder (1 scoop a day instead of 2). Brown rice, frozen meat, oats, peas, beans, fruit in season, eggs, bananas, protein powder, yogurt. Only got in one workout and swimming this week; Xan sick. Garlic and multivitamin still for this week.

11–19* 146 14/10 (Day late due to sleeping in after Terraria binge.) Trying to continue the “Fullness Factor and low calorie but not too hungry” diet. Added calcium and Alpha-Lipoic Acid supplements. Multiple free food days (went above 1400 calories on those days) this week. Missed exercising all week.

11–25 145 13/10 Really just feeling like anything with good fullness factor is just unpalatable and unappetizing unless some fat or carbs are added. Vegetables -> oil/butter, salads -> dressing/cheese, etc. One good rule that might work for some people though is: “Don’t eat anything tasty without also having a fist full of vegetables first.” This will reward you for fighting hunger and hopefully help you eat less. Also I may need to abandon the “less structure” idea because it seems like it falls apart after a few weeks and/or can be easily derailed and does not recover well on its own. It lets you think things like “well I’m already cheating this week” and “well there’s less structure here so I don’t have to follow the rules in this case”. Being flexible means being weak. Of course you can also fail by setting too harsh of a structure in the first place, making it so you binge or blow up later. So just try to experiment for a while and then set rules that you know you can follow. Don’t commit to rules you think are too loose or too strict, or else you won’t end up following them.

12–2 145 13/10 Thanksgiving week- just happy to break even! Went swimming once but had 5000 calories on feast day.

Dec 2013 Low Calorie, +Calcium, +Garlic, +Alpha-Lipoic Acid

12–9 145 13/9 Limited calories except on cheat days. No other restrictions. Continued supplement plan. Swimming three days a week, working out twice a week, just 20 minutes sessions. Lots of bread and baking and treats. Made progress again!

12–16 144 14/9 Same as above but added a couple hundred calories on workout days. Cheat days probably had too much sugar. Hungry all the time. ALA and Garlic off this week. 
12–23 143 14/9 Just tried to limit calories. No cheat days this week which I think helped.

12–30 145 13/9 Christmas week. Going to skip swimming this week and just try to get my heart rate up in the morning instead. Seemed to work out- electronic scale showed a drop but belly fat pincher went up 1 mm.

Jan 2014 Low Calorie, +Calcium, +Garlic, +ALA

1–6 144 14/9 New year’s week — haven’t received Soylent yet. Continued sometimes limited calories. Continued supplement plan. Huge calories at parties. Swam once.

1–12 145 14/9 No Soylent until March or April. Going to workout and do low calories this week. Swam once.

1–19 145 14/9 Workout and low calories. Drink a cup of water before every meal. Stopped swimming for now while it’s so cold out.

1–26 145 14/9 Workout and low calories. Really low calories. Water and medicine to counter the hunger headaches.

Feb 2014 Very Low Calorie, +Calcium, +Garlic, +ALA

2–3 139 13/9 Very low calories again. This time focusing on Intermittent Fasting again. Learning that soups aren’t really effective. They have plenty of calories and sate hunger temporarily but soon the cravings return. Better to use celery and carrots and fast days instead. One cookie, or one bit of carb, and it is so hard to stop having more. Lost a ton of weight but it is probably partly water weight from doing a full fast (no water) on the Sunday before. Only taking supplements sporadically, e.g. once a week.

2–10 137 12/9 Trying to stick to under 1000 calories and have less sugar this week. Still doing cold showers. Was weak and unable to avoid sugar. It used to be so easy to not care about food- but when you start restricting yourself, you find the sugar/carb craving is very powerful. I’m starting to think the idea about the rule where you eat a fist full of veggies before any carbs is pointless as well- it may fill you up but your carb craving reaction doesn’t care. Averaged 800 calories a day this week, and it was still effective. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you do Intermittent Fasting or not, just as long as you can keep your calorie count low. So it is probably most effective to choose whichever is easier for you to follow (having days where you don’t eat anything, or just having a plan every day to keep under a certain calorie average). For me it makes sense to put more calories on the workout days and have “veggie only” days for max fulness and min calories. This is the lowest body fat % I’ve ever been so far.

