I’ve been eating following the male, 185 lb starting weight RP Fat Loss Templates since Friday, November 24, 2017. That’s the day after Thanksgiving, because I like to really blow it out at family parties. (That hasn’t changed, by the way… I still eat like a savage on holidays and will get to those details.)
I have experimented a lot and found some RP rules to follow, some to bend, and some to break — so I’m going to document everything I can here. Your mileage may vary of course, and I’m not a doctor or a lawyer, so listen to me at your own risk 🙂
0400: Alarm goes off
I usually get out of bed at this time thanks to my dog, Sgt Pepper, who hears the alarm and knows it’s bathroom time. Sometimes he hits the snooze button, but when the next backup alarm goes off he’ll DEFINITELY wake me up. I’m out of bed by 0415 and take him out for a quick walk, then put him back in bed.
After Pep is back in bed I get ready to change into my gym clothes and weigh-in (nude, duh) on an Omron HBF-514C scale, which also measures body fat. I have had this same scale since 2011, when body fat measurements were a little more exotic, so it is expensive. Since then the technology has been massively commoditized, so you can find much better deals. When my Omron scale breaks I’ll probably buy this RENPHO ES-CS20M, which has tons of great reviews and is much less expensive.
I have a thin pocket notebook and a pen stored underneath the scale, so after I weigh-in I record the weight and body fat reading and mark yesterday’s line with a check mark if I stuck to the RP macros that day. On Saturday or Sunday I transfer those figures to a Google Sheet, which lets me trend my progress.
The general RP recommendation is weighing-in once a week, but measuring at that frequency is bad advice for someone like me who might be experimenting with diet or exercise changes — I want to see, quickly, what impact the change I’m testing has on my weight and body fat numbers.
I learned, for example, that my weight and body fat numbers don’t react to blow out meals for more than a day — so, if I get the urge to eat an entire D’Agostino’s medium pizza with Italian beef and hot giardiniera on a Sunday night (have done this many times), I know that I won’t see any significant changes in weight or body fat until Tuesday’s weigh-in.
Same with booze — I learned that if I go out for cocktails on a Friday night, my Saturday morning weigh-in will show a much lighter weight and slightly higher body fat than expected. This is probably dehydration, but I don’t know for sure.
I would have missed a lot of valuable insights if I was weighing-in only once a week, so do yourself a favor and make weighing-in at a specific time each day a habit.
0500 or 0505: Pre-workout
I attend the 0545 CrossFit class at CrossFit CE, so the timing here is important… listen up y’all.
For approximately 60-90 minutes after waking, your body ramps up cortisol production. Caffeine can interfere with this process, and interrupted cortisol production is associated with fatigue and many other negative conditions — exactly the opposite of how I’m trying to feel before class each morning.
It takes orally-ingested caffeine about 25 minutes to arrive in your bloodstream, so by having a caffeinated drink about 60 minutes after waking, you get all of the benefits of your body’s natural cortisol production cycle as well as all the benefits of your caffeinated beverage of choice. Win win baby!
So, if you (1) exercise in the morning and (2) want the amazing 1-2 punch of coupling your body’s natural rising cortisol cycle with caffeine from a pre-workout drink, you should consume your pre-workout 60 minutes after waking up and 45 minutes before your workout is scheduled to start.
These facts were all sourced from Dan Pink’s Pinkcast 2.15, which is less than 2 minutes long if you want to listen for yourself. That page includes links to the studies themselves too.
Ascent Pre-Workout Raspberry Lemonade is my pre-workout of choice — it tastes good enough, has about a cup and a half of coffee’s worth of caffeine, and is not completely foul when coupled with the protein shake I drink a few minutes later. (That’s why I stopped drinking coffee in the morning — the hot / cold combo and flavor went poorly with my protein shake.) I sip the pre-workout and consume it over the next 10-15 minutes.
To make the pre-workout drink, I combine 200 ml of water (it’s measured out on the blender cup), one flat-across-the-top scoop of the Ascent, and two ice cubes then blend that sucker into oblivion.
I have a SharkNinja Fit Blender which works nicely — the cups are a bit of a pain to clean because they’re tall and narrow, but I really like the measurements on the side. That said, I had a Magic Bullet Blender for a while before the SharkNinja, and that worked just fine — I just eyeballed the liquid measurement with it.
0515: Protein + Creatine Shake
Guess what — the timing on this is important too.
We know that there is a valuable post-workout “anabolic window” when your body is replenishing glycogen stores and rebuilding muscle — some folks say it’s 30 minutes long, others say it’s 120 minutes long, still others say it’s a day long. I don’t know what the real answer is, but I assume it’s 30 minutes, since that is the most conservative number — which means we want protein to be available for absorption within 30 minutes of the end of our workout at most. This is why most gym-goers slug down a protein shake immediately after getting their pump on — problem solved, right? Nope.
Tim Ferriss continually monitored himself with a blood glucometer (like diabetics use, except his was plugged in all day) and found that his glucose levels did not move until 90-120 minutes AFTER eating or drinking. I don’t care to conduct that experiment myself, so I’m taking his word for it. (You can read more about that in his book The 4-Hour Body, pages 142-147.)
Time for some quick math. Since I attend the 0545 CrossFit class, which is an hour long, and usually stick around to do some extra credit work for 15-20 additional minutes, I finish working out between 0700 and 0705. We’re using the super-conservative 30 minute “anabolic window”, which means we need protein to be available for absorption by the muscles between 0700 and 0735, depending on when the workout ended. Let’s pick an approximate mid-point of 0715.
If you count backwards 2 hours from 0715 you get… 0515, which is the time specified in this section!
Our protein + creatine shake will benefit us “post-workout”, but only if it is consumed WAY BEFORE the workout — if you want to be absolutely certain that your muscles have access to crucial protein during the “anabolic window”, you should drink a whey protein shake 2 hours before you anticipate FINISHING your workout.
This conservative estimate works out well even if the protein becomes available for absorption after 90 minutes, since that would hit the bloodstream at 0645 — just about the end of the workout.
Supplements (including protein powder)
- The scale I currently have: Omron HBF-514C scale
- The scale I will buy when this one breaks: RENPHO ES-CS20M