23 Sep How Kunaal Dropped 50lbs & 10 Inches In 7 Months To Finally Achieve His Dream Physique After 17 Years Of Trying
Most people, men in particular, underestimate how much body fat they carry and overestimate how much muscle they have. It’s an assumption that sweeps across most of the male population, as attachment to scale numbers, clothing sizes and a warped sense of what’s ‘normal’ means many men will sacrifice their true goal of sporting an athletic, lean physique, in exchange for being a puffed up ‘big guy’.
If you’re a guy reading this, you’re probably nodding your head. You remember that time you wanted to hit a certain scale weight during a ‘bulking’ phase, or the time you refused to ‘cut’ below a specific number (it’s usually 60, 70 or 80!). Ah, the male ego… In the context of physique building, there’s nothing more detrimental to your progress. If you’re trying to build size, you’ll kid yourself as to how much body fat you carry as you continue to climb up the scales and the clothing size racks. If you’re trying to get lean, you think anything below *insert rounded number* is ‘skinny’, and that you have enough muscle to end up at a higher bodyweight.
The truth is, we’re all human, and we’re all very similar. That means the body transformation journey we go on is very predictable, and it’s why articles such as ‘How Heavy Will You Be When Lean’ cause such an eye opening stir among many men!
Kunaal was no different. As a young man pre-university, Kunaal was 58kg at almost 6 feet tall, and was desperate to build muscle and size onto his frame. What started as a necessity turned into a passion and enduring love that initially gave him good results in the first five years, but then took him down the typical male path of incessant ‘bulking’ for 12 years.
He followed multiple approaches, program hopped and he confused the scale weight for muscle size as he escalated all the way up to between 95 and 100kg, where he stayed for a decade. He was big in size and was following the male pretence and façade of appearing ‘huge’ in a T shirt, with no regards to no body composition, and stuck in the imagination that all the size was pure muscle.
What he really wanted was different. He wanted to have the perfect balance between muscle mass and condition and sport a physique that represented this year round. His decade plus long ‘bulk’ phase had actually turned into a ‘diminishing returns phase’; something which is very common for many men who commit to unwisely self-monitored Investment phases.
Kunaal’s Comments: As a stereotypical ectomorphic vegetarian of Indian ethnicity, I was barely 58kg at nearly 6’0 and 17 years old. I took up weight training/bodybuilding with a goal to put on some muscle on my scrawny frame and developed an enduring love for it (to the point I even founded a gym in my city of Nairobi, Kenya). During the first 5 years I made steady, albeit slow progress then I got overly impatient and bulked up too fast to 95kg – adding disproportionately more fat than muscle in the process. At the time I didn’t realise this and was actually rather pleased with my progress but such is the beauty of hindsight. After pretty much wasting the subsequent decade due to lack of real structure and consistency in my nutrition and training and a few prolonged hiatuses from lifting ranging from 6-18 months each, I decided to take decisive action and truly committed to finally get lean for the first time since my novice lifting days and achieve a longstanding goal.
Everything changed when Kunaal stumbled across RNT Fitness.
Kunaal embraced the free case studies, articles, podcasts and overall content and decided to use the information and his experience to create his own plans. There was a problem though – he lacked the accountability and structured guidance of RNT’s transformation blueprint!
Kunaal’s Comments: I decided to try and lose some weight on my own for the first 3-6 months of 2018 using the free and consistently high quality content shared on the RNT website and Instagram pages and sign up thereafter. Alas, this never happened as I had no real accountability to anyone. I would lose a few kg but proceed to put it back on in a few weeks. I finally bit the bullet and decided to sign up in late May (after 6 months of hesitation!), and then I started in late July after returning several kilos heavier from an indulgent holiday in South East Asia.
It was time for Kunaal to achieve a 17 year long goal.
Kunaal’s Comments: Lifelong even! I dreamed about looking like that since my childhood watching cartoons and superheroes and later Stallone (Rambo), Arnie and a host of others from boxers, WWE stars to All Blacks rugby stars.
Prior to starting with RNT, Kunaal was doing the following:
Training – He was training 4-5 days a week for 2-3 hours focusing on one body part per week, with no real structure or set plan. Kunaal had also injured his ACL while playing football a few months prior which meant he wasn’t able to train legs at all for a while either.