2–17 136 12/8 Massive Valentine’s Day celebration meals. Still lost body fat! Fasted two days, worked out three days, did cold on neck at end of shower, took supplements and did squats and had lemon for damage control on the 2000 calorie and 3000 calorie days.

2–24 133 13/9 Felt like I was getting close to my goal early in the week. Continued with the fasting/very low calorie plan this week. Massive 3000 calorie day with no damage control. Three workouts. Sad about the set back but it is not as bad as it looks, so hopefully will reach goal next week.

3–3 128 10/8 Two workouts. Had more oats and carrots and red cabbage. No cheat days. Averaged 673 calories a day this week, with two fast days, two low days, a little sugar at a party, and one 1700 calorie day. Went a little overboard on Sunday, totalling -700 calories, and felt very sick and light headed for that day and the next (today). I think this was about when my toenail started falling off. New record in body fat low but I’m afraid I’m losing too much muscle at the same time.

Mar 2014 Protein Focus, Overtraining, Minor Supplements

3–10 130 10/7 Started trying to get 130g protein a day and as few of calories as possible while doing that. Trying the P90X workout this week. Went swimming three days. Protein shopping list: Canned tuna, frozen chicken, cottage cheese, oats, whey protein powder, eggs, brown rice, beans, yogurt. Adding bananas and berries for workout energy shakes. Muscles feel constantly sore from the workouts. Lots of stress. Worried about my cortisol levels. Relaxed a little on the weekend. Fast day Sunday. Seems like beans and/or cheddar Thurs/Fri were too much and set me back a little, but overall I liked that it seems like I gained mostly muscle this week, but most of that is probably water weight.

3–17 134 11/7 Trying the Insanity workout this week. Went swimming three days. Toenail finished falling off- a new toenail was in place underneath already- seems best to just let it happen naturally and it apparently happens to many runners. Insanity sucks- it’s probably effective and I like some of the moves for adding variety, but the program itself and the pushing yourself- it’s really not fun when you’re already overstressed. Feels like I gained more strength than muscle mass, but at least my muscles all still seem preserved so I guess overtraining is really not something you have to worry about unless you’re really trying. Massive Pi Day meals Thursday and Saturday probably led to the fat gain. At least there was hopefully some muscle gain with it. Fast day Sunday. Overall, Insanity/pushing yourself/plyometrics seemed to be maybe twice as effective at building muscle mass.

3–24 140 12/7 Trying WebMD Abs Workout this week. Went swimming three days. Still doing the cold showers thing. Allowing sugar before workouts (to finish off pie). Relaxed a little this week but still tried to work muscles after any sugar or simple carb meal. Muscles seem a little bigger. Have a small cold.

3–31 140 12/7 Trying 300 Workout this week. Also incorporating Six Pack Shortcuts tips and videos. Continued swimming, cold showers, and supplements. Learned lots of new exercises. Continued vacuum breathing exercises at stoplights. Massive overdose of pizza during stressful work night. Still having sugar before workouts. Kind of surprised I stayed the same. I thought I was going to gain more again. Decided overtraining must be a real thing.

Apr 2014 Low Calorie, Hormone Diet, Minor Supplements

4–7 141 12/7 Strictly measuring and staying under calories this month. Starting at 80% of maintenance calories (1800 calories for me). Trying out hormone theories about belly fat loss. Snack/spread out meals to never feel starved, avoid stress, etc. No ALA/Calcium/Garlic supplements this week (reset week). Started Vitamin D3, Remora, and Creatine supplements this week. Stopped strictly measuring protein but still trying to get enough for maintaining muscle mass. Eased up on the exercise. Swimming twice this week. Continued cold showers and vacuum breathing. 1 cheat meal. Stayed the same- not sure if it was due to 1800 actually being a maintenance value for me, or because I had so much white rice and bread this week. I also had some sucralose drinks with green tea this week. It was also a high stress week at work.

