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Friends have asked what I do to maintain 5-6% body fat. The fact that my body fat level is consistent through the year, what I do to maintain it must be simple and sustainable, and not interfere with life.
Here I share a picture taken of me not too long ago, and then below a little detail of what I do for my body composition.
My Dietary Habit
I mainly attribute my consistently low body fat NOT to exercise but to my dietary habit (even though I grew up a fat kid). My dietary habit is simple: I eat mostly whole food, like vegetables and fresh fruits, lots of berries, lots of nuts, and lots of meats and eggs. If it’s in or near its natural state, I’ll likely eat it.
Also, I take advantage of intermittent fasting(IF), not only to control calorie intake but also for two more important reasons:
- Studies are showing a host of health benefits with IF. I’m as much for health as I am for aesthetics, if not more so.
- IF is very liberating, which opens my day to do everything or do nothing. I generally eat my first meal around 4pm and my last around 11pm. During the day I just drink water, sparkling water, or coffee.
Does intermittent fasting cause metabolism damage? Muscle loss? Contrary to popular concerns, IF does not cause muscle loss and it doesn’t wreck your metabolism. Fat loss experienced with fasting appears to be a result of reduced calorie intake (on the average through time). Intermittent fasting also decreases insulin output and increases catecholamines and growth hormones, which encourages fat mobilization and oxidation (fat burning).
If you give IF a spin, keep in mind some basic things:
You should expect a period of adaptation, through which hunger should be managed until it diminishes. Give your body a chance to learn how to tap more efficiently into its fat storage for fuel to meet energy demand. And you’ll still need to eat responsibly when breaking the fast.
Personally, I recommend taking advantage of the positive effects of IF on health, whether or not you want to lose fat.
My Exercise Habit
I try to keep formal exercise to a minimum. Otherwise, I try to move around a lot, go for walks each day with my lovely wife and my dog (a domesticated 4-legged family member named Java).
Below is a list of 3 formal workouts I typically do. I chose one, two, or all three of them for each week, depending on whether I have the time or feel the need:
- 1 day heavy resistance training — at a gym, or in my garage. Usually 3 movements that include Deadlift, Overhead Press, and weighted Pull-ups. With quick and specific warmups, I get this entire workout done in 30 to 40 minutes.
- 1 day of body-weight exercises — at home, in my living room or in the backyard. I use a lot of Adam Steer’s body-weight exercise ideas. I do this for up to 20 minutes, but absolutely no more.
- 1 day of metabolic-intense activities like sprinting in the park with my dog, or sometimes I do a kettlebell workout in my garage. I do this no more than 20 minutes.
So, 1 to 3 days of formal exercise per week, mostly done quickly (but intensely). Other than that, as mentioned earlier, I try to stay as active as I can daily — and I don’t consider it formal exercise but just part of life. I go on daily walks — sometimes at a brisk pace, other times leisure. But even if I have to sit long hours for work, I’d still get up frequently and do arm circles, trunk rotation, a couple of body-weight squats. I’d walk to the kitchen to get some water, maybe make another shot of espresso, because sitting is just plain bad.
- I eat mostly food close to its natural state. I fast intermittently. (But I still enjoy dessert, pizza, and wine.)
- I stay active with daily living — walking around more, etc. I engage in as little formal exercises as I can, keeping them simple, intense, and quick.