MJ Kafkas: “How I Got Leaner By Eating More”

M.J. has always been a productive member at Performance360. However, once she dialed in her diet to focus on a higher-carbohydrate, lower-fat approach, she saw her body composition and gym performance take off to completely new heights.

Name: Melissa Kafkas (MJ)
Age: 28
Length of Membership: 2 Years
Fat Loss: – 4% Body Fat
Recent PRs: 300# deadlift, 195# back squat


My name is Melissa Kafkas and I just recently turned 28. I am a dolphin trainer at Sea World, and have been a member of P360 for two years! I recently married Nik Kafkas who is also a member of the gym.

MJ Melissa Kafkas


I have gained 6 lbs of muscle and dropped 4% body fat since my first weigh-in on January 12th of this year.

I can see quite a noticeable difference in definition and composition change in my quads, glutes, core, and my biceps, and also just a general increase in strength.

Although I have definitely put on muscle, a lot of my clothes have become a bit looser on me and my body has had a lot more energy to keep up with my extremely active lifestyle.

I have also hit PRs in several barbell movements, including a 20# PR in my split jerk and a 20# PR in my deadlift.


My mindset on carbs has done a complete 180! I did the 90 day challenge last year and I followed it fairly strictly, with 2 months of it being low carb. Going into that challenge some of my goals were to lean out and gain some muscle in the process.

While I did lose 3.9% body fat, I saw a gain of barely one pound of muscle. I thought a low carb diet was going to be the best way to get the results I wanted. In the end, I realized that there was more that I needed to learn to help me accomplish those goals, I just hadn’t found the knowledge yet. That’s why I jumped on the opportunity to participate in the 60 Day Challenge at the gym with the Renaissance Diet. It was a chance to go and try something different since it was a higher carb approach, and it included a lot more carbs than I was used to consuming for fitness purposes.



While a lot of my carb intake comes from vegetables, I do eat lot more carbs like sweet potatoes, rice, brown rice pasta, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese (which are also great protein sources as well), fruit, English muffins, and waffles!

I now eat a waffle with my breakfast whenever my workout is along the circuit or strength category. I fucking love waffles.


Training wise, I have always focused on barbells and strength training. I have been attending classes 4 times a week, upped from my usual 2-3 days a week. I am currently trying to focus on technique and fine tuning with barbell movements so that I can be more efficient with the weight I am moving.

I am taking the time to do every movement, ie. pushups, pull-ups, anything with a dumbbell/kettlebell, etc., with purpose, rather than being sloppy and moving as fast as I can, and challenging myself with adding more weight here and there.

Performance360 Case Study: MJ Kafkas


I have also taken into consideration the wellness of my body and what I can do to help it recover more quickly.

For me, this means working on my mobility. After every class, I stretch and use a foam roller and/or lacrosse ball.

I have even gone into open gym on a Saturday to do an hour of mobility work and my body definitely thanked me for it.

I believe that these are all factors that have contributed immensely to my recomposition.


Increasing my carbs via the gym challenge and RP diet has made all the difference. I won’t talk more about the carb aspect because I already covered that in an earlier question, but I will talk about the protein aspect. I had zero clue how much protein I should be consuming to gain more muscle. I currently weigh in at 134 lbs, which means I should consume about 134 grams of protein a day if I’m following the plan.

I was consuming maybe half of that amount of protein on a good day before. In February, within one month of carbohydrate increase, I started to hit those 20# PRs I mentioned earlier.

The Difference Between Bodybuilding and Strength Training

This change in my diet has played such a huge role in my recomposition, I think much more so than the training factors. I have also stopped looking at the scale at home. I weigh 2 lbs more than when I began this journey at the beginning of the year, but that means absolutely nothing because I’ve lost fat and added muscle.

I can see the difference when I look at my body and when I look at that printed out sheet from the composition analysis machine. Those two factors are solid proof that the number on the scale is just that; a number.

So ladies, do not be afraid of lifting weights!!


I pretty much let the chips fall where they may. I have a very active and physically demanding job, so I always try to take classes before work, even if that means a 6 am class when I have to be at work at 7 am and work a 10 hour shift.

I’m just too exhausted at the end of the day and I know I won’t get much out of my workout if I go later. I do wish I could say I have a more exciting strategy, but basically as long as I make it to the gym 4 days a week, I’m a happy camper.

M.J. Kafkas has been a member of Performance360 for two years. For information on Performance360 nutrition guidance, visit here.