4–14 140 12/6 Trying the same things as last week to give it more of a solid test. Added back in ALA/Calcium/Garlic supplements. Seemed like it did start having an effect, but it is too painfully slow for me. Abs feel nice and hard after workouts, just too much fat. Swam once.

4–21 141 12/6 Dropping calorie intake to 1600 to speed things up. Continuing supplements, cold showers, twice a week exercise, vacuum breathing at stop lights, and fast carbs allowed but trying to mitigate damage with lemon juice and calisthenics. Salt Lake Comic Con FanX this week- had some eating patterns mixed up. 3000 calorie cheat day Easter.

4–28 138 12/7 Aiming for 1400–1800 calories a day, and avoiding sugar and fast carbs this week. Eased up on cold showers. Continued supplements, vacuum breathing, and getting at least 50g protein. Trying to do fiber+protein meals for maximum fullness factor. Exercised for strength twice, swam twice. Avoiding sugar is very hard for me. Actual scale reading was 11.6 so it’s not as bad as it looks- but still, the Hormone Diet seemed like it wasn’t that helpful, but it could just be a slow month or the fact that I had cheat days.

May 2014 Low Calorie/Low Sugar, Soylent, Supplements

5–5 140 12/7 Staying mostly the same as usual this month- fiber and protein, low calories (20% deficit), low sugar (60g ish), supplements (ALA, Calcium, Garlic, Magnesium half, Relora, Niacin, Vitamin D3, Creatine, Green Tea, and now BCAA’s during workout and Carnitine some mornings). Added Flax Seeds and Fish Oil to ensure I am getting enough amino acids in order to minimize the chance for my muscles to get consumed. Upped exercise intensity a little with “sprinting” in the water and trying to lift near my max and increasing number of heavy sets. Swimming twice this week. Continued cold showers and vacuum breathing. High stress week at work. Large cheat day on the weekend. Seem to still be making progress, but slow.

5–12 138 11/6 Taking so many supplements it’s starting to get hard to keep track of them all. Continuing what I did last week. Added policosanol this week. Was able to mostly avoid large cheat days, which I think contributed to the success this week.

5–19 141 12/7 Started on DIY Soylent (whole foods simple version). Reset week- no supplements. No swimming, so just did weight training. DIY Soylent is cool for time saving but it is much harder than I expected to stick to only eating that. The couple of cheat days due to events with work did not help.

5–26 139 12/6 Swimming again this week. Felt a little ill with new soylent mix (sardines?). Seems like it was just my body getting used to it though. Trying out the idea of using fast days/times to offset cheat days/meals. Seems to work okay.

June 2014 Fasting, Supplements

6–2 139 12/7 Large Memorial Day cheat day, plus two other big cheat days (Super Dungeon Explore, Company Party). Still doing protein, low calories, supplements (dropped Relora and Niacin), flax, fish oil, cold showers, and weight training.

6–9 138 12/7 Eating mostly what I feel like (whole, healthy, intuitive eating style). Trying to lower calories for real this week, seemed to be effective.

6–16 144 11/6 More of the same as last week. Still seems to be effective. Massive water weight gain from cheat days right before weigh-in.

6–23 144 14/7 Anniversary weekend, lots of cheat days this week as well.

6–30 141 13/7 Fewer cheat days this week, but still had one big one for Craft-Fu.

July 2014 50 crunches a day, Protein, IF, Supplements

7–7 143 13/7 4th of July weekend, but otherwise continuing fasting/doing low calorie days. Still swimming, taking cold showers, working out (lighter), and taking Policosanol, Alpha-Lipoic Acid, Green Tea, Garlic, and some nutritional supplements Calcium, Magnesium, and Vitamin D. Still focusing on getting protein around 60g a day.

