So its been four complete weeks since I have started cutting. Since I practice what I preach, I started early enough that I could do a slow, gradual cut and avoid losing muscle mass … and its paid off!!! I have also practice what I preach and have taken VERY careful and comprehensive measurements so that I know exactly what is going on – lets look at why this is so important! For reference:
Most people consider weighing themselves as a measure of progress. Not only that, they often don’t do it daily and they often don’t weigh at the same time each day, in short, they do not weigh themselves accurately! Even when you DO weigh yourself accurately as I have, the data you get is not that meaningful. Take a look in the chart thats in the lower right corner of the below chart – thats my weight chart. What you see is that I lost a lot of weight in the first week then basically nothing for the next 3 weeks. If that is all the data you had, you would think that you were eating too much and needed to cut your calories further … and you would have been WRONG! Had I cut my calories more, I would have had such a deficit that I would have started losing muscle. To really see what is going on, you need two or more independent measurements so you can see if they all are in agreement or not. In my case, I really wanted to be 100% sure I knew what was going on so I gathered two more kinds of information: bodyfat and waist measurement. Measuring your waist is SO simple that most bodybuilders overlook it. Measuring your waist is the easiest and most accurate way to track progress! If your waist is getting smaller, I can guarantee you that you are dropping bodyfat. The other data I am gathering is three skinfold measurements to get my bodyfat percentage.
When you look at all four charts together you can really get a clear picture of what is going on. Here we see the bodyfat descending in virtually a straight line. This is exactly what we would expect if you are counting your calories, weighing accurately, and measuring your bodyfat accurately. Note that at the same time my bodyfat is decreasing in a straight line, my waist measurement is too, exactly what we expect. Since these two factors are in agreement, we can be pretty darn sure that I am actually losing bodyfat.
Now look at the lean body mass. At first you might wonder why it appears to be all over the map and not in line like the other charts. The reason can be found on the vertical axis, there is only 5 pounds difference between the highest and lowest measurement. This is just because the margin for error when measuring bodyfat is so high, what you are seeing is basically just random fluctuation.
Scale weight is basically meaningless for the first month because as you change your macros and sodium intake the body dumps water weight. Any time you change your macros or sodium intake again, the scale readings become meaningless for another month. The moral of the story is that you need to set a good course and HOLD it rather than making wild and constant swings in nutrition based upon where the scale needle points that day.
So lets look at some pictures. As I predicted last week, this week started to show some real visual progress. I started to get vascularity in the lower abs as bodyfat dropped in that region. Also, I now have that lower back “christmas tree” for the first time in my life. My waist is starting to look noticeably smaller as I have lost 2″ since I started.