A better body. Everyone wants one. But do you have what it takes to get one?
To test how tough it is to genuinely transform your physique, Topman Site Editor Jamie Carson and Junior Editor Jacob Corner are taking on Ultimate Performance‘s intensive 12 week programme and documenting the effect it has on their bodies, appetites, social lives, and mental health. This week they’re focusing on diet. Turns out one of them has taken to it pretty well. The other one? Not so much…
What’s your diet?
Jamie: 1800 calories, 184 grams of protein and 51 grams of carbohydrates. At first it doesn’t sound too bad. Mostly because I have no idea what it means. But when you look into it, that’s not a lot of carbs. For example, I’m not allowed potatoes, rice or bread, as it would just send the plan crashing. Did you know there’s 23g of carbs in a banana? That’s madness. That stuff’s supposed to be great for you, but that’s literally half of what I can have in a day, and I’m not wasting it on what Dreamworks’ Minions eat. So instead I’ve been eating biltong, chicken and prawns straight from the packet like a feral animal, because they’re low calorie and carb, but most importantly high in protein, because I have some hefty protein goals to hit daily.
Jacob: Honestly I don’t understand the diet plan so I’ve just been copying what Jamie is eating. Turns out that’s a lot of chicken breast and spinach. Also a lot of Greek yogurt.
Are you following the diet?
Jamie: Apart from being best man at a wedding one day (I doubt the groom would’ve been happy with me toasting the bride with an Optimum Nutrition whey protein shake) I’ve been very strict with it, tracking and measuring everything I eat with the app MyFitness. I am honestly scared to veer from the diet in case our personal trainer Rich finds out and rubs my face in all the takeaway I’ve cheated with, like a misbehaved dog when they piss on the carpet.
Jacob: Yes. Absolutely. All the time. 100%.
(Rich stop reading please.)
No. I had a holiday to New York booked before I signed up to this stupid challenge and I wasn’t going to go to the home of the complex carb to angrily nibble on chicken breast. People might call it the big apple but there’s honestly not much fruit there. I gorged myself on pizza, donuts, and ‘heroes’ and sent Jamie texts to rub it in:
Also I’ve just come off the back of a three month transformation that I documented here and I’m worried that my willpower well has run dry. What makes it especially hard is that when you’re dieting, that’s your life. Being social (at least for me) revolves around drinking and eating which automatically makes dieting a lonely pursuit, whether you do it with someone or not. Doing that for 3 months was fine, particularly because I was unhappy with my body weight, but doing it for another 3 just feels like a big ask at this point.
How does it make you feel?
Jamie: The diet doesn’t give me that much physical pain, but my emotions are through the roof. At one point during the day a suggested video popped up on my social feed of a super burrito being made, and when they sprinkled the cheese onto that sweet, moist beef I was almost in tears. My throat actually dried up.
Only being allowed 51 grams of carbs doesn’t leave you with much energy, and when you’re training 5 times a week your life force is sapped. The worst moment of the diet was about 12 days into it, feeling pretty woozy after only eating chicken and spinach (AGAIN) and training before work. I was signing off an email to someone in our American office, but instead of signing Jamie I signed Hamue. A mistake I didn’t realise until they emailed back asking who the hell Hamue was. I left work on time and fell asleep on the sofa at 6pm.
At my next session my trainer asked how my energy levels were. I told him honestly that they were shocking, so he treated me to 3 sweet potatoes on the Sunday, which would give me sufficient energy to get through the week. It wasn’t a pizza, but god damn those sweet potatoes were good.
Jacob: Like shit. My inability to actually stick to the diet means I don’t feel physically bad but I’m constantly confronted by crushing, inescapable guilt and the looming threat of a photo shoot where it turns out I look worse in the ‘after’ shot than the ‘before’ one (maybe we can just flip them around?). As the transformation marches on and the window in which I can salvage my weight gets smaller and smaller, my plans for a horrifying last minute crash diet get increasingly bizarre and unachievable.
Are you seeing results?
Jamie: It’s been far from easy, but all in all the diet is working. I’ve dropped nearly a stone and 2% body fat in 2 weeks. Is that as good as a massive tub of fried chicken with dipping gravy? Is it hell, but if I start seeing the results I want to in the next few weeks I’ll happily swap buckets for biceps.
Jacob: Surprisingly I’ve lost a bunch of weight, which I wasn’t expecting. I’ve dropped a couple of percent body fat which is great and I look noticeably better than I did when I started. I think that as I’ve stuck to the diet when I’m in work my occasional failing on the weekends hasn’t been quite as damaging as I thought it was. So suck it Jamie you teacher’s pet.