Cutting Weight for the Tactical Strength Challenge


I decided to do the Velocity Diet to cut weight for the Tactical Strength Challenge in April.

The three events are:

  • 3 attempts at a max Deadlift
  • Bodyweight pull-ups for max reps
  • Single arm kettlebell snatches, max reps @ 53lbs, 5-minute time limit

I last competed 3 years ago. Last time I really focused on my deadlift and set a 30lb PR with a 445lb lift. This time I am going to focus on cutting weight and getting my pull-up numbers up.

Training is done 3 days a week as follows:

Strength work (split squats, snatches, or deadlifts)
Overhead press superset with pull-ups
Bench press supserset with rows
Single arm kettlebell swings superset with push-ups
optional assistance work

For additional activity, I walk and play frisbee with my dog, and I work full-time at a YMCA, so I am on my feet most of my 45 hour week. I also do a little indoor rock climbing when we are not busy on my non-lifting days. Fortunately I have only had to fill in and teach 1 “aerobics” class during the diet.


Body weight: 191 lbs
Body fat: 14%
Lean weight: 164 lbs
Fat weight: 27 lbs

…2 days later down to 183 lbs. All the Christmas cookies and other crap (literally) out of my system. Glycogen stores lower and water weight down.

…7 days later down to 180 lbs.

…11 days later down to 177 lbs.


I’m on a tight budget, so I am using a combination of cheap whey protein and fish oil and Metabolic Drive and Flameout. I am also taking Animal Flex to keep my knee healthy, Vitamin D, a basic Multivitamin, and Zinc and Magnesium before sleep.

I use Metabolic Drive for my first and last shakes of the day. Breakfast shake includes some unsweetened whole milk yogurt and berries. I have included a variety of fiber sources: cocoa powder, hemp protein, coconut flour, almond flour. Post workout is nothing fancy, just plain old organic cane sugar.

The first few days were tough, but around day 4 I fell into the groove and actually feel better now than when I started. After the first solid meal (baked potatoes, parsley, eggs), I decided to transition off to one solid meal a day before the end of the 4 weeks. Dinner for the past week has been 3-4 eggs fried in a tablespoon of butter with a handful of raw parsley served on the side.

The 2 week weigh-in is tomorrow. I will update then. I guess the goal of all of this is to get down to 170 with my weight creeping back up to 175 with a return to solid food.


Well, that’s not the V-Diet plan at all, but we do wish you luck in your event!


[quote]Chris Shugart wrote:
Well, that’s not the V-Diet plan at all, but we do wish you luck in your event!


Agreed, but it gave me a good framework to work off of.

My Achilles heel was not the foods in my diet but my eating behavior which was inexistent throughout the day and fast and not mindful at night. My first healthy solid meal was something which I would usually take 5-minutes to eat, and I took closer to 45. My shakes take me longer to consume than a typical meal took previously. My hope is that I do not use my long and late work hours as an excuse to resort back into old eating patterns. I set aside a goal to make a monthly contribution to the recipe forum to keep me on the right track.

Thanks for giving me a framework for a step in the right direction,



…14 days later down to 175.5


Looking to do something a little more creative with my HSM this weekend.

If I can get my coconut-almond flour and cheese flat breads to turn out right I am going to make some eggplant, tomato, mozzarella, and basil sandwiches with it.



Weight: 191 down to 176

Neck: 16 down to 15.5
Chest: 41 down to 40.5
Upper arm: 14 down to 13
Forearm: 11.5 down to 11
Waist: 34 down to 31.5
Hip: 41 down to 38.75
Thigh: 19.5 even at 19.5
Calf 15 even at 15

All good news!


Decided to go with mushrooms rather than the eggplant: almond flatbread, tomato, portabella, and mozzarella.


Weight stayed at 176. Went higher calorie then I planned with the HSM day yesterday. Oh well. Back on the horse this week. Been feeling stronger all this week, so it is quite possible I am just in the process of leaning up at this bodyweight. All of my measurements taken on Saturday were quite good. Will get the final results this Saturday with circumference and skinfold measurements and a final weight.


Down to 174 today. Must have been a little “backed up” yesterday. Thought I felt a little bloated. Been getting a lot of fiber through various sources, mostly coconut flour and flax meal lately, but I guess not enough. Like I said, I went a little overboard the other day, more food than my body is used to processing I am sure.

Really looking forward to increasing my intake of greens after this week. Hard to believe that’s what I am thinking about right now, but it’s the truth. Further proof the V-Diet approach works.

170 by the end of the week might not be out of the question. Unbelievable.


So tomorrow is the big day! Final measurements will be taken. A few days early, but close enough to get an accurate picture of the results. Diet continues through until Sunday as planned.

Right now I am writing down recipes and trying to plan out my transition off of the diet.