Cardio – No real consistency outside of the rare LISS session.
Diet – This is where Kunaal really struggled to nail down, and as an ovo-vegetarian, he was typically eating the following:
Breakfast: 1-2 bowls of oats with a protein shake
Lunch: 2 large bowls of lentil curry and rice
Dinner: Pasta / Omelettes/ Lower protein, high carb/fat veggie options and Indian meals.
Snacks: Crisps, Biscuits, Chevdo, Nuts, Fruit
Starting Bodyweight – 100.5kg
Starting Waist Measure – 41 inches
Kunaal’s Comments: I had no structured nutrition or training plan, I wasn’t weighing my food, tracking my macros and calories, nor meal prepping, constantly program hopping and with general lack of consistency across the board. I was snacking and bingeing on the wrong food too often, training with too much volume instead of focusing on progressive overload with correct form, rarely doing cardio, and never logged my workouts! Considering all this, it’s hardly surprising I didn’t look the way I wanted to.
Initial Changes –
Training – The first port of call was to move Kunaal onto a structured, progressive overload focused plan that also worked around his ACL injury, and allowed him to properly rehabilitate the knee. The real key for Kunaal was to focus on one plan, progress in his key numbers, and stay focused. Nearly two decades of program hopping meant there was a lot of retraining of the brain to be done here!
We began with a three day full body split, as even though he had been training for years and could be considered a somewhat advanced lifter, he needed to go back to basics and focus on being consistent on following and tracking the core variables.
As he was able to do more legs, we moved to do a upper / lower / push / pull split, and this was the split that took him through the latter stages of the Consolidation phase, and deep into the Investment phase he’s in now. An integral part of this split was to identify key indicator lifts, and use video feedback to ensure intensity and technique were both dialled in. Many years of training meant many years of bad habits, and also a perceived level of ‘high intensity’ that needed to be reframed in order to build the muscle and physique he wanted.
Diet – His macros to begin with were as follows:
Here’s the meal plan we started off phase one with:
Breakfast: 5 Eggs, 100g Blueberries & 200g Veggies
Snack: 40g Whey, 40g Oats and 20g Peanut butter
Lunch: 110g Tofu, 35g Rice & 200g Vegies
Snack: 40g Whey protein and 20g Peanut butter
Dinner: 300g Tofu, 50g Rice, 1tsp of olive oil & 200g Vegies
This has remained the ‘base diet’ for Kunaal ever since, as he wanted to eliminate all decisions from his day around food, and make it easy to go into ‘autopilot’ and execute. Especially given the fact he runs an event management company and an artisanal gelato business along with his wife, which creates its own challenges in itself!
Supplements – The protocol here was very simple, and we stuck to the tried and tested:
– Creatine: 5g each day after workout / any time on non-training days
– A comprehensive multi vitamin
– EAAs: 15g per workout – drink during the workout.
Cardio – During the entire fat loss period, Kunaal implemented the following:
HIIT – 3 x per week after the workout; 10 rounds of 20 seconds on / 40s off on the Airdyne bike.
LISS – 3 x per week on rest days; 20 mins on the X-trainer / Rower or Stairmaster with a heart rate of 130bpm or over throughout.
Following the Blueprint
At the start of every year for over a decade, Kunaal had the same goal: to achieve his ideal physique. But he never pursued it with the level of seriousness, structure and consistency he needed. After biting the bullet and creating high levels of accountability through coaching, Kunaal dropped 50 pounds in bodyweight, 10 inches from his waist and achieved his goal – all in 7 months! Most importantly, he went from struggling with an ACL injury to being the strongest and fittest he’s ever been in his life, with impressive numbers behind him; notably, a 270kg V squat and regularly doing 52kg split squats for 12 reps by month 5!
When discussing what changed, the real game changer for Kunaal was the check in process, and creating an honest and open relationship with his coach Nathan, who could then facilitate his journey accordingly. Having to send pictures, report stats, and not having anywhere to hide meant he was able to master the art of showing up each week while ticking all the required boxes of him
Kunaal’s Comments: My entire approach to training and nutrition changed from the start of the online coaching with RNT. When shopping, I only bought the foods prescribed to me in the meal plan to ensure adherence, weighed ingredients and meal prepped once or twice a week, consistently did my cardio something I hadn’t done since I was a beginner and consciously increased my daily activity in the form of steps. My mindset also changed as I had a singular goal in mind which was to get into the best shape of my life – I was aiming for six pack abs and sub 12% bodyfat.
