This is the real test for my steak affair that’s still pretty fresh-faced. It’s early days but right now I’m waist-deep in the challenge of trying to stem the post-diet rebound. Calling it damage limitation doesn’t feel inspiring, so I’ve been shooting for the goal of gaintaining. Which is a not-terribly-scientific way of spelling gaining muscle while maintaining body-fat.
In most cases, I’d warn people against the idea. It’s slow and short on results. But my body is pretty suppressed at this point due to years of abuse, and it’s geared up for the rebound. I’m taking the cautious approach.
My diet has jumped through a few hoops recently, as I’ve been anxious to test out the carnivore diet. So after a pretty decent 10-week keto diet that tailed off towards the end, and then a nasty two-week bump, I decided to diet down again while eating strict carnivore. As I went along, I steadily adapted the programme until it became The Apex Diet. I came out looking and feeling pretty great. That’s the cliff-notes, and you can read my full thoughts here.
Here’s where I ended up.
The Results From The 18 Day Weight-Loss Phase
- Average Calories – 1800
- Average Fasts – 20 Hours
- Carb-Ups – 1-2 Times Per Week
- Steps – 16,000 Per Day
- Weight Loss – 4 Kg
- Waist Size – 1 Inch Down
- Cravings – Non-Existent Until The Last Day
- Mood & Energy – Stable…Until The Last Day
Unfortunately, I’d also set myself up for the rebound. As I wrote in my previous blog post about fat-regain, there are four levers that amplify the negative adaptations to a diet.
- Aggressive Weight Loss
- Extended Weight Loss
- Terrible Nutritional Quality
- Low Body-Fat
The diet was fine, the deficits were modest until the end, but I’ve been lean for far too long at this point. Hitting two of those levers puts me in the red. At this point, I have the triple threat of low testosterone, raised ghrelin, and hungry fat-cells. It’s the ideal stage for forgetting about training and piling on the butter.
The final day of the weight-loss phase was always going to be a disaster. I dreamed up a big finish-line, started fantasizing about buttered steak, and that made for a return in cravings. It turns out ‘eating to satiety’ isn’t a sensible rule when you’ve been dieting for most of the last three months.
The Gaintaining Plan
The initial plan was to reverse diet back from 1800 calories, adding 100 calories each day. That idea got tossed out. So instead I returned straight back to maintenance at around 3000 calories.
There’s a good argument for this being the superior option, as it puts the body straight back into a state of caloric availability with what probably starts as a small surplus. Reverse dieting can just end up being a way to prolong the pain.
But that’s how it looks on paper. Now I’m actually down in the dieting slump, a whole cluster of factors are egging me on to overeat. There’s a fine line between reigning it down to a small surplus, where I’m still hungry and never full, and blowing the situation into a fat-massing rebound.
At least that’s how it went for me pre-carnivore. So I was eager to see whether things would be easier without all the empty and anti-calories weighing me down.
More Steak, More Butter
By going straight to maintenance, adding 1200 calories in the process, I’ve found a lot of extra room for meat. Particularly steak, but with some lamb and salmon thrown in. Absolutely no pork or chicken, as I’m trying to avoid rebuilding up on polyunsaturated fat stores.
The idea here is that fat you eat often just gets stored as fat, but there’s a big difference between the signalling properties of saturated and polyunsaturated fats. The former decreases appetite and increases heat expenditure, while the latter is inflammatory and induces peripheral insulin resistance. Over the diet I’ve likely been losing a ton of these polyunsaturates, got rid of the toxic burden, and I’d rather not reverse the process.
How does that pan out in the diet? No chicken and pork, due to their higher omega 6 content. No lean meats. Any beef I pick out is loaded with saturated fat, and I always add some butter on top. It’s early in the workings, but I’ve definitely felt a big uptick in energy, and even the chest is starting to fill out again.
See my article here – Why Beef Beats Bacon
Beyond upping the fats, I’ve kept up the carb-up that appears every four days. That hasn’t caused many issues. I might be out of ketosis for a while afterwards, but I’ve intentionally kept the calories a little lower on the day, and followed it up with a fasted training session. It doesn’t take long to get back into keto brain buzz.
Good Stress Vs Bad Stress
Training could be better, but it’s been held back by the unfortunate truth I add to face up. I’ve been happily living off adrenaline over the past few months, and stimulants like coffee just isn’t the same anymore. As a result, it’s hard to get psyched up enough to crush a session. A few more days, maybe a week of coffee detoxing, and I’m confident I’ll overcome the training apathy.
In any case, it does show that seeking stress can be just as beneficial as avoiding it. It might be the biggest problem in the modern lifestyle, but it’s also a driving mechanism for keep the body on the front-foot and continuously adapting.
The 8 Days Of Gaintainig So Far
- Average Calories – 3000
- Average Fasts – 18 Hours
- Carb-Ups – 1-2 Times Per Week
- Steps – 12,000 Per Day
- Weight Gain – 1 Kg
- Waist Size – Unchanged
- Cravings – Steadily Disappearing
- Mood & Energy – On The Up
See My Lean Bulking Guide – How To Fast And Still Build Muscle
The Ultimate Carnivore Diet For Muscle And Brains – The Apex Diet