Nutritional based articles straight from cutandjacked.com's specialist writers
Carb Cycling is a low/no-carbohydrate diet with intermittent periods of high or moderate carbohydrate consumption; essentially you are cycling your carbs to achieve a desired result. Most people have the misconception that consuming low carbs on a day to day basis for long periods of time is good for them. The main problem with low-carb diets is that they are meant as temporary diets; they deplete your energy and strength and are not the best method when attempting to lose body fat and retain muscle. You cannot eat that way forever. Your body needs carbs for daily functions.
There are also those individuals who preach high carb diets. While high carb diets help to speed your metabolism, they are not ideal for weight-loss or reduction of body fat as there is not a sufficient deficit to help you shed the pounds.
This is where carb-cycling comes in. Carb cycling is an in between Zig Zag type method that will give you the benefits of both a low and high carb diet which allows you to hold on to the muscle you already have and shed body fat. This type of diet will also help you maintain your sanity, strength, and endurance through the entirety of your program.
Carb cycling works by giving your body the fuel it needs to increase your metabolism and create a calorie deficit to increase fat loss. Days are rotated between high-carb days and low/moderate-carb days and in some cases no carb days.
There are typically three types of days when carb cycling- Notice some will not go “NO carbs” but instead follow a low to moderate and then high rotation.
Generally, if you do three days the three days are rotated, or cycled, equally, but there are many ways people set up a carb cycle. You can also do low/high or low moderate high.
Example: 4 low days and then a high, 2 low a no carb day and 1 high, 2 low 1 moderate and 1 high, etc. This type of diet should be tweaked, based on the individual's goals.
Generally the most common carb cycling approach used is where you will place higher carbohydrate days on your heaviest training days and then lower carb days on off/low-intensity training days. This plan is usually based on eating six times per day. Acceptable alternatives would be five or seven meals a day. Adjust your plan according to your goals and lifting schedule. Be sure to keep the daily ratios consistent with whatever meal plan you choose; more food per meal if you do 5 meals and less food per meal if you do 7.
Protein is the foundation of a carb cycling diet .Assuming you are eating six meals each day, regardless of which type of day, you will eat a minimum of 1/5, 1/6, or 1/7 of your total daily minimum requirement for protein at each meal.
Example: If you are taking in 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, a 200-pound male should eat at least 33 grams of protein at each and every meal. If the same person is set on a 5 meal per day plan they should eat a minimum of 40 grams of protein per meal and 28 if you are consuming 7 to achieve the same totals. Of course depending on your goal you may take your protein higher or lower, adjusting accordingly. On a low carb day you may take this number to 1.2-1.5- or even 2.0 grams per lb. of body weight.
Keep dietary fats consistent throughout your plan. You will raise your fats on your low carb days and lower them on high carb days. Some individuals will even keep their fat and carb sources separate in their diet plan.
This type of diet focuses on daily manipulation of carbohydrate consumption-hence the name “Carb Cycling” so carbs are a very important part of this diet.
There are three types of days in the diet, and they vary only by the amount of carbohydrates that are consumed. They are the low/moderate carbohydrate day, the high carbohydrate day, and the no/low day.
To achieve maximum results, you must calculate the ratio of carbs to fat and proteins. Your protein intake is higher during the low-carb phase. A woman will multiply her current body by 1.2; men will multiple his weight by 1.5. This number reflects the grams of protein required per day; multiple this total by 4 for your number of calories consumed by protein sources. To calculate your grams of fat, a woman will multiple her weight by 0.5 and a male by 0.8. This total number times 9 will reflect your calorie consumption. Find carbohydrates by multiplying a woman's weight by 0.6 and a man's by 0.9. This total multiplied by 4 will reflect total calories consumed through carbohydrates. Add the three totals to determine your daily caloric intake during this cycle.
The high carb day is established using the same method, only this time, increasing your protein and carbohydrate intake while decreasing your fats. To determine the grams of protein and carbohydrates, a woman will multiply her weight by 1.4 and a man by 1.7. Fat grams are found by multiplying 0.3 by a woman's weight and 0.6 by a man's weight. These totals will reflect the number of nutrient dense calories you can consume on this day
You'll want to focus the majority of these calories right around the training period since this is when your body needs them the most. Plus by doing so, you'll find that the rest of the day stays quite similar in terms of meal planning to your low carbohydrate days.
The no carb day is the simplest, yet most physically and mentally challenging day. It is exactly what it says it is, quite literally, no carbohydrates. You will get some carbs from the greens you eat, but not enough to affect your results.
Be aware that low and no days aren't exactly going to be easy, but you're going to get great results if you can push through them. Some people tolerate low carbs better than others. Only you will be able to discern if you are going too low for you to function properly throughout your day.
