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Significant shift in body composition with low carb/high fat diet. (Read 2251 times)

MischaHY

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I've posted several times in the past about how I've really struggled to manipulate body composition for performance. Previously even a moderate calorie deficit made me feel very weak and trashed my performance/mood so I could never stick with it long enough to see any effect. I'd been trying various methods over the last 6 years without any significant shift and always feeling rubbish and losing power. I've also done significant periods of cardio with no effect other than up-regulation of hunger/calorie intake.

I'd mostly given up on this and accepted having a sub-optimal body composition but decided to have a proper go at low carb/high fat this summer to see if it was any different to previous efforts on a healthy mixed diet. I decided to allow for up to 100g carbs per day (previous average was more like 300g) and directly replace the carbs with fats primarily from animal sources i.e. meat/fish/eggs/dairy. Based on the reading I'd done this seemed like the most likely successful approach considering my main issues always seemed to come down to satiety and penduluming energy levels. I ate a 500kcal deficit from my previous maintenance of 3000kcal. Protein intake remained the same at around 120g/day.

Long story short - within a couple of days my hunger signalling massively down-regulated and has stayed that way ever since aside from a few days where I've eaten a lot more carbs in a row. It was such an extreme shift that I went from always being hungry every two hours to sometimes forgetting to eat because I wasn't feeling hungry at all. My energy levels felt extremely stable and I no longer felt the need to snack every 20-30 minutes whilst climbing. My energy levels were also much better on big alpine days with limited food availability. This was and remains the biggest positive for me because I finally feel free from the constant energy dips that I've experienced for all of my adult life since the age of 14. I mainly ate my carbs in the form of fruits/berries in the hours before climbing and this seemed to work really well for providing good power levels. 

The other big shift was obviously weight and body comp - within 10 weeks I've dropped 5kg body fat from ~23% to ~17% and 83kg to 78kg at 173cm. This has honestly been so effortless that it almost feels anticlimactic. Naturally this has had a significant effect on performance and my power, endurance and finger strength on small holds feel hugely improved. I also noticed less recovery time was necessary between sessions. Here's a comparative picture:



Apologies for the intimate camera staring.

Anyway, I thought this might be interesting for those on here who've had a similar experience with diet and body comp. My weight is continuing to steadily shift downwards and based on percentages I'd imagine I'll drop around another 5kg before stabilising - we'll see how that goes but it makes sense based on height/age and aiming for 10-12% body fat.

Obviously this is pretty game changing in terms of climbing performance so I'm frickin psyched. However it's also made abundantly clear to me how weight loss can become an addictive thing due to the performance gains - I'd never experienced anything like this kind of progression in such a short time frame. It's intoxicating. I've got a lot more understanding now for those athletes who've ended up tipping off the wrong side of the healthy weight scale.

M1V0

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Impressive. Well done on whatís been achieve and for whatís to come!

Iíve only ever managed similar weight drops by maintaining a 1,000kcal deficit and itís typically hard. Hungry all the time and cognitively draining, I donít have the time to plan meals and count calories these days.

Iíve been rehabbing a finger injury the last two months and been told to steer clear of climbing as much, so Iíve drifted towards weightlifting and subsequently gained a couple of kilos, in the next month or so I need to think about dropping some of the weight though, ready to climb again.

Would you care to share what you typically eat in a day?

crzylgs

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Apologies for the intimate camera staring.

This might be my quote of the day!

Good effort though  :2thumbsup:

Hydraulic Man

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Impressive stuff but for short term loss would something like Clen not work? Seems to work for body builders stripping for comps....Same result.

MischaHY

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Impressive. Well done on whatís been achieve and for whatís to come!

Iíve only ever managed similar weight drops by maintaining a 1,000kcal deficit and itís typically hard. Hungry all the time and cognitively draining, I donít have the time to plan meals and count calories these days.

Iíve been rehabbing a finger injury the last two months and been told to steer clear of climbing as much, so Iíve drifted towards weightlifting and subsequently gained a couple of kilos, in the next month or so I need to think about dropping some of the weight though, ready to climb again.

Would you care to share what you typically eat in a day?

Cheers. Yeah my previous experience has been similar which is why I was motivated to share about this - definitely a game changer for me as I also feel way more relaxed about food/weight in general simply because I've found a method that works. It's something that's annoyed me for while!

Typical day varies a bunch - I didn't do this with a meal plan or anything, just vaguely paying attention to macros and calories.

