What Have I Learnt? Evan’s Physique Reflection.

What have I learnt from nutrition and training?

I’ll start off by stating that I am not a professional body builder by any means, not an Olympian and usually not the strongest guy in the gym. I say that just to stick to the facts, pure and simple.

This is also not medical advice for any one individual, but rather intended to generate some thought and perhaps, some discussion.

For what it is worth to you, should it help you on your own personal journey, here are 6 things that I’ve learnt to help my own physique, energy levels, self -esteem, and aches and pains.     

  1. Bulking hard can be a double edged sword.

I’ve done the bulks and the cuts. As an adult at 6 foot 2, I’ve been 104kg at 24% body fat and 94kg at 15% body fat, and can you guess which one I felt 10 times better at?

To get to 104kg, to trick my body to get past its lean set point and to do so within 12 months, I did the pastas, the breads, the oats, the cereals, the orange juice, plus a ton of milk, cheese and protein powders.

The result? I lifted heavier and heavier, right up until I plateaued in strength once I weighed over 100kg.

The drawback? With the fat gain came the aches, the pains, the lessons. From shoulder pain, heel pain, Achilles pain, my tendons began to cry out with pathology (this later helped me become a better physio, by the way).

My body reacted to the high sugar diet and the larger waistline. It caused inflammation, insatiable hunger and irritability.

Was it fun seeing the scales climb, the strength double? You bet, but not so much the rehab to get over the secondary effects.  

Lesson learnt; the body does not like to carry too much fat tissue. In fact, adipose tissue has been found to directly drive inflammation.

  1. Lower carbs tend to lead to a smaller waistline.

What’s the first thing that a bodybuilder cuts when they want to trim their body fat? That’s right, the carbs, found in milk and cheese as lactose, in fruit as fructose, in bread as glucose.

I think the majority of adults don’t require many carbs (sugars) in the diet. They can spike the insulin in the bloodstream, which may, over time, increase insulin resistance (just like we can become caffeine resistant, where too much caffeine and used too often leads to a reduced effect on the body).

Because insulin is the hormone that drives nutrients into the cells, reduced sensitivity to it means that the nutrients go to the liver instead, which converts the nutrients to fat.

This helps to explain why type two diabetes and fatty liver disease are becoming so common – they are the ‘runaway trains’ – a feed-forward biological mechanism. It helps explain why obestity causes evan more obesity.

This is not to say that I don’t believe in fibre, calcium, electrolytes, and Vitamin C etc. I do. I just think the typical western diet is far too high in higher GI (glycaemic index) and GL (glycaemic load) foods in general. But hey, that’s just my opinion, you’re free to choose your own.

  1. Most ADULTS can safely go for several hours without food – nothing bad is going to happen!

Most of us can build up a tolerance to fasting. Tyically, as the blood sugars lower, the body gets better at using fat for energy.

Several medical researchers have shared the benefits of fasting, ranging from a better circadian rhythm, better sleep, higher growth hormone release and a lower risk of cancer. Let’s see what mainstream advice becomes in 15 to 20 years!  

Personally, on most days, I am currently eating 1-2 meals between 7am to 1pm and then fasting with only decaf green tea until bedtime. It gets easier, I sleep better and I have a ton more energy in the afternoon and evening.

Do all of us as grown adults need a massive dinner right before we go to sleep? Before our body tries to shut down to recover?

I do not recommend fasting for children, teenagers, pregnant women or people with conditions such as COPD or type 1 diabetes.

I do recommend that people with such conditions speak with their physician first-hand before making any dramatic shifts in their eating patterns.

  1. The ‘lean-bulk’ suits me best.

I can still eat over 3,000 calories per day in meals with higher protein and fat and build muscle, although more slowly, and without adding so dramatically to the waistline.

I just feel better about myself doing this and I feel a lot less bloated.

I enjoy my cardio workouts more, I know my overall health profile is better and as I said I have a lot more sustainable energy and regular mood without the sugar crashes.  

  1. We can learn to love our natural body type more.

My natural body type is more on the leaner side. I’ve had to bust my ass for every inch of muscle I have. I don’t just look at weights and grow, like some of the eastern European folks I’ve worked with.

I’ve come to be okay with being more of an ‘athletic’ than ‘bulky’ build.

I still have some lagging body parts to work on; arms, calves, quads. Heck, I have plenty to achieve. Although I feel like I’m just getting started in a way.

  1. We need to surround ourselves with role models, fresh research, and give things a try for ourselves.

It’s our bodies, our health, our society, our future.

For example, if eating six servings of grains per day hasn’t been working out for you, is it time to try something else?   

If snacking every two hours to reboot your blood sugar levels is not getting you the results you want, and you don’t have any serious medical issues as I mentioned before, is this the best strategy for you?

If the ‘alcohol in moderation’ at two standard drinks per day hasn’t lead you to be fully happy with your physique, is it worth curbing it to one night a week, or none at all?  

Can you find and read the latest research? Can you study and think critically for yourself?

Also, did you know that new research takes at least 14 to 17 years to be adopted into mainstream textbooks? Only to say we should probably try to review the latest and well planned studies!

Yes, listen to the medically trained. Speak with your trusted health provider. Ask questions. Listen to their logic. Ask to see the research.

At the end of the day, this will allow you to make your own informed decision for your personal situation. This is what we mean by informed decision making in healthcare.

I hope this helps as you strategise to achieve your health and fitness goals. I’m excited to keep reading, learning, reflecting, and I hope you are as well!

As I like to say, ‘not perfect, but evolving.’

– Evan