The recommendations below are standard but can be adjusted to fit your goals. You can take the ratios given and increase them to make them fit your goals. Multiply your bodyweight by the numbers provided below OR by your own set number to figure how many grams of protein, carbs, and fats you will take in each day. To figure out the calorie consumption you will take the number and multiply it times 4 for both protein and carbs and times 9 for fat.
Carbohydrate Cycling Program Macronutrient Recommendations
** All recommendations shown in grams per pound of bodyweight
** All recommendations shown in grams per pound of bodyweight
I have tweaked my own numbers and they are a bit higher than the recommended protein to achieve the goals I have set for myself. As you can see you can manipulate this diet for your liking.
LOW DAYS (on high days meals I have the extra carbs in 3 meals-my fats also decrease on high days) 4 low days one high-repeat
High days are 50 grams carbs in first 4 meals. I choose oats for these meals because it’s easy to measure and I don’t mind eating the same thing over and over. I’ll periodically switch out oats for brown rice
Written By Bodybuilding.com Sponsored Athlete Brandan Fokken: Fanpage
When it comes to fat loss there are plenty strategies on what to eat, but what about simply not eating? You may scoff at this especially if you're like many fitness enthusiasts who have their tupperware ready to roll every 3 hours. But what I will propose isn't starvation, but rather a strategy known as intermittent fasting or IF for short. IF is a dietary protocol that utilizes periodic fasts and can be implemented in various ways. Not only does IF improve health and body composition, it improves cognition, saves on the grocery bill, and helps you live a lifestyle free of worrying about when your next serving of chicken breast and brown rice is.
IF helps your fat loss endeavors on both a physiological and psychological level. When it comes to what is actually going on in the body, fasting can increase insulin sensitivity as insulin levels will be lower chronically and of course acutely during the fast. In regards to your health this means a whole slew of things, but most importantly it decreases the risk of diabetes and all of its subsequent co morbidities (associate diseases). If we are talking about body composition, decreased insulin levels will make way for lipolysis, or fat burning, during the fasting window. A host of other hormones such as the catecholamine epinephrine as well as growth hormone help in this process. So as you can see the fasting period is very advantageous for burning off those love handles, but also for your longevity.
Free of the analogous handcuffs of frequent meal timing, fasting gives multiple psychological and cognitive benefits. Fasting allows one to experience psychological and actual physical hunger cues. The realization and differentiation of these two cues and the experience of feeling them allows dieters to understand when they are actually "hungry," or if some other cue such as social eating, or anxiety is making them "hungry". Mental clarity is also a perk of fasting, which may be a result of less frequent peaks and valleys in blood sugar levels. This leads to many reporting that they are more productive during the fast. Although much of the aforementioned benefits are anecdotal, it is because they are subjective, but the science and theory definitely supports their claim.
While there are a lot of benefits to IF, there are still many doubters. The root of much criticism may be due to lack of knowledge on how IF works, or simply because humans are creatures of habit and the long-standing frequent meal timing scheme has been successful for many dieters. Most prevalent is the concern of muscle loss or the inability to gain muscle while fasting. To address this several fasting protocols allow for the use of Branch Chained Amino Acid (BCAA) supplementation during the fasting window which stops muscle catabolism (muscle breakdown), and because of the Leucine content of BCAA's stimulates something known as the Mammalian Target of Rapamycin (mTOR). mTOR is a regulator of protein synthesis in the body, thus actually augmenting the building and repair process in regards to muscle. In addition the digestion rate of many proteins, such as casein, can take up to 8 hours, feeding the body with amino acids throughout a large portion of the fast if consumed at the last meal. Also of concern is binging during the feeding time which seems to be the biggest mistake for IF beginners, and is why this eating style may not be for everyone. IF doesn't allow for a free pass to eat anything, as food choices should still be centered around whole, nutrient-dense foods that mirror the same caloric content and macronutrient ratios as would be in a frequent meal style of eating.
The implementation of the various IF protocols are dependent on many factors. Essentially the protocol that best fits your schedule and your psyche is ideal. One of the most successful protocols is the "Eat Stop Eat" fasting method by Brad Pilon. This IF strategy employs 1-2 full 24 hour fasts during the week. It is suggested that the fasting days are on non-workout days. Another practical and successful IF strategy is the "Lean Gains" approach coined by Martin Berkhan, where there is an 8 hour window of eating and 16 hour fast each day (a 10:14 ratio of eating: fasting can also be used). It is suggested that your workout is near the eating window and ideally allows for your largest meal to be after your workout. Finally another popular, though more rigid, protocol is the warrior diet, which is a 4 hour eating window typically towards the evening each day. All of these approaches have been implemented with success as witnessed by their many testimonials and their popularity, but it's the one that fits into your particular lifestyle that will render the best results in fat loss and health.
