Get your metabolism going with the following eating plan:
Ripped. Cutting up. Trituration. All different labels to describe the bodybuilder’s ultimate goal – to ship unwanted packs of body fat while keeping the hard-earned muscle mass right where it is. Although the often prescribed method of eating fewer calories each day while burning additional calories through exercise is undoubtedly the foundation on which a six-pack is built, many of us soon find that that approach ultimately fails.
Plateaus – those stubborn roadblocks where body fat seems to cling to your body no matter how much you exercise or how meticulously you count calories – prevent many of us from reaching low body fat levels. Worse yet, plateaus are often so frustrating that they lead to unhealthy endeavors, including very low-carb diets or massive amounts of cardio combined with increasingly lower calorie intake. A better solution is to follow a rotating diet which, unlike the chronic diet, helps create a caloric deficit while keeping your metabolism going.
DYING FROM HUNGER IS A BIG MISTAKE
Most dietary strategies are based on a calorie deficit approach: you consume less fuel than the body needs each day, which creates an energy deficit, and the body responds by turning to body fat for fuel. However, adopting an extremely low calorie diet in hopes of a quick fix only sets you up for failure.
Starving yourself depletes your energy and you can’t exercise, so you can’t change your appearance. The drastic reduction in calories leads to a slowdown in metabolic rate, the total amount of calories burned in a day, and a slow metabolism is the death wish for anyone looking for a tough body.
Research has indicated that the thyroid gland, the source of thyroid hormones that ultimately help determine your metabolic rate, reacts quickly to starvation diets. That is, when you consume very few calories, your body decreases the production of thyroid hormone, which lowers your metabolic rate. Other detrimental effects of hunger include an increase in fat-storing enzymes in the body. An enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL) acts as a kind of gatekeeper, allowing fatty acids to enter and leave fat cells. While slight calorie cuts cause a decrease in LPL activity, giving fatty acids the freedom to flow out of fat cells, overly aggressive calorie cuts actually increase LPL activity. Along with decreasing thyroid hormone levels, this causes the body to hold on to stored body fat.
While severe calorie cuts seem to throw a dietary wrench into the fat loss equation, calorie surpluses or overeating have another puzzling effect. Not only does it increase body fat, but overeating can cause a slight increase in thyroid levels and an increase in anabolic hormones that help maintain muscle mass, such as growth hormone, testosterone, and IGF-1. .
A BETTER WAY TO ENJOY YOUR DIET
The rotating approach to get trained employees through the diet and feeding phases. The former requires a calorie reduction by decreasing daily carbohydrate intake by 50% for 2-4 days. Since prolonged periods of dieting can slow down your metabolism, a single “feeding” day in which you increase your carbohydrate intake 50% more than normal can prevent any potential slowdown. For example, a person currently eating 400 grams of carbohydrates per day would reduce their daily intake to 200 grams for 2-4 days. You would then move on to the eating phase and increase your carbohydrates to 600 grams for just one day. This provides a mental break from dieting, decreases the magnitude of the metabolic slowdown, and can increase testosterone, growth hormone, and IGF levels enough to help maintain metabolic-boosting muscles. After the single high carb day, I was back to the diet phase.
Eating more carbohydrates in the eating phase can quickly reverse the catabolic environment and muscle loss associated with many diets by increasing insulin levels and resaturating muscles with their main source of training fuel: stored muscle glycogen. In contrast, with a chronic diet and lower carbohydrate intake, glycogen stores decrease and insulin levels remain consistently low. While a lower caloric intake, modified insulin production, and lower glycogen stores are factors that influence fat loss, all three can also cause you to slip into a catabolic state in which the body burns protein from tissue muscle for fuel. You walk a fine line between progress and plateau.
Carbohydrates prevent your body from using other sources of energy, including the branched-chain amino acid leucine, which is very important in the entire protein balance of muscle tissue. If you were to consume fewer carbohydrates on a chronic basis, your body would end up using more leucine for fuel, causing you to lose muscle mass. However, the feeding phase of this rotation strategy requires a large influx of carbohydrates, causing a surge in insulin that rapidly reverses short-term protein (muscle) breakdown. This, in turn, allows you to maintain the maximum amount of muscle before re-entering the dieting phase.
Some people hope to keep their muscle metabolism-friendly while dieting by excessively adding the need for protein to the diet. I know of many people who increase their protein while eating less carbohydrates in hopes of preventing muscle loss. But you can’t cut your carbs in half and increase your protein dramatically; that would negate the calorie reduction created by eating less carbohydrates. Cutting your carbs in half for a few days while keeping your protein constant would help you lose weight, and a high carb day would provide the extra fuel to get you through the low carb days.