From 20% to 10% body fat: summary

My 16-week challenge to drop from ~20% to 10% body fat has been a failure. It has also been a success.

I did not make my goal. The DEXA scan I performed a few days after finishing the challenge put me at 13% body fat, with a total weight of 70.6kg. I was off by two kilos of fat (9kg vs the 7kg I aimed for), which is not a lot, but neither it is so little.

I am, however, quite happy with my overall progress. In sixteen weeks, I went from 76.7kg to 70.6kg, a six kilo drop. Perhaps a full kilo could be accounted to inflammation/water retention, but it’s very likely I lost five kilos of fat in this period. My belly went from 94cm to 87cm. While I couldn’t take a DEXA at the beginning, I am almost certain I did not lose muscle mass; in fact, I gained muscle in my arms and legs compared to my last scan a year ago. I did lose some muscle mass in my trunk, I’m not sure why. My overall lean mass is at 58.2kg, which is within a kilo of what I had in my previous three scans (range 58.7-59.5kg). Overall, now I know that I need to aim for a weight of about 68kg in order to hit the 10% body fat goal.

My progress wasn’t steady, but happened in bursts. In weeks 6, 14, 15 and 16 I lost 3.5kg, more than half the total. Progress was very solid on weeks were I maintained a caloric deficit on most days of the week, between 4 and 7 of them. I also had four weeks were I went backwards, but by a cumulative total of less than 1kg – the setbacks were there but they were smaller than the progress. I believe this was because I was keeping myself accountable by sharing my progress publicly.

The most successful weeks by far were the last three ones. Partly because of the power of the deadline, and partly because of Matt Marshall’s program. However, the sheer amount of mental energy I spent executing the program left me looking for modifications that would keep it as effective while taking its edge off a little bit. The 1500kcal daily ceiling was too low for the level of activity I have. I have a modified version of the program in my mind that I want to try; if it’s successful, I’ll be sure to share it.

I’m now on vacation so my aim is to maintain, or at least not undo much of my progress.

In summary, I’m getting closer, but I’m not there yet. My results are not there yet, my system for leaning up and my system for maintaining are not there yet, and my mindset is not there yet. It was no surprise to see I made very good progress but I’m still not there. I believe that after some more learning, I will finally be able to hit my goal in a sustainable way. And when I get there, I would love to share what I learn with others. Hopefully it will be before the end of the year.

Thanks for reading!