Sci-MX Challenge Week Three: Nutrition plans are food for thought

Food for thought: Diet is a critical part of healthy living

In the third part of our series, Dan Owen and Alex Rea talk about arguably the hardest part of any health and fitness programme – nutrition.

Advised by their expert trainers, along with the team at Sci-MX Nutrition, this is what they are putting in, to ensure they are hitting those goals.

Dan Owen @MyPropLife

Anyone who knows me, knows I like my food. Sweet, savoury, you name it I’ll eat it – and in pretty spectacular portions too.

For the last year I have been steadily in the 105 – 107kg bracket, which at around five feet eight inches tall, is pretty bulky.

That has never been an issue though, as a rugby prop I need bulk, and as the old adage goes; mass moves mass.

I wouldn’t say I ate badly, but when I wasn’t prepping food things would slip. Lunch would be a delivery sent to the office, a bit of chocolate for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, a couple of takeaways at the weekend. You get the idea.

I came into the challenge at around 102.5kg, with a little trepidation about what my nutrition might look like, but my first meeting with trainer John Britton set me at ease.

John is a Sci-MX athlete of some repute – a national-level weightlifter and the Manager/Head Coach of F45 Training in Dubai Motor City.

Due to his athletic background he knows the pressures of maintaining size and bulk for sport and the best ways of going about it.

The key for me would not necessarily be to lose weight, but there is the opportunity to get leaner. Not losing mass while increasing conditioning, a lot, can be tricky.

I am not counting calories, but focusing on good levels of protein, lots of fruit and vegetables, and a decent level of crabs that a weighted more to the early and mid-parts of the day. I am eating nothing sweet, other than fruit and a little honey.

This breaks down into;

Breakfast: Oats with nuts, sunflower seeds, berries and a little honey. 10oz steak.

2 x lunches about 3 hours apart: 200g of minced beef with vegetables and sweet potato with one.

Dinner: Some kind of meat with vegetables (no carbs).

Snacks: Fruit, nuts, protein bar, protein shake, Greek yoghurt (I’ll usually have 2-3 of these a day).

On top of this I am drinking around 3-4 litres of water a day. I feel fresh and alert, and also energised for training.

I am eating the Sci-Mx Duo protein bars (caramel and vanilla) which taste fantastic and really help subdue that chocolate craving, plus they have 20g of protein. Protein shakes are Sci-MX Ultra Whey vanilla – mixed with soya milk and some strawberries. It mixes really well and again tastes great.

Alex Rea @AlexReaFitness

Just reading about Dan’s column with all the talk of sweets and savoury is making me hungry!

As predicted, the toughest element of this challenge is the nutrition.

The primary issues stemmed from a lack of understanding and the internet hardly helps with its myriad of diet plans and principles adding to the confusion.

Fortunately in my corner is certified Exercise Physiologist and Sci- MX athlete Aaron Agnew.

The Canadian is one of the leading fitness professionals in the region but his own evolution as a physique competitor places him in the best spot to structure my diet accordingly.

Sitting at 14 percent body fat and 86.7kg to begin with, the aim of the challenge is to bring that down to sub-10 percent and around the 83kg mark.

To reach those targets Aaron has implemented a strict calorie controlled diet underpinned by macronutrient counting which will allow me to train at a deficit and bring the pounds down each week.

Macros is a buzzword many will have heard in discussion and it’s essentially just a split of the fundamental nutrients – carbohydrates, protein and fats.

For the challenge, my macros are set at 45 percent carbs, 30 percent protein and 25 percent fats with the idea of having just enough carbs to fuel the day alongside a high-protein intake to retain muscle.

Green vegetables were my enemy growing up but they’ve become my best friend during these opening weeks with the staple food effectively
a freebie from a macro perspective, helping to keep my metabolic rate high throughout the day.

Naturally, my metabolism slows down so at the end of each week Aaron has afforded me a ‘re-feed’ day with a big boost of carbs to shock the system back to a quicker pace.

One factor Aaron has hammered home is the need to track my weight over the space of a couple days, something which is slightly alien to me, but crucial for accountability and tracing progress to see if the diet needs adjusting.

Another point of Aaron’s which is coming to fruition is his prior warning – cutting weight is hard.

He outlined, and as I’m discovering now, your general mood and sleep is impacted, how you view food changes and training becomes a real grind on low energy.

It requires a tremendous amount of sacrifice and there are drawbacks which can leave a mark both mentally and physically well after the process is completed because getting so lean is nigh on impossible to maintain. It is true a battle against yourself rather than the weights and that’s why having a professional like Aaron providing the foundation and support is pivotal.


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