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The Stuffed Piggy Diet: A 12 week diet quality experiment

The Stuffed Piggy Diet: A 12 week diet quality experiment

By Jamie Page
A little disclaimer :

It took me about a month to decide to blast pics of my torso on the internet. I am a very modest person and I am showing these for documentation purposes only. I hope by posting my experience it will help someone get some perspective on what they might need to change on diet quantity versus diet quality if they have a common goal as I did.

Your nutrition should change based off of your particular goal.

Everyone has different body types which require different nutritional plan approaches. A diet with a goal to lose weight will not always be the same as a diet with a goal to gain strength, speed, muscle, performance. My nutrition has evolved over the last 4 years to fit my lifestyle and goals. I have never created a plan that required me to eat foods I did not enjoy. I make my nutrition work well in my daily lifestyle, which is the key to long term success. If you do not enjoy it, you will never stick with it.

The Stuffed Piggy Diet is my own experiment I decided to do. Not something I think "everyone" should do.

I named it "Stuffed Piggy Diet" because, well for the first month I felt like I had a "food baby" at all times. There was a lot of eating when I did not want to eat. I was literally eating, what felt like, 4 pounds of food at most meals. My highest calorie days I was eating 2700 cals, my lowest days where 2300-2500 cals. Some of you may think this sounds awesome and you can go crush any type of food until you reach the calorie goals. Not so fast! I explain in detail later, but this diet was strictly whole foods. Lots of green veggies, lots of protein, and a whole lot of sweet potatoes. These are my results of consistently eating an average of 2500 calories per day for 12 weeks, with only 2 cheat meals and 1 beer the entire time. Week 1: weight 139 pounds, body fat 19.6% Week 12: weight 139 pounds, body fat 18.3%



What I wanted to prove:

  • I wanted to prove that all calories are not equal. You can eat more calories in whole foods than you realize. Eating more calories from the correct food sources will pay off in a way you wouldn't believe.
  • Women (and men) should not be afraid to eat higher calories of whole foods if their activity level calls for it.
  • If you lift, you need to eat carbs if you expect to improve.
  • If you want to get leaner you must eat!
  • You can make big changes in 12 weeks.
  • Sometimes you need to chunk the scale in the trash can.

What I learned through the process:

  • Even though I coached people in nutrition, I still had food phobia of "eating too much." How can I coach someone to eat more, when I still had fear of eating "more" myself? The first month I had some freak out moments. I felt so stuffed all the time I thought my torso would bust. Even though I had never tried to "gain" or eat over 2300 calories, I had to trust the process. I had to give my body time to change. In the end, I squashed my "eat too much" phobia. It is no more.
  • I learned what my body needs to thrive and improve. Now, I realize I had no idea what my calories needed to be or look like in volume of food just for me to maintain my current weight. I started the process thinking I would "gain" weight. In reality, I finally began eating what I should have been eating just to feel good again. I lost body fat once my body was fed properly!

How I started:

Before I decided on any eating strategy, I determined my goal and the why I made the goal. Did I want to get leaner, smaller, stronger, more muscle? I honestly did not know which direction I wanted to go in. One constant frustration of mine was I had not gotten stronger, so I took that direction. GOAL: Get stronger and perform better. See if I could gain lean muscle without gaining body fat. WHY: I was just not feeling good in workouts. I had been stuck at my max lifts with no progress. Most days, I just felt tired. I wanted to be a better coach, specifically for those who have plateaued with their progress. My clients trust my advice for losing weight because I have lived through the same experience. I wanted, once again, to "practice what I preach" when it comes to the next phase of nutrition as I applied it for more performance enhancement progress.