My biggest dietary problem heading into this thing was my tendency to take in TOO FEW CALORIES throughout my 9+ hour workday, living off of coffee instead, and come home starving and exhausted. Energy levels have been relatively high during the diet despite the significant calorie deficit which shows me I need to keep my consistency up between 4 and 6 feedings a day.

My workday is extremely active. I am up on my feet all day teaching sports classes and doing personal training at a YMCA. I feel sluggish anytime I eat too much, so I may just stick to 1-2 shakes during my workday to stay “light” but keep myself fueled adequately.

By the same token, I cannot stomach a huge breakfast right before what is usually a very active, hectic start to my day. I have been doing a better job waking up early and either foam rolling or reading so that will certainly help matters. Still, breakfast is probably best kept as a medium sized meal.

Dinner is going to have to continue being my largest meal of the day. Though I work late ( 7 PM or later ), it is the only meal I have an opportunity to truly savor and enjoy. Mindlessly stuffing my growling stomach ASAP was my problem heading into this thing, and I am determined to fix it. Visible abs are cool and all, but they will quickly disappear if I do not seize this moment and get a handle on this. Dinner is going to be a multi-course, hour or longer event. My plan for this is as follows:

  1. Always have some healthy greens ready in the fridge. Eat with a small pre- prepared appetizer ( wheat-free “bread” item, soup, or some left-overs )
  2. Prepare dinner. Do some reading, wood carving, walk the dog, etc. Eat.
  3. Relax. Make some tea. Eat a muffin or some other healthy desert if still hungry.

Awesome. Glad to get this plan all down in writing. Been struggling to piece this all together for the past few days. Now I can shift my focus to the specific details and plan out some sample week menus.



I think I am just going to stick with the basics: eggs, yogurt, berries, and wheat alternative “breads” for now and get creative with dinner. I think I might be overextending myself otherwise.



Wheat alternative “breads”

  • Muffins
  • Bread
  • Breadsticks
  • Flatbread

Spreads and toppings

  • Sliced veggies
  • Nut butter
  • Hummus
  • Guacamole
  • Cheese w/ herbs


  • Cajun collard green
  • Chili
  • Seafood chowder

Main courses:

Meat served with a side:

  • Steamed vegetables
  • Fauxtatoes
  • Fries
  • Beans

Shepherd’s Pie

That should get me started for now, and I can incorporate new things in one at a time as I get sick with this starter menu.

The plan for this weekend is to bake a couple dozen muffins, and pull them out of the freezer a couple at a time as needed. The key for me is going to be always having a healthy item stocked in the fridge or the freezer which will satisfy my appetite while I wait for the main course.

I also want to prepare A TON of fauxtatoes, half to use on a Shepherd’s Pie and the other half to set aside as a side dish to go with the main course.

I will prepare a pizza or two and store those in the freezer to give me something simple I can pull out and warm up quickly on nights I am hungry or short on time.

I have not had my Cajun collard green soup in a long time, so I will make that to serve as an appetizer for some of the week.

After that, all I need to do is make sure I stock up on vegetables and I will be all set for my first week back.


Sounds like you’ve got a good plan down. This is the main thing I need to do when I start getting closer to the end of my v-diet. I don’t want to every have to “diet” again. This will be my second time to do so and I would rather from here on out just eat healthy and maintain a lean weight on my frame. Interested in seeing your final measurements. Sounds like you dropped some serious weight and maintained your strength.


[quote]MDCharlton wrote:
Sounds like you’ve got a good plan down. This is the main thing I need to do when I start getting closer to the end of my v-diet. I don’t want to every have to “diet” again. This will be my second time to do so and I would rather from here on out just eat healthy and maintain a lean weight on my frame. Interested in seeing your final measurements. Sounds like you dropped some serious weight and maintained your strength.[/quote]

Thanks, and good luck with yours.

My weight dropped significantly, and I kept my strength up while improving my technique on a few lifts and improving my strength-endurance on others.

Put the work in and get ready for the transition back. This is my first time doing something this, but from what I have read and what I can assume, that is what makes all the difference in the long term.

Put all the time you would normally put into grocery shopping, cooking, and cleaning to good use and do some menu planning. I avoided it for the first week or two until my appetite down-regulated itself. Once you feel yourself adjusted to the V-Diet routine go ahead and start planning for the transition off. Expand your horizons in the kitchen and get excited to try some new things. I have no desire to eat garbage foods right now, not with a dozen new recipes I want to try out.

Best of luck to you! Stick with it.



I used 183 as my benchmark rather than 191 since I got down to that weight within the first 48 hours on the diet. The 8lbs worth of Christmas cookies in my GI tract could really skew the results. I am sure my weight will increase from 172 as I re-introduce solid foods. It should be far less than 8lbs though.