It is important to realize that IF is just another way of eating. IF is a lifestyle not a diet, and is meant to free people from the rigidity of constant feeding and worrying about food while still giving great fat loss and health benefits. With that being said I by no means tout IF as being the best eating strategy for muscle gain, fat loss, or even health, but it is certainly one of the most successful. It all comes back to what works for you and what is practical. If you are able to fit a "diet" into your everyday routine, you are able to adhere to it, and most importantly you can see yourself eating that way the rest of your life, then it's the "diet" or should I say lifestyle that's going to work for you. So I leave you with a challenge, try one of the above eating strategies for one week, see how you do. You might be amazed at how easy it really is to fast for fat loss!
Written by Adam Bisek
Why do we get fat? And when we try to lose it why do most fail or revert back? The answer lies in a simple analogous adventure into our prehistoric past. If we look at how our caveman and women ancestors lived and subsisted, and how our physiology seeks homeostasis, it is easy to see how diets are often unsuccessful in the long run.
The human body and its checks and balances are meant to keep us at just the right weight and body fat. Our fat cells, and to a smaller extent the cells in the lining of the stomach, secrete a hormone called leptin. That's right, our fat is an active part of the endocrine system. When we become lean our fat is lower and subsequently less leptin is produced and sent to the brain, and more specifically the hypothalamus. When this happens the hypothalamus decreases thyroid activity, down regulating our metabolism and also sends out hormones such as ghrelin and neuropeptide Y (NPY), which make us hungry. Think about it, if we go back to our caveman, it makes sense to decrease his metabolism in famine, and increase his hunger to seek his next meal. His body wants him to get back to a body fat that will support famine or the long winter.
The inverse happens when our body fat increases. Increased body fat increases the leptin signal to the hypothalamus and to this it increases metabolism via the thyroid, and decreases hormonal signals of hunger. Although our caveman needs to have enough body fat to survive the next famine, his body also realizes he needs to be lean enough to run away from the occasional tiger.
↓ Fat = ↓ Leptin = ↑ Hunger Hormones + ↓ Metabolism
↑ Fat = ↑ Leptin = ↓ Hunger Hormones + ↑ Metabolism
So how is it that obesity is an issue in the western society? Much like the body becomes resistant to insulin in Type 2 Diabetes, it also becomes leptin resistant. This is due to many things such as a sedentary lifestyle, over consumption of processed carbohydrates, elevated triglycerides, chronic stress, and toxicity just to name a few. This sounds a lot like the lifestyle of many Americans. Essentially the hypothalamus does not receive the signal despite the over abundance of fat and subsequently leptin. Luckily reversing leptin resistance can be accomplished by paying attention to the aforementioned lifestyle factors. Maintaining regular physical activity, increasing whole food consumption in contrast to processed foods, dealing with stress, decreasing alcohol consumption, and investigating and rectifying possible sources of toxicity will go a long way in dealing with leptin resistance.
So getting to our main point; why do "diets" fail? First it's because the modern conception of diet is incorrect, and means nothing more than a way of eating or a lifestyle. Essentially the same physiological mechanism that kept our caveman the right body fat still exists in our bodies today. When we begin to go into famine, which in modern day is merely caloric restriction through decreasing food consumption, our bodies’ natural mechanisms sense this over time and decrease metabolism. To compound this dieters try to create a caloric deficit by increasing activity, and in many cases this takes the form of long duration aerobic activity, although this may not always be the case. Now think about it, if our caveman were in famine would he go for a jog to expend energy, or conserve it? To this our body has to release cortisol, a stress hormone that helps liberate fat, glucose, and protein from muscle to provide us with energy. The only bad thing is that this hormone also likes to deposit fat in the abdominal region when elevated chronically! While this is all happening our body is in a net protein loss, which leads to loss of muscle. To pile it on our body also begins to send out this hunger signals ghrelin and NPY as it senses famine, and also because our stress hormones do a great job at stimulating NPY release. NPY is an interesting hormone because it makes us crave sweet things, not so bad for our caveman who would find some berries, but now those berries have turned into a snickers bar from the closest vending machine.
So that's where the common day "dieter" is left. Sporting a decreased metabolism, increased hunger for bad food options, increased circulating stress hormones, and decreased muscle mass. Not a good situation for maintaining the possible weight lost. The truth is that it's not about a number, it's not about weight loss, it's about fat loss. It's not about the mindset of a "diet"' but a change in a lifestyle. Successful and maintained fat loss is achieved slower and through making changes in lifestyle to increasing physical activity, making better food choices, decreasing stress, and being practical about what can be achieved.
When it comes to the traditional approach to fat loss, there is a lot left to be desired. Long drawn out aerobic sessions are not the way to go. While maintaining aerobic fitness is important, one can do so by maintaining a progressive resistance-training program that includes shorter more relatively intense bouts of activity. This maintains muscle mass and decreases the chronic stress response brought about by long duration steady state aerobic sessions. In addition to this a grocery list that includes plenty of sources of protein, fruits, vegetables, and some nuts, seeds, and healthy oils, while staying away from more processed foods found in boxes and bags will go a long way. And finally, use the trusty SMART goal model to establish specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-oriented goals. Getting social support from friends and family, as well as accountability from a fitness professional will also better your chances of taking of the fat for good.
