With most of the Evolve team training for our Christmas photo shoot, we thought we’d dig in to what each trainer is doing to prepare themselves.
Ever wondered how trainers train themselves? Here you go. First up is Tim Digan. This one is pretty detailed so get yourself a coffee and absorb some knowledge…
Keys To Success
- Protein Amount
- Resistance Training
- Meal Plan
- Sleep & Parasympathetic State
- Low Intensity Activity (walking)
Setting a calorie deficit: Calories are king, we cannot avoid the first law of thermodynamics. I start off with a 25% deficit and then adjust according to weekly changes I see on the scale and in the mirror. I stick to the same calories everyday. By following a linear strategy I find it easier to track changes and pinpoint what’s affecting progress.
Protein amount: Protein is key to maintaining muscle mass in a deficit. Plus it keeps me satiated and not reaching for some sweet stuff. I set protein at 2.5g per lb of lean body mass.
Carb:Fat ratio: I have higher carb days when I’m training and higher fat days on rest days. Each day equates to the same calorie load and I will never let my fat intake drop below 20% of my total calories. I find its key to have carbohydrate based energy available for workouts to go at max intensity and enjoy training.
Meal plan: Absolutely key for consistency! I pick a bunch of foods I enjoy and simply repeat the same thing each day. This allows me to batch cook several meals at a time and remove complexity. Complex meal plans are a nightmare, very few people can consistently prep three or more meals every day. My obese inner child can easily eat 5000 calories a day and still be hungry.
Meal 1: Greek yoghurt and mixed berries with cocoa powder and stevia. Side of spiced broccoli.
Meal 2: Spiced beef in a passata sauce with mushrooms, potatoes (replaced with eggs on rest days) and savoy cabbage.
Meal 3: Giant bowl of porridge oats and protein powder (sticky toffee pudding flavour!) with a side of spring greens.
Drinks – 4L water, 2 black coffees, 1 green tea, homemade ginger and clove tea & reishi hot cacao.
Supplements – Omega 3, Creatine, Multivitamin (Vit D, Mg, Zn etc), Spirulina & Chlorella
Few key points from my meal plan
- Study after study has shown that if protein is constant the carb:fat ratio does not matter for fat loss, calories are king.
- The only artificial sweeteners I get are via whey protein. After working in the food industry and seeing the mounting evidence against them I do not down zero calorie crap to stay on track.
- From the 500g of frozen berries to the mountain of broccoli I take a high volume and high fibre approach. This keeps me full and nourishes my gut microbiome. Not being able to poo for days is no fun…
- I prioritise cruciferous vegetables in a deficit for sex hormone regulation. It’s inevitable that testosterone is going to take a hit but a big dose of indol-3carbinol from cruciferous veggies is one of the best ways to mitigate the drop.
- I consume a high antioxidant load to modulate inflammation from training and general day to day soaking in of the London fumes. Plus the deficit itself is a big stressor on the body so high quality nutrition is key for keeping my immune system firing in flu season.
- Even though my nutrition plan is based on micronutrient rich whole natural foods it’s difficult to get all the micronutrients I need in a deficit so I supplement with a high quality multivitamin.
- Food doesn’t have to be bland in a deficit! Some stock, cocoa powder, herbs, spices, rubs, passata, stevia etc can go a long way!
Meal timing: Although meal timing will have no effect on fat loss it will affect my compliance. My day starts at 4:50am so I’ll push my first meal to 10am. Meal 2 will be at 3pm post workout and I have my last meal in the evening around 8:30pm. I save a big bowl of oats for the evening to keep me satiated and not thinking about food all night. Plus this evening carb load is critical for me in a deficit, the serotonin boost helps me get a good night’s sleep.
Five days of resistance training with two days rest. Plus lots of low intensity activity each day to keep the calorie burn ticking over without impacting my CNS to keep recovery on point.
Day 1 – Upper Body Push (heavy strength based)
Day 2 – Upper Body Pull (heavy strength based)
Day 3 – Legs (heavy strength based)
Day 4 – Rest
Day 5 – Full Body (muscular endurance based)
Day 6 – Modified German Volume Training for fun and maximum intensity (also acts as cardiovascular training for the week)
Day 7 – Rest
Every muscle group is hit 2-3x per week with enough volume (weights x sets x reps) to maintain muscle mass. I manage my intensity between steady grinding strength sessions and more fast paced full body & GVT sessions.
I remove all moderate intensity cardio (e.g. running) as it spikes my appetite and interferes with my recovery in a deficit. Maintaining muscle mass is critical in a deficit and when my body has limited calories I want all of the available energy directed towards maintaining muscle mass. Not the competing signal of recovery from moderate intensity cardio. Plus I program my weight training sessions to be intense enough that there is no need for additional cardiovascular training.
Do not underestimate the power of low intensity activity! Walking has very little impact on our recovery and appetite signalling but it can make a big impact on our calorie deficit. I stick a podcast on and walk an average of 25,000 steps a day which for me is ~20km. Yes, this means I have to get up a bit earlier but trust me this can make a huge difference to fat loss results.
Sleep and getting Parasympathetic
Being in a calorie deficit is already a stressor on our physiology so I find it’s key when cutting down to control stress levels and physiological insults as much as possible. Otherwise it is difficult to get quality sleep which leads to a whole host of problems from irritability to increased hunger signals. This is why I remove all moderate intensity cardio, all alcohol, all processed foods (except whey), get a minimum of 6.5hrs sleep per night and track my heart rate variability to see how my nervous system is holding up. My one ‘hack’ for a quality night’s sleep is using Four Sigmatic’s Mushroom Hot Cacao every night. This stuff contains a big dose of reishi which not only relaxes me into a coma for an amazing nights sleep but it modulates our immune system which is inevitably compromised in a deficit.
The biggest rock – CONSISTENCY
It’s only six weeks. Suck it up, stay consistent and get the best results possible!
Do you want to be in the best shape of your life by Christmas? Fancy training alongside a whole gym full of dedicated trainers and clients focussed on getting results? We’re currently offering a 10% discount on our 6 week body transformation program if you sign up this month. For more details, READ THIS, or simply drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org