To get stronger or build more muscle I knew I needed to eat more. I wanted to see if upping my calorie intake by a substantial amount would make me feel better, gain more muscle and/or body fat. I wasn't too concerned with losing body fat, but I really had no idea if I would gain fat or not! The goal was to do it with strictly whole foods. This meant I was about to be eating A LOT of clean, whole food in order to get my calories up. Before "Stuffed Piggy Diet," I was averaging about 1700-1800 calories (or less) per day. I ate around 4 meals per day, sometimes 5 meals. Consistently whole foods during the week and cheat meals on the weekends. That may seem like a lot of calories for some people but that was my "normal." This wasn't making me change in any direction. I wasn't gaining weight, losing, or getting stronger. I was stagnant. In the online Clean Kitchen program we do not promote counting calories, but in specialized circumstances it is necessary. Our program focuses on quality of food choices and portion sizes. In my case, I had to figure out exactly what food groups my calories were coming from. This is not necessary for most people.

I wasn't eating enough for my activity level.

More importantly, I wasn't eating enough of the right foods especially on the weekends. I needed more volume of whole foods and less cheats. I workout 5-6 times per week, 4 of those days are heavy weight lifting days, the other days are high intensity interval cardio, like sprinting, or low intensity, longer duration cardio like a 3 mile run or longer interval distances. My job also requires me to be very active throughout the day as well. In order for me to gain, I had to take in more calories than I was burning. I decided to up my calories....by a lot. Some days I ate 2600-2700 calories, other days was around 2300-2500 calories. I know you are thinking CRAZY. I was thinking the same thing at first. Until I took my first progress pictures and realized the change that had happened in one month.

After Week 4 progress pics, I fully committed to doing the full 12 weeks of Stuffed Piggy.

Seeing actual results will do that for you. This is why progress pictures and taking measurements are so crucial. Overall the most change came to my upper body, back and torso. My legs did not get too much leaner. Pictures below are my monthly progress pictures.

Jamie_12weekhigh cal carbcycle JamieSIDE_12weekhigh calcarbcycle

My results

Week 1: weight 139 pounds, body fat 19.6% Week 12: weight 139 pounds, body fat 18.3%

I did not gain or lose a single pound in the 12 weeks.

BUT I lost 1.3% body fat!!!!

That is not what I expected! There were weeks that my weight was up by 4 pounds or so, but weight always fluctuates. I so wish I had done measurements. In the side profile picture below you can tell my butt got higher, whoop whoop!! HA!


Evernote Camera Roll 20150606 152223 My body fat and lean mass measurements from week 1 and week 12

Performance Results

I felt like a beast. After 1 month, I PRd my dead lift by 10 pounds!! My overall recovery during workouts was up and I felt amazing. I got what I wanted. I got stronger and leaner, as a bonus!

To my surprise, I didn't gain weight like I thought I would, I lost body fat instead. I learned what my body needs and how it reacts to certain foods. This let me become very in tune with the way my body works and how I feel. I also have no fear when it comes to increasing my calories now. As long as I keep up my activity level, I will just keep getting better. And it was all because I ate more of the right foods.

Please realize my calorie intake would not have been this high if my activity level did not call for it. Do not assume you can eat 2500 calories of food, but not off set it with the appropriate amount of activity. My calories and ratio calculations were based off of my own personal goals, body and activity level. The rest of this post is the details of my calorie breakdown and how my eating plan was laid out each week. It took me a few weeks to figure out exactly what needed to eat. It was a work in progress. By the time I got through the first month, it was game on! Please continue to read further if you would like more details of what my eating looked like.

Want to see what you can do in 12 weeks? Our completely online, nutrition coaching program, Clean Kitchen 12 week challenge is designed to help you get results no matter what your goal is or where you are starting. Find out more about our 12 week challenge here!

And so it began!

I had my body fat measured the first week and week 12. Each week, I took progress pictures and kept a journal of how I was feeling. I wish I had taken measurements but I think I was not fully convinced I wanted to see measurements go up. Next time I will document better!

Calorie intake during "Stuffed Piggy"

On "re-feed" days my goal was 2600-2700 calories. I had these 2-3 days per week. I'll explain more about this later. For the rest of the days that week, my goal was 2300-2500.