7–14 143 13/7 Started doing crunches consistently, trying to focus on stable daily calorie intake for a mini one-month “bulk” phase. Reset week with pills. Have been feeling like my joints are not taking the ongoing workout stress very well. Going to cut back and do more varied workout moves for now too. Crunch time cheat meals as well.

7–21 147 14/8 Xan Birthday celebrations cheat days. Bear Lake trip. Started back on pills. Keeping up on crunches.

7–28 148 13/8 More Xan Birthday celebrations cheat days. Sore and sick and sunburnt.

8–4 144 14/8 Crunch week at work. Had too much sugar. Began one month “cut” to complement the bulk from previous month.

August 2014 No fast carbs, Protein, Liver Cleanse, Supplements

8–11 141 13/7 No fast carbs. No cheat days. 1600–1800 calories a day. 30-day ab challenge. Liver cleanse (lemon, vinegar, mostly veggies, nuts, and meats). Continuing supplements, cold showers, minimal workouts, and 60g protein a day. Swimming every day now. This week was a week off of supplements as per the 4 hour body book.

8–18 141 13/7 Started on supplements again this week. Continuing as above but this time doing brazil nuts every morning before swimming. This turned out to be not as effective, maybe because the nuts would provide fuel for the burning I was doing during swimming rather than my own body fat.

8–25 141 13/7 Stopped having the brazil nuts. Continuing as above but this time avoiding spa. Still less effective.

9–1 138 12/7 Going back to using the spa. Trying removing dairy. Success! This week I reached a low body fat percentage but not as low as before. However my six pack showed through! Probably thanks to all the crunches and maybe the bulking last month, I finally got this:

September 2014 Veggie Days, Water, Supplements

9–8 145 13/8 So now that my goal is reached, these next few months are just to learn a bit more about life maintenance. This month, every other day is veggies-only day, as proposed in my optional plan. Stopped exercising, stopped cold showers all the time, continuing supplements for now (though the first week is a week off), luau (birthday celebrations) and comic con this week. First week relaxing — felt sick after something I ate at a luau the first night, but otherwise enjoying having all the forbidden foods again. Gained fat from large sugary overdoses every other day. Also getting tons of water this month due to a challenge at work to drink 64 oz of water every work day.

9–15 145 15/8 Slowly learning how much junk my body can tolerate. Keep feeling sick from too many treats or processed foods (or maybe too many calories altogether). Birthday party with extended family Saturday.

9–22* 146 15/8 Birthday party at home on Monday. Gone to Japan this week. Traveled home from Japan Monday. *Actually from the next day since I didn’t have a scale in Japan.

9–29 146 14/9 Back to normal veggie days- had fruit a lot too though. Overall it feels like this diet could be used to maintain and still eat whatever you want, but it was pretty hard to stick to the diet. Came down with a cold too.

October 2014 Soylent

10–6 147 16/10 Began transitioning into using Soylent (http://soylent.me) full time. Party on Monday. Weird feelings in my stomach Monday night. No supplements for now. Still have a cold. Soylent is ~50% carbs and 25% fat and protein. Smells like cake, tastes like oats. Does not cause a huge insulin spike, but it does raise blood sugar levels.

10–13 145 15/10 Consumed only water and soylent this week, usually 2000 calories, sometimes less. Had a dash of salt here and there, for days I walked or had headaches. Soylent 1.0 does have issues with gas- like having beans all the time — it gives you gas and the smell is potent. I can see why they came out with Soylent 1.1 to try to fix that. I’ve noticed weird effects with my skin- the bad: more acne (maybe from all the oil?), and the good: some effects with old moles- nothing magical but maybe seeing some extra healing happening there. My sex drive seems a little heightened on this diet.

