Stop swimming with fat while working on weight gain!
Learn how to approach your diet and achieve muscle growth without the side effects of useless fats.
Learn how to approach your diet and achieve muscle growth without the side effects of useless fats.
Every bodybuilder wants to be big. Unfortunately, the desperate desire to gain the treasured muscle pounds often leads to overeating and safely ends with a gain in mass, but not muscle, but fat. It is clear that such a strategy cannot be called successful. If you really want to be the first at the next fitness show, preparation for it must begin in the offseason.
Your task is to achieve the maximum possible increase in muscle mass with a minimum accumulation of fat, because the option “throw off the extra 20 kg before the competition”, in fact, is not an option. To get rid of an unnecessary burden, you will have to reduce the calorie content of the diet too sharply and for a long time, and this will inevitably lead to the loss of muscle earned by hard work. Moreover, most likely, before the competition you will not be able to lose all 20 kg, because for this you will need to sit on such a painful and prolonged diet that a natural disaster will go through your metabolism.
But sometimes even the very best intentions (to stay in shape during the off-season) do not save us from a set of fat pounds. So is this mission even feasible – to achieve maximum muscle gain and not to swim with fat? The answer is YES!
The problem has a simple solution – reducing the calorie content of food, but many representatives of competitive bodybuilding generally do not limit themselves in calories during the offseason, because they fear a slowdown in “fantastic” progress. Here it should be noted that the mantra “if you want to become big – you have to eat a lot” more often becomes an excuse for gluttony, and much less often – a truly effective method of gaining muscle mass. Of course, the fear of a slowdown in progress has a right to exist, because a cardinal and prolonged restriction of calorie content really affects mass gain. But in order to keep fats under control, we still have to cut back on the energy value of the diet..
I’m not talking about the fact that we need to switch to the draconian diet, which we adhere to during the preparation for the competition. I just recommend including in your program systematic and carefully planned periods of raising and lowering caloric intake, which will not impede progress and at the same time minimize fat accumulation.
Let’s make a small digression and talk about hormones. You must have noticed that the first weeks of a diet are the simplest and most effective. You easily lose fat, maintain strength and do not lose muscle mass. This is because with a sufficient supply of carbohydrates and calories, hormones responsible for burning fat are actively produced. One of these hormones is T3 (triiodothyronine). T3 is a thyroid hormone that is involved in maintaining a constant body temperature and helps cells use carbohydrates and food calories to generate energy and heat. In other words, with a high concentration of T3, calories are less likely to be stored in the form of fats and are more likely to be used as an energy source. When the calorie content of the diet is limited for a long time, the body tries to store energy: the T3 level decreases, and much less calories are spent on fuel needs. That’s why athletes who eat restrictive diets before competitions often complain that they are cold..
Leptin is another hormone involved in the regulation of energy metabolism. Leptin enhances thermogenesis by activating the sympathetic division of the nervous system. In addition, this hormone interacts with the centers of the brain and affects eating behavior. If the plasma concentration of leptin is high, the body knows that it has enough energy, and there is no need to consume additional calories. By the way, it is precisely the high level of leptin that makes it easy to give up “extra calories”, which strive to get into our thoughtful diet. And although the secretion of leptin is largely determined by the amount of adipose tissue, we can influence this process through overeating and malnutrition!
The body does not immediately respond to a decrease in calorie intake, because it takes time to adjust metabolic processes. In the first weeks of dieting, your metabolism is still working at full capacity amidst consistently high secretion of T3 and leptin. This allows you to quickly lose weight even without reducing the calorie intake to an extremely low level. But after a couple of weeks, the body will come to its senses, adjust its metabolism, and maintaining the previous rate of weight loss will be very problematic.
If we are talking about a diet on the eve of the competition, we either continue to lose weight, but already very slowly, or are forced to cut back on caloric intake even more. In the offseason, burning fat is not a priority. Your goal is to keep weight under control and continue to gain muscle mass, and therefore you can increase the calorie intake before the body makes its own adjustments. Thus, you will kill two birds with one stone – you do not have to turn off the path that leads to muscle Eldorado, and at the same time you can keep in check a set of fat mass.
