Reducing bodyfat while rehabbing shoulder injury

Dieting is all about the maths

Dieting is all about the maths

It is notoriously hard to lose weight while training hard. Intense exercise (either long duration cardio or power training) whilst dropping weight often leads to overtraining, because the restricted diet inevitably means slower recovery. Well for me it does. I can tolerate it for a few weeks, but eventually I either have to up the food intake or cut the exercise frequency or intensity. If I don’t the results start to go in the wrong direction.

For most sports people this means cycling their training, working out a training plan for maybe a year or eighteen months, building in periods of hard and easier training, with different goals for each phase (losing weight, increasing strength etc). But that’s a subject for another day.

So, knowing I was going to be rehabbing a shoulder following a scheduled operation I thought I would use the time (8 months approx.) proactively to drop some weight.

Now the following section is a bit boring for most people unless you particularly enjoy the technicalities of a dieting. But if you want a diet to work, this is the level of detail you need to look at. The important thing is to set definite goals and work out the maths.

Prior to the operation I was 12st 10lb at 16% bodyfat, with a goal of 11st 7lb 12% bodyfat after 5 months.

For those of you that are interested this is what I have done.

Following some information on Lyle McDonald’s Body Recomposition site I set the diet up like this:

1. Create an appropriate caloric deficit/set caloric intake appropriately
2. Set protein intake
3. Set dietary fat intake
4. Everything else depends

So looking at each of these factors in turn this is how the diet worked out for me.

1. Create an appropriate caloric deficit/set caloric intake appropriately
I wanted to lose roughly 1lb per week. That’s a deficit of approx 3500 calories per week or 700 per day (I only wanted to diet Monday to Friday), so I used a site like this to work out my average calorie requirement per day. For me (desk job) the maintenance level is around 2,000 calories per day, so a deficit of 700 per day gives me a daily caloric intake of 1,300 cals. I should say that once I got out of the sling and could do some cardio in the gym I would add the exercise calories burnt to the daily amount. So if I did an hour on the treadmill then I would give myself a daily caloric budget of 1,300 base level + 400 exercise calories = 1,700.

2. Set protein intake
There are lots theories about protein intake – for my money The Protein Book by Lyle is the most comprehensive and best book around. Seeing as I was rehabbing my shoulders and not training hard, I have assumed a level of 1g/lb of lean body mass – about 150 g of protein per day. I would recommend you read Lyle’s site (if you haven’t already), but the gist of it is that adequate protein intake is the number one thing you can do to spare lean body mass loss during dieting.

3. Set dietary fat intake
Fat intake is a difficult one. Lots and lots of debate on this at the moment. I tend to try to stay low on the carbs and in general think that as long as you are exercising fat isn’t going to do you any harm and it’s tasty and makes you feel full. So (and this is pretty arbitrary) but I set my fat intake at about 50 g per day (400 calories).

4. Everything else depends
Which means I would have to stick to less than 100 g of carbs per day. I’m not a low carb nut, but generally on a diet I find a low carb diet is easier to stick to and seeing as I wasn’t going to be training hard the lack of carbs wasn’t going to be any problem. Add to this that I would make up with carbs any extra calories I needed to compensate for any exercise I did and that’s the basic diet.

So how did I do. The short answer is not too bad. I’ve still get three weeks to go, but this morning I was 12 st 0 lb at 14% body fat*, with another 4 weeks to go. So If I keep this up I’ll end at about 11 st 10 lb. which to be frank I’ll be very pleased with.

I have to say, it’s not been as predictable as the above would show. I’ve had periods where I haven’t lost any weight for 2 or 3 weeks and other weeks where I’ve lost 3 lb plus. I’ve even had a couple of weeks where I put on a pound or two. But essentially I’ve just stuck to the diet and it seems to be working out.

* I don’t have a reliable way to estimate body fat percentage. I use a set of Tanita scales, which can give wildly different results. What I do to try to minimise this is a) always weigh myself at the same time every day – for me that’s first thing in the morning and b) I weigh myself over three days and always take the lowest reading. What I can say is I don’t really know if I’m 14% or 15% or 13%, but what I think I can tell is if the percentages are moving in the right direction.


About thegymmonkey

I'm a fitness junkie,interested in injury rehab and get back into competition. View all posts by thegymmonkey

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