I used the 7 site method in my fat free mass and fat mass calculations.

Weight: 183 down to 172
Fat free mass: 157 down to 153
Fat mass: 26 down to 19
Bodyfat 3 site: 12.8% down to 11.2%
Bodyfat 7 site: 14.1% down to 11.1%
Resting HR: 63 down to 46

Neck: 16 down to 15
Chest: 41 down to 40.5
Upper arm: 14 down to 13
Forearm: 11.5 down to 11
Waist: 34 down to 31
Hip: 41 down to 38.5
Thigh: 19.5 up to 20
Calf: 15 down to 14.5

So, I lost roughly 11 pounds, 7 of which was fat and 4 was lean mass. Not the greatest result, but I will take it. I did not see my strength deteriorate as a result, and I am focusing my training on the pull-up event for this competition anyway so strength-to-weight ratio is the most important thing. Even some losses in lean mass will help me get up the pull-up bar as long as it is in all the right places.

The plan is to keep carbohydrates down around that magic number of 100 and hope I continue to get leaner around this bodyweight (175-180) and my performance keeps improving.


Cut 11 lbs in 4 weeks (19 lbs if you count the 8 lbs of bloat), lost lean muscle by my calculations, and still my deadlift went up 40 lbs (355 up to 395). Technique feels about 90% right now, so I still have some room to improve. Confident I can pull further over 400 than I previously thought come April 9th. 405 looks to be selling myself short now.


Had a tomato, eggplant, feta cheese, and anchovy pizza last night on a coconut-flax cheese crust. Started off with a nice salad with mushrooms and red bell peppers served over mixed greens. Finished things off with an almond flour muffin. Went higher calorie wise than I will be going with a normal dinner, but I really felt like celebrating my deadlift efforts. Woke up this morning with really no soreness. Can’t believe it.

Going to bring the leftover muffins and salad over to my friend’s place today to watch the Bears game and make another pizza.

Tomorrow I am going to prepare my meals for the week. Breakfast is going to be a muffin and a yogurt, berry, protein shake, so I am going to make a dozen more muffins.

I am going to use the rest of my greens to prepare a big salad for my dinner appetizer, and I should have enough to last me the week.

I have some ground beef in the freezer that I can use to make some sloppy joes, so I am going to make some bread for those. That should be enough for a couple of dinners, so I am going to make a few pizza doughs for the others. I was going to stick one in the fridge and a couple in the freezer and see how they hold up.

I will continue garnishing each meal with a bunch of raw parsley. I have found that eating a handful of sprigs at the end of meals is an awesome way to increase total green intake throughout the week and cheap too. Conventional usually runs $1.29 for a big bunch and organic just $1.99. Holds up well in the fridge too. Lasts about a week before it first starts showing signs of age, and even then it is a slow, gradual progression.

Other than that, on nights I get out early enough to make it to the food co-op after work, I will pick up whatever vegetables look good to serve as a side.


I just found a recipe for clam chowder which I think I can prepare quickly and then take my time enjoying before dinner’s main course.


  • 1 (6.5 ounce) can minced clams
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup half-and-half cream
  • 2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • potatoes, carrots, onion

With some modifications it could be a real winner:

  • Swap out the half & half cream for some heavy cream
  • Swap out the potatoes for some cauliflower
  • Swap out the all-purpose flour for some coconut flour
  • Cut down on the butter and cream, and thin out with some water

I ran some quick calculations using and using just a half a cup of cream and a tablespoon of butter, the totals without the vegetables are:

  • 800 calories
  • 60 g fat
  • 1.5 g omega 3 ( 1:1 Omega 3:6 ratio )
  • 15 g carbohydrate ( 5 g fiber from the coconut flour )
  • 45 g protein

That’s a lot of calories to consume as an appetizer, but I could easily subdivide the large batch into five 150-calorie servings or four 200-calorie servings. Soups, stews, and chowders all store really well in the fridge and freezer.


Wish I would have taken better photos ( camera phone + poor lighting = bad results ), but combined with my measurements I can see what a difference 4 weeks can make.

The two measurement sites I lost significant skinfold thicknesses at were the subscapular and suprailiac. I can really see the reduction in my “love handles” in the photos. Since my first back photo sucks due to awful lighting, that reduction is not as apparent. Unfortunately, my abdominal measurements were flat which shows me I still have a ways to go before I am really lean. Having significantly reduced other problem areas, hopefully that is the next to go.

That said, I still have a lot of room to improve and have my long term sights set at single digit bodyfat%. I am almost there having dropped from a soft 14% down to a leaner 11%. The focus will be on strength and conditioning the next few months, but after the competition in April I plan on resuming my swimming and making a targeted approach at RIPPED!