I hope this journey to ancestral homeostasis was enlightening or will at least save you or someone you know from falling into the traditional approach to fat loss. Until next time, get Big, be Strong, keep Fit, and stay Healthy!
Written by Adam Bisek
Few supplements on the market today tout strong backing from scientific research, of which Branch Chained Amino Acids (BCAA's) are one of them. They are immensely popular amongst the fitness community due to their positive effect on muscle building, as well as their use for staving off muscle breakdown while dieting. When utilized correctly in ones diet and supplement regimen, BCAA's can be one of the most integral additions to your proverbial supplement toolbox.
The amino acids Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine are the family of building blocks that make up Branched-Chain Amino acids. These aminos are in a group known as essential amino acids, which are those that humans need to get from our diet and cannot produce on our own. BCAA's are unique because in free form, like found in Beast BCAA's or Aminolytes, are absorbed right into the bloodstream after digestion unlike intact proteins, which you will learn leads to many of their amazing benefits. Another interesting characteristic is that BCAA's can be metabolized by the muscle, providing immediate energy. Subsequently BCAA's have a strong anti-catabolic effect, in essence staving off muscle breakdown, and also a strong anabolic effect, driving protein synthesis to build muscle.
BCAA's are typically found in a 2:1:1 ratio. Research thus far has shown this ratio to be sufficient for performance, protein synthesis, and decreasing protein degradation. Higher ratios of Leucine are theorized to offset the uptake of valine, and Isoleucine, but as for right now that is nothing more than theory. Leucine is the heavy hitter of the bunch, activating key pathways in the body that regulate protein synthesis. Of which Leucine is a key regulator of the Mammalian Target of Rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway, which plays a critical role on skeletal muscle Hypertrophy, or the accretion of muscle tissue. Leucine can also help stimulate the Phosphatodyl-Inositol-3-Kinase pathway (PI3K) in addition to, but also independent of insulin, increasing glucose uptake and protein synthesis. Simply put Leucine is a rockstar when it comes to getting your muscle building machinery going, and prevents your body from using your muscle tissue for fuel during exercise or when in caloric deficit.
In addition to their muscle saving and building capabilities, BCAA's serve athletes and even liver disease patients in other ways! Research has shown that BCAA's can increase aerobic and anaerobic capacity, increase strength, power, and resistance to fatigue, as well as decrease muscle soreness from intense exercise. All these attributes would prove to be advantageous to almost any athlete. Stepping off the field of play, BCAA's have also been researched in clinically diagnosed liver disease patients. Liver regeneration, detoxification, and correction of plasma amino acid balance, are purported positive indications that BCAA's exhibit when administered to those suffering from liver disease.
When it comes to timing there are several windows:
▪ Upon waking
▪ Between meals
▪ During your workout
▪ Immediately post-workout
▪ Before Bed
That may seem like a lot, but the above list is ideal, not necessarily always practical. Of the list the three most important times would be upon waking, during, and immediately post-workout. Recommendations for dosing will range from as little as 200-300mg of each BCAA to 2-5 or more grams at each serving, with some recommending 20 grams. It seems the lower range dosing offers the least amount to receive any tangible benefit, with increasing efficacy up to 20 grams. My basic recommendation to reap marked benefits would be to supplement 2-5grams at each serving. If you’re carrying a good amount of muscle or are dieting 5-10 grams per serving is a sufficient amount. A single serving of Beast BCAA's provides 2.4 grams of BCAA's in a 2:1:1 ratio, which is perfect for a waking dose, between meals, before bed, and even post-workout. Aminolytes contain 6 grams of BCAA's per serving and also add in electrolytes to improve your performance and extend your time spent in the gym. Coming in a powder form, Aminolytes are a great option in the peri-workout window; pre, during, and post-workout.
So there you have it. If you're looking to take it to the next level by gaining some more lean body mass, or want to keep your hard-earned muscle while acquiring that 6 - pack, BCAA's are the supplement for you. Remember a supplement is just that, a supplement to a good nutrition and exercise plan. Nail those down first then bring it to the next level. Until next time, get Big, be Strong, keep Fit, and stay Healthy!
Written by Adam Bisek
Benefits: Variety of protein sources providing muscle tissue support
A note on Artichoke: Artichoke is documented to help with liver cleansing as well its positive effects on high cholesterol. Artichoke also has a good amount of potassium which helps muscle contraction and is very important for individuals who follow an exercise regimen.
- 2 ounce artichoke calories: 25, Fat: 0, Protein: 2 , Carbs: 6 ( 3gr. Fiber), Sodium: 75 mg., Potassium: 170 mg.
