It was mid-October of 2007.

Fear set in as I read my email…

Marc “Spud” Bartley, a 285-lb behemoth capable of lifting absolutely ridiculous amounts of weight, had contacted me asking for help in losing weight and improving his health. He explained that he’d recently suffered a major leg injury while attempting to squat something like a bajillion pounds and wanted to use his rehab time to drop some flab and improve his well-being. He had seen what my good friend, Justin Harris, did with Dave Tate’s physique and wanted to follow suit (maybe not do all the gay stuff like tan, oil, take cute pics, etc. but at least get into pretty good shape).

I sat back and pondered the situation. A very large, strong, recently injured (and hence pissed off) man was asking me to take away his treats…his pizza…his beer…his…gasp…Little Debbies.

A bead of sweat formed on my brow and slowly dripped down my face. I’ve always considered myself to be a man of at least average intelligence, capable of using rational thought and making at least a few a reasonable decisions every day. I put my own survival and well-being at the forefront of most endeavors, at least on week days. For some reason though, that day I decided to take a chance. I decided to put myself on the line.

I decided to...put Marc Bartley on a diet.

To start things off, I sent Marc a list of foods to start switching over to from his usual diet. There wasn’t any need to get into any fancy carb rotations or exotic supplements in the beginning. For individuals with a fair amount of fat to lose, just switching over to healthier food choices (and dropping the junk food, sweets, etc.) will produce great results.

Here’s the food list I sent him:

  • Protein: boneless skinless chicken breast, lean cuts of steak, fish, turkey breast, egg whites (ratio of six egg whites to one whole egg), whey, caseinate, any high quality protein powder
  • Fruits and vegetables: Any are fine, but the best choices are green vegetables like broccoli, asparagus, salads
  • Carbs: Oatmeal, rice, potatoes, yams, cream of rice, grits, whole wheat pasta, rice cakes
  • Fats: almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, flax oil, fish oil capsules, all natural peanut butter, borage oil, olive oil, cold pressed canola and safflower oil

I told Marc to shoot for 5–6 meals a day (about 2.5–3 hours between meals) with at least 50 grams of protein per meal. I told him to have carbohydrates with his first couple meals of the day as well as post-workout. In his non-carb meals, I had him add a small amount of healthy fats.

Because of his injury, cardio wasn’t much of an option when we first started. As he progressed in his rehabilitation, we slowly implemented some light treadmill work.

To help with energy levels, I suggested that Marc start off with Metabotrop (the Troponin supplements green-tea based fat burner) two times a day. I also told him that he could use any zero calorie condiments and spices with his meals and drink any zero calorie beverages at any time (diet soda, crystal lite, coffee, tea).

After a few weeks of following the above plan, Marc dropped close to 15 pounds. Obviously some of this was bloat, but a significant portion was fat as well. He said he was able to do some light cardio at that point and was being fairly consistent with two sessions per week of 15–20 minutes. He also sent me the following average daily menu so that I could see what he was doing and where we might want to make changes.

Meal 1: Protein shake or egg white omelet, 3/4 banana, one small soy drink

Meal 2: Two chicken breasts, 3/4 banana

Meal 3: Two chicken breasts or other lean meat, one can green beans, 2 oz cheese

Meal 4: Two chicken breasts and a moderate amount of carbs

Meal 5: Protein bar or whey shooter

Meal 6: Lean meat and moderate amount of carbs, a couple servings of cashews

To keep him progressing, I had him bump his cardio to 3–4 sessions per week (same duration of 15–20 minutes) and replace the fruit (bananas) with regular old fashioned oatmeal, brown rice, or sweet potatoes. Complex carbohydrates supplied him with a slower burning, longer lasting fuel source than fruit and kept him fuller for longer.

I instructed him to limit those starchy carbohydrates to his first two meals of the day (about 40 g carbs each in meals 1 and 2) and post-workout (75 g carbs). In his non-carb meals, he added 10 grams of fat from one of the healthy sources that I provided in the original food list.

After every 4–5 days of the above plan, I had him implement a high carb day with the following guidelines:

  • Approximately 600 grams of total carbohydrates for the day
  • Have 7–8 meals (about every two hours) with about 80 grams of carbohydrates per meal
  • Have about 30 grams of protein per meal
  • Keep fats very low on this day so only choose lean protein sources and don’t add any fats to any meals

This periodic high carb day would replenish his glycogen stores to continue fueling his weight training sessions and also give his metabolism a bit of a boost. In response to prolonged hypocaloric (below maintenance calories) periods, the human body will slow down its metabolism. The high carb days (hyPERcaloric, i.e. above maintenance calories) mitigate the damage from this metabolic slowdown. They also give a short-lived boost to leptin levels, the hormone responsible for energy regulation in the body.

It had also been a while since he had eaten any “normal food” so I told him to have a free/“cheat” meal where he could eat whatever he wanted and however much he wanted. This was more for psychological reasons than anything else (nobody wants to be deprived of good food for months on end), but it also served a similar purpose as the high carb day (refilling glycogen, stimulating metabolism, etc.). It’s very easy for a cheat meal to turn into a cheat day though so I have my clients make their cheat meal the last meal of the day. I think Marc’s ended up lasting through the whole night…

Where We Are Now

Marc followed this new plan for another couple weeks and just reported back to me last week with his progress. He’s down another few pounds and ready for the next step. I wrote out a more detailed carb cycling approach for him to follow with a specific outline for his high days, medium days, and low days. I told him to start using the following carb rotation: high, low, low, medium, low, and low. He’s also going to be increasing his weekly cardio to four sessions of 25 minutes each. This should get us through the next couple weeks. Then, we’ll have to make some additional changes to keep progress humming along.

In the last ten weeks, Marc has dropped approximately 25 pounds and significantly improved his blood work. His good cholesterol is up, and his blood pressure is now at the point where he can discontinue taking medication for it. We still have about 25 more pounds to go, and it’s going to take some time to get there. However, with an intelligent and focused approach, it will definitely happen. If you’re in a similar situation, implementing some of the approaches outlined in this short article should help you make positive changes in both your physique and well-being.