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The Six Pack Challenge

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  • The Six Pack Challenge

    Hi folks,

    I've been mostly paleo/primal for the last few months since I returned from an overseas deployment. It's been going well overall, and I can really feel a difference in my workouts when I stay primal vs. going off the wagon.

    This past week, one of my coworkers, who like me does Crossfit 4-5x/week, pinged me asking me to take part in a six pack challenge. Basically, whoever gets a six pack first wins. She has the advantage: she already lost 28 pounds in the last few months using calorie restriction (started at 1600 calories/day, and she's down to 1,200 now) along with intense exercise via Crossfit. I just got back from New Zealand where I was enjoying all sorts of non-primal foods because well, I'm in New Zealand and why not. I was 188 (12.5% BF) before I left, and now my Tanita says I'm 198 (15% BF%).

    In any case, I now have to catch up with her and get to something like 10% BF before I start really showing a six pack (I was showing a very small 2-pack at 12.5%). Now here's the nasty little secret with primal/paleo as far as I can tell: eating this way if you are majorly overweight will help you drop weight like stones no problem. But if you want to go from 15% to 8%, there is an INTENSE amount of additional hard work to get there.

    I'm back in the US now and can much more easily control my diet, but I want to ask you all how to lose that last 6-7% bodyfat? There are two ways I can think of doing this:

    1) Stay primal, but calorie restrict to ~1800/day. Use a smartphone app (I use Lose It) to track. This really does help and also turns it into a game.
    2) Stick with Crossfit for sure, maybe 3x/week, but now add HIIT, specifically sprinting. The research shows that HIIT is the best way to rev up the metabolism for long hauls after the actual exercise, and sprinting in particular seems to be most effective at targeting belly fat. (the typical reference point is look at marathon runners vs. sprinters; the sprinters are always shredded while the marathon runners look like death).

    What does the crowd think? Has anyone managed to get a six pack while primal? I very much enjoy being primal, but I want to step it up to the next level, and no one ever seems to talk about counting calories on a primal/paleo diet.


  • #2
    Don't forget the other powerful tool for shedding fat: IF.
    You lousy kids! Get off my savannah!


    • #3
      Good point! Please keep the suggestions coming -- this seems to be a much sought-after goal, but not touched upon as much as I'd expect!
      Last edited by futureboy; 11-22-2010, 10:15 PM.


      • #4
        Alright, it sounds like no one else has any ideas on this subject. The elusive six pack continues to stay at a distance! Fundamentally beyond any nutrition advice, the simple equation is that your calories in must be less than your calories out. Yes, this means that if you do it properly, you could in theory eat nothing but pizza every day and still get to a shredded look.

        There are some tricks to help you create the calorie deficit:

        1) IF - go for 24 hours, once/week, without eating anything (depending on your size/genes, this could lead to -2,500 calories burned in a day, all without doing any additional exercise)
        2) HIIT/sprinting - increases the resting metabolic rate (RMR) for the following 24 hours due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption; reportedly up to 9x more efficient than traditional aerobic activity
        3) Calorie restriction - caps off your daily calorie intake. This can be done easily through sticking to a set number of meals/day which takes the guess work out of calorie counting; alternatively, use some tracking tool like an iPhone app or a piece of paper to count your calories as you go.

        It's possible that added muscle also increase calories consumption (I had heard something like 50 calories/pound of lean muscle tissue), but in recent years this factoid has been disputed so I can't claim that number with confidence. In either case, adding muscle certainly helps, but then you get to the problem of sustaining additional muscle without adding additional fat, and no one seems to know the proper mix here, which is why most people tend to add muscle and fat first, then cut fat afterward.

        That's it though... no other tricks/advice?


        • #5
          You're misunderstanding IF, by the looks of things. Check out Leangains.

          And looking for 'tricks', or shortcuts, isn't really the right approach, in my opinion. Exercise heavy and hard, eat the right foods, and try IF, which isn't just about creating a caloric deficit but more about hormonal alterations and activating otherwise little-used neurotransmitters (again, check the Leangains site).
          The Primal Journey of Mr and Mrs Fist