Here's a question. What makes a bodybuilder a bodybuilder? Is a bodybuilder a big guy? Is a bodybuilder a ripped guy? No. A bodybuilder is big and ripped.
Anyone can get big (barring a severe thyroid problem), all you've gotta do is eat. But being big and ripped is something not many people achieve. One goal gets in the way of another. Either people become so pre-occupied with getting big that they become excessively fat, or they become so pre-occupied with getting cut that they lose any size they had gained.
It's almost impossible to get big and ripped at the same time (unless your using steroids and growth hormone) So you must cycle the two. You must devote a certain amount of time to gaining weight and then a certain amount of time to cutting fat. In this article I will show you how to get ripped without losing your hard earned muscle.
The most obvious thing that must be done is that calories must be reduced to burn fat. I have found that a diet consisting of high protein, low (but not extremely low) carbohydrate, and moderate fat is the best for burning fat. I will analyze each nutrient and how it should be adjusted to burn fat.
Since you will be cutting a lot of calories from carbs and fat out you will need to increase your protein intake to prevent muscle breakdown. A bodybuilder who weighs between 180-190 should consume no less than 250g of protein per day. 275g of protein per day would actually be optimal. The extra protein can be used as energy and will protect the body from using the muscle protein for fuel.
Lowering carbohydrates does a couple of things.
First and foremost it reduces calories.
Second it reduces the amount of insulin you secrete. Insulin is one of the most anabolic hormones in the body but it is also the most fattening. There have been numerous studies that show fat-burning is almost impossible in a high insulin environment. By reducing your insulin secretion, you give your body a better chance to burn fat.
Third, lowering your carbohydrates reduces the amount of glycogen that is stored in your cells
Glycogen is what the body stores sugar (and other carbs) as. Glycogen is the body's number one source of energy. Fat is second. So as you can see, you must use your glycogen before you can use your fat. Lowering carbs and thus lowering the amount of glycogen your body stores allows you to burn fat faster and more often.
This is because your body goes into a glycogen sparing mode, since there is less glycogen for the body to burn, it uses it's fat stores for energy to salvage it's remaining glycogen. A 180-190lb. bodybuilder should consume 150g-175g carbs per day. (This excludes high carb days but we'll discuss that later).
There is quite a bit of controversy over this. Some people believe you need to eat excessive amounts of fat since you have cut your carbohydrates so low. I disagree. If you eat a lot of fat, it is just more fat your body has to burn. Why not take the extra calories of that excess fat and a lot them towards your protein count?
I have discussed this issue with many natural bodybuilders include WNBF pros Mike Carter, Dr. Joe Klemczeski, and World Champion Dave Goodin. They all share a view similar to mine. In trying to cut fat you should eat no more than 50-55g of fat per day for a bodybuilder weighing between 180-190 lbs.
Here are more tips to getting shredded...
You need to eat between 6-8 meals per day. This will help keep your metabolism high and will also help prevent catabolism.
Consume 70% of your total carbohydrates at breakfast and after you workout. These are the two times that carbs are most needed by the body and they are also the times at which carbs are least likely to be stored as body fat.
Do 45 minutes of low intensity cardio (walking) 3 days a week in the morning BEFORE BREAKFAST! This is a very overlooked part of the cutting process, cardio will really get you shredded. Doing it in the morning before breakfast has two benefit over cardio at any other time of the day.
Since you've gone 8 hours without any nutrients your glycogen levels will already be very low and all you're body will be able to use for energy will be your stored body fat.
Numerous studies show doing cardio in the morning before breakfast stimulates a greater than normal release of growth hormone and also keep growth hormone levels elevated throughout the day. Growth hormone is one of the most powerful fat burning hormones in the body so you can see plainly why doing cardio before breakfast is a huge plus!
Get 8 hours of sleep! I can't stress this enough. This is crucial to recovery. Since you are in calorie deficit your recovery will already be somewhat hindered you need to take advantage of the recovery benefits of sleep.
To prevent your metabolism from slowing down you should up you carbohydrate intake by 100-125g once every 3-4 days. This will cause your metabolism to stay elevated by giving it these systematic bursts of calories.
Drink 1.5 gallons of water per day! This is so important and so overlooked. Since you will have less glycogen in your cells, you will also lose some fluid out of the cells. This is not good. When cells are dehydrated protein synthesis can decrease up to 20%! (this is the same reason why consuming alcohol decreases your protein synthesis) By drinking 1.5 gallons of water you will help hydrate your cells and keep your protein synthesis from dropping.
Stay away from simple carbs (except immediately after your workout), refined carbohydrates, and saturated fats. Get a glycemic index and try only to eat carbohydrates that score below a 60 on that list.
There are a few supplements that give great benefits when cutting, I will list them and then give a brief explanation why I recommend them.
1. Whey Protein Powder- I would only take this post workout since it is digested so quickly, but it helps increase protein synthesis when taken immediately after a workout and this is very important.
2. Multi-Vitamin/Mineral pack- For obvious reasons.
3. Glutamine- Glutamine levels can be depleted by up to 27% during a workout. Since low glutamine levels are associated with muscle breakdown it would make sense to take it.
4. Creatine- Creatine pulls water into the cells which keeps the cell hydrated. This is especially crucial during a cutting phase since your cells will be dehydrated from lack of carbohydrates. Keeping your cells hydrated will also keep your protein synthesis elevated.
5. HMB- HMB has been shown in numerous studies to help prevent muscle breakdown during periods of stress (dieting). I can personally attest to the benefits of HMB myself.
article by layne norton
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