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Mainstream nutritionists preach that, in order to lose weight, you must be in a caloric deficit. That’s all that matters. In fact, one nutritionist did a self-study in which he ate 1800 calories worth a day of twinkies. He lost 27 pounds. However, we can all imagine what kind of condition his organs physical appearance were in post diet. It is the constant challenge in the fitness and bodybuilding world to maintain a lean, muscular appearance. If you’re like me, you’re not truly concerned with scale weight. You don’t want to get shredded beyond believe at the expense of the 10 to 15 pounds of muscle you worked for over the past two years. I have over three years of experience training hundreds of clients. I’ve dieted down and bulked back up more times than you can rep your own bodyweight. I’m going to share a few dark secrets with you about how to actually grow during your cut. It has to do with three vital hormones: testosterone, insulin, and growth hormone.
By now I’m sure you’re thinking that this is an article on drugs. Not so. I’m referring to amplifying your body’s NATURAL production of these three hormones. I’m going to teach you how to eat, train, and sleep to keep your body super anabolic while you diet down. First off, however, I want to talk about why being anabolic and building muscle is so important for those trying to lean up. Did you know that for every pound of lean mass you put on, you burn an additional 50 calories a day? Also, muscle is 5 times as dense as fat. This means that if you were to weigh a fist sized amount of muscle and compare it to a sample of fat the same size; the fat would take up 5 times as much space! Furthermore, losing more than 1.5 pounds a week leads to rapid muscle loss. So, in order to maximize bodyfat reduction, we want the rate of adding muscle and burning muscle to be roughly the same. If you want to diet slowly, then focus on how you look in the mirror. Don’t pay much attention to the scale. We don’t want that number to change. If you have more advanced goals, shoot for a maximum weight loss of one pound a week. The goal here is to build muscle. The more muscle you have, the more fat you must burn in a caloric deficit to use and recover that muscle after each workout. Sounds lucrative, doesn’t it? Now, how do you accomplish this eating, say, 1800 calories a day?
Rule 1: NO TWINKIES! We are going to focus on maximum hormone production to fuel your body’s fat loss. Let’s start with testosterone. It’s a powerful hormone (present in males and females) that controls the “switch” for tissue synthesis and strength production. Unfortunately, this hormone fluctuates. It spikes around mid- morning, then slowly decreases during the day. We want to amplify this spike and make it last as long as possible. You’re going to do this through your food choices. Your second meal needs to consist of at least one whole egg and some low fat cheese. These two foods have been proven to aid in synthesis of the testosterone compound because they are high in good cholesterol (testosterone is a cholesterol compound). Both of these foods have been labeled as “bad for weightloss” because they have saturated fat and cholesterol. However, the cholesterol in eggs actually helps raise your HDL (good cholesterol). The saturated fats are also used in building the testosterone hormone. In conclusion, you get a boost in anabolism. Plus, you get health benefits from the huge quantity of good cholesterol in the eggs. Your body also uses the unsaturated fat from egg yolks and cheese as a bridge between burning dietary and body-fat. Eating these two foods actually speeds up your fat loss as well! Sounds like a win-win situation to me!
Even more powerful than testosterone is insulin. It is responsible, along with growth hormone, for the release of IGF-1, the most powerful anabolic hormone in the body. It tells your body to grow! How do you get your body to release insulin? One word: simple sugars. Your mind goes immediately to overweight people, sodas, and cake. Everytime you eat stuff like that you gain weight. There’s a simple explanation. Insulin is your body’s storage hormone. It tells it to take whatever is in your blood stream and dump it in your muscles and liver (glycogen stores). Once those are full, you stored the rest in your fat cells. We want to get shredded. Avoiding fat storage is a must. There is one time of the day when your body is primed to use insulin for recovery and protein synthesis. Eat your sugars immediately post workout. Your glycogen stores will be mostly emptied from your heavy weight training workout. All carbs you eat will be stored in your muscles, taking amino acids with them. This provides an anabolic environment and begins the process of muscle growth! Now, it is important to eat a low fat meal post workout. Insulin will store the fat you eat as fat. Also, fat can take up to 6 hours to digest, so you will completely miss your one hour anabolic window if you consume the dreaded triglycerides. Multiple studies have shown that subjects who eat a post-workout meal consisting of carbs and protein burn an average of 60-70% more fat than those who don’t eat, or just consume protein. This is because of the growth hormone response you get from an anabolic meal.