My training sessions became focused and structured, I took videos of most of my main lifts and sent them to my coach for feedback. I worked on improving my form while maintaining/increasing strength on most lifts. I listened to the weekly RNT podcasts while doing my steps and would discuss interesting points with or ask questions to my coach.
For the first 3 months, I actively and consciously avoided eating out socially at all costs and this included 4 consecutive weeks of Indian weddings which typically last 4-5 days at least and involve lunch and dinner daily! As my knowledge and understanding of nutrition improved, I was able to implement various strategies including buffering to navigate such situations. This approach was crucial when it came to travelling (10 days in total at all-inclusive resorts – first for an AGM, second time while managing a destination wedding).
The final stages of this phase were very challenging as the end seemed in sight yet there was still several weeks and months of work ahead to continue chipping away at bodyfat to take off the final layer. It was a real test mentally and psychologically to keep pushing. This is where one’s resilience gets tested, navigating the festive season and end of year social event while dieting hard, ability to embrace a certain level of hunger but understanding that it was a temporary measure to achieve a checkpoint on a journey.
The Coaching Advantage
With Kunaal’s experience in the gym and his raw passion for the process, he was always keen to learn more. In the past, that created a lot of decision fatigue, program hopping and being struck by the idea fairy. With RNT, he was encouraged to ask questions, but at the same time, quickly learnt that keeping things simple and avoiding falling into paralysis by analysis was key. Even as coaches, we have coaches to stop us falling into the same trap. This area of coaching became invaluable for Kunaal and helped him decipher between knowing when to go deep on a topic, and when he may be missing the forest for the trees. As the journey unravelled, he learnt that the key to a good coaching relationship is both giving and taking, the questions and answers, and most importantly, ensuring the value bond you form makes the journey go from something you merely ‘do’, to something you learn from, understand, and develop through.
Kunaal’s Comments: My RNT coach Nathan was professional, knowledgeable, no nonsense and balanced maturity with a cheeky sense of humour. He knows how to bring out the best in his clients. He has always been prompt in responding to my constant (and often complicated questions) in a succinct manner and has provided a lot of support based on his own experiences and challenges in his fitness journey. His practical methods/approach have proven helpful to me in changing old habits, many of which I have struggled with for years. I believe this is where the real value in online coaching comes in. He also knows when to push me, and doesn’t hesitate to give me a tough time when we both know I deserve it, but also knows when to be empathetic and supportive, which has been crucial especially in the last stages of the fat loss phase!
Conquering the Gelato
Since reaching his first Transformation Checkpoint now seven months ago, Kunaal has moved through a Consolidation phase and is now deep into his Investment phase. It’s not been an easy ride though, especially his Consolidation phase, where the dangers of overeating can be so prevalent. With Kunaal, his biggest challenge was resisting the constant daily temptation of eating his wife’s gelato – which was produced from inside his own house! When you’re lean, your hunger hormones aren’t quite in check, and you’re at a level of body fat you’ve never been before, there’s no worse place to be!
A few weeks in, Kunaal felt he was losing control and touch of his food habits after having such clearly defined structure, stability and systems heading into his photoshoot, and thinking he’d ‘arrived’ and ‘made it’. Knowing what he was like, an interesting tactic that worked brilliantly was actually introducing the very food that was the issue into his daily meal plan! Instead of fighting willpower, all decisions were eliminated again as Kunaal had one scoop of gelato every evening factored into his calories and almost instantly, any urges to overeat disappeared. He had gained moderation and while he could easily eat more, he was learning (via journaling at the same time of eating) how to enjoy the texture, taste and experience of the food, versus mindlessly eating.
After this mindset shift, his Consolidation phase turned into Investment and his gelato serving has been a staple every night!
Despite multiple trips abroad, all the challenges of Consolidation, Kunaal came out of it well 3 months later (picture above), and 5kg up.
Kunaal’s Comments: Looking back at my transformation journey, the last 10 weeks of the fat loss phase as well as most of the 6 weeks of consolidation, I grappled with intense cravings and got into a vicious and destructive cycle of overeating and restricting! During a week at the Kenyan coast, managing an Indian destination wedding, I succumbed to desserts/sweet treats and it only got worse with time, taking until the end of March to resolve the underlying issues causing this!