Recipe by Melih F. Cologlu / ACPT
Per one out of four:
Recipe by Anna from proteinpow.com
Tip: You want to cook your pancakes slow. If you cook them too quickly, they will be raw in the middle. Be patient and let them cook evenly and slowly. They should turn a perfect golden brown on both sides.
Recipe by Stephanie Woods
Picture the typical first date: the man confidently orders a steak to appear masculine while the woman orders a salad to seem feminine. What’s wrong with this picture? Women need protein too, and if you’re a fit woman you need it even more to support that beautiful muscle! Here you’re going to learn the benefits of adequate protein, how different sources affect your health differently, how much you should be eating, and the best ways to add in protein to keep you lean and sexy!
A new study recently published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that the prior recommendation of 0.36 g protein per pound of body weight is grossly inaccurate for women who lift weights. This is because the body needs more protein to build and maintain muscle and also to produce enzymes in the body that are key to metabolism. And it packs a one-two punch for those who are trying to lose or maintain weight. Of all the macronutrients, protein takes the most work to digest and it, therefore, increases energy expenditure when you eat it in greater proportion to other macronutrients or to the amount you are right now. Also, because it is harder to digest, it stays in the stomach longer than carbohydrates helping you feel fuller faster and longer. So how much protein should you be eating? About 0.8 – 1 g per pound of body weight every day is a safe estimate for most women to maintain and build muscle and keep their metabolisms revved up. Get this through 5 – 6 servings/day, 20-30g/meal, so that the body can better metabolize and absorb it and you’re not flushing protein and money down the drain (pun intended).
But what kind of protein is best? We all know that chicken, egg whites, and canned tuna are great lean sources of protein, but it turns out that different protein sources offer different health benefits, so your best bet is to get protein from a variety of sources: red meat, pork, poultry, whey/casein/dairy (if it doesn’t give you a bad reaction), fish, nuts, beans, and soy. Here we’ll talk about the benefits of a few of these. Red meat helps your brain to better remember important phone numbers (remember when you were standing at the ATM the other week and couldn’t remember your PIN?). This is probably due to the creatine monohydrate content found in beef, the concentration of which increases in your brain when you consume it. Creatine also has benefits in your training regimen as it has been shown to increase power – can you say new PR? Also, red meat is high in zinc and iron, both of which are critical to proper metabolism function and training capacity as they are key for delivering oxygen to working muscles and immune health. Finally, if you buy grass fed beef you are giving yourself a dose of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a healthy fat that has been linked to decreased body fat by increasing insulin sensitivity (so it helps your body use carbohydrates for fuel instead of storing them as fat). Aim for 1 – 2 servings/week. Pork has comparable benefits for muscle building as beef, with the same lean meat to fat ratio of turkey. It’s also high in thiamin, a nutrient that is often lacking in the average woman’s diet and key to metabolism because it helps to efficiently convert carbohydrates to energy and it also helps with muscle fiber repair and recovery – so if you’re working out hard, this is an important nutrient! Other micronutrients in pork help regulate energy release, strengthen bones, prevent injury, and increase your immune system function.
Eat up, aim for 1 – 2 servings of pork/week as well! Fish is another great source of protein. Most fish is very low in fat and calories (such as cod, tilapia, and albacore tuna). But the ones that are higher in fat are also important too; they contain a healthy fat known as omega-3, which has been linked to better brain function and mental acuity, lower rates of depression and anxiety, and heart health. But on top of that, omega-3s are being linked to greater levels of physical fitness and lower body fat. One recent study published by Washington University has even found a correlation between omega-3 fatty acid consumption and your body’s ability to turn protein in the diet into precious muscle. Eat fish often, and eat sources high in omega-3s at least 3 times/week!
Finally, let’s talk about a non-animal source of protein. Beans are a great, economical source of protein and are often overlooked as a supplement in the diet. Beans are high in folic acid which helps with cognitive function and helps prevent depression. Also, if you’re a female in your reproductive years, the folic acid in beans is important to help prevent certain birth defects that develop in fetal spinal cords in the first 2 weeks of pregnancy – a time when most women do not even know they are pregnant yet. So including beans as a regular part of your diet can help. Beans also have high amounts of magnesium and some have high amounts of iron, both of which are important for nerve function and muscle building. Finally, beans not only have satiating protein but also satisfying fiber – keeping your belly full and flat. Aim to eat beans 3 times per week or more. As you can see each source of protein offers unique health and training benefits. Reap the most from your protein by getting it from a variety of sources.
Okay, so you know how much protein you should be eating and you know why you should be eating it…but how should you add it in? Here are some quick and simple ways to add some extra protein into your day without too much time and effort:
If you plan ahead and batch-cook your protein, it’ll be easy to pack for the week or day and have protein on hand for every meal. Next time you’re out with friends, your guy, or by yourself, do yourself a favor and eat some protein. Let’s change the stereotype and make eating a diet rich in protein a girl thing too. You can do it!