Growth hormone controls organ growth, slow muscle growth, and makes your brain run off more glucose (yup, the brain NEEDS glucose to function effectively). More growth hormone release means you have more anabolism and more fat loss. These are the two benefits we want from this powerful compound. The more glucose it makes your brain use, the less blood sugar you have. Once your body runs out of blood sugar, it must run off stored glycogen from the liver and muscles. It also begins to convert fats (dietary and body sources) into glucose molecules. Once your glycogen is gone, your body completely runs off fat and amino acid sources of energy.
Now you know what’s really going on hormone-wise in your body when you diet. In the introduction, I said that in order to optimize production of the “Anabolic Three” we need to focus on three things: Diet, Training, and Sleep. Diet is 70% of results, training is 10%, and sleep (the body’s natural recovery state) is 15%. Supplementation helps but is roughly only 5%. I’ll go over some good ones that will help boost your results!
Since diet is by far the most important aspect of a successful training regimen, I’ll go over that first. As I said before, fat is burned in the absence of carbohydrates. We are going to cover how to eat to maximize this while still building muscle. Start by making your first meal carb and fat free. Your liver releases glucose from its glycogen stores into the blood stream immediately when you wake up. Adding carbs to your first meal will cause your body to have an insulin spike. When that happens, all fat burning that has been going on while you slept and did cardio will be stopped. We want to keep that going as long as we can. Your second meal should be timed to boost your already spiked testosterone levels. This meal should be approximately two to three hours after your post-cardio meal. It will consist of fats from either whole eggs, low fat cheese, or red meat. Try to keep all other meals between meal two and your pre-workout meal carb free. This also depends on where you are in your cutting plan. If you’re just starting out and are higher carb, I suggest doing a large amount of carbs in your post workout meal. Next, you’ll split you’re remaining carbs into even proportions in meals three four and pre workout.
Alcohol and Fitness: Why these two do not go together.
The liver is responsible for cleansing the body of toxins. However, its primary function is promoting digestion and utilization of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. In fact, your body’s most immediately available energy source (glycogen) is stored in the liver. Unfortunately, impairing this organ (via mass toxin removal), stops it from performing its main functions.
There are numerous toxins that we can consume that will impair liver function. However, I’m going to focus on the most popular one: alcohol. It’s fun. We almost always overindulge in it. Usually, after indulging in it, we eat greasy foods to satisfy our munchies (more on why we get these later). Even fit people drink a little too frequently. Then they complain that the calories in the drinks and greasy food slow their process. Unfortunately, that is not what’s happening.
When you drink alcohol, it passes through your stomach, intestines, and into your bloodstream. From there it is filtered out by the kidneys and liver (kidneys see it as a diuretic). The liver recognizes it as a foreign toxin. Unlike other toxic chemicals we ingest daily, however; alcohol is very hard to remove from the blood stream. The process of removing it from your body completely stops macronutrient utilization. Not only can your body not perform protein synthesis, but it also lacks the ability to store glycogen and burn fat. These effects last as long as there is alcohol in the body. It takes your liver about an hour to remove an ounce of alcohol from you. Think about how much you drink on a weekend night and that’s how many hours of results you lose. Partner this with loss of sleep etc and you can lose as much as half a week of progress to one night of drinking!
The takeaway : The more you drink, the more inadequately your liver functions. The amount of time it takes to remove alcohol from your body will continue to increase. Eventually, if you continue to consume alcohol regularly throughout your lifetime, you will no longer be able to escape its negative effects on your fitness lifestyle. So, before you go out binge drinking with your friends; decide what’s important to you. If you want a healthy, good looking body; stand your ground and say no. If you’re ok with looking and feeling less than average for the rest of your life, then have a drink or two. It only takes one to take your liver downhill. I hope this article helps you make informed decisions in the future. It is definitely possible to have a good time without alcohol. Enjoy and share with your friends!