Quick rip fix: these nine strategies will boost the effects of your cutting diet
The trick to getting lean is to rip off fat while saving muscle. Lucky for you, there are quite a few strategies bodybuilders can utilize to maintain muscle mass while stripping bodyfat. Keeping muscle mass is important not only for the sake of appearance, but also to help prevent your metabolic rate from slowing. These nine tricks of the trade will keep your body burning its fat stores instead of burning your protein and muscle tissue.
BUMP UP YOUR FIBER
Fiber slows the digestion of carbs into blood sugar. When carb digestion slows, insulin levels drop, which favors fat burning. Studies show that high-fiber diets are associated with lower bodyfat than are low-fiber diets. If you’ve been cutting your calories but have hit a roadblock in fat loss, ditch white rice for higher fiber long-grain brown rice, include a small handful of fiber-rich veggies at each meal, and switch from bodybuilding favorites Cream of Rice and Cream of Wheat to high-fiber oatmeal and oat-bran cereals.
2. USE MCTS
Medium-chain triglycerides are fast-burning fats that help prevent muscle breakdown and support energy needs while dieting. Essentially, they provide high-octane fuel, are burned for energy rather than stored as bodyfat, and prevent muscle loss by being burned preferentially over muscle tissue. Start with a teaspoon at a time, and work up to a couple of tablespoons. Take MCTs mostly between meals, when you’re hungry or with a protein drink. The results: Your body will tap fatty acids from fat stores as fuel and the MCTs will be burned rather than muscle tissue or large amounts of glycogen, resulting over time in less bodyfat and more muscle retention.
3. USE ARGININE AND LEUCINE AFTER TRAINING
The postworkout meal — even when ripping up — should always contain a decent helping of carbs (1 to 1.5 grams [g] per pound of bodyweight). Carbs bump up insulin levels, which increases growth and reverses muscle breakdown induced by training. The amino acids arginine and leucine are noncarbohydrate inducers of insulin. Adding 2-4 g of arginine and 3-4 g of leucine to your post-training meal can help promote a more powerful anabolic response. The greater the anabolic response after training, the more muscle you’ll retain while dieting.
4. USE THERMOGENICS ON HIGH-CARB DAYS
Although most bodybuilders eat 0.5 to 1.5 g of carbs per pound of bodyweight each day while dieting, it’s not a bad idea to go higher with your carb intake when you need it: ito 1.5 g when training bigger body parts, such as back or legs. Ephedrine and caffeine products can be helpful with this. Ephedrine and caffeine help enhance diet-induced thermogenesis. The more you eat, the greater the effect of thermogenic supplements on kicking up the metabolism; so, if you choose to use them, it seems reasonable to do so on days when you’re eating more. Such sporadic use with appropriate doses will help maximize their strength-enhancing stimulant effects and reduce the risks of catabolism associated with chronic use of thermogenics as ergogenic stimulants.
EMPHASIZE DIET OVER CARDIO!
A bodybuilder who overdiets, yet refrains from all cardio will hold more muscle mass than a bodybuilder who engages in too much aerobic exercise will. The more muscle you hold, the more elevated your metabolic rate will be. When it comes to getting ripped, limit your cardio to no more than four 45-minute sessions a week, max. If you think you need a greater calorie deficit, then cut back on dietary fats and carbs to create that caloric shortage.
6. DON’T OVERTRAIN!
The biggest precontest or get-ripped mistake is training too often and performing too many sets in hopes of bringing about a more striated physique. Overtraining causes cortisol levels to increase, and cortisol can have wicked effects on your physique. Cortisol lowers testosterone, and that is bad news. Plus, you’ll get weaker and smaller. Cortisol also increases the use of amino acids and muscle tissue as fuel, and it kicks the crap out of your immune system. When your immune system is overtaxed, muscle growth stops dead in its tracks. Always include at least one total rest day, free of training and cardio, once every four or five days and moderate your training. As eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney used to stress: “Stimulate your body, don’t annihilate it.”
7. PACK IN GLUTAMINE AND VITAMINS C AND E
All three can support your metabolism by keeping a lid on the ravaging effects of cortisol. This trio can help contain cortisol levels, which should aid you in maintaining testosterone levels and muscle mass while dieting. Try 1,000 milligrams of C and 400-800 IU of E daily, taken at any meal. Depending on your size, you’ll need approximately 20 g of glutamine, half before training and half after. Those weighing 175 pounds or less can get by on smaller doses; those who weigh more should take that dosage or more.
8. USE OMEOA-3 FATS AND CLA
I’m big on using a very low-fat diet to cut up, but two types of fat actually encourage fat loss. Omega-3 fats — found in salmon and mackerel — tend to direct carbohydrates toward glycogen stores rather than fat stores, and one study shows that omega-3s promote the retention of nitrogen during catabolic situations. (Nitrogen is the compound common only to protein that scientists use as a marker for muscle growth.) Omega-3 supplements are an important part of the fat-loss process. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is also a useful supplement, as it can interfere with a couple of enzymes that encourage the storage of bodyfat.
USE SELENIUM AND CALCIUM
While bodybuilders focus on macronutrients — carbs, protein and fat — they sometimes overlook the little guys: micronutrients such as selenium and calcium. Selenium is a hard-to-get mineral that supports normal thyroid function. Bodybuilders trying to cut up may experience a drop in thyroid hormone levels. Calcium appears to be helpful in shedding fat. One study showed that women on a high-calcium intake lost more weight than those with a lower intake did, and animal studies suggest calcium can help promote fat loss. Interestingly, all those espressos and stimulants bodybuilders use to rip up are loaded with caffeine, which causes an excretion in calcium! Try using 100-200 micrograms a day of selenium and be sure you’re getting at least 1,000-1,200 milligrams of calcium a day from your diet and supplements.
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