Something like 40% fat quark w/raspberries, fried eggs w/fish & veggies, blueberries & apple (pre climbing) apple (during climbing), fried halloumi and green beans. 

However I also had occasional days where carb intake was slightly higher but overall calorie intake was similar and this didn't seem to affect the hunger levels. Maybe up to 150g carbs due to getting ice cream or similar.

I think it's also worth pointing out that I view this as an intervention and not a long term nutritional strategy. I've done a few windows of refeeding on more carbs and found that performance goes through the roof in comparison. However it is ace for general nutritional density at lower caloric intake and hunger modulation whilst in deficit in the short term. For me that's the main use - having a functional tool for controlling fat percentage without feeling miserable.

jwi

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Congratulations!

As you probably know, the scientific literature on weight loss is grim reading. Long term loss of body mass or improvements in body composition are unlikely regardless of what type of diet used.

To help keep the weight off, doing sports (at least 1h/day on average) and daily monitoring of weight is known to be the most helpful interventions. See e.g. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/82/1/222S/4863393

MischaHY

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Impressive stuff but for short term loss would something like Clen not work? Seems to work for body builders stripping for comps....Same result.

I'll straight bat this one   :worms:

So no I don't think that would be a good idea or the same result. In general comparing nutrition strategies between climbers and bodybuilders is a really poor choice IMO (aside from the massive can of worms on substance abuse).

Bodybuilders spend most of the year in calorie surplus and thereby can get away with dropping aggressively for a period of time - but that's absolutely not what I'm trying to achieve here. My goal with this intervention is to allow for a slow, progressive drop in body fat whilst keeping nutritional density, satiety and protein levels high. The long term goal is to shift the needle slowly enough that the body/brain gets comfortable at the lower fat percentage and stays in that region without resistance. Any kind of swift intervention has the opposite effect because as soon as sufficient calories are made available again (once more ignoring the whole substance abuse aspect) then the brain will upregulate hunger levels in order to reach a 'safe' place again.

I think one of the biggest positives of this kind of approach is that the food eaten is very close to 'normal' mixed diets which makes transitioning in and out very easy psychologically and physiologically.

MischaHY

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Congratulations!

As you probably know, the scientific literature on weight loss is grim reading. Long term loss of body mass or improvements in body composition are unlikely regardless of what type of diet used.

To help keep the weight off, doing sports (at least 1h/day on average) and daily monitoring of weight is known to be the most helpful interventions. See e.g. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/82/1/222S/4863393

Yeah cheers  :great: I've always got the major impression that the issue most people have is unstable weight due to partial or short term adherence to diet strategies - for me though I've always been very weight stable but also always had a higher body fat percentage. I climb/bike/run at least 4 days a week so have always had a good activity level but shifting the calorie intake needle long enough to cause a change in body comp has always felt too hard due to hunger levels. This approach resolved the hunger which I assume is the reason it works well (plus I do think the nutritional density is helpful in keeping recovery decent whilst in deficit.

I'm curious to see where the body naturally plateaus with this deficit level. I'm guessing it will be around 72/73kg based on my muscle mass etc but we'll see. All very interesting.

SA Chris

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Dave Macleod has written quite a bit about this, might be worth a read.

MischaHY

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Dave Macleod has written quite a bit about this, might be worth a read.

Oh sure Dave's keto vid was what prompted me to give it another go  :)

Ballsofcottonwool

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Have you gone low sugar or just low carb? Giving up sugar in my coffee and all other sweetened drinks between meals around 10 yrs ago made a huge difference (10kg lighter than back then)  for me because I stopped feeling hungry between meals and lost my sweet tooth. occasionally my kids will offer me a sweet and I'll accept but find them disgusting.

mrjonathanr

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Iíve done something a little similar recently, having added about 6kG this year.
No sweet food and no junk food. Everything else as normal. Thatís it. Weíll see where it leads.

MischaHY

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Have you gone low sugar or just low carb? Giving up sugar in my coffee and all other sweetened drinks between meals around 10 yrs ago made a huge difference (10kg lighter than back then)  for me because I stopped feeling hungry between meals and lost my sweet tooth. occasionally my kids will offer me a sweet and I'll accept but find them disgusting.

Erm. Mainly no/low sugar - but I've also had a load of ice creams while out this summer! I just didn't have any desire for it at home really which was a new experience. Started craving fatty foods a lot. I didn't add sugar/drink sweetened drinks before though really tbh.

 

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