After almost 28 years of lifting, Chris Baran had gradually slipped into a perma-bulk state that was costing him his health. This is how he turned things around.


• Age: 40
• Height: 5’10”
• Weight: 230lb
• Body fat: 26%

• Age: 44
• Weight: 195lb
• Body fat: 8%

Changing Fortunes

I’ve had my share of injuries and the worst of them is my nagging lower back. About five years ago it went out worse than normal to the point I lost 75% feeling in my right leg for months. I opted not to have surgery as I felt I was able to rehab it back as long as I stayed consistent and listened to my chiropractor 100%. The biggest challenge for me was more mental, realizing I wasn’t 20 years old and superhuman anymore. Being in my 40s I now have to relearn how to train my body on multiple levels. It can be challenging to still try to make progress while doing lighter weights than I have done in the past, while getting my cardio up to greater levels, plus working around a severe injury.

I felt like a kid again, absorbing info and trying out new things. I would get frustrated at times because I don’t like to feel limited by certain things. But once I realized that I was holding myself back in my mind, I opened up to such a greater understanding of fitness and health. I found a whole new world of training that is not only better for me, but for my longevity of fitness, health, balance, and happiness. At that point I never looked back and I now feel better than ever before. It’s important to drop the ego and always listen to your body. Your mind and your body don’t always communicate properly so it’s your job to listen if your body is trying to tell you something. Be smart and listen.

Making the change

My dad had three open-heart surgeries and many health issues throughout his life. He has always been a big guy and never took into account his actual health. I never wanted to go down that path. My family is everything to me and I need to be around for them. My cholesterol is something I struggled with most of my life even at my leanest as it runs in my genes. I wasn’t helping it by gaining a ton of weight to attempt to get bigger and training the way I was. A lifestyle change was needed but mentally, for some reason I still wasn’t doing it as consistently as I needed to, especially with my cardiovascular history. My wife said she was not happy with the way she looked and wanted to get in shape together. We ended up training, eating and prepping for a show together that year which was such an incredible experience. After that I never went back up to that higher weight again and I’ve never let my body fat get above 12% since then. After being consistent for so long I am happy to say I am beating nature and got my cholesterol to start dropping without prescribed meds.

Food Matters

I try to keep my diet as doable as possible as I naturally love sweets. If I’m satisfied, I generally will not crave anything. I stick with six meals a day and I will flip-flop from a protein/fat based plan to a protein/carb plan for a few weeks each or even in the same week. I sometimes do three days one-way, four days another and one day protein/greens only. For the most part my carbs stay moderate, never very high as I feel sluggish when I bring them up too much. Protein usually stays around the same and I adjust as needed. Any additional calories will come from adjusting carbs and fats.

chris baran posing topless in the gym

Meal Prep Advice

Don’t prep meals too far ahead, especially protein. You will not eat it if it tastes disgusting and old. I would say carbs could go for about three days but prep protein the night before if the morning is too hectic. This should take no longer than 30 min to prep.

Advice to others

Starting up is hard, and starting backup from a layoff or injury can be even harder. Write down your goals no matter how far off they may seem to you or others. Set a plan in place to get you there, based on if you are working around an injury. You will be surprised how much you can do over what you cannot do. Also, being business owners we are also extremely busy so everything now has to be scheduled into a time slot. I highly recommend this as fitness is very important for us.

I plan to continue to grow and learn within my fitness. After many shows over many years I plan to do one more, most likely this year before I close that chapter for myself. I never like to say never but the spark needs to be very strong to compete and I am enjoying pushing and seeing my wife grow as a competitor. So one more for me as far as the stage goes. I am completely intrigued by the tactical style/hybrid style of training and High Intensity Interval style of training. This will allow me to become more flexible, with better heart rate, balance, stamina, agility etc. I am very excited to take on this new phase as it’s very challenging.

My meals

Meal 1: Smoothie (6 liquid egg whites, 1 scoop of whey protein blend, ice cubes), 1 serve of either oatmeal or grits with small handful of berries, 1 whole egg.

Meal 2: 6oz ground turkey or chicken, 1 cup jasmine rice, chopped onion, amino soy sauce, 1 cup greens

Meal 3:Repeat meal 2

Meal 4: 8oz Greek yogurt, ½ cup egg whites, ½ scoop whey protein blend. 6 rice cakes.

Meal 5: 6oz ground turkey or red meat or fish with green salad and apple cider vinegar.

Meal 6: Post workout meal – 2 scoops whey protein isolate, ½ cup liquid egg whites, 1 scoop carb powder.

Meal 7: 6 cooked egg whites