- Written by Anjelica Mucci
Cut, shredded, lean, ripped, whatever you want to call it most people if not all want to get leaner to some degree. Doesn’t change the fact I still hear the terms ‘I don’t want to get too lean’ or ‘I don’t want to get too big’ in many consultations I have.
Following on from my ultimate bulking guide I am now going to put together a pretty comprehensive guide to stripping down that bulk and get that physique out and ready for hitting the beach.
Some basic ground rules before you think this is the solution to all your problems.
The effectiveness of any nutritional plan is more often than not dictated by the person undertaking it and both their perseverance and willingness to change.
You must change your lifestyle, habits, addictions and approach to life if this is to work.
To cut subcutaneous (body) fat effectively with minimal muscle loss we must:
‘Cutting up’ is different in many respects to bulking in that the detail is now what counts and being pretty analytical with your food is what will safely get you to where you want without a notable trade off. As I’ve said before when it comes to most things, there is always some form of trade off. When it comes to cutting often the trade off is a loss in muscle tissue brought about by a notable caloric deficit and the elevation of catabolic/stress hormones. The key to effective fat loss is to manage the two hormonal states effectively whilst changing fuel usage and maintaining or creating a deficit.
Can fat loss be achieved whilst maintaining or even gaining mass? In my opinion yes and I have seen it happen on many occasion. It requires educated and strategic management of nutrition and fuel usage.
My approach for myself and my clients is different to that of most and I guess the reason for me writing this is to express that approach. I also wished to title this 'the death of the diet' but maybe it’s a little early for that kind of speculation.
Little bit of plagiarising of my own articles here, as some of this info is relevant and in my opinion good.
Insulin manages our hormonal state and part of our natural fluctuation between a state of regeneration and degeneration. Our hormonal and genetic makeup define for us how well insulin is managed at a base level and dietary habits influence it from then on in. Managing insulin is all about stabilising blood sugar and maintaining it through selective ingestion of predominantly carbohydrates.
To understand the more complex roles of carbohydrates besides the storage and transport of energy we must first understand that the bodies’ hormones are largely governed by this 'master' hormone, insulin. Following the consumption of carbohydrates of any type there is a concurrent and specific rise in our blood sugar or blood glucose levels. In response to this rise, insulin is secreted into the body. The excessive or insufficient ingestion of carbohydrates that is common in todays society cause lows and highs in blood sugar levels. The repeated fluctuation of these levels can impact the bodies’ ability to produce insulin and in some cases cause the whole system to shut down. Not only does this have a major impact on the regulation of sex hormones but in the pursuit of 'getting cut' there is a common and drastic trend to exclude or minimise carbohydrates from the diet below the bodies normal requirements. We start messing with sex hormones and we fall deeply into a catabolic (degenerative).
The three bodytypes endomorphs, ectomorphs and mesomorphs are what we will be starting with at our hormonal and genetic makeup level. What we have done with it from then on in is always tricky to define.
To summarise with this:
The suggested base dietary ratios (carbohydrates:proteins:fats) for the various body types are.
In essence this is telling us if we take an ectomorph and they consume 55% of their total caloric intake from carbohydrates they will metabolise it effectively and without gaining excessive fat. Is this 100% accurate, no but it gives a great start point. If we want a steady flow of energy this 55% ratio should be spread evenly throughout the day with a spike in levels only post workout. In the case of cutting assuming coming from a bulking cycle you will know what those ratios and levels are. If not I would take your current diet, log it accurately and see what level you are at right now. You will see why shortly. Whatever happens you need to honestly know where you start at otherwise you cannot adapt anything.
Point 1. Create a deficit of total calories through either a reduction in dietary calories or an increase in fuel (calorie) usage.
This is the point at which people will dispute the information I am about to give you now for various reasons. Answer me this, are you looking at maximal fat loss whilst preserving muscle tissue? If the answer is yes read on. If you don't care about losing some muscle just keep doing what you're doing.
Let me remind you of the two basic hormonal states. This diagram shows it in relation to blood sugar and its physiological response should it drop below a given level.
If we want to manage composition we cannot drop below the black line and into the red.
For the purpose of explaining this I’m going to use a hypothetical case study. John is an ectomorph who has been consuming a strategic eating plan to build bulk. He is now ready to cut the fat and maintain mass, being an ectomorph if he gets this wrong he will lose what took him a long time to gain. He consumes 3000k/cal per day and guess what he is going to cut without dropping calories. As a reference for those of you that ask the question, John uses no performance enhancing drugs, the relevance of this will become clear later.
He is going to diet for 15 weeks and we have ascertained that his basal metabolic rate simply to survive is a measly 1200k/cal per day. Remember he cannot drop in the red. The second he does all of his goals become compromised.
Firstly I want to give you a little insight into fuels and how they are used.