I'm about to eat 1,000 more calories a day

At first, I was scared I would put on unwanted weight in fat pounds. It was that mental battle of "I can't believe I am going to eat 2500 calories today." Regardless of my fear, I made the commitment to see it through for at least 6 weeks. If it made changes I did not like, I would rework my plan. First, I had to trust my process.


In order to control gaining body fat, while still gaining lean mass, I decided to do a carb cycle. In a nut shell, carb cycling is scheduling days per week one will eat very high carbohydrates (starchy carbs, some fruit) and keep fat intake low. These high carb days fall on your heavy lifting days only. A high carb day is usually followed by a couple of low carb days where fat intake is high and carb intake is very low (carbs only coming from veggies).

Depending on your outcome goal you number of high carb days will vary from plan to plan. You do not have to eat high carb day for every "heavy lifting" day. It is fine for a low carb day to fall on one of your lifting days. Most carb cycles have 1-2 "re-feed days" or high carb days per week. But for my particular goal of trying to gain, I had added in extra high carb days.

At Clean Kitchen we talk about "earning your carbs." This is the same thought process. If you lift heavy weights, eat your carbs around your workout. If you are just doing cardio, HIIT, or light weights in your workout, that is a low carb day.

Why do the carb cycle?

To get the best of both worlds, build muscle and keep off body fat gain. I wanted to gain muscle, so I have to eat starch for my muscles to grow and get stronger. The low carb days allowed me to fight body fat gain. I was giving my muscles what they needed (starch) at the most crucial times and days, but also allowing my body not to store excess as fat because of my low carb days.

*Note: You can do carb cycling to get leaner and not gain weight. Many use this method, especially if you are very active individual. Obviously, I didn't "gain" weight even with my high calorie intake.

Eat those carbs!

If you are an athlete, lift weights, and are interested in performance gains, and you eat under 100 grams of carbs everyday, you are stumping your progress and probably making your body hold onto body fat. Carbs are your friend. Do the research and you will see!

My calorie ratios

High carb days: 2600-2700 cals These were usually Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays
  • 50% or more calories came from Carbohydrates
  • 20% or less calories came from fat
  • 30% of my calories came from protein
Low carb days: 2300-2500 cals These were usually Wednesday, Friday - Sunday
  • 20% or less calories came from Carbohydrates
  • 50% or more calories came from fat
  • 30% of my calories came from protein

If you notice, my protein intake always stays consistent every day. The only ratios that change are fat intake and carb intake. The ratios never changed the set amount of calories. I could not cut out a whole food group and not replace it with another.

I logged everything in My Fitness Pal and it really helped me figure out my day-to-day plan. It was necessary to always fill out a day ahead so I knew exactly what I was going to eat everyday. No guessing.

What did I eat? Just take a look at the top picture. Those are all meals I ate.

PROTEIN: I aimed for around 200 grams of protein per day, from mostly lean sources like turkey, chicken, eggs, fish and powders. On low carb days I would eat higher fat meats like beef and salmon. I tried to not go over 200 grams. If I needed to make up calories I added more starch or fat depending on which days I was feeding.

VEGGIES: I ate so much green. My goal was to get 10 servings per day. I found it more difficult on high carb days to get this goal because I had to get in my starch servings as well. Sometimes I was short, but as long as I was close I felt good. Low carb days were easier. I sometimes went over 10 servings! Pack in the green no matter what!

STARCH carbs and fruit: At first, on high carb days, I wasn't limiting my fruit intake. After a few weeks, I ate less fruit and more starch for my high carb days. I kept it to one serving of fruit per day on high carb days. But if I was hungry for a fruit, I didn't think twice about it, I ate it. It's stuffed piggy! My starch choices were sweet potato, quinoa, oats, Vann's waffles (organic or the gluten free) and Ezikeal bread. I was getting around 300+ grams of carbs per day.

