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Descent into Madness

It’s ba-a-ack! Yup, my mom’s in town, and that means it’s officially VEGETARIAN WEEK! Aside from the stashes of chicken curry I squirreled away in my office fridge a couple days ago, I’ll be abstaining from eating anything with a face. Or, oddly enough, anything with alcohol. I don’t know which of the two will be tougher. But it does provide an interesting set of data points for my continuing muscle gain/fat loss experiment, which I’ll talk about in a bit.

So how am I going to survive this week? Obviously, my mom is going to make some cupcakes and other sweet treats, so cheat days will be plentiful. Also, I’m taking her out to lunch everyday for things like a slice of pizza, an enchilada, or a fancy grilled cheese sandwich. Nothing too crazy or Cheesecake Factory-ish. My major concern is whether I’m going to get enough protein. I will have my usual 6-egg breakfast (I’ll miss you, bacon!), so that’s 36 grams. I may partition out my chicken curry over the week as a pre-lunch lunch (25g) and add that to lunch with mom (10-15g). Afternoon/evening is when the magic happens. If I lift, I’ll have a sweet potato and 2 scoops whey protein (50g) after my workout, then a rice-based dinner with some yogurt and another scoop of whey (35g total). That’s conservatively 160g, which may be a bit low. Perhaps 2 scoops with dinner. As long as I have the bulk of my carbs after lifting and keep my protein high, I should be fine.

So since I started Crossfit Football, I’ve been tracking a couple of variables (seven, actually) which could be linked to muscle gain or fat loss: cheat meals, skipped meals, pre-workout carbs, post-workout carbs, carbs on rest days, hours of sleep, and alcohol consumption. Granted, my fat measurements and numbers aren’t the most accurate, but let’s presume that I know what my body looks like at 16 vs 17 vs 18% body fat and I can guesstimate. Here are the 7 individual weeks of the program so far, ranked by amount of fat gain/loss:

LBM Chg Fat Chg Sleep Drinks Cheat Skips Pre carb Post carb Rest carb
0.2 2.3 7.29 11 2 2 4 6 6
0.3 1.2 7.21 6 3 2 0 16 4
-0.1 1.1 8.04 2 3 1 0 6 12
4.6 0.9 7.07 3 2 0 0 14 2
3.5 0.1 7.39 4 2 0 3 16 6
1.2 -0.8 7.71 7 1 1 3 11 7
0.1 -1.1 7.39 8 2 3 1 15 1

There are 2 ways to analyze this data. First is just to eyeball it. See the big trends in numbers either increasing or decreasing. My weeks with 3 cheat meals have high fat-gain numbers. My weeks with lots of post-workout carbs seem to have the best fat loss numbers, oddly enough. The second, more objective way to do this is to make a chart. Use the fat loss as the X-axis and the other columns as the Y-axis variables, and create a scatter graph in Excel with trendlines and R-squared values. R-squared values are an estimate of actual linear correlation, the higher the R-squared, the better. More than 0.2 is OK, more than 0.5 is fantastic. Example:My R-squared here is 0.004, meaning that there’s no correlation in my data set between alcohol consumption and body fat gained or lost. This doesn’t make a WHOLE lot of sense, but the more data I collect, the better my correlations will be all-in-all. Based on the past 7 weeks, here’s what I’ve found (all of the follow have R-square values above between 0.2 and 0.3):

Fat dropped by (in order of R2 value):
1. Decreasing number of cheat days
2. Increasing post-workout carbs
3. Decreasing rest day carbs

Lean body mass increased by (in order of R2 value):
1. Decreasing skipped meals
2. Increasing post-workout carbs

So there you have it. Sleep and alcohol have no real effect, so far. But the biggest bang for my buck is in 1) eating lots and lots of healthy food and 2) loading up on root vegetables, but only after workouts. I can’t think of any other variables to add to the analysis at this point, but my upcoming week of many cheats, loads of sleep, no booze should provide some unique information.

Next time: rice – how bad *is* it?

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