The essential nutrients (our body can't create but we have constant jobs for them) proteins and fats can be utilised as carbohydrates should our body need them. This is a pathway that your body needs to adapt to in order to become efficient at it. If we don't have enough protein our body steals from itself (lean tissue), if we don't have enough dietary fats our body shuts certain systems down. If we plan to protect muscle tissue whilst giving the option for the body to use another form of fuel (stored fat) we must maintain an anabolic state and consume above maintenance levels of protein. We can stick with our total caloric requirement whilst adapting fuel sources and protecting tissue. How do we burn fat, we burn fat because we not only tell the body to stop storing it, we create a metabolic impact through our training. At this point I must also tell you that when it comes to training more isn't always better. I will explain more later. This article is about the dietary aspect of cutting, why? Ask anyone in shape what’s more important. Diet or training?
This is straight away under the assumption that you will eat only clean foods during this time and stick to the plan.
The best way I have found to do this is by switching fuel sources over a given period. An undulating drop in carbohydrate switching calories to proteins and fats. Here is an example taking my case study down from 413 grams of carbs to 188 over a course of 15 weeks. He is an ectomorph and has a high carbohydrate tolerance so going much lower wouldn't probably be required. A large amount of this 188 grams will be ingested post workout, the rest of it evenly distributed throughout the day.
So this is the point where it becomes the argument of calories in vs calories out.
Take calories out of your diet you run the risk of the red zone. Burn more you don't provided you utilise a post workout drink.
I have speculated a very low basal metabolic rate in my case study, 1200 k/cals. Basal metabolic rate is basically what our body needs just to survive. We don't want the body switching into a survival mechanism (red) therefore you can deduct 1200k/cals from the intake straight away and know you will never drop below that. That leaves with a 3000k/cal total intake 1800k/cal to play with and utilise as fuel before we drop into the red.
By creating this optimal hormonal state (anabolic) we can prime the body to burn fuel that isn't required (body fat). We preserve the metabolically active tissue (muscle) whilst providing an alternative and protective fuel source (protein and fats). This minimises the risk of a surplus of carbohydrates (our raw fuel) and it's conversion to stored energy. As we still ingest the same amount of calories our ability to sustain metabolically demanding workouts still remains possible. We create a calorie deficit with minimal risk and by only increasing output not reducing food intake. Overweight people diet and eat diet and low calorie foods.....need I say more.
Let me show you an example of when more is not always better and a reason I only add cardio into a fat loss program as a last resort and way to burn energy (literally moving, not running, nothing overly strenuous) high intensity cardio is low intensity weights before anyone starts.
John (case study 1) is on a weekly basis going to add a brisk 15 minute walk extra a day to his fat loss regime, that’s all. By week 15 he will be doing 3 hours and 45 minutes of cardio per day!!!! Effective? Read on.
Up until week 7 his body is primed for fat loss, at week 8 it fails and will start to catabolise valuable and metabolically active tissue. This would look something like this:
If this wasn’t a simple enough reason to understand why conventional dieting (dropping calories) doesn’t work I don't know what is.
Also when nutrition has been consistently manipulated for 10-15 weeks and your metabolism is topping out what have you got left? Nothing. You haven’t any more time or energy to do more cardio and your receptors are so fried from all the fat burners you've taken what tricks do you have left?? None. Save the cardio and thermogenics for when you're looking for the details.
I have a very successful fat loss client who has lost over 45kg of weight and an amazing amount of bodyfat whilst also adding a decent amount of lean tissue. Weight loss if done successfully as in fat will always wave up and down much like the carb cycling I showed above. Infact here is his weight loss chart.....well some of it (ps. I don't log clients weights, he did this using his iphone):
The peaks you see weren't because he went off plan they're because of what I like to call metabolic shifts, his body is adapting to new tissue and making adjustments to compositional changes and his ability to use fuel more effectively.
At one point his weight stalled for about 5 days so the question posed to me was:
'should I reduce my calories and do some more training, maybe some cardio?'
'Lets drop out one of your gym sessions this week and I want you to increase your overall calories everyday' very puzzled he went ahead and did it, guess what, he lost more fat and got his metabolism going again. He had stalled because he had waved into the red so I pulled him out of it. My point here is that metabolism and fuel usage in immeasurable to a large extend so at times it needs a push in the right direction.
I wrote about this a while ago when discussing cheat meals. Let me draw your attention to this and will simply cut and paste some of my previous piece as it now ties in nicely.
Leptin is a hormone that basically signifies if we are starving or satiated. In the grey or in the red. Its a bit more complex than this but a whole other article but fundamentally. Someone creating a deficit or on a restrictive diet will lower leptin levels, which therefore sends the signal we are starving (red zone). At this point cortisol goes through the roof, thyroid hormones plummet and a bunch of appetite stimulating hormones fire up to tell you to get your arse back in the grey. Science tells us that after 7 days of restrictive dieting or creating a negative deficit through training (my favourable method) leptin levels drop by about 50%. To raise this back to its normal level will generally take us less than 24 hrs.