Most bodybuilders are afraid of limiting the calorie intake during the off-season, because it can adversely affect muscle growth, and the athlete will not be able to fully arm the next fitness show. But in fact, if you can stay slim during the offseason, you can go up on stage and more prominent and more muscular. Ask why? Another secret is that when you briefly reduce the calorie intake, you stimulate an additional release of anabolic hormones, in particular testosterone and growth hormone.
Since the proportion of carbohydrates in the diet decreases slightly and for a short time, the sensitivity of tissues to insulin remains high. This means that during a decrease in calorie intake, the body continues to actively consume reserves of adipose tissue and directs calories to muscle growth. Moreover, a reduction in carbohydrate intake during these periods stimulates the secretion of growth hormone due to a drop in the concentration of glucose in the bloodstream. And since the calorie restriction is not too long and pronounced, you do not have to risk slowing down muscle growth. Using this approach, you only risk that by the time you enter the stage you will gain significantly more muscle mass.
It is proved that a radical restriction of the energy value of the diet inhibits the production of growth hormone and testosterone, and at the same time provokes a significant increase in the breakdown of amino acids. But it is a radical calorie restriction that is a prerequisite for the loss of 20-25 kg of excess weight. If during the off-season you keep the weight within 10-12 kg of the competition, you can avoid such drastic measures, which means that you will have all the muscles earned during the off-season.
Another reason why you should stay slim during the offseason is the secretion of growth hormone and testosterone. The production of these hormones is determined not only by the calorie content of the diet, but also by the amount of fat reserves in the body. A persistent increase in fat mass inhibits the secretion of growth hormone and testosterone, and for muscle building this is not the most optimistic scenario, right? Moreover, a significant increase in the percentage of fat also reduces the number of testosterone receptors in the muscles. As a result, you not only lose the anabolic hormones responsible for muscle growth, but also deprive the existing hormones of half their effectiveness due to a decrease in the number of receptors in target organs. This does not mean that if you have excess weight, you can’t build muscle, but the growth rate will be far from optimal.
So what do we do? To correctly draw up a nutrition plan during the off-season with periods of growth and decrease in calories, you first need to determine your level of balance. This is the calorie intake at which your weight remains stable. The intensity of metabolic processes is an individual value. Two people with the same physique may need a different number of calories, and trial and error will help you determine your balance. Having determined the level of balance, you should increase the calorie intake by about 400-600 calories.
For example, if the bodybuilder’s equilibrium level is at around 2800 calories, he should receive from 3200 to 3400 daily. This will achieve stable, but not too fast growth. Stick to this calorie content for 2-3 weeks, and then reduce the calorie intake by 400-600 calories below the equilibrium level. In the same example, a bodybuilder who consumed between 3200 and 3400 calories will now have to switch to 2200-2400 calories per day. A low-calorie diet should be followed for 1-2 weeks, after which you can return to the high-calorie option for the next 2-3 weeks. Repeat this cycle throughout the weight gain phase..
How to make a balanced diet?
I start working with each client by counting proteins and fats in my daily diet; when these nutrients are enough, we get the remaining calories with carbohydrates. You are advised to do the same: you should reduce calorie intake mainly due to fats and carbohydrates, maintaining a stable high protein intake. This ensures that weight loss does not affect muscle mass..
Errors in the diet should be minimized, otherwise you will devote the lion’s share of the time not to growth periods, but to drying periods. Of course, many will have to call on all their willpower to help, because it is very difficult to limit yourself when there is no urgent need, but this nutrition strategy is really worth it. And if you desperately want to win, you must test it for yourself.
Champions are born in the offseason, and those who approach the offseason with all responsibility, it raises to the top. You can’t change your genes and increase your training experience overnight, but there are two things that every bodybuilder can fully control: 1) how hard he works and 2) how well he does it. Adhering to the proposed strategy, you will achieve advantages in both categories.