10–20 143 13/9 Continuing same as last week. Have some pain in the testes but not too bad. Having lots of crazy dreams about eating stuff not on my diet. Worked as staff for Anime Banzai weekend- lots of standing and running around. Lost a lot of fat this week! This week also highlights to me that supplements are not necessary for basic fat loss.

10–27 142 14/9 Same as last week. Pretty hard diet to stick to. Feeling fine physically, but been having all sorts of cravings. Small cheat meal at Dad’s. Some upset stomach from that. Also been having more intense sensitivity toothaches (the sweet liquid food probably affects the exposed roots more easily). 
11–3 147 13/9 Started flavoring my soylent with bananas and peanut butter and such. Cheat meals for Halloween and the beginning of November. Minor sickness feeling and coughing as is usual for me with processed foods and sugars. More upset stomach while transitioning back to regular food. Started getting some allergy symptoms again- hadn’t noticed they were gone. It was nice not having to make food choices this month, but missing out on taste and social eating is too high a price. I may get some more for at-work meals, but I’ll let the formula mature a bit more before I do.

November 2014 Carb Cycling, Supplements

11–10 150 16/10 Some days no carbs or starches, other days carbs ok and workout 30 mins. One cheat meal a week. Supplements again (to finish them off, and to test how I feel with them vs next month). Feeling sluggish and tired on no-carb days. Eating lots of calories on carb

days. Very hard to do the workouts, and very hard to stick to no-carb days.

11–17 151 15/11 Ended up doing lots of cheat meals due to events (Final Burn, PushButton, etc.). Overall I think casual carb cycling is looking to be ineffective. The only reason I didn’t gain more this week is because I watched my calories a bit more.

11–24 156 16/11 High stress at work, cold weather, maybe coming down with a cold. Gained more from the cheat meals provided at work.

12–1 157 16/11 Trying to have “no” days, where I have at least one light meal or say no to at least one sweet or unhealthy thing, every other day. Thanksgiving break cheat meals. Seemed to be pretty effective.

December 2014 Whole Food Meals / Glycemic Load

12–8 159 17/13 Buying mostly natural whole food and following a meal plan on 4 out of 7 days of the week. Day two, not feeling well- the diet change to the flax and sardines is hitting really hard- I also forgot to stop taking supplements so I may have overdosed on some nutrients. On the third day of eating whole sardines, I got pains like my body didn’t like what I was eating and so I didn’t finish all the skin of the sardines- I’ve heard there are toxins there from the dirty water/processing facilities. Maybe it is not possible to live on a whole food diet and get all the nutrients you need. Disastrous results.

12–15 158 17/13 Did nothing special this week. Ate what I felt like, with the knowledge I have gained. Didn’t seem to do so bad. Still feeling sick and recovering from last week. Some fast food and cheat meals, but also some salads and lighter eating days.

12–22 164 17/12 Trying eating only things at or under 10 glycemic load on 3 of 7 days this week. Surprising how little carbs I’m eating vs how much it feels like I’m eating. STILL feeling sick and recovering from two weeks ago. I think I have an ear infection. Big holiday celebration meals added water weight. Glycemic load diet seemed to be effective for fat loss.

12–29 164 19/13 Doing whatever I feel like again this week. Still sick. Seems like all the holiday cheat days caught up to me- duck, soup, eggnog, pie, etc.

Since then I’ve tried a few more diets with some being effective like the “Donut Diet” and some not working at all. I still feel like intermittent fasting might work best for some people, and going on a strict no carbohydrates/sweets diet may be the best option if you can stick to it. For me I think swimming, veggie/fish meals (satisfying but low calorie, no carbs), intermittent fasting, and strength training would probably be the best for fat loss. Fat loss is a difficult journey. If you have the right motivation and find the things in this article helpful then I bet you will have success.

Questions? Comments? Feedback? Tweet me at Josh Jones or email me at vazor222@gmail.com if you want to ask anything. I appreciate it!