Ok, now before you all start getting excited and think that because you’ve spent 7 days dieting or creating a calorie deficit its time to pig out, think again. The higher someones bodyfat is the higher their leptin levels are, the lower someones bodyfat therefore is the lower someones leptin levels will be. The 50% drop is relative to the amount you begin with. If you’re overweight the leptin is there but much like the issue we have with insulin you cannot release and utilise it, the leptin receptors have been de-sensitised. The 50% drop will not be sufficient in someone overweight to warrant a carb/caloric refeed as it’s only relative to the amount they began with. Leptin management is only really of major concern to those that are lean but if utilised correctly can push the boundaries of leanness and ramp metabolic rate significantly.
In a hierarchy of what someone overweight needs to be concerned with it isn’t leptin. As diet improves and insulin efficiency improves leptin receptors will in hand be re-sensitised and it now becomes a useful tool in the quest for fat loss and getting cut.
The thyroid hormones are responsible again in this conversation for basal metabolic rate. It will increase this basal metabolic rate and also impact the metabolism of protein, carbohydrate and fat. This becomes a burnout issue in most cases. Our body has a certain amount of fuel it can process and utilise in one go.
If we take a typical western diet that has 3 meals in it with traditionally the biggest meal being in the evening it would mean at some point this person will overeat in order to meet caloric requirements. If they don’t remember all that happens is leptin decreases and appetite stimulating hormones ghrelin, neuropeptide-y and anandamine increase. So you’re going to be hungry irritable, losing no bodyfat and on a low calorie diet. …..Sound familiar (just incase you really don’t get it muscle will be used as fuel so weight will come down to a point).
So everytime someone overeats thyroid hormones elevate metabolic rate and this leads to heat generation. In someone who regulates metabolic rate successfully overeating will lead to a notable increase in body temp. If this isn’t you maybe the timing of a cheat meal isn’t appropriate. Continuous bouts of overeating or binging will lead to the burnout of the thyroid hormones and once again an indication of underactivity within them. Overeating is not total calories, it is a ‘per meal’ scenario. Therefore 3000 k/cal is not just 3000, it's how it's dispersed and often the reason most of my clients end up eating more calories than they started with.
There is no exact science here but I would quite simply start with some markers.
If bodyfat is in excess of 25% there are no cheat meals as in the onset, someone at this level will make conscious and unconscious mistakes.
A cheat meal simply has to be an excess of calories and a substantial elevation in carbohydrates if we want to spark up and make use of the above three systems. This does not have to be junk. It can simply be a re-feed. I occasionally just eat my normal structure and throw a 1kg bag of sweet potatoes on every meal in that day. Other times I’ll pick one meal and have a pizza or something like. At present my bodyfat is about 8 - 9% so I use one every 7-10 days and may choose either option. What I can say for sure is that 1 - 2 days post re-feed my metabolic rate is still racing and I am visually leaner. The way this works is that the elevation in calories ramps everything up and for a period of 24 - 48 hours later your body is working harder than ever. Therefore you burn fuel fast!
Pretty neat huh…..but this is an earned right!
Cheat meals need to have a high percentage of carbohydrates in them to be effective and also a hefty hit of calories, double normal intake is a good bet. This ramps metabolic rate, which remember you have primed and will carry over momentum for 48 or so hours later.
There is no definitive way to cut or get lean!! There are stupid approaches and intelligent approaches. I am throwing down my gauntlet as to how I approach people (and myself) when trying to get lean. I keep calories high and burn fuel. I know in the course of a year I can burn 30 - 40kg of bodyfat easily with someone, I can't develop that amount of metabolically active muscle tissue in anyone. I choose to protect muscle tissue and use it to my own and others advantage. I haven’t gained more muscle personally than most other people that have weight trained for the past 15 years, I’ve just lost less and my profit is more!
Written by Phil Learney - Phils Facebook Fan page
Blended together and baked at 180 C (356 F) for ~ 20-25 minutes:
When the muffins are ready, take them out and let the cool a bit. Then, get a bowl out and mix 2 scoops of casein (I used chocolate orange casein) and mix it with 5 tsbs of Greek yogurt and about 5 tbsp of milk. Add one tbsp of milk at a time, until you get a frosting-like mixture - creamy and not overly watery. When the casein mixture is ready, stick your nozzle in a plastic sandwich bag (a ziplock bag will do). Push the nozzle to the corner of the bag and cut a corner off the bag so the nozzle sticks out. Then, just stuff all the casein mix in the bag, twisting the top so there's pressure and the casein comes out as you press it.
Macros per one muffin (out of six): 150g, 10.3g carbos (2g sat), 21g protein, 2.8g fat (2g sat) and 2.75g fiber!
Recipe by Anna from proteinpow.com