From sleep apnoea because of weight gain – To lean at 3000 calories a day

Many of you will know what a ‘12 week transformation’ entails. Many of you would have been through one or have known someone that had dieted hard for a holiday or wedding, but many people fail to make these sustainable and don’t stick with it long enough to make maintaining this easy.

My online client Nick, started with me after being told he needed to get fit and lose some weight or sleep using a machine to help him breathe. Unhealthy habits and a sedentary lifestyle has resulted in his health taking a back seat and it was time to do something about it.

Here’s the process my online client Nick has gone through over the last 6 months to get from 30% body fat with little muscle, and strength to a sustainable 14% body fat with some respectable numbers in the gym.

When a client of this type gets started, you know they are in it for the long run. This isn’t about a drastic ‘12 week transformation’ to get abs, (although Nick has now acquired abs) everything we did was aimed at being sustainable long term and laying the foundations to make this a lifestyle.


The first phase of changes to Nick’s lifestyle looked like this;

  • I asked Nick to keep a food diary for a week. This shocked him into wanting to change further by outlining how bad some of his dietary habits where. He used ‘my fitness pal’ to do this and found the tracking quite enjoyable, so we decided to continue with this approach.
  • After this first week, I set nick the goal of consuming 1900-2000 calories daily with 160g protein. The breakdown of fats and carbs we kept flexible as this is largely unimportant. We discussed how to bank calories for social events and the importance of consuming most of your calories from nutrient dense sources and this was enough to get some big changes initially.
  • Alongside this, I also had Nick measure his daily step count setting him a goal of 8000 daily, as someone who had a sedentary job his calorie output from daily movement was low – sometimes only hitting 1000 steps in a day. Getting up from his desk at lunch, parking further away from work and adding in short walks where needed got his daily steps right up allowing him to burn more calories.
  • We also set a daily water goal of 4 litres.
  • Training started at 3 weight sessions per week, focusing on frequency of some key lifts to improve execution quickly. The split was upper, lower, upper.

Just adhering to the above goals allowed Nick to make great progress for around 8 weeks before he hit a plateau. With plenty of room to move regarding output we simply upped his training volume by switching to a push, pull, rest, legs, rest, repeat split. Nick hit a few more plateaus over the next few months; we simply increased steps up to 10,000 daily and reduced calories a couple of times until they hit a low of 1700 on rest days. HIIT was added in once and then twice weekly sessions.

By this stage Nick was already very lean with abs coming through but wasn’t carrying much muscle and although strength had increased because of weight training, it could increase much further with an increase in food. So in July we decided to start a reverse dieting process, gradually upping calories on a weekly or bi weekly basis taking us to an all-time high of 3000 calories and 300g of carbs on training days. Throughout this period, Nick’s strength has really improved which in turn has increased his muscle mass and ability to handle more food. Body fat gain in this period was very minimal but now Nick is in a much better place metabolically, (he’s eating significantly more food). We are going through a little tidy up phase, reducing calories by 300 daily. We are looking to lose around 3lbs more body fat whilst ensuring he is still progressing his lifts in the gym. This slightly leaner composition will allow Nick to handle more food, so we can continue to push up strength and increase muscle tissue.

The goal now is just to continue this cycle of pushing up food, getting stronger, building muscle then ‘tidying up’ if needed until spring next year. We will then transition into a dieting phase again to get Nick not lean, but shredded for summer. This is going to be relatively easy for Nick as he’s already dieted on low calories so with the increased muscle tissue/strength and therefore higher metabolic rate, he will be able to diet on much higher calories than before.

Working with Nick has been awesome because he put all his trust in me and was happy to play the long game and because of his patience, he is now in a fantastic place. This is something to consider next time you aren’t happy with the changes you are seeing after 2 weeks of work.


If you have any questions on any aspects of this process please feel free to drop me a message.

Posted in Bulking, Fat Loss, Maintenace, Progress, Training and tagged , , , , .


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