For long I've dreamt of having a ripped body of the likes of Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid love. But the journey of this pursuit has been nothing less than a roller coaster.
At first, after my preliminary research, I realised that I had to lose body fat so that the abs show up. After further research I found out that the best diet to lose fat is the Ketogenic Diet. Now, I'm fairly rigorous about seeing the things that I set my goal on. So I stuck that diet for close to 6 months and went from 140 pounds to 115 pounds. I was pretty damn happy with the fat loss I had achieved.
Now, although my body fat was close to 10%, the end result was nowhere close to what I had hoped for. I was now just a skinny dude who looked worse than before. I thought going to the gym and consuming enough protein was all I needed to do. But apparently not.
I was convinced that I wasn't doing something right in the gym. So phase 2 of this project was that I decided to hire a personal trainer in the gym who looked better than Ryan Gosling above. I trained 3 days a week and was now sure that I was getting it right at the gym. However in terms of diet he wasn't able to give me any input as I was a vegetarian and the diet he followed primarily involved ground beef. He wasn't really a nutritionist and all his diet knowledge was experiments that he tried on himself, as to what worked and what did not. So besides telling me that I needed to match my body weight of protein, he didn't have much to offer.
After training for over a month, this trainer had to leave the city for personal reasons and I shifted to a different trainer. Fortunately my next trainer also happened to be a nutritionist. He religiously tracks the food I eat everyday and counts calories and protein on a day to day basis. To my surprise I realised a huge flaw in my diet. Although I was consuming matching my protein intake to my body weight, I wasn't able to hit more than 1400 calories per day.
As per his computation my Mendoza line (metabolism rate) was 1800 calories and to gain weight I had to have surplus of carbs. He suggested I hit 2300 calories at my current body weight.
Until this point, I just assumed that my body would use the fat I had, if it needed more calories but I realise now that it is far f rom reality. Your body just won't add any muscle if it doesn't have a caloric surplus. Having done a very strict caloric deficit diet in my phase 1, having to go surplus now just feels wrong.
But most research I read, point at the fact that the most optimal way of muscle gain is to go surplus in calories. In the process you will add some fat but that is something you can't get away from. I suppose, in the next phase I can focus on cutting the added extra fat. With diets like the ketogenic diet by my side, I no longer deem that phase a challenge.
So in effect, the pursuit of my goal involves me regaining some of that fat that I so vehemently lost. Trying to go about this in any other way is highly sub-optimal.