The Healthy Executive

Fat To Fit: What’s Possible In 4 Weeks?

before and after I became The Healthy Executive

Getting fat and out-of-shape was easiest thing I ever did in my life.

It happened while I was stressed out taking a high-tech company public.

Compared to making a million dollars, the hardest thing I ever did was lose 50 lbs and get back into shape.


As a busy executive I had no spare time, traveled extensively, and hated going to the gym.

But I struggled on anyhow…failed often…persevered nevertheless…took two steps backwards…experimented ruthlessly…kept only what was needed…and threw out everything that didn’t work.

In this post I share with you what works, plus this month’s self-experiment in getting to 8% bodyfat.

My Blood, Sweat, & Tears

In a moment, I am going to show you what it takes to get to 8% bodyfat

But before that, these are my firsthand results of what busy executives can achieve in limited amounts of time. It took me years of blood, sweat, and tears to learn to learn how to make health and fitness quick and simple (but not always easy):

In This Much Time Click To Learn How To:
12 Weeks Lose 25 lbs fat
8 Weeks Lose 20 lbs fat
6 Weeks Add 5 lbs muscle
5 Weeks Lose 2.5 lbs fat
4 Weeks Break Weight Loss Plateau
4 Weeks Lose Fat and Gain Muscle
3 Weeks Get 50% Stronger
2 Weeks Stop Stress Eating
Now See How Others Got Results

What Do You Want?

75% of executives I work with have no time but still want to improve their baseline health & fitness, specifically:

  • lose fat and,
  • increase their energy

85% of these benefits can be achieved in less than 1 hour a week by changing 2-3 habits as follows:

  • Scaffolding 1: Nutrition for Fat Loss (30 minutes)
    • 21 minutes (7 x 3) on Calories, Energy Balance, Macronutrients
    • 9 minutes on Planning for Success (shopping, recipes, substitutions, upgrades)
  • Scaffolding 2: Fitness for Energy (12-20 minutes)
    • 6-10 minutes of Strength Training
    • 6-10 minutes of Interval Training
  • Saboteurs: aka “Snakes”
    • Stress Eating
    • Fatigue
    • Cortisol
    • Sleep

25% of executives I work with want elite health & fitness results . These executives are driven to be the very best version of themselves and typically participate in a competitive sport. They want to be in the top 1-2% of their peers and rivals.

Increased health measurably allows both athletes and executives to sustain higher levels of performance.
— Citation: The Corporate Athlete, Harvard Business Review R0101H

Obviously this requires more time and effort (2-3 hours a week). I call this the “Reverse Pareto Zone” where extra effort produces elite results.

8% Body-Fat: What Does It Take?

As I mentioned in my story at the start of this post, gaining weight and getting out of shape is easy.

So how hard it to lose the fat and get fit?

After working with many clients over several years, I have a reasonable amount of evidence that shows that:

  • You can expect to feel subjective improvements in your energy in as little as 4-6 weeks.
  • You can expect to see objective improvements in your strength and fat loss in as little as 8-10 weeks
  • In 16 weeks you can develop nutrition and fitness habit that will last for a lifetime .
  • In 26 weeks you can lose 50% or more of your excess fat and double your fitness levels.
  • In 52 weeks you can achieve elite levels of body-fat and fitness (top 2% of your peers and rivals).

I summarize the above as the “Rule of 100 Hours”.

In a nutshell, my rule states that with 100 hours of dedicated effort you can improve health and fitness to the 90th percentile for your cohort. The speed at which you progress is up to you based on your motivation and circumstances:

  • If you spend an hour a day with dedicated coaching, you can achieve an elite level of health and fitness in 3 months.
  • If you spend two hours a week, you can achieve this in 1 year.
  • You make the majority of your progress in the first 15-35 hours:
    • 75% of my clients are more than happy with their ROI on health investment at this point.
  • You make significant albeit diminishing gains in the last 50 hours:
    • 25% of my clients are driven to go the last mile to be the best the version of themselves possible.

My level of effort to get to 8% bodyfat was:

  • Nutrition logging and carb cycling (see below)
  • 2 x 20 minute cardio sessions a week
  • 2 x 1 hour strength sessions a week

Carb Cycling: How To

Carb cycling is a planned alteration of carbohydrate intake in order to prevent a fat loss plateau and maintain metabolism along with workout performance. Protein and fat intake stay relatively constant while carbohydrate intake is manipulated.

Carb cycling is considered a high level nutrition strategy. Only people whose nutritional adherence is extremely high, and who do meticulous nutritional shopping and logging , should consider it.

Carb Cycle Principles

  • Consume 50-75g more carbs 1-2 times a week, ideally on strength training days so that insulin promotes protein synthesis over fat storage.
  • Consume 25-50g fewer carbs 2-3 times a week, ideally on cardio training days to promote fat loss (lipolysis).

Carb Cycling Schedule

 Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4*
ActivityResistance TrainingRecoverCardioRecover
Activity
Purpose
Maintain or increase lean muscle massAdapt to resistance training stressDecrease body fat,
increase aerobic efficiency (V02 max)
Adapt to cardio stress
Nutrition Increase carbs 50-75g
(200g for day)
Increase carbs 25-40g
(150g for day)
Decrease carbs
( <100g for day)
Decrease carbs
( <100g for day)
Nutrition
Purpose
Maximize muscle protein synthesis (MPS)Maximize muscle protein synthesis (MPS)Maximize fat burning (lipolysis)Maximize fat burning (lipolysis)
* Optional based on personal recovery and schedule.

