I spend a lot of time sitting in a computer chair. And when you sit for a living, it’s easy to get out of shape… know what I mean?
Last year I got sick of it and started experimenting with diet and fitness. I ended up finding Intermittent Fasting and Reverse Pyramid Training combined together by a weird Swedish guy into a program called Leangains.
I wrote an exhaustive overview of my Intermittent Fasting and Leangains experiment and over time it’s became the most popular post on the site.
Not much has changed since then. 90% of the program (fasting and training) is the same. But I’ve made a 10% change that has made all the difference in the world.
Photo from a few days ago to document a 7 lb weight drop over 10 weeks.
You see, I’ve been on a lean bulk this year, trying to add 10 lbs of muscle without getting fat. I started at about 149 lbs lean as hell with a goal of hitting 160 lbs lean by Jan 1st 2015.
I was on track to hit that goal – but I had managed to grow love handles again.
And let me make this clear: Love handles are my arch enemy.
My hatred for love handles is the reason I started doing all this in the first place.
So I switched focus, weight be damned – and dieted down to a smaller size.
I spend a lot of time researching and learning about diet and fitness. One of the guys I keep up with is Greg O’Gallagher over at Kinobody.com. Greg writes a lot about Intermittent Fasting and Reverse Pyramid Training. It’s like Leangains with a twist.
In an article called The Adonis Belt, Greg took apart the physique of a Greek God and came up with some ratios for what makes a male physique look good. (he did not calculate a ratio for women)
There are measurements for the waist, shoulders, arms and waist. They’re all based on your height.
- Waist – 45-47% of height
- Shoulders – 1.618x waist
- Arms – identical size of neck circumference
- Chest – 10-12″ greater than waist
According to these calculations, a male waist should be no bigger than 45% of his height. So for a guy my size that would be around 31-32 inches.
I also keep up with a fitness Youtuber named Brandon Carter. I’ve gotten a ton of ideas from him, and he’s in great shape. In one of his videos he mentioned that he keeps his waist right at about… you guessed it… 31-32 inches.
It sounded interesting. So I decided to put a pause on my bulk and give it a shot. Because to be honest, I don’t care how much I weigh, but being lean is a big deal for me – both physically and mentally.
Here’s how I did it.
If you want to drop some weight, or experiment with your physique here’s a guideline of what I did. If a friend wanted to trim up, this is what I would tell them.
- Do the math. I’m about 70 inches tall so my target waistline is 31.5 inches (45% of 70). I was currently at about 34 inches and not thrilled with the look. So I had 2.5 inches to lose.
- Put yourself in a caloric deficit. For this diet I decided to skip the spreadsheets and calculators and use simple math. To lose weight multiply your body weight by 13 and get your daily calories. For me it was 158 * 13 = 2054. I didn’t lose weight at 2054 calories per day so I redid the math by 12, so 158*12 = 1896. At that calorie count I started losing weight right away.
- Set macro targeting: To keep things simple I went with a 40/40/20 macronutrient split. So that’s 40% protein, 40% carbs, and 20% fats. I put 2054 calories into MyFitnessPal with a 40/40/20 split and it gave me my target macros for each day.
- Hit macros, not calories. For this diet I decided to only track macros and not worry about calories. In my opinion, MyFitnessPal does not track calories accurately so you need to hit your macros (proteins, carbs, fats) each day to get it right.
- Eat a mix of clean and fun foods. I’m a big fan of flexible dieting. I kept it 80% clean and 20% fun. I ate a lot of chicken and sweet potatoes. But I also had a lot of ice cream on top of Kashi Golean cereal too.
- Work out normally. I didn’t change anything. No cardio, no extra days at the gym. I just dropped my calories a bit and continued on as normal for the next 8–10 weeks.
- Add a refeed day. After 6 weeks I was feeling a little worn out from the diet. So instead of going crazy with cheat days I added a refeed day. For me, a refeed day just means picking one day a week and eating more carbs than normal. So instead of 40% protein / 40% carb / 20% fat it was more like 20% protein / 60% carbs / 20% fats. This way I can eat a ton carbs (waffles, ice cream sandwiches, etc) once a week without actually overeating on calories. This was new for me and it worked like a charm.
- Intermittent Fasting. I skip breakfast and eat all my calories between noon and 8pm’ish. 7 days a week. This way I get to eat big, filling meals, even while dieting.
- Measure your waist once a week. I got a cheap tape measurer on Amazon and measured my waist every Monday. wrapped the tape measurer around and measured right above my belly button. As long as my waist didn’t get bigger I knew I was on track. If it does get bigger, you’d drop calories a bit more.
- Be patient. Instead of going on a crazy crash diet and starving myself, I simply dropped my calories a bit under my maintenance (bodyweight * 14-15) and waited. A slow weight loss of 1–2 lbs a week is all you need.
The results are great. I was surprised by how well the 45% waist ratio worked.
Photo taken today, Nov 25 2014 in a hotel room
I dropped 7 lbs and my waist went from 34 inches to 31.8 inches, really close to hitting the goal and it looks a lot better. I may take it all the way to 31 inches – but I have some traveling to do through the end of the year and it might be harder to control things.
Overall I think it’s a really cool concept. I’m not saying it’s better or worse than cutting and bulking. But for a guy like me, that doesn’t care about getting huge – this is a something worth looking into.
If this sounds interesting to you, give it a shot. Instead of a doing a traditional bulk/cut program with a goal to weight X lbs by Y date, you’ll set a target waist size and then try to gain weight around it.
That way as you gain weight, you’ll be able to do it while holding a nice waist size.
No love handles.