FAT: When I food prepped, I cooked lean protein I could eat on high carb days and then add in a fat to the meal for low carb days. I take fish oil supplement capsuls everyday. My fat sources are walnut oil for cooking, almonds, avocado, peanut butter, chia seeds, and hemp seed hearts. I eat 1 tbs of chia seeds pretty much everyday. My fat goal on high carb days was around 40 grams, on low carb days my fat goal was 100+ grams.

Here is a typical HIGH carb/2600-2700 calorie day

Rules: if you are going high carb, you need to lower your fat intake for the meal.

5AM (before I coach class)
  • 1/2- 1 cup sweet potato
6:30 AM
  • 6 egg whites
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 3 Vann's waffles with low sugar Smucker's Jam
  • greens supplement
  • My coffee - with skim milk and stevia
9AM Post workout
  • 1.5 scoops 2:1:1 Recovery protein powder with water
10AM : Overnight oats
  • 1/2 cup dry rolled oats
  • 1 tbs chia seeds
  • 1 scoop Quest Protein
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • Turkey Euro Meat salad
  • 1 cup sweet potato or quinoa
  • 1-2 cups green veggie - cucumbers, bell peppers
  • 3 cups spinach
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes
  • greek yogurt
2:30 PM
  • Questbar and 1-2 cup fruit or 2 Ezekiel bread slices
  • My coffee - with skim milk and stevia
  • Roasted turkey breast
  • 2 cups steamed green beans
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato or quinoa
9PM Small snack
  • Sometimes I would be under my goal and have to eat some greek yogurt.

Here is a typical LOW carb/2300-2500 calorie day

Rules: Carbs only come from veggie sources. Take out the starch and up the fat.
6:30 AM
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 tbs hemp seeds
  • greens supplement or another cup of green veggies
  • My coffee - with skim milk and stevia
9AM Post workout
  • 20 oz Smoothie King Firm and Burn with extra Peanut butter
  • Turkey Taco Meat Salad
  • 1/2 cup avocado
  • 3 cups spinach
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes
  • salsa and greek yogurt
2 PM
  • Questbar or protein shake with 1 cup spinach, 1 tbs chia seeds, almond milk
  • My coffee - with skim milk and stevia
  • 2 cups sugar snap peas
  • 2 tbs natural peanut butter
  • 3 Meatloaf muffins (beef sirloin) or a salmon cake
  • 2-3 cups roasted broccoli with parm cheese
9PM Small snack

handful of almonds

Did I have "cheat" meals?

I had exactly 2 "off track meals" the entire 12 weeks. First was in week 3 at Nancy's wedding, I ate some cake. In week 8 I had a cheese burger, probably a whole bag of Doritos and a ton of candy in one meal. After that meal I thought I was dying. I felt so bad the following days in my workouts. I'm absolutely positive it was all the sugar I ate, not so much the burger and chips. Same lesson I have learned many times over.

Did I drink alcohol?

I had 1 beer. And I didn't even really want it. I get the alcohol question a lot. How much can you drink? That depends on your goal and your timeline. I do not drink alcohol regularly and I think that has a lot to do with my results and performance. I am not against drinking, I just do not prefer it. Main reason is I'm a mom and I just don't recover like I use to. I'd rather not deal with it the next day! It is completely up to you. Alcohol is sugar. Sugar is enemy number one. I am not saying you can't ever drink it, but it will slow you down depending on how often.

The Old Me: Where I started in March 2011

If you know my past story, you know I have already gone through a major body transformation. Short story is I gained 60 pounds with my pregnancy, had a c-section, started Versus S&C in March 2011, lost the baby weight and put on some awesome muscle. My story is still on-going as I learn more about nutrition and the way it affects my body and performance. We created the Clean Kitchen program to teach healthy lifestyle strategies that anyone can implement. If you are interested in learning more, check out our 12 week online program! Find out more about our 12 week challenge here!