Getting Lean Over 50

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Is It Possible to Get Lean in Later Years


This year I have found myself in an interesting quandary. In April 2021 I decided I needed to lose some heft. I had been training and eating in a calorie surplus for quite some time, and had slowly gained weight back up to 77kgs. Although I did not test my body fat, I would estimate 77kgs for me is around 25% BFP (Body Fat Percentage).

For sure this is not my ideal weight, so I decided it was time to shed some fat and get myself back down to 70kgs. Which I had always considered to be my ideal weight.

Having successfully got myself down below 70kgs by December 2021, I sat back and congratulated myself. Whilst returning to a healthy maintenance weight with intuitive eating.

However, I felt something was missing. It was almost too easy to get back down to 70kgs. The gyms closing between January to April 2022 did not help. But I still managed to stay active and find a way through this period. But I couldn’t quite work out what was missing. There was an itch I needed to scratch. A new challenge maybe.

I think one of the reasons I was in this quandary was because I was looking better than I could ever remember. Which at 51 was an achievement that somehow settled me into a peaceful state of mind.

But then on 10th May, I was chatting to my American colleague in Chicago, another man of fine age (48) who also enjoys healthy living. When he showed me pictures of him 3 months prior at 20% BFP, and a current new leaner version at 10% BFP.

The change was phenomenal. Outstanding. To say I was impressed was an understatement.

And just like that, thanks to James, I had a new challenge which I began immediately. To get myself down to below 10% BFP.

The boys at MindPump regularly say that every man should get below 10% at least once in their life to see how they look and feel. And bearing in mind what a positive influence they are on me, along with the fact my colleague could achieve this at a similar age. It just made sense to do it. I had to try. I have to succeed.

Calorie Tracking

With immediate effect I reengaged MyFitnessPal and put in my new target numbers.

Through experience and previous calculations, I know my TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) is around 2500 calories per day. So with the gyms reopened and my activity increased, I was happy to settle on a daily calorie target for my first two weeks of 2000 calories per day.

It should go without saying, but I will mention it, that within those 2000 calories had to be approximately 150gms of protein. Being 1gm of protein per 1lb of bodyweight (or target bodyweight).

First Two Weeks

As I am now two weeks in, I can also report on my current progress. Which I must admit, is a little challenging.

Over these two weeks I have averaged almost exactly 2000 calories per day. So I am bang on target. But the scales have not moved. In fact, they have gone up a little bit.

I find this amusing somehow. Because with my education as a Nutrition Coach, I know I am doing the right thing. I have implemented a 24 hour fasting day, as well as a healthy refeed day. I am hitting my calorie and protein numbers.

So I know I am on target. I know I am in a caloric deficit. I know I am following the science.

Why No Weight Loss After Two Weeks?

With the gyms open I am training more regularly (3x gym sessions plus weekend cycling/sport). I have also started a new training regime which is more focused towards functional athleticism. Therefore my body has undergone quite a substantial change in activity, which I feel is increasing my muscle mass as I am hitting muscles which have been dormant for some time.

This is a temporary adjustment which my body will settle into. I am recovering faster and training more regularly. So it makes sense my body has to adjust.

Furthermore I feel I am retaining more water than before. I have increased my sodium intake due to excessive sweating from training, which could be part of the water retention.

Along with the increased training, I have thrown my body into a calorie deficit after I’ve been enjoying a maintenance/surplus eating regime for the past 5 months.

Moving into week 3, I have reduced my target calories down to 1800 to be sure my body knows it is definitely in a deficit, and needs to start shedding fat.

The Goal

I did an In-Body scan at Pure Fitness which showed my BFP to be 18% currently. Prior to having this measurement, my goal was to reach 65kgs. This measurement just confirms my goals. Because if I am to lose 8% more body fat, that’s just over 5kgs.

It should be noted that I have not been 65kgs since I was a teenager. From the age of 21 when I moved to Hong Kong, I have only ever been larger. So to reduce my body weight and body fat down to that of a teenage Gary, alongside what I hope to be additional muscle mass, should result in a lean fit body at the age of 52 by October.

It can be done. James proved it to me. So now I just need to follow the science and keep working hard.

I will report back either during this journey, or at the end of it. It’s going to be quite a ride to achieve something I have never done in my life. But that’s what life is all about. 

Challenge yourself to do the unthinkable, and you might just amaze yourself.

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