Diet research part 1: Diet research

IMG_20200501_214240 (1)If you haven’t read the first part then I would urge you to read that first. It will all make a lot of sense.

Nothing has changed since 2nd April when I penned down my first article on this research. Be it diet, availability of nutrients, mode of training, or even life in general. It might change a little with relaxation in lock down and therefore I thought it to be an appropriate time to measure the progress.

Hope to cut down whatever little fat I am left with in the next two weeks of lock down.

 

Low Carb High Fat Diet: 20% carbs, 60% fat, 20% protein – approx quantities.  

 

IMG_20200417_102623Macronutrients available:

  • Carbs: Vegetables, legumes, daal, sugar (tea), wheat (roti), rice
  • Fat: Ghee, cheese, butter, cashew nuts, coconut oil. almonds
  • Protein: Paneer (cottage cheese), soya (very little)

NO : protein powder, non-vegetarian, eggs, energy drink, pre-workout/post-workout. Basically nothing that we live with in normal training life. I didn’t sign for all this when I started this research and it’s a blessing in disguise to work through the diet as a pure vegetarian with limited options. Perhaps new learnings…..

Research Challenges:

  • a) Maintain/gain lean muscle mass.
  • b) Lose fat
  • c) Gain strength, flexibility, endurance, agility or speed
  • d) 100% recovery – no fatigue

Let me ask you this:

Ques: Do I tick all the boxes? I am naive at posing but am sure you can see a well crafted anatomy. Can this be better? Of course….but how often do you see this?

IMG_20200501_213644

After studying the subjects in depth and having read some nicely written detailed articles where the writer takes you down to the level of physiology, biochemistry, mitochondrial level, central nervous system, neurons (efferent/afferent), reaction coupling, myosin & actin filament theory, neuromuscular stimulus, ATP synthesis, muscle mass, cross sectional area blah blah blah. Or explaining load/progression giving emphasis on concentric or eccentric or isometric in most complicated words making it sound like a subject only meant for elite trainers who can understand scientific language. All this to do what? To drive home a point that I have covered (most of it) in above 4 points. Anybody wishes to challenge it….please come forward with your science. Would love to learn if I have missed out on anything.

Due respect to these professionals but don’t get confused/carried away folks! Even though the use of technical/scientific lingo sounds impressive; in simple terms it all boils down to above points and if you can achieve these then nothing else matters. Absolutely nothing. The most critical part is to choose what you need depending on your personal requirement/weakness/strength/sport and choose the best program to achieve the results. Example: your lack of speed may be due to biomechanics and regardless of how much you grind your glutes, calves or achilles tendon under heavy weight; your speed won’t improve.

A good fitness expert can help you recognise what you need and achieve it provided they have knowledge on all training forms and NOT just gym/weights!  Work on it….achieve it….move on and set next target.

IMG_20200502_212201My work out:

  • 45 minutes approx every day. 5/6 days a week.
  • Tools: 2 bricks (same weight all through) & one resistance band
  • 3 basic exercises per body part.
  • Same exercises every time focusing on correct movement and rhythm to bring optimal resistance within self.
  • No BFR (blood flow restrictive training) – would love to study it. It is next on my list.

My experiments on the diet aspect:

  • 11 hours of overnight fasting on an average. Will change this to 12 hours from this point.
  • Bad mix of carbs & fat in a typical home setting. Study done….time to get creative and divide the meals.
  • Eating at regular hours….sitting at home next to kitchen doesn’t help. Need to study this more.

Overnight fasting is the key in high fat diet in my opinion.

IMG_20200504_082553Time to finish and publish findings: Perhaps I would need 2/3 weeks post lock down (whenever it happens) with access to the gym and normalcy in life. If I can achieve these results with 2 bricks doing basic exercises then it should be worth an effort to see what happens when I go under the hammer (lift heavy in the gym performing several different exercises) while staying on a high fat diet. More than the muscles and metabolic pathway; this research is about diving deep into energy systems to evaluate nutrition & performance.

To my knowledge….there has not been any study in the world on low carb high fat diet (LCHF) with 20 % carbs intake in any non-clinical/sporty environment.  However, please do quote if you come across any. It will be interesting to see if our results match.

Medical reports: Be rest assured. I am taking the tests at regular intervals (whatever is possible) and it is all inline (cholestrol, HDL, LDL, etc.) with what world’s top researches suggest. The reports are worth revealing only when I could draw a conclusive hypothesis which is only possible when I have tested everything in normal settings, training my regular hours, eating what I love, and having a few options to workout. Evaluating it then against my current diet (limited choices) and work out (constant weight/2 bricks) should bring forward an important finding especially in Indian context (vegetarian diet).

Performance:

A few questions that this research poses to demystify strength training:

Ques: If progression of load is what brings hypertrophy then how could we do it with constant weight and 3 basic exercises?

Ans: By focusing on structure, bringing rhythm in movements and creating resistance within. Not many speak about this progression.

Ques: Can we stay vegetarian and achieve a good strength & fitness level?

Ans: Yes, seems so. But what you are eating, when you are eating, or what is the mix of macronutrients become very important in this case. Eat what is required/suitable for your training matching with your metabolic taste. If you are not testing yourself at your maximum strength then your ‘recovery’ can be a good factor to measure your diet’s performance.

Ques: Is load necessary to gain strength?  

Ans: Yes but it depends on how much strength you need. Load brings resistance. Period. Bring it via your movements and make it suitable to your requirement. Build what you can put to use. Extra strength is just like extra carbs in the body that turn into fat and solves no purpose or worse, can cause injuries.

Load is over rated in a sports like cricket, baseball, hockey etc.

Umesh Chhikara

Sports Scientist