Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Birthday Belly Experiment

I was at a party, a week before my 30th birthday, catching up with an old friend and it was something he said that gave me a strange idea. I had been working hard on losing weight, improving my body fat percentage and building muscle and was a little worried about my upcoming cake day. Moving my dietary "cheat day" would only help the situation, but with scattered dinners and social gatherings with friends and family it was clear that I would be breaking in my 30s with some caloric damage control. Then my friend told me about his trip to Mexico and how great it was. He told me about the great food and parties and how he gained 7 pounds in the week he was there, but didn't feel bad because he was on vacation and it was planned. That's when it occurred to me that the most frustrating part of dieting and losing weight is when there is seemingly no reason behind good or bad changes. If I removed the surprise element, I could allow myself a weekend of guilt-free binge eating and calorie drinking. This is, of course, the kind of reasoning behind any failure in dieting so there would have to be a catch.

"7 pounds in a week? That's impressive." I said to him.
"Yeah and I think I can lose it all in the same amount of time. Hitting the gym like crazy." he replied.

There it was. Four days of guiltless festivities, on the condition that I could lose it all in that same time frame. Not an easy task. I prepared an action plan later that night.

In preparation, I spent that entire week eating light and training a lot. I kept my metabolism high through high protein meals, four or five times a day. I was tracking my measurements and caloric intake, but to spare you the boring stuff that isn't relevant to this experiment here are some important numbers on my "morning of" weigh-in:

Weight; 209 pounds
Body Fat Percentage: 14.7%

Not the best shape I've ever been in, but this is the jump-off for the celebrations. 96 hours later, after four amazing days shared with family, friends, feasts, cake and every kind of alcohol, the damage was right around what I thought it would be:

Weight: 215 pounds
Body Fat Percentage: 18.8%*

*Body Fat Percentage was calculated using online plug-ins. I entered my measurements and had them calculate it. The numbers above are the average of 3 different site, but judging by how much the sites varied from one another I doubt they are completely accurate. I posted them anyway for the sake of showing how much my body had changed.

So keep in mind that a 4% increase in body fat and 5 pounds is entirely from an increase in calories. I wouldn't be complaining if this was an increase in muscle, but 5 pounds of fat is usually a swelling of the face and belly. Not pretty. After my allotted time of pigging out, I put my plan into action. Here are the some of the changes that I made immediately that I believe had the most significant results:

-Daily food intake would be spread into 6 meals, 3 hours apart, between 100-500 calories, starting withing 30 minutes of waking up and ending within 30 minutes before bed.
-All dairy, red meat, sugars and "white carbs" would be demoted to "cheat day" only once again.
-Total fat intake would remain under 120g, while saturated fats under 20g (general guideline for me all the time).
-Cholesterol intake to stay under 200mg (some nutritionists say that 300mg is still safe, but that's to maintain weight, not necessarily to lose).
-Sodium intake to remain under 2500mg (proved to be most difficult, as high protein foods often have high sodium).
-Every meal to contain at least 20g of protein to keep metabolism high all day.
-1.5 liters of cold water within 30 minutes of waking up, then scattered all day. It's harder than you think when the water is cold and you just woke up. Keep a water bottle on you all day.
-Morning meal (within 30 minutes of waking up) and last meal should each contain no less than 30g of protein. This was probably the most significant change for me. Big results.

On wednesday morning, after a full 48 hours of doing this, my numbers were:

Weight: 206 pounds
Body Fat Percentage: 14.2%

In the race against myself, it took only 48 hours to get rid of my birthday binge pounds. I'm just sharing the info with you, not recommending that you try this or that you'll ever get the same results. Keep in mind that a contributing factor here is how lightly and healthy i was eating before the weekend. The caloric invasion during my four days of eating and drinking sent my metabolism into a frenzy, then met with an even healthier set of eating habits, therefore working much harder than usual. Typically, I get a small version of this every week when I celebrate my cheat day. This keeps my system working all the time, keeps my digestive enzymes active and my protein synthesis stimulated. It was an interesting experiment, but I would recommend being a little more reasonable with your diet.
Another factor to consider is that during my four days off, I wasn't training at all. As soon as I was back to eating healthy, I was hoisting some weights and rolling on the mats again. The numbers are always interesting but rarely ever tell the whole story.
What I've taken away from this is just how important my eating habits are. For those that read my previous article about eating healthy, if you've experienced results from those habits listed, I also encourage you to incorporate the ones I've listed here right away. You should experience some changes within a few days! Interesting side note, eating six meals a day will increase your sex drive. Do with that what you will.

Make sure to leave a comment below, I'd love to get your feedback or similar stories!
Also (last thing I promise) make sure you send a blank email to to subscribe to our news letter and stay updated on training, seminars, videos and general fight news! Go now and receive "Best of Scrap Blog" as a digital ebook for free! Thanks!

Jordan Bill
Fight or Die

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