I had uncovered my abs for the first time in over a decade and the deluge of compliments as well as sense of accomplishment resulted in complacency setting in and once cravings and old habits were triggered they spiralled out of control. I had to come clean to Nathan and address the issue directly rather than just doing an extra 15,000 steps for a few days every time to drop the weight gained before the next check-in. Despite being warned about this numerous times, I succumbed to the same thing post shoot and gained a few pounds on the weekend following my shoot.
Eventually, under Nathan’s empathetic and patient guidance, I reframed my approach to food, adopted journalling, actively embraced moderation and became a lot more mindful in my approach. This was a significant milestone in my overall relationship with food as I’ve always had a big appetite from my skinny childhood and teenage days which has only increased substantially and culminated into an eating disorder under the pretext of ‘bulking’!
Biggest lesson learnt: Trust your coach!
Investment Phase Update
In the past six months of Investment, Kunaal’s goal has been two-fold. Firstly, he wants to build muscle mass, and this time, for it to be built in a productive manner, versus the previous years where he’d go on an almost ‘see food’ diet and end up in ‘perma-bulk’ mode! That means a controlled calorie surplus, structured progressive overload training, and ruthless consistency. Since ending up around the 80kg mark at the end of his diet, Kunaal is now up to around the 88.5kg (averaging just over a kilo a month), with the goal of pushing to no more than 90kg by Christmas, before a quick mini cut to further spark another growth phase.
This picture is Kunaal at 88.5kg in his Investment phase right now!
While executing on his muscle building goal, Kunaal’s continuing to really work on leveraging the structure, consistency and skills gained in his physical transformation, to act as a vehicle to take his journey of self-mastery further. Through the challenges, insights and battles of the physical transformation, he’s built mental resilience, inspired many around him, and is continue to thrive in all domains of his life.
Kunaal’s Comments: I still track my food, water and steps daily on MFP and Fitbit respectively, generally eat the same core foods for protein with some changes here and there. As I learnt during the fat loss and consolidation phases, decision fatigue and lack of planning and prepping meals can lead to failure. I have a more positive relationship with food and enjoy eating a variety of locally available fruits daily (mango, pineapple, avocado) and the odd free meal on weekends with family and friends.
I am more attuned to my taste buds now and when eating off-plan, I am a lot more selective, shunning many foods I used to mindlessly eat. After all this hard work and new habit formation, it is expected to be something of a natural progression but remaining accountable to someone remains key. The improved food choices come from better self-awareness and nutritional education gained in the RNT process.
Since the end of my consolidation phase, over the course of two trips, I have spent a month travelling away from home (including in India, Singapore and Bali – no shortage of good vegetarian food) and managed to maintain my weight using strategies and systems learnt during this journey. This was a big win for me as in the past I could easily gain several pounds just over a weekend!
I have created better structures, systems and strategies around my daily schedule and am approaching business and personal goals with more accountability. The online coaching and structured approach to this lifestyle has enabled me to adopt new habits and practices and transfer these to other fields.
Stats & Pictures
Starting Bodyweight: 100.5kg
Leanest Bodyweight: 78.3kg
If we refer back to the ‘How Heavy Will You Be Lean’ article mentioned earlier, Kunaal fell into the high end of the range for 6″0 males. This is due to years of training and putting in the work (which did build a good foundation, even if he was using sub-optimal approaches for most of the period.
Starting Waist (at umbilical level): 41 inches
Lowest Waist (at umbilical level): 31 inches
I have always been passionate about fitness and sport from a young age having competed in swimming, table tennis, squash, cricket, track and field, football and rugby at various levels from school, provincial and university to national and international. I even founded and ran a gym in Nairobi from mid 2016 to end 2017!
As a stereotypical ectomorphic vegetarian of Indian ethnicity, I was barely 58kg at nearly 6’0 and 17 years old. I took up weight training/bodybuilding with a goal to put on some muscle on my scrawny frame and developed an enduring love for it. During the first 5 years I made steady, albeit slow progress. However, at 23 I got overly impatient and bulked up too fast to 95kg – adding disproportionately more fat than muscle in the process. At the time I didn’t realize this and was actually rather pleased with my progress. After pretty much wasting the subsequent decade due to lack of real structure and consistency in my nutrition and training and a few prolonged hiatuses from lifting ranging from 6-18 months each, I decided to take decisive action and truly commit to finally get lean for the first time since my novice lifting days to achieve a longstanding goal.