My Carb Cycling Macros

Research indicates that people who log their nutrition lose twice as much fat as those who don’t. If you are interested you can see my exact meals for this experiment here or in my MyFitnessPal food diary.

To get from 10% to 8% bodyfat, my 4 weeks of carb cycling looked like this:

MacronutrientFat Loss DayCarb Cycle Day
Calories (kcal)1,8842,243
Carbs (g)86164
Protein (g)170171
Fat (g)9190

Here is my aggregate nutrition data for my 4-week 8% bodyfat experiment:

The data is also useful to get to know your own specific nutritional requirements and basal metabolism rate (BMR) instead of relying on generalized formulas that may not work for you.

 4 Week TotalPer Day  
Food
(Energy In)
62,508 cal1,953 cal
Fat Loss
(Energy In)
13,300 cal
(3.8 lbs)
416 cal
Activity
(Energy Out)
-14,819 cal-463 cal
Basal Metabolic
Rate (BMR)
60,989 cal1,906 cal

Supplements & Timing

If you have poor nutrition or don’t exercise, then supplements and nutrition/exercise timing are a complete waste of your time and money. Looking for the “newest” or “perfect” supplement is really a disguised search for “easier”. This is just wishful thinking that you can skip over mastering the basics.

In fact you likely won’t need any supplements using my simple no-supplement nutrition strategy.

But if you do have good nutrition and exercise habits, then the following hacks could improve your performance and fat loss by 1-2%.

Timing Hacks

  • AM Fasted Cardio
    • After sleeping all night, your body primarily is using fat for fuel when you wake up.
    • A short interval workout (15-20 minutes) before breakfast prompts your fat cells to dump their triglycerides into your bloodstream, which then your muscles burn them for fuel.
  • PM Protein Shake
    • After strength training, your body is in an elevated state of protein synthesis for 36 hours. An evening protein shake supports that process while you sleep.
    • Consume 25-40g of casein (slow release) protein 1-2 hours before going to bed (see research here and here).
  • Weekly Carb Cycling
    • Timing and how-to explained above.

Supplement Hacks

I experimented with the following supplements increase strength/cardio performance and fat loss, and inhibit muscle loss (catabolism) on low calorie days. I’ve ranked them in the order of effectiveness for me.

  • Caffeine/Ephedrine prior to strength training
  • Caffeine/Yohimbe prior to fasted cardio
  • Ursolic Acid
  • Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
  • Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA)
  • β-Hydroxy β-Methylbutyrate (HMB)

Going forwards I will continue with caffeine due to its well-documented ergogenic effects. For example I observed the following in my lactate threshold (cardio) training:

  • No caffeine = 10:30 min/mile pace
  • Caffeine only = 10:00 min/mile pace
  • Caffeine/Yohimbe = 9:30 min/mile pace

8% Body-Fat Results & Data

Here is the measurement data over 4 weeks showing my bodyfat change from ~10% to 8%.

Men generally lose weight in their face first (cheeks) and their abdomen last (the well known “stubborn fat”). This is why sometimes can people see weight loss in men’s face well before it becomes necessary to take the belt in a notch.

 Start
FinishChange
Body Fat
(Absolute)
17.1 lbs
(7.7 kg)
13.3 lbs
(6.0 kgs)
-3.8 lbs
(-1.7 kg)
Body Fat
(Relative)
9.8 %8.0%
-1.8% absolute
-18.4% relative
Waist34.3"
(87.1 cm)
33.5"
(85.1 cm)
-0.8"
(-2.0 cm)
Weight174.5 lbs
(79.0 kg)
166.7 lbs
(75.6 kg)
-7.8 lbs
(-3.5 kgs)

Tip: You can simply and reliability estimate your bodyfat by measuring your waist and neck and using this Department of Defense bodyfat calculator.

Can You Add 10 lbs Of Muscle In 6 Weeks?

Recently I did a 6 week lean bulking experiment. My results were decent, but I learned lessons on how to add muscle and lose fat at the same time. So I did subsequent 4-week follow-up experiment.

Using my methodology to combine the latest nutrition/fitness research with my firsthand results, I will next do a 6-week experiment to see if I can:

  • Increase lean muscle gain by 100% (from 5 lbs to 10 lbs)
    • How: double exercise intensity and volume
  • Decrease fat gains by 50% (from 6 lbs to 3 lbs)
    • How: carb cycling + lactate threshold cardio

Realistically, I do not expect to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger after this experiment. Still, 10lbs of new muscle mass is significant considering that skeletal muscle is only 45% of body mass. The other 55% is comprised of organs (25%), bones (15%) and fat (15%).

My educated guess is that 10 lbs of new lean muscle will be distributed approximately like this:

Bodypart Lean Muscle
Lower Body Total 6 lbs
Left Thigh 2 lbs
Right Thigh 2 lbs
Left Hamstring 1 lb
Right Hamstring 1 lb
Upper Body Total 4 lbs
Left Chest 1 lb
Right Chest 1 lb
Left Back 1 lb
Right Back 1 lb

During the 6 weeks I will also test the following natural recovery and testosterone boosters and see what effects they have, if any:

  1. Creatine
  2. Beta Alanine
  3. Glutamine
  4. Sodium Bicarbonate (NaHCO3)
  5. Reservatrol
  6. A stack of tongkat ali (eurycoma longifolia), maca root, and, tribulus terrestris
  7. Phosphatidylserine (a cortisol suppresent)
  8. Boron

I will be publishing my results in a future post. Stay tuned.


Also published on Medium.

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