It was that time of year again. The start of the year, after the holiday binge eating, and plenty of time to get ready for summer. My friends and I started another fitness challenge this January. The past couple of years we have done the 75 Hard Challenge starting around this time. The results were tremendous but the strain on our families was becoming an obvious issue. Ignoring that felt selfish at best and indifferent at worst. We needed to try something different.
Enter Fat Loss Challenge
- Get a Dexa Scan on January 14th to determine body fat composition.
- Diet and Workout for 90 days to lose as much body fat as possible.
- Retest Dexa Scan April 14th.
Dexa Scan (See Picture Above)
This is the gold standard for determining body composition. They are also really difficult to find. In my hometown of Lubbock, TX, there are three. One at each of the Universities, Texas Tech University and Lubbock Christian University. It was next to impossible to get an appointment with either of those departments for 6 dudes. Doctor’s notes, high fees, and multiple answering services left us frustrated. Until we found the third machine at the Lubbock Bone and Ultrasound Center. We got in fairly easily without a Doctor’s note or insurance involved. Dexa scans are useful for bone density measurements for osteoporosis patients and the like, which is why this clinic existed.
We got our first scans and…IT. WAS. HUMBLING.
My scale at home has historically told me I am between 11 and 13 % body fat. The Dexa Scan told me that I was 22.4% body fat. I couldn’t believe it.
Day 1: January 14, 2023; 22.4% Body Fat
The goal was losing as much fat as possible while keeping as much muscle as possible. We wanted to put money on the line but we have never done this before and so didn’t know what to expect, aside from try real hard to keep muscle and lose fat.
With that goal in mind, I limited my calories to 2,100 and aimed at eating over 30% of my calories from protein and less than 20% for carbs while eliminating alcohol completely and limiting added sugar as much as possible. I took the sweetener a step further and cut out all artificial sweeteners aside from Stevia. I lifted 6 days a week and boxed 2 days a week. I kept this routine for 90 days.
Day 90: April 14, 2023; 21.2% Body Fat
On retest day, I was down about 7 lbs. on my scale at home and down 5.5 lbs. on the scale at the clinic. Of every pound I lost, 58% of that was fat loss. The program was doing what it was supposed to, regardless of how disappointing the overall numbers were. The rest of the group had similar reactions, meaning they were relatively pleased with how they looked in the mirror and disappointed in the results of the scan. I feel like I look leaner than 21% body fat. So I will probably get scanned in another city soon to validate those results.
What did I learn that is worth repeating?
No sugar! Insulin response is killing you. So much of what is wrong with Americans’ health today is due to sugar. My gut is healthier now than it has been in a decade due to cutting out sugar and sugar substitutes. I used to curb my desire for sweet drinks with Sweet N-low or drink “Sugar-Free” drinks that were sweetened with sugar alcohols. The problem with those is that it creates the SAME insulin response, which leads to increased storage of fat.
Eat your protein first! Your muscles need it. When eating at a caloric deficit, eating protein and lifting weights allows you to keep more muscle as you lose weight (i.e. mostly fat). Also, protein makes and keeps you fuller longer than processed carbs do.
Get 7+ hours of sleep! Your hormones need it. Watching that extra episode of Netflix is killing your health. There are few things more important to your health than a full night’s sleep. That is when your body releases hormones to repair itself.
End each set of resistance training 1 to 3 reps from failure! You are wasting time if you don’t. Through this season I listened to quite a few experts discuss proper resistance training, AKA “Lifting Weights”. Resistance training has gotten a bad wrap to a lot of females over the years but that has recently changed. The benefits of resistance training is much more well known:
- It improves bone density,
- It prevents falls as you age,
- Keeping or increasing muscle maintains or increases your metabolism,
- The tone you are seeking comes from having muscle, etc.
As a guy, I thought I was training at a high volume, which I was but not with sufficient effort. Sufficient effort is working sets where you end 1 to 3 reps from failure. I changed my lifting to make sure I was doing that and I gained strength and looked different in the mirror. I will keep that and track the amount of weight I lift moving forward.
I like how I look and feel after this experiment. I will keep all of these habits moving forward:
- Less than 20g of carbs until dinner
- No added sugar, aside from 1 dessert per week
- Get 7+ hours of sleep
- Track weights lifted to stay closer to get stronger and stay closer to failure
What fitness challenge should we try next?
2 thoughts on “2023 Fat Loss Challenge”
Wow, if you were 22% body fat, I shudder to think what I am. But it is really cool the science we have now to accurately measure.
Agree with all this. Have you tried any of Jade Teta’s work outs? They are the only ones I have been able to stick with, besides playing pickleball. Lol. Bret
I have not! I am going to have to google that…I hope that isn’t like Zumba and will make me dance in front of a crowd of people…haha