I happened to come across an article written by Akash for Testosterone Nation in early January 2018 and was surprised and intrigued to come across another person of Indian origin writing for such a reputed and ‘hardcore’ bodybuilding website. I went on to check out his Instagram page as well as the content on RNT Fitness including client case studies, Akash’s bodybuilding prep, articles on mindset, etc. Coincidentally, I also came across people I was acquainted with who were RNT clients (Jas and Sakhi) and after learning about their positive experiences and excellent transformations I knew I had to sign up! The client case study/transformation that really inspired me to sign up was the one on Mitesh, who lost over 30kg in 6 months and got shredded; not to mention very strong! I told myself if he could it, the least I could was try.
In retrospect, I realised prior to signing up with RNT, I was spending a lot of time in the gym lifting and feeling sore all the time but was doing way too many things wrong .These included: lack of accountability, no real focus or goals, no structured nutrition or training plan, not weighing my food nor meal prepping, constant programme hopping, general lack of consistency across the board, bingeing on food too often, training with too much volume instead of focusing on progressive overload with correct form, rarely doing cardio, not logging my workouts! Considering all this, it’s hardly surprising I didn’t look the way I wanted to.
I decided to try and lose some weight on my own for the first 3-6 months of 2018 using the free and consistently high quality content shared on the RNT website and Instagram pages and sign up thereafter. Alas, this never happened as I had no real accountability to anyone. I would lose a few kg but proceed to put it back on in a few weeks. I finally bit the bullet and decided to sign up in late May and started in late July after returning several kilos heavier from an indulgent holiday in South East Asia.
I knew I had an uphill task from the outset and this would be the most ambitious fitness goal I had ever set myself – I had pretty much the same goal every year but never really pursued it with the seriousness, structure and consistency it would require. If anything, I was stuck in a prolonged rut and my body fat levels just kept creeping up in recent years.
At over 102kg and easily 30% (if not more) in body fat, I had set myself a goal to get into the best shape of my life. I wanted to get shredded in 6 months and was aiming for below 12% body fat.
I was assigned Nathan Johnson as my coach and have been working with him since July 2018 – currently in the investment phase having spent 6 weeks in the consolidation phase. He is a great coach and has become a good friend in the course of this journey.
Professional, knowledgeable, no nonsense and balancing maturity with a cheeky sense of humour, he knows how to bring out the best in his clients. He has been prompt in responding to my constant (and often complicated questions) in a succinct manner and has provided a lot of support based on his own experiences and challenges in his fitness journey. His practical methods/approach have proven helpful to me in changing old habits many of which I have struggled with for years. I believe this is where the real value in online coaching comes in.
He knows when to push me and doesn’t hesitate to give me a tough time when we both know I deserve it but also knows when to be empathetic and supportive which has been crucial especially when I kept bingeing in the last stages of the cut!
Working with Nathan and RNT Fitness has helped me achieve a longstanding physical goal. In the course of 7 months, I lost 50lbs, 10 inches off my navel got to single digit body fat and hit PRs on most of my major lifts. I went from not training my legs for 4 months due to an ACL injury to my strongest ever while on a caloric deficit – e.g. 270kg V squat for 10 reps, 52kg dumbbells on split squats for 12 reps. The best part though was not doing any direct ab training for the coveted six pack. I look forward to beating my photoshoot condition next year after adding some more quality muscle to my frame!
I am now working on leveraging the structure, consistency and skills gained into my personal and professional life. It has been a holistic process of self-improvement and I have only just begun as I know I have a lot of potential to improve in all aspects of life.
I would highly recommend RNT Fitness to anyone genuinely committed to changing their body and more significantly, life in a sustainable manner for the long-run.
In fact, so far over a dozen of my family and friends (including my wife who has lost almost 20 lbs) have signed up since seeing my progress/results and are already benefiting from the process.
To read more case studies like Kunaal’s, have a read of the different articles here.
For more examples of our transformations, have a scroll through growing page of before/afters here.
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